Laptops, Tablets, Chromebooks & More! Supporting Online Learning with Personality Dimensions

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

I know what you’re thinking… “Another article about COVID.” *eyeroll*  Before you swipe left, just hear me out. To say that COVID has impacted every element of our lives is the understatement of the century; and we’re only 21 years in.  Even with vaccines rolling out, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a while before we return to life as we once knew it.

As a Personality Dimensions® facilitator you have a super-power; you have the ability to recognize the unique talents and abilities everyone brings to the table; and when those same people are out of esteem. Having the right tools that allow you to contribute to the wellness of your family, friends, colleagues, and clients lets you exercise your super-powers.

Not familiar with Personality Dimensions®? Don’t worry, you can read up on it here.  We all have to start somewhere.  When you’re ready for it, you can get your Personality Dimensions Certification from the comfort of your own home.

In this series, Wayne Jones, Level III Personality Dimensions® Master Trainer, and co-author of GPS: Great Parenting Skills for Kid’s Personality will explore the challenges being faced by parents, students, and teachers with online and virtual learning platforms. Because we’re all about finding solutions, Wayne will look at some ways the four Dimensions can overcome these challenges.

~Brad Whitehorn, CLSR

Part 1 – The Ying and Yang of Virtual Learning During a Pandemic

First of all, let’s make sure we are all playing off the same page in terms of what we mean by virtual learning. Essentially, there are two types: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous virtual learning happens in real time, often using a virtual learning platform such as Google Classroom or Zoom. This is the type of learning that most school boards offer and that most students are familiar with. The instructor teaches in real time and can lecture, have group discussions and assign students to breakout rooms for small group interaction and feedback. There is an immediate back and forth connection between teacher and student(s). As in an on-site classroom, teaching events are timebound, and student reaction and concept understanding is time-limited, which may disadvantage certain groups of students. A further complicating factor may be an individual’s home location bandwidth, connection speed and computer facility.

On the other hand, in asynchronous virtual learning, the learner may progress at their own rate of speed and acquire information as it suits their own individual schedule. There may be little or no interaction among students using this learning format. Instruction can be accessed as soon as the teacher posts the material and assignments. Feedback on coursework can, at times, be slow.

These two delivery methods of virtual learning are not mutually exclusive. In some learning scenarios, instructors use a blended model delivering some content live, with real-time student input and interaction, polls, surveys and the like, (synchronous); and posting some content for further reflection at a later time (asynchronous). There is no right or wrong way to do virtual learning; it is a matter of asking what model is going to meet the needs of the majority of students (often determined by age and grade), and how adjustments can be made for those who may struggle with some of the challenges of each format.

The folks (students, parents, teachers) I contacted in my research are all struggling to some degree, with different aspects of virtual online learning. With no reference to temperament, here are some of the common concerns (many of which I will address in upcoming blog posts):

  • Course/curriculum expectations, timelines and marks
  • Length of podcasts/lectures/lessons
  • Amount of screen time vs amount of movement and exercise
  • Personal boundaries (on and off line)
  • Technology issues – connectivity/bandwidth
  • Variety of teaching styles and personal interactions

Here is what some folks are saying:

“With online learning…screen-time and time spent sitting are going through the roof.”

“Maintaining a healthy routine that separates work, leisure, exercise, social time has been difficult as these spaces have blurred together.”

“As a student you have to be even more responsible, independent and proactive with your learning.”

“We all have different learning styles and needs, so the format did not necessarily benefit all.”

“Students should set a rhythm to their days otherwise it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the course materials.”

“Asynchronous classes are a great option for older students (high school, post-secondary) as it allows the student to create their own schedules.”

“Online learning and teaching are not for everyone and due to the sudden shift into this digital ecosystem, not enough support was prepared for students in the beginning. Some teachers are finding innovative ways to deliver their lessons.”

“As a teacher, it’s really hard when you ask a question to a bunch of black squares in the google classroom and no one responds.”

“There were…instances…where students were very clearly not paying attention, or not completing their assigned work on time or at all. I think that because the students were learning from home and not in a classroom environment, they felt that they didn’t have to take the work as seriously as they would if they were in a classroom with the teacher.”

“I found it much more difficult to engage with and build relationships with the students virtually.”

Virtual on-line learning is an evolving phenomenon. What was a challenge last month may be now be solved. Educational policy that initially formed the parameters of synchronous and asynchronous learning may now be largely obsolete or significantly altered. That said, how each temperament reacts and adapts to the ongoing challenges may not change too much. In the next three blogs, we will explore how parents’, students’ and teachers’ temperaments may interface with the challenges of virtual learning and how they can use their core values and strengths to build resilience and thrive.

Next week I’ll have a look at how parents can support their kids, and themselves while virtual classrooms have become the new normal.

Wayne Jones, M.Ed. is an experienced educator, having taught students from Kindergarten through secondary school as well as adult education. Wayne has been a principal in the Peel District School Board and is currently a faculty advisor for Nipissing University. Wayne draws on over 30 years educational practice and numerous life experiences to enrich his writing and workshop presentations. A proud parent of two, with four grandchildren, he enjoys spending quality time with family; biking, hiking, running, and attending live arts productions. His passion for music and athletics fuels an active, healthy lifestyle.

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