Unless your traditional classroom has a TV in it showing reruns of the Simpsons (Doh!), or you’re allowed to play Candy Crush on your phone, chances are you will be focused on learning. The traditional classroom tends to avoid such distractions. It’s just you and other learners, a teacher, and four walls ---allowing you to focus on the training at hand. That doesn’t mean, however, that the classroom setting is completely void of focus problems.
Classroom sessions tend to pack a LOT of content into each sitting. In the film industry (and specifically with performer training at agencies) those sessions are just ONE day–- meaning they are going to pack everything you have to know in that one sitting, and do it primarily with verbal communication. Some trainers may use some visual aids for added demonstration, but historically most of the training will be communicated by word of mouth (single medium delivery). That’s great for auditory learners, but not so much for those learners that need to engage with the content in a visual or demonstrative way. For those learners, it may be more difficult to conform to that medium of content delivery, and therefore actually more challenging to focus. This can be alleviated somewhat by the teacher making accommodations to more visually-oriented students through different methods. This requires more preparation on the part of the teacher, but it can obviously make a difference in effectiveness.
The greatest challenge to focus in the traditional classroom is the ‘singular path of learning’. The trainer has planned a very specific lesson for the day and is going to cover it all, regardless of where each individual stands (or sits), as they must address the mass of learners in the classroom. Learners don’t come into the classroom with the same degrees of pre-existing knowledge; therefore, if the trainer is covering topics some already understand, they’re going to get bored, zone out, and maybe even pass out (I’ve been there too!). Which brings me to this point: “A learner can be physically present in a classroom, but mentally absent, and no one would know.” So as it turns out, focus remains a challenge even in a face-to-face traditional classroom setting (with someone telling you to stay awake!).
We are easily distracted by a million and one things on the internet, with no teacher looking over our shoulder. This can pose a problem with New School, online learning for individuals who lack the discipline to focus on the task at hand without being diverted by other notifications (life-changing ones, like you just got another life in Candy Crush!). Yes, online distraction can be a nemesis for engaging in eLearning. However, if we step back and look at ‘distraction’ as a mere ‘lack of focus’, we can actually use the New School model to solve that problem.
By being able to self-direct our learning, we can filter out our pre-existing knowledge. If something is brand new to us, we may better learn it. Once we know it, we can skip it and move onto the next new, interesting content piece. We’re being strategic with our focus and energy, actually staying engaged more. By being more engaged and excited, we’re also likely participating in more cross-over learning (where we opt to learn peripheral job tasks as well, such as a background performer that also chooses to additionally master content on ‘standing-in’).
Online learning courses tend to come packaged in various mediums of content delivery including text, audio, video, and even interactive (gamification). By switching the modality once in a while, it keeps learning ‘bite-sized’ and interesting. Multimedia learning also allows for simplifying complex learning subjects in a way that straight verbal communication would struggle with, and appeals to more learning types - which is, again, good for focus.
Okay, based on the information shared in Round 3, which model do you believe offers the best characteristics for learner focus, and therefore should win this round?