Friday, February 14, 2014

The Benefits of Reverse E-Teaching in Military Education

The concept of reverse teaching has been around for nearly 200 years. In practice it has led to both strong and poor performance of students. This is often dependent on the motivation of the student and whether or not they are actively reviewing materials and making connections between that information. A paper by Maria Constantinescu (2013) discussed how reverse teaching works with e-platforms in the military. 

Reverse teaching is a process whereby the teacher provides the necessary materials and tools for students to understand theoretical concepts. Students study on their own time and then come back to class to show what they know. It is based off of a model implemented by the 1817 Colonel Sylvanus Thayer at West Point who is known as “Father of the Military Academy”. 

The same process also occurs in an online environment whereby the instructor provides the right materials and students use these materials to study the concepts. The class is used as a place where they can display the material, gain new connections of concepts, and share understandings. Both individual and group activities occur to help foster this learning. 

The author discusses the importance of e-learning platforms in developing the right learning environment. As the classroom environment is the place in which students come back to show their mastery it must be designed well to allow students to engage in these single and group practices to the fullest extent possible. Without a strong classroom design the student may not engage the learning process or show what they have learned.

Likewise, the author did well bringing up a problem with assessment. It appears that the platform she used was lacking a formal assessment process. Each conceptual module requires some form of assessment which ensures the students have learned what they need before moving onto the next module. Without this assessment the student would have difficulty constructing even more difficult concepts later in the class. 

The use of papers that incorporates critical thinking analysis and formalizes a greater picture is important. This is where students show the teacher what they have learned, how they understand the material, and how they use it to solve a particular problem. Teachers act as guides and find holes in their understanding and fill them with appropriate materials and information to create greater bridges. 

The advantage of such programs in the military is that it affords greater flexibility and creativity with learning. Each person constructs meanings through the offered material and their past experiences to come up with a bigger understanding. This affords them the opportunity to own the information and creates greater motivation for practical implementation. The biggest detractor is the willingness of the student to expend effort and time in the learning process. Student motivation is a difficult problem that many military academies and colleges have suffered for decades. 

Comment: The use of reverse teaching is related to reverse learning.  When focused on a particular problem unwanted mental connections are lessened while useful connections are strengthened. This is the core of learning and unlearning. As students construct concepts in their own way each of the neural connections should lead to proper conclusions offered within the class. This is a formalization of a larger concept based within the many smaller understandings offered through materials. To implement strong reverse teaching means that greater care over the types of materials offered are necessary to ensure they lead to a greater conclusion.  If the materials are not aligned well it could create confusion among students. 

Constantinescu, M. (2013). Considerations on reversed teaching in the military education system. eLearning & Software for Education, 2.

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