Online Learning - Student-Centered Learning

Benefits of student-centered learning environments include dynamic and constantly evolving learning through activities that focus on underlying cognitive processes which are based in relevant contexts. Carl Rogers' person-centered learning theory posits that a person having learned in this manner has learned how to learn and is able to adjust to different types of learning as required in diverse settings. In open-ended learning environments the learner directs the learning processby monitoring his or her learning needs and creating an action plan to meet those needs through projects and reflection.

Benefits of Student-Centered Learning

These are true benefits of a student-centered learning environment. Learners who really want to learn flourish in this environment, while those that are in classes for other reasons (parents sent them to college, or they had nothing else to do so came to school) will not fare as well. The dynamic nature of this environment will sometimes change a student from an unwilling participant to an excited learner striving to learn all he or she can about the subject at hand. In the online course, the learner must direct his or her learning process, since the instructor is not standing next to the student telling him or her what to do next.

Expanded Thinking and Learning

Students and learners who are allowed to expand their thinking and learning beyond the historical lock-step environment grow more in their abilities, skills and thinking than do their counterparts in less open environments. Open-ended, student-centered environments properly designed to support learners allow them the best opportunity to succeed. It also gives them the prospect of finding something they want to learn more about--serendipity. As learning progresses, students are allowed to assess their progress and learning needs, to adjust the learning as necessary. As an example, a student in an online class can carefully study material that is not known, or skim material that is known, to meet the learning need.

More Meaningful Learning

In the properly scaffolded environment, self-directed learning is far more meaningful than standardized education. This is true with both online and face-to-face classes at the university level. To be effective, learning must be meaningful to the student. Otherwise, the instructor's time in creating the environment and assignments, and the student's time in taking the course, are both wasted.

Linda S Pogue is the Webmaster of and She will complete her MS in Education with an emphasis in Instructional Design for Online Learning in March 2009.