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  • Writer's pictureThuy Truong, M.A. Ed.

Why The Human Touch Still Makes Students Learn Better Online

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 3/22/2021|

In the world of machine learning, educational apps, and algorithm, the human touch remains magical and unmatched. With the predictable rhythm of virtual instruction, student learning always needs a spark of the human touch. In a world of exactness, we need an un-exactness to bring back the joy of learning that will whet the students' appetite to go beyond just learning, but more of living learning. The science and art of teaching support and complement each other. The science of pedagogy prepares students for the future with crucial skills and the art of it makes learning become alive in the imagination of young people. Yet, it is the human touch that makes learning memorable for students and thus perfecting both the art and science of instruction as revealed in the principles below: This is how you maintain the human connection in the world of machines that makes online learning possible and effective.

Students' Learning Begins With Emotions: Make The Students Your Curriculum Not Technologies

All learning is emotional. When you tap into the students' feelings, there are many viable ways to make learning personal to students. In other words, you need to know the students well to make learning alive to them. The minute learning becomes real to students, they become more emotionally and personally invested in what they learn. This moment is worth the price of all the intricate planning a teacher has to do to get the student to that level of engagement and commitment. The power of any good curriculum is in the emotions and depth it carries not so much the bells and whistles it has. At the end of the day, all meaningful learning is very personal. The most memorable lessons always bear a highly personal message to the students. For example, a student is much more interested in a book after finding out the author of the assigned book once proposed to the girl of his dreams only to have his dream crushed but he later won her over anyways by becoming a literary star overnight. What young person wouldn't become interested in this scandalous yet turbulent tale? Emotions drive the students' imagination for learning.

Students' Intellectual Gateway Lies In Universal Themes: Elevate Curiosity Instead Of Just Content

Students like to think about difficult, universal questions related to the human experience (they may hide it, but they do) because learning only becomes real when students can relate to it on a human level. Of course, it is vitally important to teach students the technical skills, but nurturing and balancing a healthy dose of curiosity with required content will activate students' critical thinking skills and aide them to start asking all those interesting and hard questions that are part of the human condition such as duty versus love or self-acceptance versus social pressure. These topics not only ask students to think critically about higher-level concepts, but they also teach students fundamental life lessons at the end of the day. This is the process how students become lifelong learners. This is the moment where they begin to conceptualize what it means to be a critical thinker. If curiosity gets the right focus, the right content will surface to facilitate deep learning.

Students Need To See Themselves In The Learning: Bridge Students' Inner Worlds With Academia

The beautiful intersection between the students' personal perspective and the academic world is a magical collision between the mind and the heart. The essential question is, how to get students to learn what they need to learn but written and applied in their own vernacular envisioned by the instructor? Students learn much deeper when learning is designed at their level and the teacher meets the students creatively where they are. A student, for instance, will have a stronger concept of time awareness when she has to measure out her time with sparkly ribbons rather than staring at the clock. Also, a student who gets hooked into proofreading by doing it in three different accents for fun at first and then it becomes habitual (but independently checking your own work is a valuable skill). The students' learning has fully matured to its sweet rewards simply because the students can see themselves in the learning. It is often that student learning is peaked when there is a natural blend between the students' interests and the required academics. The act of bridging these two worlds give the students a new language to understand the academic content. This transforms knowledge into application.

I have always believed the students are the curriculum. Pedagogical standards exist as a pillar to instill the fundamentals into students' repertoire, but how we teach students should be inspired by the spirit of the students themselves. After all, how we teach is equally important as what we teach. The two cannot be separated; they complement each other in undeniable ways. Great lessons don't just teach students about formulas; they teach students about life and how to think in gray.


About the author:

Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.

I am a licensed professional educator, executive function expert, former tenured high school teacher and college instructor with 15 years experience. I am also a student success designer. I enjoy recognizing the missing puzzle in the student's learning and personalizing that solution in a language that is unique to that student. I love the creative challenge of inventing a new language for every child.

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