A Socio-Cultural approach on learning in the virtual classrooms- key implications for practice

Bhandari, Renu (2020). A Socio-Cultural approach on learning in the virtual classrooms- key implications for practice. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 13(1) pp. 1–12.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v13i1.1022

Abstract

As online classrooms have recently become integral to the teaching of Business Education in the United Kingdom (UK) and as a key challenge here is to use available resources effectively, all business teachers must be proficient in deploying virtual learning. Most international students entering Business Education do not know how to use a virtual learning environment (VLE); many are grappling with the transition to adult life, living alone and away from families. All business teachers are therefore responsible for engaging and involving each of them; by adopting a socio-cultural model in virtual learning classrooms, they can work with students on the gradual development of key business skills and characteristics with potentially broad application.

This article discusses: a socio-cultural approach to the online teaching and learning of Business Education, together with implications for practice; the socio-cultural model proposed by Brenton (2014), with its key elements – people (who), shared purpose (why), locating framework and social conditions (where), method (how) and activity (what). This particular model clearly incorporates the social and cultural characteristics of the student in business; it explains to students and develops in them such key business skills as problem-solving, creative thinking, communication, planning and organisation; it encourages in them self-management, self-efficacy, self-monitoring and a sense of responsibility. All of these skills and characteristics enhance employability and pave the way to future success in business enterprise. Understanding what Business Education students each bring to the virtual classroom is therefore essential to the creation of independent learners. The article focuses on the cultivation of collaboration in online classrooms and on developing communities of learning, with ideas for practice; it outlines the role of the lecturer in the virtual classroom, especially in sustaining inclusivity; it concludes by affirming the importance of lecturers’ development of a social collaborative process in virtual classrooms, of their establishment of an inclusive online ethos and of their encouragement of skills that enhance employability and lead to success in business too. Many learners with anxiety, shyness and personal barriers to integration with other business students can benefit from the application of a socio-cultural model in VLEs. There are clear implications for all key stakeholders – students, lecturers, policy makers and developers of online classroom technology.

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