When learning a new skill or concept, having a teacher at the ready to guide you through your studies can be invaluable. However, direct instruction from a teacher is becoming harder to find and less accessible as the cost of higher education increases for many. But the way teachers structure their lessons and adapt to their students, especially using modern educational techniques, is still a good model to follow even when learning on your own via an online platform.
That’s why the third pillar of the SoloLearn educational experience is Interactive Lessons. Let’s look at the techniques teachers use to help their students learn and retain information, and how SoloLearn’s interactive coding lessons replicate that experience with a modern twist.
How Teachers Teach
As we mentioned in the first article in this series, educational techniques have a long history stretching back into antiquity. In ancient Greece and Rome, children of upper-class families would have the opportunity to receive one-on-one instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, philosophy, and other subjects from skilled tutors.
Later on, and continuing to our day, many more people gained the opportunity to have an instructor-led education. Many of the same techniques used in ancient times are still used today, though others have been refined over the years as new ideas and research came to light. Let’s look at some of those techniques and how they help students to grasp new concepts and retain them.
Teachers Illustrate New Concepts
One important function of a teacher is to make difficult concepts more accessible by breaking them down into easier-to-digest chunks. They also draw comparisons between what a student is already familiar with and the new material that needs to be taught.
These comparisons and illustrations need to be appropriate for the level of the student. For example, explaining how to write and sound out the alphabet is much different than explaining advanced mathematical concepts to a university engineering student. But many of the techniques of illustration and comparison work across a wide range of subjects and educational levels.
Teachers Make Sure Everyone Understands Before Moving On
Another key function of a teacher is to monitor students’ progress and ensure that each student understands new concepts before moving on to the next topic. This process can be compared to building a house -- you need to start with a strong foundation of basic concepts before the more advanced subjects will make sense to a student.
A skilled teacher will be able to adapt her lessons to the needs of each student so that all can keep pace with the lessons and learn the concepts being taught.
Teachers Help Students Learn Concepts, Not Just Facts
There are some things that just have to be memorized when learning a new subject. For example, you probably memorized vocabulary words and multiplication tables as a young child. And if you’re learning to code, you’ll have to memorize the syntax of the language you want to learn. But for more advanced topics, it becomes even more important to learn the reasoning behind the concepts, rather than just memorizing rote information.
Teachers can help by explaining why it’s important to learn certain things, and how memorized facts are used in real-life situations. With this information, it becomes easier for students to remember the information and learn how it applies to the bigger picture.
Teachers Make Learning Fun
Finally, a good teacher can transform learning from a boring chore into an exciting adventure. Whether it’s through games, hands-on activities, outside-the-box exercises and explanations, or other techniques, teachers that find ways to make learning fun help their students to retain what they learn better and also get excited about learning more. Doing so takes more than just knowing and repeating the information -- it requires that the teacher be dedicated to helping their students and have a thorough understanding of the material so they can teach it with skill.
How SoloLearn’s Interactive Lessons Help You Learn Better
Of course, online self-learning platforms like SoloLearn don’t have live teachers, classroom sessions, or one-on-one instruction. Rather, we use technology to offer interactive lessons that achieve many of the same goals as classroom teachers, but with more flexibility for you.
Our Lessons Illustrate New Concepts and Big-Picture Ideas
Like a teacher, our lessons aim to teach you the big-picture concepts behind what you’re learning by using real-life examples and easy-to-understand comparisons. You’ll notice words like “for example” and “imagine” -- inviting you to apply what you’re learning in real-world situations.
Lessons are broken down into bite-size chunks, so that you’re not overwhelmed by too much new information at once. And they’re grouped together into logical units and sections, so that they build on each other from foundation to mastery.
Our Lessons Check Your Understanding Before Moving On
As you work through one of our learn-to-code courses, you’ll find many one-question quizzes, coding exercises, and knowledge checks. Each quiz or exercise makes sure that you’ve grasped the concepts from the current lesson and are ready to move on.
Like a real-life teacher, if you miss a question, you’ll have the opportunity to review the lesson and make sure you understand it before moving on to the next section. This structure helps you to build your knowledge and skills piece-by-piece and at your own pace as you progress through the course.
Our Lessons Make Learning Fun
Rather than just presenting information for you to memorize, our interactive lessons give you a fun, gamified learn-to-code experience. Many lessons include hands-on activities that you can launch in our Code Playground. This allows you to write real code in your web browser or on a mobile device -- without needing to install extra software or configure a coding environment. And each section concludes with an open-ended coding project, where you will put all your new skills into practice writing real code.
Also, each time you complete an activity, you’ll earn XP and achievements so you can keep track of your progress and compete in challenges against other learners.
Our Lessons Are Available Anytime and Anywhere
A real-life teacher may be available to you only a few hours per week, only at set hours, and only in a certain place. In contrast, our lessons are available to you anytime and anywhere that’s convenient to you. Only have a few minutes to study on your lunch break or during your commute? Load up the SoloLearn mobile app to get full access to our lessons and the Code Playground from anywhere and on any device. This way you can keep making progress no matter where you are or when it is best for you to learn.
Our Lessons Are Free
A tutor or a college course may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. But you can get started learning to code right now at no cost to you. Simply head over to our lessons page, choose a course, and get started building your skills by learning to code.
Next Steps: Interactive Lessons
If you’d like to see firsthand how our lessons work, why not try now? Just head over to our courses page and choose a lesson to get started. Or download our mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. You’ll find out how our lessons break down coding concepts in an easy to understand way that lets you track your progress and check your understanding -- all while having fun doing it.
In the next article in this series, we’ll look at why Habit-Forming Learning is the fourth of our five core learning pillars.