Sunday, September 28, 2014

RSA3: Resource-based learning

            This week’s module centered around Resource-Based Learning (RBL).  In the resource-based learning model, the teacher and media specialist collaborate to provide a wealth of materials students may use to help research a topic.  Resources can be text, audio, or visual.  “Resources incorporated into planned, authentic tasks afford students opportunities to develop the skills and techniques necessary to become autonomous, self-directed learners and effective users of information” (Campbell, Flageolle, Griffith, & Wojcik, 2002, What is Resource-based Learning? section, para. 4). These tasks are often parts of projects that are then presented.  Over time, resources have developed, due to the availability of new technologies, to include various modalities.  Virtual field trips, Skype sessions with experts, simulation software, and educational games all have added to the pool of resources.  “The goal is to teach students to find, evaluate and use information to tackle the challenges they encounter along the way” (Campbell, et al., 2002, Role of the Teacher in Resource-Based Learning section, para. 1). There are many benefits and challenges to using RBL.  Advantages include high levels of motivation, developing information literacy skills, student freedom in selection of resources, the ability to use computer simulations to carry out tasks otherwise impossible, expanding upon higher level critical thinking skills, and flexibility (Campbell, et al. Benefits of Resource-Based Learning section).  The challenges are found in collaboration skills, valid authentic assessments, the reliability and validity of digital resources, inclusion of all students, and support from the administration (Campbell, et al. Challenges of Resource-Based Learning section).
            In this resource, Esch (2004) explores the concept of RBL in the realm of language acquisition in five areas: defining RBL, a background in RBL, how RBL and ICT relate in language learning today, RBL and approaches to learning, and current issues and RBL.  Esch (2004) defines RBL stating that this method:
Conceptualises learning as a process which foregrounds the importance of the resources available to learners and in so doing presupposes that the interaction between the learner(s) and the resources (which may include human resources) is the main structuring device of the learning situation. (Definition of RBL section, para. 3)
Esch (2004) continues to discuss the background of RBL in terms of cycles of resurgence in this methodology.  With the development of technologies, RBL was used as a way to assist in distance-learning systems (Background section).  RBL is a way of using information and communication technology (ICT) “helps one cope with the sheer amount of information now distributed worldwide on networks and in databases” (Esch, 2004, RBL and ICT section, para. 2). There are two cases in which approaches to learning will affect how RBL is considered: one way is student-centered, where students develop their program and the other way is when teachers disseminate the same resources to multiple students in an aid to face-to-face teaching.  Esch (2004) considers the issues in RBL in regards to learning materials, individualization, learning and feedback, and the role of the teacher.  The danger becomes the designer’s viewpoint of RBL becoming too rigid in selecting learning materials, that individualization can lead to isolation, that feedback is poorly structured, and that the teacher may not shift well in his or her social role in learning (Current issues and RBL section).
            This article complements this week’s module very nicely.  All of the resources corroborate in defining RBL as offering resources for learners to construct their own knowledge about a certain topic or concept.  Despite the resource being about language acquisition, the discussion of the shift of the role of teacher from instructor to guide is aligned with this week’s resources.  Esch (2004) offers a great example of an application of the RBL method in language acquisition saying:
Possibilities offered by the Internet make it possible for learners to watch how language is used, to carry out exercises, to interact with native speakers in a variety of configurations and to participate in simulations as well as to have access to explanations and feed-back. (RBL and approaches to learning section, para. 2)
Similar challenges were presented in the module and this resource.  It is important as educators to guide the students in information processing skills so students will be able to select reliable, appropriate, and relevant resources.  It also then becomes important to think about the feedback that we give students in terms of assessments.  Assessments should refer to the students’ ability to select resources that help them learn, as well as the content knowledge and skills outlined by the curriculum.  Ultimately RBL is a valuable learning methodology that could be applied across a variety of subjects. 

Campbell, L., Flageolle, P., Griffith, S., & Wojcik, C. (2002). Resource-based learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Esch, E. (2004). Resource-based learning. Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies Guide to Good Practice. Retrieved from

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