When you’re considering going back to school to pursue a Master’s degree or graduate certificate, it’s important to consider which type of learning environment best works for you. 

For some, lectures work best.  For others, online learning is better. Regardless, discovering which learning environment works best for you is one of the most important steps forward in determining your educational success.

What Is A “Good” Learning Environment?

It’s important to note that a “good” learning environment really means an effective learning environment, which is different for everyone. Each person’s learning abilities are affected by their social, physical, psychological, and cultural background. The term “learning environment” doesn’t just mean a physical classroom or online space. A learning environment, as defined by UNESCO, is also a culmination of the following:

  • Learners and their characteristics
  • Learning and teaching goals
  • Activities
  • Assessment strategies and practice
  • Effective fusion of culture and content

Those ideas and practices together form the ideal learning environment.

Which Type of Learner Are You?

When determining which learning environment is best for you, it’s important to  understand what type of learner you are. We all learn things differently and at unique paces. Advancement Courses outlines the 4 types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.

  • Visual – Better understanding through images, such as charts, maps, and diagrams
  • Auditory – Better understanding by listening to spoken information
  • Reading/Writing – Better understanding information that is presented through words
  • Kinesthetic – Better understanding through physical activity

Most people are a blend of two. Which are you?

Which Learning Environment Works Best for You?

In addition to the type of learner you are, it’s also important to point out the different styles of learning. There are 3 main styles of learning, each with their own benefits.

Lecture-Based Learning

Lectures are incredibly popular in college. They allow the instructors to provide critical information to a group of students at once. According to ThoughtCo., lecture-based learning creates an environment where students can arrive to class, be engaged with the content, and take notes. This style of learning appeals to auditory listeners. Additionally, there are other advantages to lectures, including the following:

  • They tend to be more engaging, enthusiastic, and straightforward
  • Instructors can provide more information that students don’t have access to
  • Instructors can clarify any confusing concepts immediately
  • They can be edited to benefit a specific audience

Online Learning

Online learning is typically most popular among working adults, as it is incredibly flexible. An article from eLearning Industry suggests that working adults favor online learning because it doesn’t require a set schedule. So, they can participate in the necessary classwork whenever they have downtime. On top of that, adults can advance in their professional life while pursuing a completely different career online. This provides more career options in the future. There are other advantages to learning online, including:

  • Online classes and programs are typically more cost-effective than other styles of learning
  • They teach self-discipline and responsibility
  • More courses are often available online rather than in-person
  • They improve technical skills, especially technical writing
  • Students tend to be more comfortable in this environment, so shyer students can excel
  • They do not require any commute and can work around your personal schedule

The main thing to keep in mind with online learning is that it requires a basic understanding of technology and the programs it uses. If you’re not tech-savvy, lecture-based learning might be better for you. If online learning is something you’re interested in, be sure to check out UMBC’s Graduate Program and Post-Baccalaureate Certificates in Instructional Systems Development, which can be completed entirely online.

Hybrid Learning

Knowledge Wave defines hybrid learning as a unique style of learning that blends both lecture learning and online learning into one. Normally, hybrid classes include lectures during class time and online activities assigned to complete either before or after class. Hybrid learning appeals to every type of learner, and includes the following advantages:

  • Provides flexibility with content presentation
  • Improves technical and communication skills
  • Teaches timeliness, responsibility, and accountability
  • Allows students to work on tasks on their own time

Hybrid learning is currently the most popular type of learning environment in higher education.

Now that you know how you learn and the benefits of each type of learning, it’s time to decide what you’ll learn. UMBC’s Professional Programs offer a broad array of professionally-focused master’s degree and certificate programs that address industry needs while anticipating future opportunities.


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