The iPodia Program is based on three basic premises: (1) contextual understanding is best achieved via direct engagements, hence the “inverted” learning, (2) what you learn depends on with whom you learn, hence the “interactive” learning, and (3) diversity increases learning opportunity for everyone, hence the “international” learning.
In regards to the first premise, context is what one uses to make sense of subject content while learning and practicing. Unlike content, which can be taught by teachers with lectures, contextual understanding can only be co-constructed when learners engage with each other. In the conventional learning process, students are first being lectured on using subject content in school, and are then asked to exercise problem-solving at home to develop contextual knowledge by themselves. iPodia inverts the traditional schoolwork and homework process, and uses online feedback to promote students’ peer-to-peer tutoring and guide teacher’s class preparations before the class. Students study the course subject at home via online lectures (including relevant MOOC materials), help each other during the content study before attending class, and then engage in guided collaborative activities with their classmates to develop contextual understanding. Therefore, the “i” in iPodia stands for inverted learning.
The second premise states that subject content can be learned “from” teachers but contextual understanding is developed “with” peers. Thus, contextual learning derives from the interactions with whom they study. The above inverted process transforms the learning paradigm from passive (i.e., be lectured on) into active (i.e., to participate in.) By turning the “learning-from” into a “learning-with” pedagogy, iPodia takes the active learning approach further, emphasizing interactive learning. Unlike traditional distance education that uses IT to expand the delivery distance between teachers and students, iPodia’s “no-distance” learning approach utilizes IT to eliminate the physical distance that hinders interaction between remote learners. Therefore, the “i” in iPodia stands for interactive learning.
Third, if what we learn depends on the people with whom we learn, then our learning opportunities are increased when we study with a diverse group of learners from different social and cultural backgrounds. Thus, iPodia focuses on inter-cultural learning, linking classrooms on multiple campuses in different countries and culture regions around the world. This international dimension enables students to interact with, and learn from, global classmates right on their home campuses. Students are more comfortable interacting openly and freely with their foreign peers in iPodia classes because they feel (and in fact are) at home! This is why the “i” in iPodia also stands for international learning.