Monday, February 13, 2006

Does it all come down to control?

When we design online learning, how formally do we need to take the different affordances of different modes and media? Or, do we need a categorisation, a taxonomy, of affordances, and do we then need to ensure that we include ‘one of each’ in tick box fashion?

The question is rhetorical, and the answer is of course: no.

The detail is more complex and more interesting.

When you design online learning spaces, I dont think you can ignore the peculiar affordances of online discussions and moderated peer learning, nor can you disconnect the design of online learning spaces from the design on online discussions.

I know that teaching must continue to be a creative process, otherwise we might as well pack up, go home, and send out black boxes and CD's to our students, and hope they can learn from a box. So the online interactions, which are the ‘meat’ of an online course have to be open, creative, responsive, challenging, and even opportunistic. They should not all be pre-determined and pre-set.

But, and I suppose this is one of my own design fundamentals, I think the learner has to be presented with an interactive online learning space they can explore with their peers and, therefore (and its an important therefore) the lecturer has to let goooooooo, and create a learning space, or a learning architecture, within which the learner-and-their-peers can create their own learning, and in which the basic interactive ‘architecture’ is created in which interactive peer learning can take place.

The lecturer can come into the learning space wearing a number of different hats. The lecturer can come in wearing the directive hat, and lay down some bottom lines, or the facilitating hat, and guide discussions into more fruitful areas, or the moderating hat, and pick up, weave, and extrapolate various threads. But the dominant mode of all these interventions is in the role of a respectful peer, even if as the first-peer-among-peers.

Its probably an issue of controlling learning vs. facilitating learning. That's the bottom line for me in pedagogical terms. I think learning takes place best, and is most exiting for all concerned (including the lecturer) if its moderated peer learning, rather than teaching.

Q: is this a social or a pedagogical preference (prejudice) on my part?



At 4:08 pm , Blogger Terry King said...

You said:

"the lecturer has to let goooooooo, and create a learning space ... within which the learner-and-their-peers can create their own learning,"

While this is true, the scaffolding of this process is key so that some students don't get left behind because they have a poor online learning skills set. Not sure if this is always appreciated.

At 4:54 pm , Blogger roy said...

Absolutely, one of the key outcomes of online learning is that people learn to become online learners.

The materials can provide some scaffolding, and scaffolding within the discussion process is perhaps even more essential. What did you find were the key elements of successful scaffolding?


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