Friday, February 17, 2006

Open or Focused?

The issue of range vs. focus remains a key issue in the way we develop materials and the way in which we set up, design, and manage online discussions.

At the end of the day it's a teaching strategy issue, and a teaching style issue, and we all need to teach to our strengths.

At the design stage what is essential is to put up something that is well thought through as an "interactive learning space", and then run it and see what happens, and be as creatively and supportively responsive as you can.

Teaching (and facilitating is no different) needs to be a mixture of:

  • Well structured but open
  • Focused but inviting
  • Well designed and set up but allowing space for emerging issues
  • Thoroughly thought through but opportunistic
  • Informative but challenging (throwing students back onto their own (collective,
    peer-group) resources. ... and so on.

The difference in online learning is that the "interactive learning space" needs to be an inviting and open architecture for students to create and manage their own learning and their own cohort peer-group, (with the support and oversight of the facilitator).

The 'default' position is that otherwise you end up with 'learning in a box' which is lonely and dull. And motivation then goes to the wall.



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