Since this week’s readings is all about interactions, I thought I’d write about my interaction with the reading (as in what I thought about what I read as I read it) and interact with fellow participants, and hopefully with the facilitators. Speaking of interactions, I met with a couple of my colleagues who are also taking this MOOC and did some work together. We watched the webinar and discussed the DIY Tasks together.
I will copy the part that I want to comment on an put it in bold & quotes then write my reflection under it, so here goes.
“More students (36 percent) prefer a blended learning environment of seminars and other smaller classes with some online components to any other configuration of face-to-face and online options”
– This comes as no surprise because students get to have a comfortable pace with which to interact with the material. Depending on the student, some might need more time to grasp concepts while others could grasp concepts quickly but need more time and solitude to focus on activities and online tests. There is however a great benefit of having f2f group discussions and debates, given their synchronous nature, and because there is great value in social interactions especially if the goal is to establish a well-rounded learning community that starts or meeting f2f and extends online.
“Even though technology enables greater learner control and autonomy, learners generally value social contact and faculty guidance, especially when entering a new field or course of study (de Laat, 2006). In fact, some might argue that student interaction with faculty and with other students in the context of learning is an expression of a basic human need.”
But does that mean that MOOCs or asynchronous online courses don’t satisfy the human need to learn? I agree it is in fact important but is it a human need if they are getting the from social interactions outside of that particular learning environment?
“Of particular concern for the authors of the paper is the degree of instructor (or expert) presence during the learning process. They assert that minimal guidance is not as effective as guided instruction due to different approaches evident in how experts function (epistemology) in a domain and how learners best learn.”
I agree but it depends on what the instructor aims to achieve with their degree of involvement in guidance. They could be looking to develop a skill of self-guided learning in students, which is beneficial on the long run but one could also want to direct the learner to reach a certain conclusion or concept. These outcomes or goals could be combined in a single task or activity or could be highlighted for each activity or separate assignments.
“The self-taught, minimally-guided nature of the experiment led Mitra to the conclusion that children do not require direct instruction to acquire basic computer literacy skills.”
The fact that this was almost not guided at all resonates with creativity and the whole ‘thinking out of the box’ concept. This actually reminds me of a blog post my collage Maha Bali wrote about not telling kids to focus on coloring inside the lines of the drawings because it is a limitation of some sort. She even went on to say that the paper itself is a limitation.
Way finding is definitely an important aspect of minimal guidance, but for me the most important benefit is the process of finding what you are looking for because it is through this process that you get to learn a lot of other, maybe related maybe not related, things. You also know how valid a fact is by it appearing on multiple and credible sources. This is what happened with me when I started my job. My boss just gave me a list of things I should know, which was the prompt or putting me on the appropriate track and she just gave me the freedom to explore and moderated/guided it by checking in with me every few days. Talking about how beneficial this process was for me will require another blog post of its own.
“how will the learners know what they need to know?”
By touching base with other students and the instructor or even only the instructor. This could be done through a reflection exercise or short paper which in turn will guide the student to know their learning pattern and behavior and then with feedback from the instructor be able to guide the process themselves better and more efficiently to their learning the next time around.
“The four models presented above share a common attribute of blending the concept of educator expertise with learner construction.”
One thing I see prominently and commonly between the four models is the importance of establishing a connection between the material and the learner, whether that is through PLNs or giving resources or even giving them the freedom to explore. Along the way the students/learners are bound to establish this connection with the content/material as well as the learning community and I believe a successful educator is one who fosters that kind of connection and relevance between the learner and real life.
“When you design your own online course environment, keep interaction in the front of your mind.”
I strictly agree with this because it is through these reflective interactions that real and “digested” learning occurs and therefore every activity, assignment or reading material needs to be aligning with this fact, regardless of the nature of that interaction.
“Online Asynchronous Expression in Blended Learning”
This section made me want to link to Maha’s article on her affinity for asynchronous learning.
“To Whom Will Students Express Themselves?”
The best way to write is to think about your reader. Just like the best way to design and deliver ads is to think about the target audience that will see and interact with your ad. This is so you could tailor the tone of your message and what the most important element of that message is.