Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Post-Industrial Distance Education

So I have no where else to put my notes and thoughts from one of the articles I read today so I wanted to put them up here.

Mass communication/production and independent learning VS Post-industrial approach to distance education (personalized and collaborative)

Computer mediated communication
• Asynchronous text based application
• Computer conferencing
> Collaborative
> Not replicate classroom convention

Synchronous and asynchronous discussions on computer. Synchronous is more available but he says that as more people join a computer mediated synchronous discussion it can become complex, confusing and misguided.

“There is little understanding of when real-time interaction, mediated through communications technology, is most useful to enhance learning.”

Computer conferencing is a post-industrial technology
Written word goes hand in hand with higher thinking. Computer conferencing often involves writing so could be a potentially powerful technology.
Some argue that higher order thinking is seldom possible without writing.
The challenge: interpersonal dynamics and social climate

Collaboration is more than simply exchanging information or passing on instructions. Collaborative learning necessitates critical discourse for the purpose of going beyond information exchange. Meaningful collaborative learning ‘creates “added value” and new understandings amongst the members of each group’.

That is, it is the constructive development of connected ideas and coherent knowledge-structures through group communication.

Computer conference is doomed to failure without an active moderator.
Computer conferencing is dependent upon three main moderating functions. 1) contextualizing, 2) monitoring, and 3) meta-communication.

Contextualizing: provides general organization or communication model and focus.
Writing by nature takes out contextualization, one option to overcome it is meet face to face initially

Monitoring: recognizing and prompting individual contributions.

Meta-communication: addresses agenda, relevance, overload and weaving in connections, identify themes and summarize the discussion.

If I were ever teaching a distance ed course. I think for the first few days I would have the students read through a few key things, including parts of the syllabus and then for the first day of class, instead of having class, you have a ten minute video conference meeting with each student so they can ask questions and you can set up some of the class and establish a connection so that you can have “contextualized” distance interactions for the rest of the semester. In fact I think I would try and do this more than once during the semester. The other thing I might entertain is a phone conference with all the students in the second week so that they could get to know each other along with a post on a blog or access to each other's facebook (or whatever else will achieve the objective)so they can get to know each other better.

Ideological biases and implications of computer conferencing: clash between industrial and post-industrial education due to changes in technology and goals.


Charles Graham said...

in our blended courses we meet face-to-face the first week to kind of establish those expectations and norms with the students.

MikeGriffiths said...

I picked up on your comments on writing. I remember reading about that but did not mention that in my video clip post. This was an interesting point in the readings, as writing is something that is easy to do in the distance ed world. The question that comes to my mind is then: If writing is such a powerful mechanism for higher order thinking, and it is so easy to achieve in distance ed, why is in not a central focus. Is it because it is so simple? Do we concentrate on the cool technology and forget the simple methods? Or has writing designed for higher order thinking been central for distance ed over the past several decades and I just don't know it? This si just my thinking out loud, but it was sparked by you mentioning it!

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