Search This Blog

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interaction and Learning

From Terry Anderson (
An avid reader might note that the advice above tends to contradict the 1st theorem of my Interaction Equivalency Theory namely:
Deep and meaningful formal learning is supported as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student–teacher; student-student; student-content) is at a high level. The other two may be offered at minimal levels, or even eliminated, without degrading the educational experience.
This implies that one can still learn without enhanced interaction (that grounds connectivist pedagogy). I still believe this to be true. People can and do learn in a very broad array of models, models, contexts and personal inclinations. However the second theorem posits that:
High levels of more than one of these three modes (student-student; student-teacher, student-content) will likely provide a more satisfying educational experience, though these experiences may not be as cost or time effective as less interactive learning sequences.
As I redesign my economics course I of course like that quote because it gives me permission to back off on some of the interaction in the course.  The Reflection assignments work on the student-content interaction, the first 2 assignments and the discussions work on student-peer interaction (okay and student-teacher).  That leaves my comments on reflections and other grading for student-faculty.  I have all three built into the class, but the focus is on student-content.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where's the Viola?

Michael Feldstein just posted a few thoughts on what is missing from xMOOCs and from publisher material on eLiterate, .  I am curious how many students had a college experience that included long thoughtful discussions with either faculty or peers about the content?  And then of course I am curious where you went to school.

I am back thinking about my economics courses again.  I do try to spend time in the discussion area, but I have my questions there focused on application, not on theory.  Perhaps this semester I will move them to theory.  Maybe that will help me spot not only the that a student has a problem with indifference curves, but exactly where the problem is and how to solve it.  This is the sort of thing that is easier to build into an online course than it is to build it into a F2F course - for more students, not just for those who sit in the front of the classroom. 

I am also wondering about the intersection of xMOOCs and providers like StraighterLine.  Do we get to take over the lower level courses, those where at most universities the discussion taking place is between peers, not between students and faculty?  The PSY 101's that are taught in giant lecture halls anyway?  Clearly there is plenty of room for improvement there, particularly in STEM fields where that course is taught as a weeder course (think General Biology I, or  Chemistry I).  If someone other than traditional F2F educators do take those over, then there needs to be an improvement in pedagogy, not just in cost.  Is the community college model of small classes the best model?  Is it the only model?  Or are we working our way towards a new model that does scale?  

StraighterLine has added new ways to include the professor with Professor Direct. More importantly, SL is looking at new ideas and new ways to add the Viola back in -- via the new models grouped under Professor Direct or via organized student study groups or simply thinking carefully about other possible changes in pedagogy. We need to fit analytics into this discussion though as well as instructional design theories, role of the faculty, etc.

Friday, December 7, 2012

If the goal of discussion is to increase learner's critical thinking skills then online has some major advantaged over the traditional classroom.  That said, there are still significant skills to leading a discussion whether it is online of face to face and not a lot of places to get training in those skills.

Watched a keynote of Tony Bates today - we've spent a lot of time thinking about online course design, what to put online and how to present it.  We need now to think about the classroom.  What goes there, why, etc.  Also what to put online should be thought about at the program level, not only at the course level.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why Give Credit from Sources Outside the University?

Perhaps the actual question is "Do you believe learning takes place outside of the University?"  If your answer to that question is yes then we have to think about why an individual would need to be  credentialed for learning that took place outside of the university.  We also need to consider whether or not that learning was something that could or would have been learned during a traditional university education.  If it was and if the case can be made that learners do have knowledge and understanding of concepts that are a part of their degree program, but that that understanding came to them from outside of the university experience we will need to respond to that case.  As the university we are credentialing learners.  We are stating that we are confident they met the outcomes listed for our courses and programs.  But what if they met those outcomes prior to their university experience?  Is it appropriate to insist that learners take basic courses covering learning outcomes they have already met? 

Adult learners are asking these questions.  As a group they don't particularly want to spend time, effort, and money on content they already have.  How are you responding to them?