Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why Learn On line?: Learning Styles and the Three Bears

Why Learn On line?: Learning Styles and the Three Bears
This gets more at the collaborative elements of the program. Last semester I sat enthralled that my instructor was able to introduce just the right learning activity for the appropriate content and the combination lead to some earth shattering revelations for me. After each session, I sat there wondering - "why did she choose ...?" with the ... being round robins, mind mapping, role playing.

This semester, as I work my way through Barkley, Cross and Major's Collaborative Learning Techniques I find my self recognizing the activities they describe. This afternoon, while Skyping with the instructor on another matter, I asked her if she owned the book, she confessed she did. If I began this course with no prior exposure to the activities that CoLT introduces the readers too, I would have been the class skeptic, the whole thing striking me as to touchy feely. But you know what? It worked. Last semester my instructor led us in a scripted online synchronous class session. She let us know that she had prepared instructions for us to follow and then led us in a brainstorming session and a round robin before sending us off to our own break out chat sessions.

The experience was refreshing because it eliminated all the cross chatter that can go on in an synchronous session, the structure was perfect for making the participant feel valued and heard, and the final break out chats reinforced the lesson and provide the right about of reflection.

I am glad to have these activities in my preverbial toolbox, and glad to have seen them in practice.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

You call that collaborative?

I sat in on a strategic planning meeting at a small college earlier this week. After the presentations we broke out into several work groups, each group had its own topic. I enjoyed my group, but wished I had been placed in the group charged with brainstorming about collaborative learning. When we gathered together the share our ideas, the collaborative group - made up of mid level non-academic administrators could only offer the idea of student internship.

An internship can be wonderful experiences for some students, but thinking back to my summer internship, I can remember nothing collaborative about the experience. I did get quite good at stuffing envelopes and making coffee however.

With so many new buzz words flooding the learning landscape, I'm not surprised by their ideas. But I wonder, if you were pressed for a list of five things you could recommend to add a collaborative learning element to higher education, what would you propose?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The nature of the beast

Jim C wrote about Technology and Education and this post is a follow up.

Technology has economized and perfected almost everything it has touched. To deny the potential that it could improve education while cutting costs places education on too high of a pedestal and reeks of the kind of protectionism that stifles creativity and growth. It also denies that education is an industry, and prone to many of the same fluctuations as other service industries.

Of course we want students to learn, but I didn't see any evidence presented in that article that the students weren't indeed learning something from their tutors. If they didn't pass their exams, they wouldn't call back. And our education system requires things we cannot expect everyone to be good at. I am ok with the fact I got a C- in High School Chemistry, and if two hours on the phone with a tutor could have help me bump that up to a C, it would have been a sufficient investment of resources and while still serving a pedagogical purpose. But to invest anymore would be a waste of time and money - Chemistry requires all the skills I am really bad at and doesn't use any of my strengths - sure a good teacher could have made it more interesting, but to what end? Wouldn't the teacher be better served by helping interested students expand their knowledge?

Why can't we use technology to do production oriented education if it means we can free up resources [labor and capital] to go deeper and better where it will serve a greater return?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

m.o.d.e. interaction: Introducing M.O.D.E. Interaction

My instructor Jim is doing some fascinating work on collaborative learning, you can read about it here:
m.o.d.e. interaction: Introducing M.O.D.E. Interaction

Collab Blab: New Paradigm?

Learning Works

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Begin the begin

Facilitating Computer Supported Collaborative Learning sounds like one of those made up technical phrases found in a science fiction novel. Breaking down the phrase into managable chunks, we can begin to imagine how it might work in pratice.

Facilitating computer supported anything is a challenge. Once you leave the IT department, computers become a nuisance, an obstacle to overcome, not something to be used to support something else. Understanding how to change that perspective must be vital to our undertaking.

Collaborative Learning is simply learning together, and doing so constructively, so learning how to learn together becomes the next building block.

Over the course of the next three months, I will use this space to chronicle my journey into understanding FCSCL (foxicile). I hope you enjoy the ride.