Saturday, September 24, 2011

week 3 - consideration of IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES: Technology as Lever

I am posting late and I would have liked to over-analyse this post far more, however, time does not permit. Life got in the way this week.
 I would be interested to hear if you agree with my comments under each of the points. Maybe I can over-analyse in the comments.

1. Good Practice Encourages Contacts Between Students and Faculty
In Tamara's most recent blog post The Professor behind the curtain she makes reference to The Wizard of Oz and likens him (The Wizard) to the professor (behind the curtain) and shares with us her realisation that she was not "connecting with students like I did in the classroom". 
I must say that I share Tamara's joy of "human interaction in the pursuit of knowledge"
As I stated in my previous blog post, I believe that it is imperitive for learners to connect on a human level with the person delivering the information. So many tools and technologies that we have at our disposal for use in learning online take away the 'human' behind the curtain and I believe it is our role as facilitators of learning to connect personally so as the importance of this connection is not overlooked or forgotten.

2. Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students
I find myself reflecting back on my days at Uni (as a student) and now recognise the lack of reciprocity between myself and fellow students. Perhaps because I was a mature aged student who already had a life (and two jobs) outside of Uni. Life sometimes gets in the way. 

As an active online learner (learning about learning) now I find that I connect with other students in my day to day life ie. mums at my kids soccer/school who are studying part-time at Uni, because I am learning about learning I ask them questions about how they learn, and make recommendations for podcasts to listen to. This face to face networking is a way for me to put into practice what I am learning and get a better understanding of how other individuals learn. 

3. Good Practice Uses Active Learning Techniques
I agree that when you are learning something you need to touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, get your hands dirty with it. There are so many methods to actively learn via the internet that it can sometimes be overwhelming but that is where I have found following a facilitated course keeps me 'on track' (even though most of the courses I participate in are very informal) and then I am still able to run off on tangents with my own self-directed learning. 

I must also comment that I also like to have a variety of options ie. written, auditory, video to have a choice of method but it also allows me to reinforce the learning eg. written paper (blogpost,article, publication) and a recorded interview with the author and a video on a topic that relates then I need to 'output' - think about it and write about it. As a facilitator this will offer another challenge to provide this variety of methods.

4. Good Practice gives prompt feedback 
I think the key word is prompt, there certainly needs to be an agreement of what this word means for the facilitator as they set the standards and clarify with the learner a timeframe that they will commit to in providing the feedback. 
There are also certain learning activities that require more immediate feedback, eg skill development, for the learner to then progress to the next stage/step in the learning. To avoid frustration on behalf of the learner I would expect that more synchronous methods of communication may be required when learners are conducting skills practice or alternatively if the facilitator effectively troubleshoots the potential errors that the learner may encounter and they create or compile references to answer/assist the learner eg Lisa's instructional videos that she posted in the introductory weeks to assist in setting up a blog, also Todd's elluminate session to troubleshoot setting up a Wordpress blog.

5. Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
Yeah, how long is a piece of string. You can set out timeframes all you like but they can only ever be used as a guide by learners. I know there have been many times that I have spent countless hours trying to 'fix' something, only to give up, go to bed and wake up with the answer. I agree with all the examples, of how technology saves time, that Chickering and Ehrmann refer to in their article, however sometimes the use of the technology is what takes the time. Sometimes there is no getting around it the learner simply has to take the time to 'get their hands dirty' with the technology.

I think we also need to consider the context of this article, written in 1996 when there were many technologies available however not as many, or as many newly introduced technologies as we have today. 

I like the opening sentence in this point "Time plus energy equals learning", because often if you dedicate the final hour of the day it may not be the most productive use of time because your energy levels see you working at half pace. this is why I really like the use of time saving techniques like listening to podcasts while travelling to and from work because it is simply efficient and effective use of time, because I am focussed (no kids in background).

6. Good Practice Communicates High Expectations
Hmmmm! I know that a facilitator needs to set a standard and why not set it high? Sure, but I think we need to be considerate of the fact that learners will have external factors that impact on their learning (life gets in the way) and if we don't want to lose them forever we need to allow flexibility for these times. We need to allow opportunity for learners to get back on track, as this in itself indicates a strong will to succeed if they come back following a setback. 

7. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
Certainly many learners bring a diversity of skills and talents, however I think the learning environment needs to allow the learner to be comfortable to encourage them to express their diversity. I think that making the statement that diversity is respected in the initial stages of the course/journey goes a long way to creating that comfortable learning environment. 

Do you disagree? because I would like to hear if you have had a 'real life' experience with online learning where you have evidence for or against any of these 

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