This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

constructivism and communities of practice #ocTEL activity 1.1

Not getting on so well with the activities this week, at least with completing the tasks. I’ve found watching the videos and reading the resources really interesting, but have struggled to get round to producing anything from it. But then I read the following about Constructionism on the Moodle Philosophy page:

…you might read this page several times and still forget it by tomorrow – but if you were to try and explain these ideas to someone else in your own words, or produce a slideshow that explained these concepts, then it’s very likely you’d have a better understanding that is more integrated into your own ideas.

So, I’ve resolved to reflect (very) briefly in writing on a couple of things that jumped out from the resources for this activity, in the hopes of embedding them into my memory…


“…focus on the experiences that would be best for learning from the learner’s point of view”

(Moodle Philosophy page)

This prompted me to think about the experience of our learners, and what we are expecting them to do. They have limited time to devote to the course as part-time students, and there are a number of different (and sometimes conflicting?) learning goals – knowledge and understanding, learning the skills of argument and reasoning, critical reflection and so on. It’s important that each activity is expressly designed for a particular learning goal, and that it is the right kind of experience for that goal. This is good learning design in general of course, not just applying to TEL.

In reflecting on the design of ocTEL, I’m beginning to see (at least I think I am) that the organisers have deliberately kept the ‘required readings’ kind of resources and/or activities to a minimum to allow space for the constructivist activities that they want us to engage in. If students have to read for 4 hours, that doesn’t leave them much time to discuss the reading with their fellow students. But on the other hand, if there is a certain amount of material that they have to get their heads around, not providing them with these readings (for example) is problematic. My tentative conclusions here are that we need to at least be clear on what our aims are – and whether we choose the constructivist model or the didactic (for want of a better word) model, we should be sure that that model is (a) the right one to achieve our aims, and (b) that we stick to it in our course design.

Communities of Practice

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

(Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice)

How can we help the online students become a community of practice? I don’t have much to say on this yet, but I wanted to record the idea, as its something I’m keen to explore further.

Teaching Fellow and Online Learning Specialist at the University of Leeds

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