Central Learning

This topic contains 15 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Rose Heaney 5 years, 3 months ago.


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  • #10807

    Gary Vear
    Participant

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    Hi everyone

    I have put my personal reflections in my latest blog post here:
    http://intelligentideation.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/1-1-reflecting-on-my-practice-octel/

    Happy to discuss any points either on the blog or here.

  • #11199

    aditya_vadali
    Participant

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    Hi,

    Great post. like the concept of central learning. Here is my post if you are interested – would love to get your opinions.
    http://adityavadali.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/week-1-activity-1-1-reflecting-on-my-practice/

    • #11288

      barbarapg
      Participant

      Hi Gary and Aditya
      to Gary’s post
      I haven’t posted my own reflections yet but would like to respond to yours. Gary, I like the way you have coined a new phrase and concept in ‘Central Learning’. I wonder if there is yet another dimension and that is time (I mean by this the stage of development of the ‘student’) I have found that a series of activities or assignments can train my learners to become better contributors to groups or more independent learners. When designing activities I need to take into account how long they have been learning in different environments and what ‘training’ they need. The learner training (can anyone think of a better term?)has to be gently delivered as too many expectations all at once lead to fear and negative experiences. I read an excellent book* when I was an English language teacher(now out of print) that rated classroom activties in terms of safety and challenge and this has informed all of my online tutition as well.
      Just a thought!
      To Aditya
      I had a very similar student experience of supposedly ‘online’ learning. In reality the only online element was the source of the resources we had to study.
      I gave up trying to interact on the forums as nobody in my assigned group was active. I felt very much alone and deprived of that sounding wall that course colleagues usually provide. At the time I likened it to being a single pebble rattling around in a tin can! Never got to explore ideas with anybody.
      I obviously learned what NOT to do! I think that we, as online moderators or classroom teachers, should facilitate group discussion where it serves a valuable purpose (making the rationale clear to participants) and that the course organisers of my course failed to do that (it WAS very early days).
      Thanks for really interesting and thought-provoking posts

      *The book was published by DELTA publishing, Safety and Challenge for Japanese Learners, Gray P, Leather, S.

    • #11593

      Gary Vear
      Participant

      @Aditya – Firstly, thank you for your comments. I have read your post and think you make a valid point when it comes to group work. There is a lot of pressure from OFSTED regarding active learning and social interaction, however, as you said, it is not always the best idea. Inevitably there is always one (or more) member of the group who slacks off and does not contribute as much as the others. This is where we have the ideal clashing with the reality, as we often find to be the case with teaching concepts.

      @Barbara – Thanks for reading. I like the idea of possibly incorporating time. Your point regarding how long learners have been in different environments is completely valid, in my opinion. I personally believe that Value Added is a worthless exercise as a lot of learners in FE are tackling new subjects, new ways of learning and new forms of assessment. How this can be compared to the assessment structure of GCSE is beyond me. AS you say, we must consider the time frame that a learner has experienced a particular kind of training before assessing whether or not they are on track.

      • #13077

        philtubman
        Keymaster

        @gary @aditya there are some tools out there (eg WebPA) in which students can give each other scores based on set assessment criteria, and it will work it all out into a score which can be applied for group effort. A great thing about this tool is that some groups work together and agree to give the same, and others will not – this is a good reflection on how the team has worked together and how much of the workload people can negotiate up front, hence showing good group skills.

        • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by  philtubman.
        • #13627

          Gary Vear
          Participant

          @philtubman Thanks for the recomendation of WebPA…did not know this existed and if I was still in front of the classroom, I would definitely be making use of this resource

  • #11266

    r.heaney
    Moderator

    Thanks for your post Aditya – I’ll reply here rather than the blog.

    It sounds as if you have just experienced an online course based on the old correspondence style of distance learning. However this may have been a deliberate choice by the provider. Most likely it was to save money (moderating online fora & managing group activities is more resource intensive than what you describe) but it could have been to suit a particular demand eg provide for a student base requiring maximum flexibility. Maybe students were able to start & finish when they wanted – you say you worked at your own pace so it might have been difficult to include  group work. One thing I am interested in is if you knew to expect this at the outset or if it just became apparent as you proceeded through.  I think it’s important to make this kind of thing clear to prospective students.

    For most students the social dimension is important but not for all those who choose to be “distance learners”. I am reminded of  Terry Andersen’s interaction equivalence theorem which proposes that “… if any one of student-student, student-teacher or student-content interaction is of a high quality, the other two can be reduced or even eliminated without impairing the learning experience–thus creating means of developing and delivering education that is cost affordable for all of us.”  It sounds as if you experienced a high level of student-content interaction and achieved your learning goals.

    How could your course organisers have offered additional activities to reduce isolation & encourage peer support et al without necessarily compromising the flexibility to move at your own pace?

    I may be wandering off the point here …..

     

    • #14271

      aditya_vadali
      Participant

      Romien,

      Thanks for the reply. Apologies for the late response – I have been really busy with work this week and have set aside today for ocTEL.

      You raise some interesting points – especially Terry’s theory. Looking back, there was no “expectation setting” as such about how the eLearning course would work before it started. I was just given the URL and instructions and had a brief induction (more focused on how the support mechanisms would work etc). Having worked in Learning technology a few years ago, I assumed that standard eLearning tools like discussion forums etc would be available. But, sadly, they werent.

      The course technology was really good so, I don’t think they were trying to save money in the design of the course. More likely time – because as you say, moderating can take up a lot of time.

      But, I think discussion forums could work even if people are working to a different pace/different timescales. This course is a classic example. Not everyone is doing all activities by the looks of things and based on what I read today. I am personally maybe a bit behind everyone else and am catching up today on week 1. Yet, reading the posts today is helping me a great deal.

      Re what could have been done to make the course better without compromising flexibility – the discussion forums certainly would have increased interaction (as stated before). A blog perhaps for people to share their experiences of how they were getting on and at point of the course they had got to and how they finding the course (time wise etc). Added incentives like the badges in ocTEL for contributing to the blog would have encouraged people to “go the extra mile” to do the blog and help others in the process whilst interacting.

      Having a monthly webinar to answer questions and encourage active engagement whilst offering re-assurance at the same time would be been good too but that might be more high tech and relies on people being able to use something like Blackboard Collaborate etc. Also relies on people getting the time off to do the webinar as the course was offered to internal company staff. They could have actually had Sales staff in the webinar to talk about their experiences as the course was about Sales for people with no background in Sales at all. This would have offered some real world perspective. Dont know why I didn’t put this in my blog!!! Doh!

      I think there is certainly scope for improvement without the provider necessarily spending a lot more money and/or a lot more time – they would probably have to spend a little bite more money and time. Thanks for your insights again. Made me think!

      • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by  aditya_vadali.
      • #15399

        Rose Heaney
        Moderator

        Hi Aditya

        Thanks for reply.

        I agree the organisers of your course could have put a few more things in place to improve the social aspects. Maybe you could provide them with feedback to this effect?

        Rose (with my other hat on)

  • #12429

    James Kerr
    Keymaster

    This reflection exercise reminds me of Moore’s Transactional Distance Theory, where dialogue, structure, and autonomy are balanced. In courses with high dialogue and structure, learner autonomy is reduced.  Conversely, when dialogue and structure are low, learner autonomy is higher.

    • #13083

      philtubman
      Keymaster

      hi james can you tell us more about this theory and how it might map onto Gary’s ideas of making learning tasks appear in the centre of the matrix, or also the performance role play type learning, which Gary attached this notion.

      The way you describe it it sounds like a balancing act, so the idea of learning in the centre is impossible, no?

  • #13106

    Rose Heaney
    Moderator

    Hi Phil

    The theory James mentions sounds similar to Anderson’s equivalence theory referred to above (by my other persona).

    Do all learning tasks need to be at the centre? Do all learners need to be operating at the centre? I’d say not but it’s important to know your learners and design activities appropriately. However the ideal is not always possible – there will always be constraints such as time & money. On Aditya’s course above I suspect the design was deliberate to maximise learner throughput at minimum cost but maybe students could have been provided with each others contact details and thereby enabled to  set up their own voluntary unmoderated  study groups or whatever?

  • #13152

    James Kerr
    Keymaster

    Dialogue = interaction between learners and instructors

    Structure = design of the instructional program

    Autonomy = self-moderation/self-regulation of the learners

    TDT states that variances in dialogue and structure have an effect on learner autonomy. Conversely, in the design stage, to address learner autonomy, more or less structure and dialogue is built into the learning experience.

    Different types of programs can be classified by their location plotted against structure and dialogue:

    The notion of central learning as Gary described was addressing his design, where his mix lies in or near the center of the plot of learner autonomy and social interaction. I think his course would still be centered in the third chart above, just not at the origin of the axes. Central  learning would be at the midway point between less and more structure, and less and more dialogue.

    All learning tasks do not need to be at the center. A course may utilize a blend of different activities that model different transactional distances. Overall, however, if one plots the course itself as a whole item, where does it fall? The course becomes an average, of sorts, of the transactional distances of all the activities that comprise it.
    <p style=”text-align: right;”>(Charts from http://ci484-learning-technologies.wikispaces.com/Transactional+Distance+Theory – Contributions to http://ci484-learning-technologies.wikispaces.com/ are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License. Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License
    Portions not contributed by visitors are Copyright 2014 Tangient LLC)</p>
     

  • #13392

    philtubman
    Keymaster

    thanks James and Rose, this is very insightful and will research more on this. i’m thinking how this theory fits in with the thinking around MOOCs, especially the FutureLearn ones we are involved with, where they are quite demanding of high quality assets, stepped after one another, and limited on much other functionality, but very mobile friendly… it is a highly structured model content wise, but then with great opportunity to chat (discussion on every page), so perhaps it sits somewhere at the top left of your graph – a small transactional distance, akin to group correspondence on the chart.

    what does anyone else think?

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