Monday, 28 April 2014

Week 2, Chapter 2 - Blended Interactions

I've just finished reading Chapter 2 - and WOW!  Where do I want to start???

Do I want to talk about Content vs Context?  

Content can be looked at as the subject matter; facts; written matter.

Context can be looked at as the way in which the facts can be fully understood.

Content understanding can be measured in knowledge recall tests.  Context understanding comes from explaining why something is the way it is.  I'm a big believer that content can be learned from reading and watching videos on-line, but the context comes through facilitated means - F2F discussions, webinars, group chats to discuss the topic.  Each is important - equally so...

Maslow's Theory and how the interaction of student and teacher or student with other students is an expression of human need?  

This could be viewed in terms of Safety (gained by having knowledge of how to deal with various situations, a safe environment to share thoughts and opinions), Belonging (as part of an on-line community), Esteem (in terms of building self esteem by conquering new material, earned respect of others based on their work, etc). and in Self-Actualization (ability to problem solve, acceptance of facts).  An on-line community, properly facilitated, can help fulfil many stages of the hierarchy of needs.

That interaction between student and teacher as well as student and other students needs to be kept in front of mind while planning a course.  Sometimes direct dialogue between student and teacher with feedback is best.  Other times, dialogue amongst students will allow for the greatest growth in understanding, rationale, and defending ones position.

How "learners generally value social contact and faculty guidance, especially when entering a new field or course of study (de Laat, 2006)" (quoted from text)? 

Having F2F meetings early in the course provide an opportunity to address fears, explain how the blended courses work (especially for a student who hasn't taken such a class before), and build relationships.  Those F2F relationships put a face to a name in a chat group, helping to create a safer environment in which to share ideas.  It is harder to disrespect someone you have a real connection with versus someone who just exists online (minimize trolling).

About interaction with Experts?  

Having Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) take part in F2F or on-line sessions can give greater context to the content, provide real life experiences and examples, as well as to create a real life contact that may be useful in finding employment later on.

More on Gamification? (Yes, this interests me greatly!) Progress bars, badges for completed tasks, levels of long as it benefits the material and doesn't take away from it.

The role of educators? 

I loved the concept of the educator as a Concierge...or Network Administrator. A Network Administrator places students at the centre of their Personal Learning Network, which is constructed by the student with the help of the instructor - ensuring they gain the skills needed to construct the network for learning, evaluating their effectiveness, forming connections in a more holistic and diversified learning environment.

The concierge directs learners to resources of which they might not be aware. Sometimes through lectures, sometimes through self guided learning (i.e. Google it! LOL). This pushes students into learning possibilities that are perfect right now.  This also allows for learner designed programs and the teacher to be more of a tour guide.

The importance of not only what material is placed on-line, but the ways in which a student can interact with it.  Watch, comment, group chats, blogging, various "techno expressions".  Are you just posting a syllabus? Or creating an area for dialogue that allows students to ask questions, comment or state their own expectations? Are you creating opportunities for students to talk about how a class will help them meet their academic or professional goals?  To return to it through self reflection?

Asynchronous learning and it's value 

Especially for ESL students, but the importance of maintaining a connection to the community or class at large.  ESL students have a chance to review, translate, refer to other sources before communicating to the group at large (a HUGE benefit!).  It allows all students time to look up additional sources, draft, and refine before posting.  Students can become more confident in their responses (provided they did their work first!).

Synchronous learning and the creation of a community.

Synchronous activities can provide a sense of community (going back to the Maslow discussion - creating a safe environment for the expression of opinions). 

Encouraging expression - with peers, instructors, experts and potential employers.  

How the expression changes between groups (formal vs informal tones, word choices used if expressing to someone who studies their topic vs someone who doesn't).  Students should be prepared to make their case, state opinions and answer follow up questions.  Audiences should be mixed up to provide the opportunity to talk to many people.  Methods should also be mixed up (Blog, Vlog, Podcast, wiki, e-Portfolio)

What is an e-Portfolio?

To make your own, check out this lesson by a teacher for his class:

Guidelines - why? What? Creating models?

Ensuring your students know what you want is paramount!  If you fail to give clear instruction, you can expect to get everything from garbage to gold back!  In a F2F class,students can ask you questions easily and directly.  In an on-line or blended class, there is a delay in getting a reply.  Sometimes taking days to get a response.  Which is frustrating for a student who doesn't know if they are on the right track!

By creating a model assignment, you can demonstrate to your students what you consider to be good work! Ensure they understand how to submit the assignment and the risks involved in sharing their document in an open forum (others being able to change or steal their work).

Importance of role of interaction between students, teachers. How technology can be used to guide learning or as a method of expression.

Technology is great.  But it adds zero value if you do not take time to provide timely feedback to the student.  That means reading and commenting on their blogs.  Joining in discussions.  Referring to a group chat in a F2F meeting.  

Ensuring your students know you are paying attention to what they are saying and doing.  It adds to the community you are growing!

So that is what I got from the reading and the supplemental research I did to support the reading and fill in my own gaps. I love having a structured environment to learn within that prompts me to research and discover extra things on my own!