Viral Professional Development: June 2 - 22, 2008

VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

by Jennifer Jones -
Number of replies: 5
Philip Watland brought up an interesting point about discussing pedagogy before technology when it comes to VPD. Many instructors try to replicate f2f instruction in the online classroom. How can we use VPD methods to help stimulate discussion around appropriate pedagogical considerations with instructional technology? It's highly possible for "viral" discussions to also spread knowledge and information that can be detrimental to learning. Do you think VPD can be used for pedagogical instruction?
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

by Elizabeth Wallace -

Thanks for starting this new thread, Jennifer, because it opens a discussion of the purpose of VPD. I'd like to respond to your last question with a question of my own: Why would we want to promote "pedagogical instruction" in any mode and under any circumstances?

The etymology of "pedagogical" is rooted in the Ancient Greek word for the slaves who took little boys to school—girls didn't go to school in those days. Although pedagogical is commonly used nowadays to describe the instructional endeavour in general, I personally prefer to avoid the P-word and refer to teaching and learning methodologies. It's my small gesture to signal that I am not interested in ancient paradigms.

Also, I think one of the problems with our educational systems in crisis is that we are still talking about "instruction". I prefer to think in terms of co-construction of meaning through the interchange of knowledges in the plural. The online world is an ideal environment to foster these interchanges. Many contributors to this seminar have given excellent examples of the platforms and processes they favour. Although I can't claim to be as connected as many of you, I use my somewhat neglected blog to develop my theories, if it's of interest to anyone: http://knowledgesinterchange.wordpress.com/.

Jennifer, I hope you don't mind if I reframe your question so that it reads something like: How can we use VPD to promote interchanges which will help to construct new teaching and learning paradigms?

In reply to Elizabeth Wallace

Re: VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

by Alice Macpherson -
I've been lurking (as this is my busiest time of year) and pondering the various threads and comments.

I'm with Liz on this one and generally avoid the "-gogies" as much as possible although I do use the term "anthrogogy" and define it as adult learning principles and practices that support life long learning (see David Mars, 1978 http://www.jstor.org/).

I believe that Transformative Learning (Jack Mezirow, 1978) will be the result of this co-construction of meaning through communities of practice. Cranton (1994), describes this as "a comprehensive and complex description of how learners construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience".

In terms of viral, I think that the basics have to include what Sharon has described - "brainstorm together, seek advice, and peer review each other's work" rather than worker bee knowledge accumulation. This is where learning communities can exchange those knowledges to build and grow. I also agree that it is not first about the technology, but rather about the people and how they interact.

best thoughts to all.




In reply to Elizabeth Wallace

Re: VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

by Janet Salmons -

I hear you Liz. As a promoter of collaborative learning (some on this list may have participated in a past seminar with me about it...), I am all for "co-construction of meaning through the interchange of knowledges in the plural." However-- my view is that I want to add to my toolkit of teaching and learning possibilities and I don't necessarily want to throw out anything. I want all the colors of the rainbow so I can mix and match. I think there are cases where "instruction" is needed-- all exploratory or team or problem-based learning would be just as ineffective as all instructor-lead learning.

I advocate better matching of teaching and learning style with content, context (online or f2f), learner characteristics, social and cultural factors, time available, etc. What is needed to teach accounting procedures is different than what is needed to teach a class on leadership or literature. 

For example---recently I participated in an online professional development 5-week course at Capella on the topic of mentoring doctoral learners through the development of their research designs... within the system used by the university. As a relatively new doctoral mentor (what some schools might call "dissertation chair") I welcomed this chance to learn more. In this case, the others in the class were similarly new to the role of mentor. Those in the class were not going to "co-construct" the content because a) we were all in the same boat in terms of limited prior experience with the content and wouldn't really be able to teach each other and b) we are not in a position to change the world in terms of what dissertations must include, what different styles of research designs are, or the university policies and procedures at each stage, etc . We needed an instructor who is an experienced researcher and mentor, who also understood the specific protocols. (Not surprisingly he had a very "mentoring" style, not a top-down instructor for sure!)

In this case the "co-creation" was about co-creating a friendly learning environment, giving each other moral support, providing examples of how we'll work with our learners, sharing resources, etc. The mix of peer support, clear content and instructor guidance made it a very valuable class.

Janet

In reply to Elizabeth Wallace

Re: VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

by Jennifer Jones -
Absolutely! I would love to see the discussion move in this direction!
In reply to Jennifer Jones

Re: VPD and Classroom Vs. Online Pedagogy

by Geoff Cain -
I think pedagogy is not only important, but is primary. It is important to know exactly why we are doing something. In order to understand how to teach we have to no more than just outcomes; we have to know how we learn. This is what pedagogy does. I use the word because it describes what I am referring to in a complete way. There is a lot of the classical world and a good deal of Pierce in most of the so-called modern theories in learning. We would have a very poor vocabulary if we had to look under the hood of every word we use and sanitize each one politically. I find that my work in online learning has always been centered on community building and interaction so I have found the constructivist model to be the most useful. There are other models such as connectivism but I think the jury is out on whether it is a learning modality or a complete learning theory. What it does do is describe different kinds of interaction and how technology changes the way we take in information.

Connectivism as a theory can show us, for instance, why the Blackboard Scholar service will fail miserably as an educational tool as contrasted with Delicious Bookmarks.

I think pedagogy is a good place to start with online learning. On the entirely practical side, it can tell you why something is working when it is working. It will also help when talking to faculty about how transferring their courses to the online environment can work. Constructivism says, for instance, that students create knowledge when they take new information, are given an opportunity to apply it to previously gained knowlege, and interact with one another. We also know through current research that the higher the level of interactivity in a class, the higher the retention rates. An instructional designer can take all of this useless theory and show a teacher how what they do in the face-to-face class and how to move that experience into an online environment.

We send out the occasional article on the pedagogy of online learning because it helps instructors see that there does not need to be any significant difference between the online and offline classroom.