from the what to the how

from the what to the how

by Sarah Haavind -
Number of replies: 0

I have kept my ear to the ground these last eleven days, listening with anticipation for which directions this richly pre-loaded dialogue might point us in this open environment.

David jump-started us with his observation: our students expect more and would already be yawning in a discussion environment like this. Curt followed up with a plethora of stimulating ideas for situating asynchronous, text-based dialogue within a larger, more widely orchestrated course arena with his 30+ ideas and counting. Fabulous!

Nick mulled over the inherent concepts of community, openness and the goal of fostering a disposition towards learning and each other questioning the concepts and wondering out loud whether we have or have not yet found a cultural format for thinking together globally and indicating an intended disposition towards each other (as much as towards any particular content). He asks: Does social media point us to other 'dispositional' and 'design' alternatives?

In my current work I believe I am building on that helpful question by combining a social (ning) network platform with more formal professional development for teachers. They do their own PD independently, using the collaborative social environment to support and scaffold their personal professional learning. It is sort of a closed Classroom 2.0 with specific learning targets for improving teaching effectiveness – but open design, as far as participants deciding what to do and how to do it. We still include asynchronous discussion forums among other synchronous, video, links to resources, etc. for pursuing deepened knowledge co-construction. The jury is still out, I think, on whether social media can support real work getting done more fruitfully and effectively (and engagingly) than academic papers and discussion forums (David quietly yawns in my ear).

At my first read of Cindy’s critique, I resonated with her insight about the difference between identifying presences broadly and more specifically considering multiple “communicative functions” in order to “examine the dynamics of the dialogue in terms of how it engages the participants at each moment and develops the subject matter over time (page 4, printerFriendly Xin). Clearly the attention CoI has drawn since it was first presented alludes to its usefulness for seeing learning dynamics in broad terms. As Cindy notes: The CoI encourages one to think about what a successful conference would entail, it does not adequately account for how to get there or make it happen (p. 5). The “what” indeed helped, but now for the “how.” As Barbara notes, It’s a deep dive! and then she wonders, “how does the CoI help me to understand and explain my own behaviours in online discussion?”

That made me think of parallel processing, right? Syl suggested we try using the Marginalia to code our own experience in this seminar. Any takers? In the spirit of Gadamer’s (p. 6) insight noted by Cindy that ‘play’ lies at the heart of every conversation…(and that the) aim is not so much winning as improving one’s game (and that movement) is not tied to any goal that would bring it to an end” I want to add a term. Cindy tells us that all dialogue is inherently social. Nick points to the open disposition towards learning and each other that keeps the dialogue “ball” in play. When communicative functions (CFs) include weaving, recognition, prompting, these seem to me to indicate the “hows” of collaborative presence, or continuous improvement by playing in a way that builds, extends, mulls over, queries, refers – everyone facilitating everyone’s learning all the time. Our remaining days together are just a few; I am hopeful that just a few more balls cross our cognitive court. Thanks for so many rich insights here already…