OTL101 Blog 5 – Integration and Reflections

OTL101 Post 5 Integration and Reflections

Looking back through my previous posts I think that the following showcases my best interpretation of the assignments.

Cognitive Presence

The reading by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, “Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education,” emphasizes the importance of enhancing CMC – Computer mediated communication through asynchronous text based conferencing environments. Garrison, Anderson and Archer promote that teachers use the “Practical Inquiry Model” in order to model cognitive presence. Garrison et al’s article solidifies the importance of enhancing critical thinking skills in asynchronous text based learning environments, which is something I already practice in the classroom and online via Moodle. So, the ideas presented here really support a model I already endorse and use.

Social Constructivist Approaches: Active Knowledge Construction.

Of importance is the idea that we learn in a Community of Inquiry (COL) in online virtual courses. The educational experience is impacted by three factors: Social Presence; 2) Cognitive Presence; and 3) Teaching Experience. Using a Model of Inquiry that engages students through a Triggering event, Exploration, Integration and Resolution, it is suggested that we move from a blame the student perspective and a blame the teacher perspective to a level whereby we focus on what students do before and after the learning outcome. In asking how to encourage students to do the things which will lead to the attainment of the intended learning outcomes, the SOL taxonomy suggests that teachers should not focus on learning styles (and the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ student) but rather focus on context dependent activities. Moving away from a focus on learning styles, the SOL Taxonomy suggests that knowledge is structured via activity. Knowledge transmission is not the way learning takes place rather, it is what the student does that she/he learns; thus the promotion of active learning.  In emphasizing active knowledge construction through doing, we need to ask how students may be empowered. How do we accomplish deep understanding versus surface conversation? Biggs, Garrison, Anderson, Archer suggest there must be a constructive alignment between learning activities, assessments, and learning outcomes. The solution is Constructive Alignment: explain, relate, prove and apply. In order to teach so that Robert behaves more like Susan teachers need to engage students fully in the learning process.

Current Practice

I think that Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s Practical Inquiry Model in which critical thinking is enhanced is useful because it shows the process by which students and teachers may engage in the online learning process. The ‘Triggering Event’, ‘Exploration’, ‘Integration’, and ‘Resolution’ circular stages are useful reminders of the need to emphasize an interactive learning process where the teacher is present (teaching presence) and provides a forum for discussion and investigation. I often use this process in my face-to-face and online teaching environments.

Learning Outcomes and Constructive Alignment.

Transmission is not the way that students learn.” (Jensen, Open Learning).

Learning takes place through the active behaviour of the student: it is what he does that he learns, not what the teacher does.” (Ralph, W. Tayler, 1949).

Biggs’ Constructive Alignment Model posits that there needs to be alignment between objectives and practice. The Model also promotes the view that knowledge is constructed rather than transmitted. According to Biggs, course objectives should be clearly stated; exams should measure the intentions of the course; and, appropriate teaching activities should be implemented to reach these goals.

Keeping in mind that knowledge is structured via activity and that transmission is not the way learning takes place, I engaged students in active experiential learning. In order to obtain deep learning I emphasize that it is what the student does that she learns through active learning. In order to accomplish the aim of engaging in collaborative problem-solving exercises and critical reflections I use weekly in class group problem solving activities requiring students to engage with a problem or a question based on an issue raised in a course reading or video or guest lecture or field trip. Students receive a grade for their in-class activities. I believe that in doing so I will encourage students to do the things which will lead them to attain the intended learning outcomes. Rather than focusing on learning styles (the ‘good’ student and ‘bad’ student) I hope that the group work activity will provide a level playing field where more and less motivated students can work together to solve a problem. In this way I emphasize student-centered learning. In grading their weekly group work submissions I provide weekly feedback which motivates students to achieve (Hattie and Timperley note that feedback is the top 10 influence on student achievement, either positive or negative). Students are also given the opportunity to present their findings online and in-class.

Write a few words about why you think that post or those posts stand out.

I think that the above posts stand out because they critically engage with the online teaching literature.

What are 2-3 of the most important ideas that you have studied during this course?

Community of Inquiry (COI) Framework includes 1) Cognitive Presence 2) Social Presence and 3) Teaching Presence. Educational experience is impacted by the overlap of these three components.

Cognitive Presence Process: Triggering Event, Exploration, Integration, and Resolution. The “extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication.”

SOLO Taxonomy – Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome. Biggs and Collis’ SOLO Taxonomy is used to assess learning and designing learning outcomes. Five levels of quality are identified in the taxonomy: Prestructural, Unistructural, Multistructural, and Relational.

Briggs Constructive Alignment:  Stresses that knowledge is constructed rather than transmitted.

Constructive Alignment:

  • Course objectives should be clearly stated.
  • Exams should measure the intentions of the course.
  • Appropriate teaching activities should be utilized.

What are 2-3 questions that you have as a result of this course? Identify ways that you can begin to answer those questions.

  1. How might I implement Cognitive Presence in asynchronous learning environments? Answer: Implement a process of 1) Triggering event; 2) Exploration; 3) Integration of knowledge; and, 4) resolution.
  2. How can I utilize the SOLO Taxonomy in my online courses? Answer: 1) Course objectives should be clearly stated; 2) Exams should measure the intention of the course; 3) Appropriate teaching activities should be utilized.
  3. How may I provide effective feedback in asynchronous learning environments? Answer: According to Shute (2008) there are nine guidelines. I think that I can improve the effectiveness of feedback I provide to my students by following Shute’s (2008) nine guidelines. In looking at Shute’s (2008) guidelines, I agree that it is important to focus on the task, not the learner. I agree that it is important to provide feedback in manageable units focusing on the how, what, why. I also agree that it is important to provide specific, clear, feedback that is as simple as possible, reduce uncertainty between performance and goals, give unbiased objective feedback, promote learning with goal oriented feedback and provide immediate feedback after learners attempt a solution. All of these recommendations can enhance feedback effectiveness.

Identify 2-3 specific goals that you would like to achieve in light of what you have learned about cognitive presence, approaches to learning, and feedback;

  1. I would like to achieve the goal of providing effective course goals that are linked to course activities and expectations that align with the Cognitive Presence Model. The strategy I will use: Ensure the goals of my courses can be obtained through action based learning methods in which students are engaged.
  2. I would like to engage students in a Community of Inquiry that enhances activity based learning processes and experiential learning. The strategy I will use: Promote learning in a environment grounded in theory, practice and the latest scientific research and thinking. I will promote the Practical Inquiry Model (Triggering Event, Exploration, Integration and Resolution) to engage students in the process of critical thinking.

Ellen Faulkner

October 7, 2018