OTL301 Post 6 – Summarizing your Learning

OT301 POST 6 – Summarizing your Learning

Your final post for this course is an opportunity to reflect on your learning journey through the course and to look ahead as you integrate your new knowledge into your teaching practice.

You may choose to complete this post in one of a variety of ways. You may record and post a video, an audio podcast, a screencast, an annotated presentation, an infographic, sketchnotes, or a regular, text-based blog post.

Topics to cover in your final post include, but are not limited to:

  • What are the most important lessons you gathered from the course?

The most important concepts I learned from the course are listed below. The most important lesson that laid the foundation for my learning in this course is the social constructivist approach to learning, which draws on John Dewey’s principles to guide pedagogical practice, and underpins all theorizing about online teaching and learning. Cognitive Presence is the most important concept underpinning online teaching and learning. It emphasizes that online learning involves a community of inquiry in which it is hoped that all who engage (both teachers and students) are able to construct meaning through interaction and communication.

John Dewey’s principles to guide pedagogical practice: Dewey “outlined a series of principles to guide pedagogical practice. A major theme throughout Dewey’s work is the notion that learning is not only a cognitive process, but it is a necessary social process” (TRU Open Learning, Learning Theories). See Socratic Method and Social Constructivism.

Cognitive Presence: The most important concept underpinning online teaching and learning.  “Cognitive presence is the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication” (Thompson Rivers University – Community of Inquiry-COI). Goal: “for the learner to ‘construct meaning through sustained communication’” (COI TRU). Therefore, knowledge is constructed based on student activity.

COI – Community of Inquiry includes social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence. All three overlap with educational experience.

COI – Community of Inquiry advantages: asynchronous online interactions allows time for learners to process their thoughts with respect to any given idea; and, asynchronous communication on the web allows for a greater number of participants to engage in sustained communication.

Collaborative Constructivism: The idea that there is a public element involved in the processes associated with cognitive presence and critical thinking. Information and knowledge is the result of a shared world of knowledge, the process of exploration and integration.

Social Presence: “Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people’” (Thompson Rivers University Open Learning – Community of Inquiry).

Teaching Presence: “Teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes” (Thompson Rivers University Open Learning – Community of Inquiry).

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: “the theoretical space between what a learner can do on their own and what a learner cannot do, even with the assistance of a more capable peer” (TRU Open Learning, Learning Theories). “Three premises: 1) People can perform more challenging tasks when they have the assistance of someone more competent than themselves; 2) People learn optimally when tasks are appropriately challening; 3) Play is an important component of cognitive development.” (TRU Open Learning, Learning Theories).

Practical Inquiry Model: Triggering event; Exploration; Integration; Resolution, is a circular process used to enhance to process of critical thinking.

Hattie and Timperley’s model for effective feedback. Feedback can be positive and negative; it is important to ensure that feedback is both positive and constructive.

Moore and Anderson’s model for how interaction occurs in online educational environments. Formal education emphasizes learning to be the result of student-teacher interaction while online learning prioritizes student-content interaction. Kanuka suggests that the interaction between teacher, student and peers who are ‘agents’ is the process by which learning takes place.

Constructive Alignment: There needs to be constructive alignment between learning activities, assessments and learning outcomes with appropriate feedback to motivate students.

Biggs and Collis’ SOLO Taxonomy (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome) can be used to both assess learning and to design learning outcomes. Constructive Alignment refers to alignment through relevant course activity. Deep and surface learning: Biggs proposes there are three levels of learning.  Jensen: Students learn by doing.

Shute’s nine guidelines for giving feedback: “Focus on the task, not the learner” etc. (2008).


  • How has your thinking changed as a result of completing the course?

The concept of Cognitive Presence has impacted my thinking about online learning. Dewey’s proposal that learning is a social process has deeply impacted my sense of how to approach online teaching and learning so that I have come to see it as a highly social interactive process.

Cognitive Presence: The most important concept underpinning online teaching and learning.  “Cognitive presence is the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication” (Thompson Rivers University – Community of Inquiry-COI). Goal: “for the learner to ‘construct meaning through sustained communication’” (COI TRU). Therefore, knowledge is constructed based on student activity.

  • In what ways did the platform (WordPress) influence your interaction with the content and other people and what you learned?

To be honest, as a new user, I did not enjoy using WordPress and found the technology confusing and not user friendly. For example, I hold the cursor over commands and I do not get any information about the function of the commands. There are instructions we are asked to follow in the training that do not correspond with the commands/functions in WordPress. Some of my posts disappeared and thankfully I had saved my answers in Word so that I could upload them again. I found the save and publish functions confusing because sometimes I would save a document and then re-open it in WordPress and the file hadn’t been saved. I would have enjoyed a more user friendly platform in which to learn how to Blog. For this reason, I am leaving course two, “Engagement” to the last. I like the ability to go back and forth in the courses for this reason. Some activities were easier to complete than others. Some hands on in-class training might have been helpful. I don’t consider myself a luddite however, I usually learn new software through the process of trial and error, which takes time and patience.

  • What learning strategies were most effective for you? Why?

The following learning strategies are most effective for me because they enhance learning in a social environment.

I enjoyed learning about Shute’s nine guidelines for giving feedback: “Focus on the task, not the learner” etc. (2008).

I enjoyed learning about Deep versus Surface Learning: I think that this is a learning strategy that is very effective, and one I already use in my courses. The idea that it is what a student does that leads to learning vs. the traditional transmission approach, is a very important strategy which enhances learning in an online environment.

Hattie and Timperley’s model for effective feedback and the SOL Taxonomy enhance effective learning strategies because they provide a theoretical foundation for how to provide feedback and why feedback is so important for student learning and the attainment of learning outcomes through the use of high-level cognitive skills. For example, Hattie and Timperley “argue that feedback is among the top 10 influences on student development, but that the effect can be either positive or negative, leading to the conclusion that it is important to understand how to ensure the effect is positive” (Foundations of Feedback, TRU Open Learning).

In addition to reflecting on your work, please include 2-3 ideas that you would like to implement in your own practice and how you might go about doing so.

  1. I will implement more and diverse technology in my online courses to enhance student learning. I will therefore attempt to acquire more knowledge of new technology.
  2. I will enhance my feedback skills in order to enhance student learning and I will implement knowledge I have acquired from the SOL Taxonomy and Hattie and Timperley’s foundations of feedback.
  3. I will implement Vaughn, Cleveland-Innes and Garrison’s seven principles to guide the process of creating and sustaining communities of inquiry to enhance teaching presence and student learning. In order to do this I will refer to the seven principles outlined below.

Teaching Presence Activities

“Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison4(p. 17), identify seven principles to guide the processes of creating and sustaining communities of inquiry.

  1. Plan for the creation of open communication and trust.
  2. Plan for critical reflection.
  3. Establish community and cohesion.
  4. Establish inquiry dynamics (purposeful inquiry).
  5. Sustain respect and responsibility.
  6. Sustain inquiry that moves to resolution.
  7. Ensure assessment is congruent with intended processes and outcomes.”

4. I will integrate learning from Biggs and Tang’s Constructive Alignment Model. I will utilize the strategy of providing understandable intended learning outcomes, create a learning environment that enhances the intended outcome, provide grading rubrics and appropriate grading criteria. “Constructive alignment1 is a term Biggs and Tang use to refer to the fact that the idea is rooted in constructivist pedagogies where learners construct knowledge through learning activities and reflection on their own existing schemata. Further, assessment tasks must be aligned to what is intended to be learned.

They outline four stages in designing aligned assessments:

  1. “Describe the intended learning outcome in the form of a verb (learning activity), its object (the content), and specify the context and a standard students are to attain.
  2. Create a learning environment using teaching/learning activities that address that verb and therefore are likely to bring about the intended outcome.
  3. Use assessment tasks that also contain that verb, thus enabling you to judge with the help of rubrics if and how well students’ performances meet the criteria.
  4. Transform these judgements into standard grading criteria.” (TRU Open Learning).”
  1. I will integrate feedback strategies from Vaughn Cleveland-Innes and Garrison’s 8 principles of effective assessment feedback.

“Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison2 (pp. 82-83) list 8 principles of effective assessment feedback:

Good feedback:

  1. helps to clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards)
  2. facilitates the development of self-assessment and reflection in learning
  3. delivers high quality information to students about their learning
  4. encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning
  5. encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
  6. provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance
  7. provides information to instructors that can be used to help shape teaching.” (TRU Open Learning, Foundations of Feeback).


Ellen Faulkner

October 9, 2018