reflections and ideas on open and distance learning - by irwin devries

Mini session planning ISWO project

This is a reflection on a learning activity designed for the ISWO course project.

Here is how our team can work toward our own learning outcomes for Unit 2:

Theories of adult learning

Identify the appropriate models/approaches and have rationales: behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism, connectivism. One common mistake I believe is to think one must remain confined to one school of thought whereas these are all aspects of the way in which we learn. Often I get the impression that people think one of these is “right” and the others are “wrong,” probably due to excesses when each of these areas is taken to its extreme. Of course there are powerful underlying philosophies to each of these theories that merit (and receive) much debate both within and outside education, but that’s for another discussion I think!
Strategy: For the purposes of this project, let’s use a recipe approach—a pinch of this and a teaspoon of that to give the flavours, a sense of what these theories are all about.

Different emphases may take place at different times for different reasons.

Behaviourism is a helpful concept for such things as developing rewarding habits and routines (e.g. a study schedule), having predictable and responsive navigational elements, minimal frustrating barriers, creating opportunities for experimentation and feedback (reinforcement). Yes we are more than pigeons or guinea pigs chasing a pellet, and certainly Walden Two is a nightmare scenario, but also we do like to get positive support from others and we don’t want to encounter barriers that demotivate us.
Strategy: Ensure we provide clarity and opportunities for experimentation, feedback and encouragement.

Cognitivism investigates tools for knowledge structures, abstraction, analysis and critical thinking. These are helpful for working through specific problems, evaluating resources, making decisions, structuring and organizing content, “learning how to learn” and so forth. Reflective learning and particularly concepts of meta-cognition, self management and self-directedness emerge in a cognitivist environment.
Strategy: We can encourage this by reflective and critical thinking practices in the students’ blogs.

Constructivism focuses on meaning and context, which develops within social settings and interactions. Knowledge is not passively transferred from one person to another, nor is it a static, objective thing. Knowledge is not given but rather created through social engagement.
Strategy: A Wiki is a constructivist tool by nature—i.e. it is socially constructed and it continues to change as knowledge develops and matures.

Connectivism puts knowledge and even to some extent consciousness into the larger social pool based on communication networks. As we learn and share, we place new dynamics on the public web of knowledge at various levels, making learning an ongoing, fluid and connected experience that extends beyond ourselves.
Strategy: Promote interaction among participants, and ensure all have made entries, comments or edits (preferably all of these) in the Wiki.

1 Comment

  1. Elizabeth Wellburn

    It will be interesting to see if any ISWO participants can add to this – it's great to see a philosophy that acknowledges there might be a time and place for components of the many learning theories – and considers specific strategies to make this happen.Kind of reminds me of "fusion cuisine? (or maybe it's just getting close to lunchtime)

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