Proposal update

Discussion amongst the WBL group has repeatedly endorsed the notion that learning is about process, not product. This insight into the nature of learning seems to echo through the development of project proposals. My own journey in this regard started with a longstanding interest in designing an Information Literacy course, which I then selected as the theme of my WBL proposal. While completing my Information Literacy proposal I discovered that the DUT library had already appropriated the topic for their own teaching and learning grant. Why re-invent the wheel? So I moved on to my “Storyteller” proposal – inspired by the multimedia possibilities of new ICT technology, I saw an opportunity to re-cast the first year Communication course module on Multicultural Communication offered by our Department. But as a clearer picture of the resources and time available within the WBL programme has emerged, I find that there is a more pressing need to fill gaps and consolidate our existing online Communication course. Thus I have moved on to my third (and hopefully final!) WBL proposal with two aims: the development of the assessment feedback database, and a guide to composing report source lists.




Today’s quote
“I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”
Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931)

What do we mean by research?
Research is a process of investigating improved ways of doing things.
What do we mean by scholarship?
Scholarship involves the use of careful, systematic and authoritative approaches to research.
Define learning and teaching.
Learning and teaching aim at the development of skills, knowledge and attitudes within a defined area of human activity.
What are the differences between online teaching and learning and face-to-face teaching and learning?
Online learning provides a structured and resource-rich environment for learning, while face-to-face learning provides greater opportunities for motivation and facilitation.
What is authentic learning?
Learning which immerses the learner in a process of developing new skills, knowledge and attitudes within a task which has a real-life impact outside the confines of the classroom.

Angelo’s Dozen

Angelo’s (Teacher’s) dozen consists of 14 useful tenets for teachers:

1. Active learning is more effective than passive learning.
2. Learning requires focused attention, and awareness of the importance of what is to be learned.
3. Learning is more effective and efficient when learners have explicit, reasonable, positive goals, and when their goals fit well with the teacher’s goals.
4. To be remembered, new information must be meaningfully connected to prior knowledge, and it must first be remembered in order to be learned.
5. Unlearning what is already known is often more difficult than learning new information.
6. Information organized in personally meaningful ways is more likely to be retained, learned, and used.
7. Learners need feedback on their learning, early and often, to learn well; to become independent, they need to learn how to give themselves feedback.
8.The ways in which learners are assessed and evaluated powerfully affect the ways they study and learn.
9. Mastering a skill or body of knowledge takes great amounts of time and effort.
10. Learning to transfer, to apply previous knowledge and skills to new contexts, requires a great deal of practice.
 11. High expectations encourage high achievement.
12. To be most effective, teachers need to balance levels of intellectual challenge and instructional support.
 13. Motivation to learn is alterable; it can be positively or negatively affected by the task, the environment, the teacher, and the learner.
14. Interaction between teachers and learners is one of the most powerful factors in promoting learning; interaction among learners is another.

Blog Powerpoint Presentation

Click on “Graham’s WBL Resources” under “Resources”. Follow the links. The Powerpoint will run in full screen mode in Internet Explorer, but only in a smallish framed mode in Firefox.

Reflection 2: How do I reflect when my mind’s a blank?

In a spirit of assistance to anyone who, like me, is afflicted by a form of mental stagefright when asked to reflect, I offer the following reflection prompts (courtesy of M.H. van Niekerk):

What did I do?
What does this mean?
Why have I chosen this particular item to be included?
What have I learnt?
What have I not learnt?
What must I unlearn?
What is the value or purpose of that learning?
What insights have I had from this learning?
How has my ability to accomplish new activities or tasks grown from these insights?
What aspects have I not explored in depth?
What aspects have I explored in depth?
How can I do things differently?
What are the problems that will prevent me from achieving my objectives?
What can I do to deal with these problems?
How can I apply this knowledge to my individual situation – in other words: What is in it for me?
What aspects would I like to pursue for future learning?

Van Niekerk, M.H. 1998. Putting a portfolio together – some guidelines. Progressio 20(2):81-101.

Reflection 1: Blogs

My first reflection is about blogs. Although I have already used blogs in my teaching, the session on Thursday (20 July 06) brought some brand new insights.
1. There is an individual – collaborative axis to be considered
2. There is an issue surrounding the privacy of a weblog (a private – public axis)

These two dimensions have an impact on how the weblog may best be used in an educational setting. In the case of the Cosmonauts project, we are faced with the choice (irrespective of the actual software used, Blogger or Ublog2) of (a) individual web-based journals, which exist as separate entities that may, of course, be visited and commented on by fellow Cosmonauts; or (b) our own “space” within a communal blog where the likelihood of reading and reacting to fellow Cosmonauts is much greater than in the former scenario.

Thursday’s presentation has exposed us to both possibilities on the individual – collaborative axis, explemplified by Ublog2 on the one hand, and Blogger on the other.

To me, the collaborative approach seems more suitable for the Cosmonauts, where part of the intention of the project is to create an online Community of Practice.

What about the private – public axis?
This one is more problematic for me. No Blog is completely private – it’s in the nature of the Blogosphere to share and and collaborate. Both Blogger and Ublog2 provide a configuration option to keep the Blog out of the big Internet directories, making them fairly difficult to find. But they do not need password access to be read by the general Internet user. Authoring and commenting rights can be secured, but not public access to the Blog content itself. A Blog is at heart a publication – that means it’s out there to be read.

Do we have a secure, non-public space for airing our reflections?
Yes – WebCt. Our oft-maligned virtual classroom is impenetrable to the casual web surfer, and offers all a Blog can offer in the Communication Tools (preferably in a specific “Graham” thread).

I’m placing my first reflection in three places, while I try to make up my mind. In Ublog2
In Blogger
And in our Astronauts WebCT Discussion area.

Where are you reflecting?