Posts Tagged ‘MOOC’

It has been a while since I posted to my Blog due to illness. The reading week in this MOOC has happened at just the right time for me as I am hoping I can now catch up.  I have read the JISC e-learning models desk study – stage 2 review of e-learning theories frameworks and models. 

The report began by stating that it is important to be clear about underlying assumptions about learning when planning e-learning. Biggs (1999) believes that pedagogic decisions should be based on the intended learnng outcomes. Biggs (1999) was very influential in changing my approach to information skills workshops that I led with students when I was a Faculty Liaison Librarian. Initially when I began doing workshops I was concerned about what I would be telling the students, when I started to think about intended learning outcomes for the workshops and how these would be met through the activities students would be doing the emphasis changed from what I would be saying to what the students would be doing. One of the key quotes from the report that stood out for me was “for good pedagogical design, there is simply no escaping the need to adopt a theory of learning”.

This report outlined 3 broad perspectives about what is crucial for learning

  • Associationist/Empiricist perspective – learning as an activity

Learning occurs through a process of activites and making connections. This ties in with Skinner and machine learning which the ocTEL MOOC touched on in week 1. The report stated that this approach to learning is associated with behaviourism, which despite being largely dismissed these days, does emphasize active learning.

  • Cognitive perspective – learning as achieving understanding, learning as the process of constructing and interpreting meaning

Building a framework for understanding becomes the learners challenge, this contrasts with learning as a strengthening of associations. The “learners searching for meaning through activity is central”.

  • Situative perspective – learning as a social practice

Learners will be influenced by the social and cultural setting in which learning occurs. In my current role this can relate to academic writing and in particular plagiarism, where there are cultural differences in approaches to using quotes in assignments so when using the online plagiarism tool ‘Turnitin’ staff need to be aware of this. Problem based learning and Wenger’s ‘community of practice’ are 2 subsections of this approach. I find the problem based learning approach very useful and believe that this can lead to ‘deeper learning’ as what is learnt can be put into practice.

As the report states most implementations of e-learning will include elements of all 3 perspectives but the dominant perspective will influence how the learning outcomes are written; with associative perspective the learning outcomes are likely to be task analysis and competencies, with the cognitive perspective the emphasis of the learning outcome will be ‘learning how to learn’ and with a situative perspective the definition of learning outcomes will be in terms of disciplinary practices. This report has helped me to understand how learning theory influences e-learning however, as Downes (2014) states in his Half an Hour blog theories explain, they answer the ‘why’ questions – a learning theory explains what learning is and why learning occurs, it is not a pedagogic manual.


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As the header of my Blog indicates I am relatively new to my post as a Learning Technologist in a higher education insitution but I would not have taken this career change (after 12 years as a professional Librarian) if I did not believe that technology can be used to support learning. However, I am not an advocate of technology for its own sake – the learning must come first. I read a recent post on Steve Wheelers blog around this topic which I found very interesting . I do not feel comfortable when staff indicate that they want to use technology because paper is old fashioned or they feel pressured to use technology but have not really thought about why they are using it. For me it is more about ‘Blended Learning’ with the ‘blend’ being described by Garrison and Vaughan (2008) as the ‘thoughtful integration’ of online and face to face teaching.

I was unable to attend the week 0 webinar ‘live’ but I listened to the recording of the webinar which reassured me that it was natural to feel overwhelmed but to set out with some key questions/objectives.  One of these for me is to write regular blog posts about the course as I set up this Blog some years ago but never felt brave enough to use it. I also wanted to have experience of learning online. Supporting TEL is my job so I am keen to learn more from other peoples experiences. If this helps me to move forward with my goal of CMALT that would be good as well.


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I am a bit apprehensive having signed up to the OcTEL MOOC as there seems so much going on in different forums. Having read some of the advice what I need to do next is plan what I want to get from this course. Having set up a wordpress Blog sometime ago I thought my first step for this MOOC would be to use it!

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