do or do not. and try.

Here’s another one from the MOOC.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 10:41:47 AM EDT
Last Edited:Thursday, May 17, 2012 10:14:48 AM EDT
This might be mind-blowingly obvious to most people ’round these virtual parts, but here’s a bit of a continuation of what I was pondering on the individual blog last week.

Just as with new technology, software and systems, we’re required to look at some teaching models the wrong way round. We have to know what is possible first, but then go backwards to the actual subject matter. We have to keep the model in a theoretical reserve until what we want to teach is best facilitated by this or that bit of it. A pedagogical match.com.

I think this applies to both TEC-VARIETY and R2D2 in that simply picking a few from one and one from the other and sticking it onto, say, Epicureanism, isn’t going to produce the optimal result. Of course, this seems to be why the idea of learning styles is being thoroughly slated across the board (the discussion board, anyway). You can’t slap a Kinesthetic onto Avagadro’s number and get the Do-ers all into grad school.

On the other hand, the value of these models is that, once you know what’s possible, you’re free to choose what’s best for you. I think a lot of us (including self, who was an undergrad in the ’90s when chalk and OHPs were all the rage) don’t realise that we’re not ‘free’ to start with. We’ve got loads of assumptions about the ‘default’ way to present material (e.g. outside of science it’s Read with a Display as close to a Read as possible). Content that would have been much better taught as Reflect or Do has been shoehorned into R1 with a hint of D1 for centuries. To be fair, this is probably more true of higher education than in high schools, etc.

I guess what I’m suggesting is a just-in-time approach to course design and, (I liked my metaphor so much that I’ll use it again), an empty cache–no preconceptions about how something is ‘usually’ taught.

Here’s my question, though: how do you do Do online? While I could easily fill in the YES! column for Read, Reflect and Diplay for our online learners, I had trouble differentiating some of the Do ideas from some of the others (e.g. is a student-created timeline D1 or R2? how about a blog or wiki? is creating a course glossary R1 or D2? is a mind map D1 or D2?). I’m not trying to get pedantic. Rather, I want to avoid the trap of declaring that we’ve got a well-balanced course when really all of the D’s involve (for example) displaying and doing things with text.

This might not be such a conceptual problem for more naturally hands-on programmes (chemistry, nursing), but is still a pretty big practical obstacle for purely online courses. It’s not cheap to render (or buy from an outside source) every lab experiment in Flash (sorry–HTML5) or build a SL environment for every medical scenario…but neither is it easy to find OERs that someone else has laboured over and then offered up for free.

In my job, we’re developing resources for post-grad business students, so we’ve got the problem of distinguishing Do activities from the others for a start. But when there is something that F2F students could really Do, we share the issues that more ‘concrete’ disciplines face. Can I find a free hawks-and-doves simulation that will be available around the world? Can I spend the time making one myself? Would the students use it if I did??

Any ideas? Am I being too rigid in my categories? Is it okay if large amounts of text ooze into Do?

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