The Untapped Learning Potential of CMC in Higher Education

The Untapped Learning Potential of CMC in Higher Education

Cheryl Amundsen (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Elahe Sohbat (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch001
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Abstract

We argue for programs that support academics to develop an understanding of the relationship between technology and pedagogy. To lay the groundwork, we document how nine instructors (in biology, education, English, general studies, geography, and kinesiology) at two universities integrated a computer conferencing tool into their course design and how their students reported actually using the tool. Among our findings was that most instructors intended students to use computer conferencing for learning of course content and to meet this goal three types of interactions were written into the course design: unidirectional, bidirectional, and co-constructive online interactions. The data was further considered from the perspective of Van Aalst’s framework (2006), which provides a way to build a “communal online learning resource in terms of three notions: collaboration, learning how to learn and idea improvement” (p. 279). Implications are drawn for working with faculty to design online instruction.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Building: “Knowledge building refers to the process of creating new cognitive artifacts as a result of common goals, group discussions, and synthesis of ideas. These pursuits should advance the current understanding of individuals within a group, at a level beyond their initial level of knowledge, and should be directed towards advancing the understanding of what is known about that topic or idea” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003, p. 5).

Co-Constructive Online Interaction: Students not only are exposed to alternative viewpoints, but they also maintain the dialogue long enough to negotiate and construct a deeper group understanding that goes beyond what each could do on their own.

Uni-Directional Online Interaction: One student accesses the work of another student or students in order to compare it to what they have done. The purpose is to enhance the learning of an individual student.

Student-Centered Instruction: Describes ways of thinking about teaching and learning that begin with how student learning can best be supported and emphasizes student involvement in planning and assessing learning in cooperation with the instructor and with other students.

Knowledge Building: “Knowledge building refers to the process of creating new cognitive artifacts as a result of common goals, group discussions, and synthesis of ideas. These pursuits should advance the current understanding of individuals within a group, at a level beyond their initial level of knowledge, and should be directed towards advancing the understanding of what is known about that topic or idea” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003, p. 5).

Co-Constructive Online Interaction: Students not only are exposed to alternative viewpoints, but they also maintain the dialogue long enough to negotiate and construct a deeper group understanding that goes beyond what each could do on their own.

Asynchronous Learning Network: An online network of learners where the primary purpose of coming together is to engage in collaborative inquiry.

Emergent Thematic Coding: A qualitative data analysis approach in which the text (commonly interview transcripts) is read several times to identify themes that emerge from the data.

CMC (Computer Mediated Communication): Features include text-based asynchronous messaging where students and instructors log on at different times and read messages previously left by others and then engage in a number of other possible activities depending on the course design.

Emergent Thematic Coding: A qualitative data analysis approach in which the text (commonly interview transcripts) is read several times to identify themes that emerge from the data.

CMC (Computer Mediated Communication): Features include text-based asynchronous messaging where students and instructors log on at different times and read messages previously left by others and then engage in a number of other possible activities depending on the course design.

Faculty Development: Programs, seminars and workshops offered by institutions of higher learning designed to support the improvement of teaching (and learning).

Student-Centered Instruction: Describes ways of thinking about teaching and learning that begin with how student learning can best be supported and emphasizes student involvement in planning and assessing learning in cooperation with the instructor and with other students.

Faculty Development: Programs, seminars and workshops offered by institutions of higher learning designed to support the improvement of teaching (and learning).

Bi-Directional Online Interaction: Discussion or collaboration between students to expose them to alternative views, enhance their argument skills and help them to clarity their own ideas.

Uni-Directional Online Interaction: One student accesses the work of another student or students in order to compare it to what they have done. The purpose is to enhance the learning of an individual student.

Asynchronous Learning Network: An online network of learners where the primary purpose of coming together is to engage in collaborative inquiry.

Bi-Directional Online Interaction: Discussion or collaboration between students to expose them to alternative views, enhance their argument skills and help them to clarity their own ideas.

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