Identity: Introspection and Integrity

Identity: Introspection and Integrity

Radha M. Parikh (Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information & Communication Technology (DAIICT), India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-985-9.ch021
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The issue of identity awareness is rarely discussed in the context of its relevance to professional growth or autonomy, and as an essential requirement for independent functioning in a web-based learning environment. The need for integrity is at the core of every interaction, the stress on doing one’s best for the special satisfaction one derives from it, rather than for recognition and awards – these topics are related to awareness of the individual identity and development of a strong professional and ethical self which will help students to remain focused and skilled at self-monitoring strategies, essential in the online learning environment. There are various other issues related to web identity. This chapter will not deal with issues such as telepresence which is related to technological innovation creating a virtual presence, or social presence, which deals with interpersonal interaction; rather the discussion here is more intrapersonal in nature.
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E-learning is one of the most exciting and revolutionary developments in education. When we, as educators, want to become better instructors for adult learners, we have to learn to teach for change, to adapt to the new group of adult student population entering the non-traditional faceless classrooms in cyberspace. These are students who often enter the e-learning world with some prior knowledge and experience and choose to study for numerous reasons ranging from improved career prospects to a real interest in the subject matter, unlike many of the Asian youth who are in the traditional classroom due to tremendous parental pressure to perform (Wike & Horowitz, 2006). This emerging revolution in education with non-traditional students choosing web-based courses and programs, is compelling educators to have a serious re-look at both the curriculum, and the ways of presenting the curriculum (in modules) or chunks of information, that students can access at their own time, pace and space. For an instructor, to teach for change first and foremost means that there has to be personal transformation which can impact the students and transform them, and we also need a transformative environment and transformative texts (Taylor, 2006). Instructors need to introspect and reflect on teaching methods, and update themselves on the new and innovative theories that are learner-centric, moving away from teacher-centric methods (Blumberg, 2009). On his part, the online student also has more ethical responsibilities (Ettling, 2006). The passive classroom learner has to become an active online learner while taking web courses.

Competitive learning has been replaced by cooperative and constructive learning with experiential learning playing an important role. Moreover, the increasingly rich cultural diversity in the student population everywhere provides further satisfying challenges to transformative instructors who have to learn to present information in relevant and useful ways to make it easy for students to understand and remember the information. The large amount of information available to students on the dynamic Web pages that have constantly moving information facilitates the instructor’s job to some extent. Yet the information in web-based courses has to be presented with great clarity as the student is not part of a classroom where there are others to provide missing cues with questions asked and responded to by the instructor immediately. Assessment too has to be ongoing with frequent corrective feedback that is explanatory. By incorporating some elements of self-assessment where students can mark their scores on objective type questions, the instructor can empower adult learners to be more responsive in online courses even if such self-assessment scores do not have a large weightage on the final grade (Taylor, 2006).

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