Online Graduate Programs and Intellectual Isolation: Fostering Technology-Mediated Interprofessional Learning Communities

Online Graduate Programs and Intellectual Isolation: Fostering Technology-Mediated Interprofessional Learning Communities

Kathleen M. Kevany (Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Canada), Elizabeth Lange (St. Francis Xavier University, Canada), Chris Cocek (St. Francis Xavier University, Canada) and Catherine Baillie Abidi (St. Francis Xavier University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2181-7.ch020
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With more flexibility in higher education, the authors argue that online graduate programs have a significant but unrecognized potential for interprofessional learning. Interprofessional learning is an emerging trend that is considered necessary to address the “wicked problems” in our society that defy simple solutions, disciplinary silos, and cause/effect thinking. This chapter examines the challenges of: fostering good adult education pedagogy in an online context, encouraging peer collaboration and an intellectual culture in an online, self-directed graduate program, and creating the conditions for interprofessional learning.
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Background On Adult Education Orthodoxies

It is a well-established orthodoxy in the field of adult education that learners are more motivated to learn if they have a role in establishing the goal and direction of the learning, in evaluating the learning, and if the learning relates to a role or task they must perform (Knowles, 1975; Tough, 1981). Nevertheless, it has also been established that a capacity-building process is required to support, motivate and enable learners, habituated to passive schooling, toward self-directionality (Pratt, 1993; Merriam, 2001; Heimstra & Brockett, 1994). In particular, participatory and active learning experiences have been identified as having potential to build self-direction by providing a space where adults can discuss, process, and apply their learning both individually and collaboratively (Silberman, 1996). Participatory learning focuses on the autonomy of the participant in terms of choices within the learning situation, responsiveness to their needs and learning styles, and full engagement in the act of learning, where constructing knowledge is understood as a process not a possession (Thomas, 1991). This approach can coalesce into a sense of competency and a self-organizing of meaning-making processes (Perry, 1970).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Capital: The collection of qualities and practices among relationships that build trust and foster co-operation and mutual satisfaction.

Self-Directedness: A form of time and task regulation and management that comes from within the individual not from an external source.

Peers: People who share similar work experience, learning interests, or social or political goals.

E-Learning: Using various types of digital technology to share knowledge and develop skills with people in disparate locations.

Social Presence: The appropriate sharing of personal and professional qualities to build a strong sense of community.

Traditional Learners: Pursue post-secondary studies around 18-24 years old.

Collaboration: Working with others to achieve individual and shared goals.

Multi-Sectoral: People from all sectors, business, community organizations, civil society, and businesses working together.

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