I’m reading about Virtual learning environments at the moment and here are a few points from my readings that stand out:
- some serious errors of educational course design are mistaking interactivity for engagement, focussing on content rather than outcomes, and using technology to mirror traditional approaches rather than using technology to create learning opportunities that previously did not exist.
- further problems are caused by the failure to see learning as a social activity, and rather as an information delivery process
- over emphasis on discourse in VLEs rather than on the learners working together to produce some artifact
- course design needs to be ‘output driven’ and focus on the effect of the learning processes on the learner
- VLEs can be categorised as Content or Learner Centred – with the difference being that a Learner centred VLE would see the learners as a group of people to whom learning opportunities are assigned, whereas Content centred VLEs consist of a collection of learning to which the people are assigned.
- Over attention to the features of VLEs can lead to a check-list approach to VLE selection which, combined with inattention to the educational issues can result in traditional teaching approaches simply being transferred to the computer, resulting in an ineffective, poor learning experience
- VLEs are populated, social spaces with the users being inside the information space
- VLEs consist of anything from text based to a three dimensional graphical interface like Second Life. The big issue is not how the VLE is represented, but how learners interact with that representation.
- Students are not only active in the VLE they are producers of information: from page 8: The
difference between other constructivist environments and what virtual environments
potentially offer can be described as making students not only active, but also actors, i.e.
members and contributors of the social and information space.
- Students will not start communicating with the teacher for communication’s sake
- pedagogical change is not to imitate face to face relations, but to explore new functionalities and potential afforded by the virtual environment
- the social context has a strong impact on the way students interact, sometimes more so than the technological context
- building a community requires sharing goals and experiences
- collaborative learning is more about doing a task together. Rich interactions can be encouraged by giving groups a scenario with phases they have to work through, with specified roles
Now to actually DO something with this information….that’s for the next blog post…
Image: ‘Strong Wind today in Virtual Land‘
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