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Supporting students online Nigel Gibson May, 2005.

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1 Supporting students online Nigel Gibson May, 2005

2 Objectives: To look at the landscape To look at some of the theoretical underpinnings To discuss some of the techniques used in building online communities To introduce some of the characters we might meet

3 Writing on online learning “If the conference gels, learners create a learning community in which the individualism of traditional distance learning is left behind and learning once more becomes a social and interactive affair. In such a learning community, students are liable to learn as much from one another as from course materials or from the interjections of a tutor. The learning becomes not merely active, but interactive. Furthermore, the interaction is collaborative.” (Rowntree, 1999)

4 Communities Used to describe groups of people with something in common: –Geography –Common interests Religion Ethnicity –Employment the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, background or nationality

5 Online communities –Some online communities are + 20 years old and have a stable “core” population around which other members might join and/or leave. –They perform many of the social functions we might expect from any community Communities of practice –Some online groups are brought together by a particular interest – a profession or a hobby. –They exchange news, advice and often swap job opportunities

6 What is meant by “online”? Materials on the Internet Discussions in news groups Emails A dedicated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) such as FirstClass – this is referred to as computer mediated conferencing (CMC)

7 Online course types Informational – Offering additional resources to support a f2f course Supplemental – Including student supportive features; online forums, email support, chat sessions – all are optional Dependent – Much of the learning material delivered online but some f2f interaction too (tutorials). This mode is usually referred to as “Blended” Entirely web-based From

8 What value can it bring? Interactive – I watched a TV programme about the Roman Games a few weeks ago, I’d love to have been able to ask Paula James some questions afterwards. As and when – no need to ring anyone or wait for the next tutorial Asynchronous – we don’t all need to be awake at the same time Peer support – Participants can discuss issues together, including those who might not be able to attend tutorials or self-help groups

9 So what do we do online? Much as we do by telephone and in tutorials We support Open learners by helping them assess their understanding of the course material We help them construct and test their knowledge We offer pastoral support as required

10 Comparisons Face to faceOnline “Controlled”Less sense of tutor control Dates and times are setUnscheduled although some agreement on levels of participation are usually agreed Verbal discussionsDiscussions text based – permanent record available Set agenda, items completed in a linear manner Can work on multiple activities at once Often little time for reflectionReflection can be high Can be dominated by louder voicesEquality of participation (other than technology issues) From McConnell

11 Dependencies Time dependentTime independent Space dependent TutorialsLearning resources Space independent Telephone support Online chat Video conferencing Online support Online materials

12 Salmon’s Five Stage Model

13 Just like… Salmon’s model suggests stages similar to those we’d see in a tutorial or day school –Tuckman’s Model A key difference may be time – it takes long to build groups online Another key difference is that online groups can achieve a greater level of cohesion

14 Access and motivation eModeratorParticipants Welcoming and encouraging (Seating and greeting) Dealing with technical problems Nervous Setting up the system and accessing it Salmon’s Five Stage Model

15 Online socialisation eModeratorParticipants Familiarising participants with the environment Bridging cultural, social and learning environments Exploring similarities and differences Sending and receiving messages Learning about their peers “Revealing themselves” Salmon’s Five Stage Model

16 Information exchange eModeratorParticipants Facilitating tasks Supporting use of materials Engaging Sharing experiences Salmon’s Five Stage Model

17 Knowledge construction eModeratorParticipants Facilitation and adminTesting understanding Taking risks Salmon’s Five Stage Model

18 Development eModeratorParticipants Providing links to additional resources Supporting each other Reflection Salmon’s Five Stage Model

19 eModerating Skills Composing appropriate welcome messages Coax reluctant participants to contribute Nurture and keep the interaction moving Encourage good practice Summarise, archive and move the interaction on Nip the occasional online spat in the bud Salmon and Giles (1997) The moderators role changes as the group matures

20 The dominant teaching theory is.. Constructivism –Teaching for learning –Student centred CMC is particularly poor for didactic delivery – web based materials are far better at that

21 Constructing knowledge Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own "rules" and "mental models," which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences.

22 Socrates did it! Socrates liked to work with students. His approach essentially consisted of leading them through a series of questions in order to promote critical thinking. On one occasion, the philosopher purportedly led a group of students to a difficult conclusion through his Socratic method. Socrates then pointed out that, since he had reported no facts, the students must have known the conclusion all along.

23 To make it work The group needs to feel comfortable Create a safe environment Prepared to take risks

24 Runners and riders “Lurkers” – Vicarious learners, those who read but don’t contribute. Are they participating? Flamers – Often unwittingly start “flame wars” by posting something which upsets others Energy Monsters – Will post messages to get a reaction. This might be a flame or a plea for sympathy or something completely off topic. Each needs handling in a slightly different way – just as they would f2f

25 Who is out there (Sub degree)? Learn Direct –A natural feeder for the OU? NTIs –Government funding to promote specialist online learning prepared and delivered through FEIs/HEIs FEIs are providing multi-mode/blended courses: –FD In Hospitality – Canterbury College –HNC in Engineering – South Kent College –This arena is expanding

26 Who is out there (Degree)? UK eUniversity –Crashed and burned but not because of the lack of market but for the opposite reason! Current HEIs offering online provision include: The OU Sheffield Hallam Liverpool University University of Portsmouth Oxford Brookes University of Essex University of Hertfordshire University of Greenwich London University - Institute of Education University of Lancaster

27 Writers on online learning Race P (1989), The Open Learning Handbook, London. Kogan Page Rowntree D (1992), Exploring Open and Distance Learning. London. Kogan Page Salmon G and Giles K (1997), “Moderating Online”, Salmon G (2000), E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online. London. Kogan Page Shank P and Sitze A (2004), Making sense of online learning, San Francisco, Pfeiffer Weller M (2002), Delivering Learning on the Net, London, Kogan Page

28 Summary Supporting students online uses similar skills to working face to face It also uses some different techniques It can be time consuming but the time required isn’t constant, it changes as the group matures and as different tasks are required It can be great fun and is certainly an excellent way of learning more about your own subject

29 Q&A Thank you If you have any queries please don’t hesitate in contacting me:

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