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Exploring Pedagogical Practice within an Online Learning Community. Alison Mander, mandera@usq.edu.au Petrea Redmond, redmond@usq.edu.au USQ, Australia, Toowoomba campus. Where are we headed?. From the literature Context Process Results Impacts Implications for future practice.

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Exploring pedagogical practice within an online learning community

Exploring Pedagogical Practice within an Online Learning Community

Alison Mander, mandera@usq.edu.au

Petrea Redmond, redmond@usq.edu.au

USQ, Australia, Toowoomba campus

Where are we headed
Where are we headed? Community

  • From the literature

  • Context

  • Process

  • Results

  • Impacts

  • Implications for future practice

Online learning community
Online Learning Community Community

  • Collaboration forms the foundation of a learning community online (Palloff & Pratt, 2005)

  • Support the learning of individuals and the group

  • Promotion of creativity and critical thinking

Learning communities online
Learning communities online Community

  • Online enables differentiation in participation and membership

  • No longer place based, geographically disconnected can become connected

  • Community requires social presence of the individuals

Why online
Why online? Community

  • effective and efficient access to information and multiple others

  • “(t)echnology tools can now bind students, peers, mentors, instructors, practicing teachers, and experts in an array of resources, discussions and curriculum recommendations” (Bonk, Angeli, Malikowsk & Supplee, 2001)

Online dialogue
Online dialogue Community

  • “the reflective and explicit nature of the written word that encourages discipline and rigor in our thinking and communicating” (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999).

  • “that the very basis of thinking is rooted in dialogue, drawing on a socially constructed context to endow ideas with meaning” (Hudson 2002)

  • Participants (both students and teachers) written dialogue required them to “speak”, listen, observe, challenge, support, persuade and be persuaded.

Community of practice with peers and experts
Community of practice with peers and experts Community

  • education is “moving the emphasis of learning away from what we learn to who we learn from” (Fowler & Mayes,1999)

Benefits Community

  • access to curriculum experts;

  • promotes deeper understanding;

  • view models of professional online interaction; and

  • time to make considered responses, reading, reacting, responding and reflecting at their own convenience

Teacher facilitator roles
Teacher facilitator roles Community

  • expose them to different approaches and definitions of teaching and learning;

  • to welcome them into the profession;

  • assist pre-service teachers in developing pedagogical content knowledge: provider of information, offer encouragement, negotiate meanings, give feedback, question, share experiences;

  • professional role model, provide emotional support.

Student roles
Student roles Community

  • share and critically reflect on experiences which are memorable, inspirational or bothersome;

  • explore and debate issues;

  • confirm some of their preliminary ideas about teaching or re-examine their prior understandings of learning and teaching

Student response obligation
Student response obligation Community

  • Course assessment

  • In hope to move the pre-service teachers’ thinking beyond recording or initial reaction and responses, engaging them in critical dialogue with others, sharing insights, carrying out research, and reflecting back

  • assessment of participation was based on

    • Building and sustaining a community of learners

    • Promotion of deep discussion

    • Engaged in professional self reflection and metacognition

    • Professional standards of literacy

    • Reflection of the online community process

Context Community

  • Exploring asynchronous conferencing tools to facilitate exploration of pedagogical practices

  • Situated in specific curriculum areas

  • Each secondary pre-service teacher involved in 2 different curriculum forums

  • 2 x Curriculum courses joined in online discussion with practicing teachers

  • Across 2 different campuses, therefore 4 cohorts of students

  • Blended courses: both f2f and online components

  • Participation in online component significant assessment item for both courses

Process Community

  • Finding an online space which would allow for multiple classes and online guests (Drupal)

  • Recruitment of curriculum specialists to act as online facilitators

  • Establishing online forums for each different curriculum community of practice

  • Establish starter questions for each week

  • Unpacking of sample postings during class – construction of understanding

Data sources
Data sources Community

  • N = 150

  • Archived online discussion threads

  • Survey on completion

  • Assessment reflective activity

Results the positives
Results – The positives Community

  • Focus questions made ‘them think’

  • Enjoyed interaction with peers and mentors over real issues

  • Development of trust and support built confidence over time

Perceived negatives
Perceived negatives Community

  • Too much time taken to get into online environment, find something to comment on and prepare a reflective response

  • Association with assessment

  • Unsure of the reliability of peer comments

Findings Community

  • “interactions were often one-way serial monologues” (Pawan, et al. 2003)

  • students like to share experiences and question their own thinking

  • Unsure of who is the leader – is it the ‘blind leading the blind?’

Results Community

  • the pre-service teachers regularly acknowledged previous postings, made connections to previous posts and added their own experience;

  • Responses to initial postings showed more deep understanding and integration of ideas from other sources

  • very few drew conclusions or provided other sources of information to justify comments when responding to their peers

Impacts Community

  • New interface: new to academics, pre-service and in-service teachers – a learning curve

  • Online discussion as a means of learning rather than socializing new to many students (although range of results from exceptional to poor)

  • Time: although the online discussion replaced 2 hours of f2f + 50% of assessment students noted the increase in time commitment

  • Post/response cycle rarely evident: not dialogue, but post for sake of posting

  • Difficulty experienced adding to conversation i.e. nothing new to say

  • Variable size of groups – between 5 - 25

Benefits Community

  • online environment meant that facilitators were not limited to those within the local area;

  • flexibility of access in terms of time and place enabled collaboration with curriculum experts;

  • Pre-service teachers’ response obligation gave rise to the sharing of “air time”;

  • provided collaborative opportunities for pre-service, and in-service teachers to exchange ideas, ask questions, and engage in dialogue within a community of learners without the assessment associated with professional experience.

Implications Community

  • To continue or not?

  • Time, flexibility and assessment issues

  • Development of deep thinking, and community of practice protocols

Questions? Community

  • For more information contact:

    • Alison Mander, mandera@usq.edu.au

    • Petrea Redmond, redmond@usq.edu.au