Approaches to learning, in relation to online learning

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How might we encourage “deep learning” in online contexts?

The “Deep Learning Approach” is defined as:

Intention:
• To understand ideas for yourself.

Transforming by:
• Relating ideas to previous knowledge and experience
• Looking for patterns and underlying principles
• Checking evidence and relating it to conclusions
• Examining logic and argument cautiously and critically
• Becoming actively interested in the course content

So back to the question how do we encourage this type of learning in online courses?

After the webinar with Dr Panos Vlachopoulos, lots of ideas and concepts for online learning were discussed and this got me thinking back to wiki based and webinar learning projects that I have set up in the past for CPD (Continuing professional development) students.

During the course each participant was given their own individual learning “wiki” site on the VLE, on this site the student would be set an individual “learning activity question” relating to the overall topic. They would then view topic research paper links that would be provided and a list of other resources, they were encouraged to search out for themselves either online or via the library. Once their research was complete they would post their results within a set time frame and present their findings on their individual wiki site, including references, images and a write up. This part of the wiki site was only viewable by themselves and their tutor. Participants also had access to a group collaborative discussion board. Along with this individual wiki site write up, to complete the task successfully the participant would present their evidence, findings and a generalised conclusion at a rate of one student per week, whereby the selected student would lead and the rest of the participants would view their session via adobe connect. (Video conferencing software similar to the OCTEL webinar platform’s blackboard collaborate).

Looking back on this approach I feel that it has met the “deep learning” criteria, due to encouraging understanding of the topic, encouraging expression and views based on prior experience, helps participants search for principles and patterns of evidence, and back these up with relevant research and findings. This process also helps examine student logic.

On reflection I feel this example of online learning activity is effectively staff guided within an online framework for the participants to use, but essentially student lead as their understanding of the topics discussed and conclusions reached was wide and varied. There were a number of support mechanisms in place, so that the dreaded feeling of being alone was not encountered, support was provided via a dedicated discussion board a weekly webinar session that was staff lead and via email.

This process will form part of my response to the other activities this week.

I would welcome any feedback on the points that I have raised.

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