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H807 – Supporting my e-learners

July 2, 2011

Wow, McLoughlin’s paper about the ten dimensions of successful design is extremely valuable and will definitely help me with my EMA.

The ten dimensions are:

  • Goal orientation
  • Adaptability
  • Accessibility
  • Alignment
  • experiential value
  • Collaboration
  • Constructivism
  • Learning orientation
  • Multiplicity
  • Granularity

Being asked to pick any two of the ten dimensions which I think are important I would choose the alignment dimension similar to some of my peers, to support both the process and the outcome. We are in an educational environment and everything is centred on assessing performance. Thus designing task that aligns with the outcomes is essential, yet probably not always easy to achieve.

However, for me the collaboration dimension is also central, because working in a team is a skill that is increasingly favoured by workplace, but my experience as teacher as well as MAODE student working in a team is not as easy as it first appears and need to be trained to be successful.

However fostering independent learning and self-regulation which is part of some of the dimensions (learning orientation, goal orientation) are important competences that students should learn,feeling responsible to take greater ownership of their own learning. Yet, the dimension experiential value that enables learners to plan, act and reflect is also  important as well as granularity that enables  learners to select and reconstruct the parts that are meaningful to them within a task. Well, so much to choosing only two dimensions ;-)

However, I also agree with McLoughlin that teachers should retreat as more confidence and skills they develop, thus a move from teacher-centred towards learner-centred learning, allowing greater ownership of learning for students. Yet, how much scaffolding students need, greatly depends on context. My students e.g. would need a lot more scaffolding as e.g. we MAODE students.

There was an ongoing discussion in our tutor forum whether  McLoughlin’s claim that face-to-face principles apply for online environments as well. I think it partly applies, because scaffolding with technology, like Web 2.0 certainly serves its purpose, but I think it cannot completely substitute a tutor. Peer and social support is really powerful here, I cannot really complain about task support, but without the support from my tutor it would be a lot harder to complete the module.

Q2 What are your first thoughts on how you’ll design your materials? If you choose the ‘alignment’ dimension, for instance, how will you make sure that your teaching approach is consistent with – aligns with – the outcomes you want your learners to attain?

Support can be provided directly by the teacher or the support and structure is part of the material, the technology.

Caroline McLoughlin opens her paper with a familiar problem:

Educators are the first to admit that not all learners are willing to execute the tasks and activities that lead to successful learning and that learner need support and structured learning experiences (Collis, 1998; Laurillard, 2002).

(McLoughlin, 2002, p.149)

Effective scaffolding is characterized by:

  • increase your learners’ chance of succeeding in a task
  • help them to do something they couldn’t accomplish on their own
  • move them to a ‘new and improved zone of understanding’
  • help them to operate independently.

Keep those four aims in mind when designing elearning activities – whether for education or for training – for your Examinable Component

Here some guidelines for constructivist learner, provided by McLoughlin

The main elements of learning support in distance learning settings:

Click to enlarge

PS. I somehow forgot to publish it, but found that McLoughlin’s article is really helpful for designing and planning elearning activities.

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