14.0567 universities

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 12/16/00

  • Next message: by way of Willard McCarty: "14.0564 conferences aplenty"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 567.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
             Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 10:24:38 +0000
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Yearning and Learning
    Your reworking of the Newman quotation has hit more than a nerve. It has
    stirred a whole neural network. I was heartened to read that you had
    experienced not only frustration but also satisfaction. Would you care to
    elaborated on the sources of frustation? Are they technical? Are they
    related to negotiating expectations, assessing student preparedness and
    motivating commitment? I ask these questions out of a belief that the
    factors affecting the success of distance education whether electronic or
    not are not intrinsic to the spatial and temporal arrangements of the
    pedagogic experience. Your appeal to Newman seems to make the case for
    universal and unmovable conditions. I'm intriguted by the cognitive
    dissonance this position might generate in
    Deborah Hanson, Distance Learnig Co-ordinator at Crowder College, makes
    the point that online interactivity can be improved.
    What is remarkable (or not) is that the principles developed and
    implemented at Crowder are very relevant for successful face-to-face
    pedagogy. Allow me to quote extensively from her paper :
    Students will often put off and avoid contact with instructors,
    technicians, and administrators waiting for someone to contact them versus
    seeking the information for themselves.
    For this reason, Crowder College developed extensive procedures,
    orientation, and guidelines for students. In support of the thesis, "The
    underpinnings of interactions, which result in successful learning,
    involve the transfer of knowledge coupled with changes in intrinsic
    motivation," the author has identified and examined seven distance
    learning interactions which help to promote interactivity:
    Increase participation and feedback
    Build communication and understanding
    Enhance elaboration and retention
    Support learner motivation and self-regulation
    Develop teambuilding
    Promote exploration and discovery
    Generate learner self-diagnosis and closure
    What strikes me is that knowledge transfers and changes in motivation led
    to a set of seven principles that can also be applied to pedagogical
    interactions that do not posist the need for change in motivation.
    Newman's glorious prose is focussed on a concern with the moral
    development of students. The Crowder principles as reported by Hanson
    focus upon the need to make students want to be good students. There are
    teachers who regard the student as a contracting party agreeing to engage
    in a certain course of behaviour for a prescribed period of time. These
    seem lik three rather different approaches. However, at a certain level of
    abstraction, all three suggest the operation of a rewards and penalities
    designed to induce certain behaviours and orientations. A machine with
    moveable parts. A set of cybernetic situtations. A general system.
    One person's frustration can become the data set for another's research.
    Or the pretext for the articulation of collective desires. Are we not
    constantly negotiating for improvement in the efficacy of the interlocking
    bodies -- institutional, corporate and personal -- while at the same time,
    fearing intrusions upon the spaces we traverse and occupy, struggling for
    the efficient disaggregation of the said bodies? Is it not fair, to
    explicitly ask students what they believe they are giving the teacher?
    Even if it is not fair, it is a rather good pedagogical trick to induce
    dialectical thinking.
    So Eric what did you want to accomplish by hitting nerves?

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