Reflection of Supporting the Blended and Online Student Experience Units 1 – 4 (Part 2)

I really enjoyed the discussions found in Unit 3, the focus of was on Reaching the Online Learner. I found myself particularly drawn to the models of inquiry and the analysis and discussion around these aspects. Cleveland-Innes, Garrison & Vaughan, have developed a fascinating framework Community of Inquiry (CoI) which analyses the characteristics and behaviours of text based computer communication for educational purposes.

Much of the student led discussion focused on the CoI and the symbiotic relationship between the three presence’s; Teaching, Social and Cognitive. There was debate about which presence was required the most or had the biggest impact within the framework. I still question the true value and impact of the ‘emotional presence’ highlighted in the paper written by (Rienties & Rivers, 2014). As I have highlighted before everyone is an individual and emotions are too unpredictable – as stated by Rienties & Rivers (2014 p 6) “We would like to remind the reader that emotions can occur at any stage of the learning process, at any of the four presence areas, and might be lead to completely different, even opposite, emotions for learners.” I see the value in CoI created by Cleveland-Innes, Garrison & Vaughan.

I was familiar with a lot of the concepts explored in the student led seminar for unit 4. Facilitating online learning, use of current and upcoming technology in educational practice and Gamification. However it was good to reflect on my use of these practices within my profession and analyse these with fellow practitioners through the activities and discussion boards within the student led unit. The initial main topic was focussed around the African Virtual University and we debated if this was a successful medium of learning. This debate was facilitated through discussion forums. The second week focussed on Gamification, which is a subject/practice I am very familiar with. It was intriguing to see the use of Gamified elements within the module/unit design – the use of leader boards, progress feedback, rewards and badges. On the whole the structure of the topic worked well, in order to progress you had to obtain a pass mark in the initial quiz, which when completed successfully gave you access to subsequent quizzes. I liked this concept, but felt it should have been a surprise to the learners that in order to progress you had complete/pass the quiz. Part of the appeal and practice in Gamification is to surprise the learner, so Gamified elements don’t get repetitive Kevin Werbach, Dan Hunter (2012). On the whole, I would say this unit was a success in terms of design and implementation, I’m left wondering if my competitive nature was brought out by this – is this a good thing?

References

L.A.C.E, (December 2014) Learning Analytics Community Exchange, retrieved April 24, 2015 from http://www.laceproject.eu/publications/learning-analytics-and-emotions.pdf

Kevin Werbach, Dan Hunter (2012) For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business. Wharton Digital Press

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