In the Office of Academic Technology at Spring Arbor University, we are not so much in the business of teaching tools. We are very much in the business of helping faculty best use technological tools to teach. The subjects of learning, pedagogy and design are constantly a part of our daily conversations as we work along side subject matter experts to develop quality courses and educational media with both the learner and instructor in mind.
We research and discuss how to improve our processes and developments to increase student learning and benefit the overal learner experience as they work towards academic achievement. As we do so, we continue to find how vitally important it is for the online learner to be learning on the context of a social environment with an emphasis on community which only affirms our already existing SAUonline Pedagogical Model. In fact, we know that learning theorists have described for years how learning takes place in a social context where there is a mutual exchange of thinking between collaborative participants in such learning environments.
While relying on web-based services and a vast array of technologies, distance education learning environments have been identified as prime places for learning endeavors that leverage a constructivist epistemology emphasizing social engagement (Garrison, 1997). According to Prawat & Floden (1994) these approaches observe learning to essentially be a constructive process which combines the personal aspects of individual mental processes with the communal dialog and learning model construction activity. Online learning environments are thus considered to be social-relational systems which are guided by these mutual exchanges between active participants (Steeples, Jones, & Goodyear, 2002) in forms such as discussion threads, blog correspondance, wiki development and collaborative learning model construction.
As we consider how the social environment plays into the learning and overal experience of the online learner in the weeks ahead, we will discuss possible implications this has for the online instructor and practical ways to leverage this to you and your learner’s advantage. We hope to generate good thought and feedback from you. In light of this, how have you experienced learning in a social context?
- Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
- Prawat, R.S., & Floden, R.W. (1994). Philosophical perspectives on constructivist views of learning. Educational Psychology, 29, 37-48.
- Steeples, C., Jones, C., & Goodyear, P. (2002). Beyond e-learning: A future for networked learning. In C. Steeples & C. Jones (Eds.), Networked learning: Perspectives and issues (pp. 323-342). London: Springer.