Essential Question: What is the role of discourse, collaboration and technology for distributed learning in online courses?
"The Internet revolution is the fourth and most recent shift in human development and is the basis for the 21st-century Knowledge Age" (Harasim 2012). Education is changing so fast. Education used to be thought of as a transmission of knowledge for teacher to student but now education is moving away from this. Educators are realizing the importance of collaboration and discourse to really help students connect with content. This theory is called online collaborative learning (OCL). This theory holds a lot of promise with the growth in online learning with Knowledge Age students. Harasim (2012) advocates that students want to find better ways to solve a problem rather than following the instruction. This is a big change from previous education models. More than that is that students are starting to see advantages of online learning. “The real promise of online education, experts say, is providing learning experiences that are more tailored to individual students than is possible in classrooms. That enables more ‘learning by doing’, which many students find more engaging and useful” (Harasim 2012). We must engage students if we have any hope at teaching them.
Providing opportunities for collaboration are key. "Collaborative learning discourse and processes contribute to the growth of understanding and knowledge in a cyclical or spiral manner (not linear), progressing and improving through experience, discussion and new information over time" (Harasim 2012). Connectivism is another learning theory that can be connected to OCL. "As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses" (Siemens 2004). We are starting to realize that it is not important to know everything but more important to know how to find the answers we desire to know. "Connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing" (Siemens 2004). A way to see connectivism in action is through a MOOC. MOOCs help to remove barriers in education. With a MOOC anyone who wants to join this community and grow their knowledge is welcome. "A MOOC provides the means for connecting, interacting, and sharing across diverse cultures, attitudes, and skill sets in short order and with low cost. A MOOC differs from more established models of online education in its scale and openness" (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens, Cormier 2010).
There are some major benefits of online education, but it is not for everyone. Harasim (2012) list some of attributes that can be both positive and negative:
Harasim, L. (2012). Learning Theory and Online Technologies [Kindle Edition]. New York, NY: Routledge.
McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model For Digital Practice:. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.edukwest.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/MOOC_Final.pdf
Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.ingedewaard.net/
Wood, C. (2005, March 23). The Virtual Classroom Redefines Education. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/online-education-virtual-classrooms