Group ActivityAccording to Gilly Salmon online group goes through the five stages of “access and motivation”, “online socialization”, “exchange of information”, “knowledge construction” and “self-organization”. These phases are accompanied by the moderator with small online tasks.

Roy Williams (on Twitter @dustcube) writes that for the successful establishment of an online group “comfort, fun, trust, engagement” is needed.
With comfort I mean a combination of clear structures, personal items (such as images or videos) and the readiness to develop in small steps together with the learners (co-evolution) this comfortable environment. (source = jupidu)

The one type of class in which students learned even more effectively than in either online or traditional classes, the study found, was an approach called “interactive engagement pedagogy,” where students interact frequently in small groups to grapple with concepts and questions. Such “constructive engagement” in the classroom is something education reformers have long pushed for, Pritchard says, and is already used in many MIT classes.

How to accompany an online course group

  • Make your students feel at home as soon as possible.
  • You could connect your students with other students  in your comments on their work. Weaving their answers with links to answers and comments of other students.
  • Use names in your comments.
  • Questions are great activators
  • Engaging student activities for more than one student. Group work, discussion, ask for comments, challenges.
  • Excite curiosity with questions.
  • Allow for choice for the students.
  • Use (as soon as possible) reinforcement in social and fun and engaging activities of students.
  • Add help files and give links to faq’s and how-to’s.

Enhance independentness and autonomy
Participation in online courses challenges learners to develop self-organization, self-motivation, and a reasonable amount of technological proficiency to manage the resources and the more open format. Participants in online courses have to develop the mastery of an array of technologies and various networking skills. The nature of online learning requires students to assume active roles, to perform learning activities and collaborate in goal achievement.

Commonplace book (or commonplace)

Doug Belshaw discovered a treasure trove of Commonplace Books on Pinterest this week. (He wrote about this in his newsletter)

Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. (And on a computer or in a blog) Such (paper) books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests.

I do write a (paper) commonplace book. And blogging to me is commonplacing too.

Has Truth a Future?

outoferrorGeorge Steiner, wrote “Has truth a future?” (1978) It is a remarkable question because how could truth not have a future?

Steiner does write about truth and he seems to mean knowledge. He uses “truth” for “knowledge”. That is not as strange as it sounds, most of us do use “truth” when we mean “knowledge”. If we want to know the truth about something, we could also say that we want to know all about something. That is confusing.
Why is that confusing? Critical Rationalism wants us to make a clear difference between truth and knowledge. Truth does exist, but we cannot know if our knowledge is true. That is, in a nutshell, the word of critical rationalism about truth and knowledge.
You will understand that confusing “truth” with “knowledge” will make it difficult to understand the critical rationalist view.

“If this isn’t 100% true, it’s true enough to be interesting—and maybe helpful.” ( Kurt Vonnegut, 1951 in: Look at the Birdie)
Vonnegut writes about an idea (in Letter from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., to Walter J. Miller, 1951). The idea could be true or it could be not 100% true. Vonnegut uses true as a quality. And Vonnegut could be a critical rationalist when he writes this statement. We cannot know if our knowledge is true, but we could try to use it until experience does teach us our knowledge is not true.

Truth is a very complicated subject. You should read Wikipedia about truth and think about how people ever in a matter of fact way could talk about truth. Wikipedia mentions (today) seven theories about truth. What does it mean if a judge does want you to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? ;) According to what definition of truth?

SEP and virtual invisibility

The late Douglas Adams (1997), author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, uncovered an important principle relevant to educational technology–The Someone Else’s Problem (SEP) field. The SEP is a fictional technology that can make something “virtually invisible” because we think it is somebody else’s problem. It is not that the object in question really vanishes. It does not. It may in fact even catch you by surprise out of the corner of your eye. The idea of the SEP is that once we consider something as being outside of the arena of our concerns, that something, for all practical purposes, ceases to exist. The SEP may be a fictional construct, but something similar happens sometimes when educators meet technology. Consider for instance the following quote taken from a faculty member:

 I don't know a lot about the technical stuff of the computer. I
 don't feel like I want to know that, or need to know that.... I
 don't need to know how to compress stuff and, you know, other people
 can do that. That's not what I wanna do. I don't know how the
 telephone works either. Nor do I care (Dr. Shaker, interview, May 2,
 2001). (2)

Source: With a little help from your students: a new model for faculty development and online course design. (MATTHEW J. KOEHLER (1), PUNYASHLOKE MISHRA, KATHRYN HERSHEY, AND LISA PERUSKI)

Pluralism and scepticism?

Hume (Wikipedia)David Miller in Out of Error defines scepticism as “reliable (justified) knowledge does not exist” p. 136. In some way this scepticism and pluralism seem to be connected.

First picture is of different people debating some pieces of knowledge. No one could claim reliability for a certain piece of knowledge. These people must go on discussing about their knowledge. Some knowledge could be proven wrong.

You could not prove something to be true knowledge, but you could  prove it to be wrong. Hume has some words on this scepticism.

The pluralism is needed to discuss knowledge and to discover and weed out unreliable knowledge.

I need to think this over,

(picture: Hume (Wikipedia)



Pluralism Monism

scientificpluralismTzvetan Todorov  writes that the  most important democratic value is pluralism. Monistic societies and governments as are communism and national socialism are not democratic.  In education we should give pluralism an important place.

Maha Bali   begins her blogpost with the students need for different ways of teaching, for variety in structure of courses, and adapting to students preferences and needs.
But she the most valuable text of Maha is about cultural pluralism and respect. In Maha Bali’s blog about education she says:  But it’s in allowing the diverse voices within us to have a space (even if it’s an English-speaking space because it’s the only language we have in common) and voice, that alone helps to enrich the online space with the diversity that’s in it. Pluralism is a ways to foster learning and creativity and innovation.

Pluralism in education is a movement  that does not ask for teaching to the test and standard testing. It is about learning to live with differences in methods of teaching, about democracy and about pluralism as a key to research and learning.
Proposed Changes in Education (this is in a wiki about citizenship & diversity)

  • from formal to informal
  • from exclusive to inclusive
  • from restrictive to experiential
  • from instructionist to constructivist
  • promotion of knowledge building, lifelong learning
  • promotion of inter-generational knowledge exchange

I am not writing about religious pluralism. In the USA pluralism also is used to talk about racial matters. Both are important issues.

Tzvetan Todorov (Bulgarian: Цветан Тодоров)

Tzvetan Todorov (Bulgarian: Цветан Тодоров) (born March 1, 1939) is a Franco-Bulgarian historian, philosopher, literary critic, sociologist and essayist. He is the author of many books and essays, which has a significant influence in anthropology, sociology, semiotics, literary theory, thought history and culture theory.
I am reading Le Nouveau Désordre mondial. Réflexions d’un européen, 2003; Nederlands: De nieuwe wereldwanorde.

Todorov did write in 2003, about the Irak War. Now USA is starting  Syria war against IS, and the book could be written now.

Todorov schreef naar aanleiding van de oorlog in Irak, maar in 2014 is het bijzonder actueel tijdens de start van de IS oorlog van de USA (en andere landen).

“… schept de oorlogssituatie een bepaalde sfeer die niet erg bevorderlijk is voor de beklemtoning van de democratische waarde. … een drastische inperking van het pluralisme op het gebied van informatie … door zelfcensuur van de media… “

“… De aanscherping van de patriottische passies draagt niet bij tot de strijd tegen etnocentrisme en xenofobie, houdingen die allerminst democratisch zijn. … “

” … Waar is het goed voor om over een Europesche strijdmacht te beschikken? Ter verdediging van een bepaalde identiteit die de Europeanen waardevol vinden …. verscheidenheid … rationaliteit … rechtvaardigheid…. democratie … individuele vrijheid … laïcité … verdraagzaamheid …

“… The war situation (in USA) creates an atmosphere that is not very conducive to emphasizing the value of democracy. … A drastic curtailment of pluralism in the field of information … by self-censorship of the media …”

“… The tightening of the patriotic passions (in USA) does not contribute to the fight against ethnocentrism and xenophobia, attitudes that are not democratic. …”

“… Why is it good to have a Europe army ? In defense of a particular identity that Europeans find valuable …. variety … rationality … justice …. Democracy … individual freedom … laïcité … tolerance …

THOMAS FREEDMANN seems not to agree on the move from pluralism to less pluralism in the USA “… This is why America has such an advantage with its pluralism, ….” In his opinion Europe is less pluralistic than teh USA.