If you were a teacher and you could only teach a short period of time. What topic would be absolutely necessary? What skills and knowledge would you really have to teach before time was over? Stephen Downes has an opinion on that.
“…It is naïve and unrealistic to assume that the use of e-learning, however it is defined, in and of itself will transform students into autonomous and self-directed learners…” writes Learner Weblog‘ John.
There are certain foundational skills necessary for learning in an open online environment. Early research indicates the need for learners to practice digital responsibility (including management of personal privacy and respectful behavior), digital literacy (ability to find and vet resources as well as differentiate between valid and questionable resources or crap detection), organization of online content, collaborating and socializing with subject matter experts and fellow students, and the ability to use online applications to synthesize content and create learning artifacts. (comment of wdrexler in chronicle.com) (Video on this subject: A teacher is needed )
Is it possible to learn these foundational skills in a MOOC or online course? Linn Gustavsson: “…. Yes, I think so. However, most important of all: Adults (teachers) must take part, watch, comment, observe, play, learn together, or just be there, right next to the child. My students perform better in maths when their teacher are just sitting, silent, next to the student. My sisters child, has all kinds of advanced tools to play with. Still he express “I want you to sit here with me, I don´t want to play alone”. My stepson just loves the iPad and learns fast from it. Still, he often wants to show to us what he is doing and he wants us to take part. He does NOT want to learn alone. Tech-things can never replace humans. …”
Is the (social) network providing the human touch that Linn mentions? In a MOOC-network one has to learn to give positive comments, and be very conscious in using peanut butter to glue the participants to the course.
Gilian writes “…Way back in 1987, Chickering and Gamson came up with seven principles of undergraduate learning design which still underpin many of today’s courses:
1 Encourages contacts between students and faculty
2 Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
3 Uses active learning techniques
4 Gives prompt feedback
5 Emphasizes time on task
6 Communicates high expectations
7 Respects diverse talents and ways of learning. …”
My question: could the ‘informal teacher’ in the network fulfill these 7 tasks?