The course I’ve just started this week in my MA studies is focused primarily on community-building for online learning. We’ve been posting images that suggest facilitation and community and commenting on them. The literature reading thus far has been – and I’m admittedly only about half way through it – about philosophy of education and developing reflective practice. This got me thinking about a journal post.
As always I come at this as an educational lay-person, but one who has been design-focused for well over a decade, led lots of projects and teams, managed web portal communities, and done his fair share of presentations. As I’ve started to think about the connection between the subject matter of the five courses, it occurs to me that a great deal of the core stuff of education and learning is about philosophy. Whether you’re doing analysis, development, design, implementation or evaluation, you’re constantly (or should be) thinking about your learners, their differences, how your approach needs to accommodate them, and specific to distance and technology-mediated learning, whether things like the LMS/PLE will be affected by issues at their end, of which you are entirely unaware.
After all, philosophy is really about the examined life. As we gain life experience, we (hopefully) develop value systems which guide us. Educational philosophy takes this one step further by examining beliefs and values and applying them to educational issues. It’s interesting that we look at these issues now, because they are probably germane to almost any course we’ve done so far. Program planning, for example, covered elements of the ethical and socio-political domains, core aspects of philosophy. Mind you, in a program which is largely applied and practical, it’s probably difficult to insert philosophy and theory (with the obvious exception of our first course on learning theory) into the curriculum, so I applaud its inclusion at this point.