Reflection and philosophy

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.

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I’m a citation weakling

I’m getting my head around writing for graduate studies, but I don’t think I’m using citations the way I probably should be to really provide effective support for arguments I’m making.

Maybe it’s my process. I just completed a paper that, while it didn’t have to be academic writing in the truest sense, still did require a minimum number of citations and all references to be formatted as per APA standards. I don’t mind any of that and, since I like what I read to generally be based on fact and forceful arguments (as opposed to, let’s say, claiming you get foreign policy because you can see Russia from your house) I certainly want my own writing to be logical and supported.

However, I find that my process for literature review and citation is weak. With this particular paper it didn’t help that I changed my mind significantly on the premise and rewrote most of it late in the game. However, that simply highlights the need to solidify my premise early on and then thoroughly read a wide variety of literature with enough time to craft it into my writing as fluidly as possible.

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Residency wrap

I really could not think of much but getting a good night’s sleep for a couple days after my Royal Roads residency ended last Friday. Now that I have had time to get through the rest of one of my two textbooks and finished the first of my two post-residency assignments, I can look back over the past few weeks and see where I am, where I have come from and where (I think) I am going ….

People and castles

Notwithstanding the little barrack dorm in which I spent 12 days, the campus experience was great. Our group seemed to gel very well and I sense the two weeks was the beginning of some pretty good friendships. The intensity allowed us to focus on group project work and start this degree on a reasonably even playing field, while helping us better understand places in which we can all improve to make the distance group work more successful over the next couple years. A good indicator of the overall intensity was the level to which people cut loose after our banquet. A release was clearly needed.

We were told that the reason the RRU programs are so much more successful than traditional distance programs (95% success versus 50%) is that they throw short, intense residencies into the mix. I believe it. Distance education can be isolating and will often not work for learning styles which depend on relationships and interaction with other people. I believe that having faces, names and personal relationships will help people to feel more inclined to put in extra effort at times when motivation may be ebbing. I also think the beautiful grounds, peacocks, Hatley Castle and general ambiance might have a little to do with it, too.

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Online constructivism

As we all really begin looking at learning in the context of the web, it’s interesting to take a look at some of the research around the effectiveness of the medium. How some of this information affects you probably depends on how you feel about the web to begin with, … Read more

Team dynamics

Now that our first assignment is all done, but the short presentation later today, I wanted to reflect on team dynamics. It’s fair to say that there was a challenge or two in this first project. I don’t consider that bad, as this week has been primarily about learning about … Read more