Monday, September 28, 2009

Facilitation of community of inquiry (#ecer2009)

Facilitation of community of inquiry in an online teacher education course

Ivana Batarelo Kokic, University of Split, Croatia (Hrvatska);
Ida Malian, Arizona State University, USA;
Ann Nevin, Florida International University, USA.

Acton research based on a long running course. Main characteristic of this online course is that it had a cross-categorical structure (e.g. LD, ED, ...). It had eight sets of course activities which were delivered on Blackboard and made use of email, discussion boards and private subgroups. There was a mixture of individual and group coursework.

An example of a group assignment was to decide an instructional intervention for a child with disability. Another was a family based assignment considering how children with disabilities would be brought up. Both involved role play.

The research focused on cooperative learning activities. The students were asked to discuss issues and the researchers wanted to see if the online cooperative activities helped develop higher order thinking skills (based on Bloom's taxonomy). Also drew on work by Stahl. They have noticed over the ten years the course has been running, technical questions have reduced significantly.

Researcher showed a timeline which detailed student tasks and teacher inputs. There used to be a requirement that they all participated in a synchronous online chat in the first week but the students did not like this, so it is no longer a compulsory element. A wide variety of communications took place during the course including face to face but a report of face to face was supposed to be posted online. They did not analyse communication between tutor and student that took place on email (considered private and outwith scope of project). Also, did not analyse interactions on tchnical issues.

Used a revised taxonomy based on Anderson and Krathwohl (2001). {Changes are described in a wiki page on Blooms Taxonomy - see Terminology Changes about a third of the way down. - DM} They found that students were able to reach higher levels on Bloom's taxonomy. Quality of discussion was comparable to quality of final report. Groups formed communities of enquiry but problem still remains on how to encourage students to reach higher levels in Blooms taxonomy? {Nobody had an answer. :-) - DM}

More important to have a pedagogical framework than to have a delivery technology.

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