Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Innovative Pedagogical Practices in Immersive E-Learning:Part I

One of the important realizations that should be derived from the advances towards effective immersive E-Learning is that our pedagogy is not static but in fact needs to be agile and adaptive to fully take advantage of this evolving learning environment. To make sure that when we speak of pedagogy we are all on the same page, I refer you to a previous definition which I used in an earlier post, which follows.



 Phylise H. Banner in her blog post entitled: "The Pedagogy of Learning Design: A Translation of Pedagogies" defines what we are talking about and list some essential elements. In the realm of education, the word pedagogy is used when talking about this designed approach to instruction and the alignment of learning elements such as objectives, content, activities, and assessments. She suggested that we need to focus on three key elements in effective e-learning: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence.

Social presence focuses on creating a welcoming setting that is open and inviting so that our learners will want to engage with each other, the facilitator, and the learning content. Social presence is fostered by activities, methods, or approaches put in place to break the ice, build trust, and facilitate interaction with those around you.
  Teaching presence focuses on three major functions that we take on as training and learning professionals: design, facilitation, and direction of the learning experience. We build teaching presence by designing learning events that guide participants through learning materials, reinforce key concepts, foster critical thinking skills, provide opportunities for formative feedback and support, and evaluate progress throughout the learning experience.

  Cognitive Presence focuses on critical thinking skills. We want our learners to be active learners – to be actively integrating key concepts into their own worlds, exploring related resources, and adding new ideas and new knowledge. Cognitive presence is, in essence, the scaffolding of learning  as we move from the initial stages of knowledge and comprehension toward the critical learning stages of application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.  

What we are talking about here is a new direction for educators, corporate trainers, instructional designers and learning principles tacticians. The focus is on transformative teaching and on inspiring learners to be agents of change where innovative thinking becomes a natural mindset.The alignment of learning elements that Phylise is talking about requires that we think of what the elements of learning objectives, content, activities and assessments would look like in an immersive E-Learning environment. Keep in mind that previously these elements were defined by the industrial model of education. In order for this to come about there needs to be a change from pedagogical practices defined by the industrial model of education to one that is in sync with a global, networked and collaborative digital age. This requires innovative pedagogical practices.

Innovative Pedagogical Practice

Law (2002) in a paper titled:"Leadership,Change Management and Good Pedagogical Practices" defined Innovative Pedagogical Practice (IPP) as:

"...the product of change as well as a process. As a product, IPP is an organizational response to demands exerted internally or externally on the school "

Researchers of SITES II suggest that an innovative pedagogical practice (IPP) possess one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Promote active and independent learning
  • Competencies and technological skills to search for, organize and analyze information and communicate and express their ideas
  • Collaborative, project based learning involving complex real world like problems
  • Individualized, customized instruction
  • Address issues of equity including gender, ethnic, geographic or socioeconomic factors
  • Break down the walls of the classroom (ie: time, space and participants in the teaching process
  • Improve social cohesiveness and understanding 


When soliciting cases of innovative practices from all over the world, the researchers of SITES II required participating countries to select cases which had the following characteristics:

  • Technology played a substantial role
  • Evidence that indicates significant changes in roles of teachers and students, the goals of the curriculum assessment practices and/or educational materials or infrastructures
  • Evidence of measurable positive student outcomes
  • The innovative practice shows sustainability and transferability.
One point that should be clear is that we can not just transfer old pedagogical practices from brick and mortar classrooms in the past and simply ignore the effect  of working in an online environment.

Next----Concepts of Open Pedagogy and Social Pedagogy as necessary elements in immersive E-Learning.

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