Thursday, October 1, 2015

Innovative Pedagogical Practices in Immersive E-Learning: Part II--Open and Social Pedagogy

At the core of innovative pedagogical practices is the requirement that these practices encourage effective, focused collaboration across global networks. One suggestion that addresses the effectiveness of collaboration is the concept of "open pedagogy".

The goal of "open pedagogy" is to capitalize on the talents that collaborators bring to the task or challenge of real world problems. It means that the collaborators are open to each other when it comes to dialogue from a cross disciplinary perspective. Conole(2013) in his work on open pedagogy titled: "Designing for Learning in an Open World" pointed out that open pedagogy has the following eight interconnected and dynamic attributes:

  • technology that is participatory (Web 2.0 and mobile) - includes social media and applications  used by mobile devices;
  • people who have trust in others’ work, are confident and demonstrate openness;
  • innovation and creativity – involves spontaneity and a willingness to adopt another view and different approaches;
  • sharing of ideas and resources freely so that knowledge and materials can be disseminated;
  • connected community so that practitioners can network and become part of a community of practice;
  • learner-generatedness – facilitating learners’ contributions by enabling and encouraging them to create and share information, resources and ideas;
  • opportunities for reflective practice –  initiated by participation in critical analysis of practices, professional learning and connection with others’ perspectives; and
  • peer review – the open critique of others’ work and scholarship.

 Another important characteristic of the collaboration that should be considered is that it is also social in nature. Social pedagogy is an important element that addresses the effectiveness of the online, cross networked collaboration. Bass and Elmondorf (2015) in a white paper titled: "Social Pedagogies" defined  social pedagogy as:

" ... design approaches for teaching and learning that engage students with what we might call an “authentic audience” (other than the teacher), where the representation of knowledge for an audience is absolutely central to the construction of knowledge in a course."

One of the great goals of E-Learning that is often missed is that the learners should have a real world audience in which to enter into discourse with concerning the new knowledge and skillsets that they have arrived at through collaboration. In other words, they need a testing ground for what they have created so that they may receive feedback and perhaps refine their thinking.

Some important characteristics of social pedagogies should be:

  • Focus on the importance of "authentic learning". According to Bass and Elmondorf (2015), authentic learning activities have "real world relevance", set problems for students that are "ill defined" and complex, provide opportunities for students to examine and address the task from multiple perspectives, and give students ample opportunities to collaborate, reflect on their learning, and integrate their knowledge in various ways.
  • Focus on "learning traits" that emerge from authentic learning situations. It has been hypothesized that social pedagogies are particularly effective at developing traits of "adaptive expertise", which include the ability of the learner to use knowledge flexibly and fluently, to evaluate, filter and distill knowledge for effect, to translate knowledge to new situations, and to understand the limits and assumptions of one's knowledge. Equally important is the cultivation of certain attitudes and dispositions characteristic of adaptive experts, including the ability to work with uncertainty, adapt to ambiguity or even failure, and to feel increasingly comfortable working at the edge of one's competence.
If you consider the points above and what has been stated in previous posts in this blog, then you realize that these mindsets and ingredients can make an immersive E-Learning approach very effective.

Bass and Elmondorf (2015) summarize the nature of social pedagogies in the following manner:

" Social pedagogies are ways of seeing how acts of communication and representation connect authentic tasks to learning processes, learning process to adaptive practices, practices to learning environments and intellectual communities, and how the constellation of these elements help students integrate their learning by connecting to larger contexts for knowledge and action."

At the heart of these pedagogies is the goal of creating "true learning communities" in E-Learning organizations now and in the future. The problem that we need to overcome is the prevalent consumerism mindset that has defined how we design and conduct learning experiences both in the corporate setting and in formal educational organizations for a number of decades. In a digital world where we want to nurture and grow new innovators, the balance needs to change from overt consumerism to emphasis on the creating of new knowledge and skill sets. It is these agents of change who will collaborate to solve complex real world problems. One of the essential keys to this happening is in educating learners so that they acquire "habits of the mind" that are more in sync with the demands of the new global realities.


Next----The emergence of pedagogy based on advancements in virtual technology

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