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Teaching and Learning Online

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Saved by Gary Motteram
on February 14, 2013 at 5:23:44 am

This is a wiki designed for use by students on the MA courses in the School of Education at the University of Manchester taking a course unit about teaching and learning online. However, the content is open for anyone to view.


The course unit is divided into 4 broad units. These are topic-based but there are some underlying threads linking each topic: distance and online learning; researching practice; the roles and needs of teachers and learners in contexts where technology is a key driver. There is, however, flexibility to pursue topics of interest as they emerge, or explore resources you find along the way, and in this respect the group can take a lead in directing activities too. I am always happy for colleagues to make suggestions.


The approach to this course unit employs various techniques to facilitate both collaborative tasks and more individual research, both of which will contribute to a shared building of understanding. I hope you will feel able to participate as much as you can in group interactions, which will provide us with much to reflect on, and form a basis for examination in their own right :-)


You will also be encouraged to turn the mirror on yourselves as online learners to understand both the potential and challenges of the decisions you may take as course designers. This will also allow you to reflect on the implications of the processes you engage in and the developments you are considering for yourselves as teachers, for teacher educators, for information managers, for course designers in designing teacher development courses.


As you can see, this is a vast field and there is no doubt that specific aspects will draw you in more than others. Whilst we will work as much as we can in a collaborative construction of understanding, specific interest are accounted for in the assignment stage that allows you to negotiate the direction you would like to take. More of that presently :-)



Organisation of the course unit and schedule


The introduction and 4 broad thematic units structure our activity in the first 9 weeks of the semester (this year, this will mean breaking into the first week of the Easter vacation); the final round up and preparation occurs after the Easter break. These provide a pathway through the field though we hope you will exercise some autonomy in terms of following up specific areas of interest in greater depth. This is catered for in your assignment work and weeks 10-12 will give you opportunities to discuss the spedific nature of what you are doing with others.


Starting points

Setting yourself up for educ7005; introductions; thinking about yourselves as online learners.


There are six parts to this section that are all linked together.


Unit 1

Online learning: tools and communications

The topic considers different types of CMC and invites you to explore and report on your experiences. We look at a range of synchronous and asynchronous technologies, and consider the more recent developments in Web2 applications.


As part of this first topic, we experience the different types of activities used during the course unit. You need to be prepared to carry out some individual and group tasks. The variety of task types will enable you to reflect on issues of task management and interaction between different course participants online.


Unit 2

Developments in distance and online learning

Distance, distributed, blended, social learning, PLNs... The discussions around online learning have involved the arrival of numerous terms over the years. This unit gives you an understanding of historical developments in distance learning, in the changing discourse towards distributed, blended learning and how developments in technology also run alongside such thinking.


We also invite you to think about how technology has impacted on your local context; this may be via institutional or national imperatives; it may be as you need to respond to specific demands. We will return to such imperatives when we think about teacher development needs in our final unit.

Unit 3

Focus on the teacher: online teaching and learning environments

By this point in the course you will have worked extensively within Blackboard, using some of the tools it offers. You will also have looked at other tools and environments as part of the tasks we will have undertaken.


The detail of how different environments are used to construct learning activities is the subject of other course units in our programmes. What we will do here is consider some of the challenges and potentials of different environments, and specifically of the role of the online tutor, looking at some of the models in the literature. how the tool fits the task. You'll be able to draw on your own experiences to inform these discussions. As part of this unit, we will meet in Second Life. Instructions about setting yourself up for this will be provided separately.

Unit 4

Focus on the learner and teacher: working together online

As you read the literature around online learning, you will see that interaction is a central precept. We read of claims for constructivist/social constructivist learning, e-learning communities, social computing.


By this point in the course you will have been building your own awareness of the nature of interaction in different tools and through different task activity. This unit will allow you to explore some of the research into working in online groups, and to reflect on the implications for practice.

End points

We start the unit by thinking about being an online learner. Our end points will allow us to reflect on our learning during the course unit, and to turn the spotlight back on being/becoming an online teacher. Discussions here will also allow you to begin to analyse 'data' generated through your course experience to identify areas of personal learning that you take forward, not only to your assignment, but to future teaching contexts.





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