Kanuka starts and ends her paper with a quote from Elias & Merriam, 1980, p.4 ‘…action without philosophical reflection leads to mindless activism”. Why we teach what we teach will impact what technologies we employ and how we employ them. Having the administration dictate to the faculty, with an across-the-board policy, will lead to little or no buy-in, low enthusiasm, and poor results. Academic freedom is very important in Post Secondary circles. And our beliefs about the technology itself  will affect our commitment to using it. The technology is either a neutral tool, or it will play a role in shaping the learning experience, or it will determine the direction that we will take as a society.

Anderson and Dron look at the progression of the pedagogy of the Distance Education experience – cognitivist/behaviourist (CB), social-constructivist (SC), and the connectivist  – that has paralleled the development of the technology. CB pedagogy is teacher-centred (teacher as sage) and measures success by a behaviourial change and a change in knowledge in the individual learner. SC pedagogy is centred on a group of learners (teacher as guide) who work together, discuss, validate, and apply their new knowledge to real-world contexts. And the connectivist pedagogy focuses back on the individual learner ( teacher as a co-traveller or even role model) who learns from the ‘crowd’  through a Personal Learning Network as he or she filters, sorts, creates, aggregates, and publishes. The goal is not to memorize or even understand but to find, filter, and apply knowledge.

Ally looks at the progression of the delivery models of Distance Learning from print-based correspondence, to TV broadcasts, to Multi-media broadcasts, to on line delivery, anywhere, any time. He looks at three Learning Theories:-

1. Behaviourist: drill and practice followed by a change of behaviour

2. Cognitive: internal process of reflection which is dependent on the processing capacity of the learner, the amount of effort expended, the quality of processing, and the pre-existing knowledge base.

3. Constructivist: learning by observation, processing, and interpretation according to personal reality – learning by doing as opposed to being told.

Ally recognizes the need for teamwork to create a comprehensive course – a subject matter expert, an instructional designer, tech support, and a  project manager working together during implementation and for the maintenance of the learning materials. Instructors need to be trained in the use of the technology, in effective listening skills, in the moderation of discussion forums, and in the timeliness of feedback.

As a father, I have seen myself change in my children’s eyes from sage to guide to role model and now to fellow traveller.  Over the course of the time that I have the apprentices in class, I see them slowly come to the realization that the teacher doesn’t know everything, I just have a bit more experience than they do. I encourage them to learn from each other as I learn from them. I try to practise the the balance set out in “How to teach a Skill” http://www.learningforlife.org/exploring-resources/99-720/y13.pdf , i.e. 10% of the class time I explain, 25% of the time I demonstrate, and 65% of the time they practise. The challenge that I see ahead for us, driven by financial constraints, is to create good learning audio-visual materials that they could access on line that would get them to listen, observe, and even practise before they come to school for the application. I can see that a good portion of the theoretical work can be done on line, such as Plan Reading and Estimating.



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