Social Processes and Pedagogy in Online Learning

Social Processes and Pedagogy in Online Learning - Hewson L...

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Social Processes and Pedagogy in Online Learning LINDSAY HEWSON AND CHRIS HUGHES University of New South Wales New South Wales, Australia [email protected] [email protected] Online learning environments offer efficient ways of interconnecting group members and satisfying their commu- nicative needs. However, learning does not proceed through shared communication alone; all groups imply social processes and learning groups demand an additional pedagogical intention. Popular online learning systems satisfactorily enable the management of students and teaching staff but offer limited tools to support familiar educational techniques and even fewer to support the essential processes of group dynamics that accompany learning. This article draws from both the literature of learning and of interpersonal and social interaction to define those character- istics of an online group that support learning and proceeds to use these criteria as a tool to evaluate currently available systems. In this article we approach the examination and eventually some evaluation of online learning environments from a number of aspects. So often the starting point for such an enterprise is a particular technology and the new potential that it claims to offer. However, technologies are ultimately only tools to achieve human purposes and once those purposes are made explicit, some tools become less than ideal. Thus, we will in turn describe the context, both social and technical, in which learning is to occur, the nature learning. AACE Journal, 13 (2), 99-125.
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100 Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal , 13 (2) of the learning process, and then some of the software tools currently offered for the purpose. It is hoped that by defining the desirable character- istics of a sound learning environment and the allied social and group development that must accompany it, we will have a more objective framework against which specific technologies may be judged. Teaching and learning is more than simply communicating content; it is a complex dynamic with clear responsibilities and processes for both teachers and learners, which are so often assumed to be implicit in network systems, but actually demand explicit structures. One of the themes emerging from the literature on online learning is the need for structures to support social and pedagogic processes. Almost every author in two recent collections (Alexander & Boud, 2001; Weight, 2000) called in one way or another for more structural support for online facilitators to enable them to implement effective online pedagogies. This article has also been written from this perspective. While we agree that the tutor’s role in structuring online learning experiences is critical (Alex- relative lack of structural supports for pedagogy built into software packages
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Social Processes and Pedagogy in Online Learning - Hewson L...

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