Reflection on the learning theories wiki

This is the second of two reflective blog posts associated with the ICTs for Learning Design course for week 1. Each of these will follow much the same format as the first.

This particular task went something like this

  • Team up with a partner.
    This was intended to be done via the profile wiki, but I must admit I ended up working with the person who was sitting closest to me in a f-t-f class. In part, this was due to implementation issues with the wiki and groups.
  • Select one of many readings on learning theories (we chose constructivism).
  • Specify your selection by placing your names on a Wiki.
  • Perform a PMI analysis of the learning theory examined in the reading.
  • Collaboratively with your partner fill out the PMI on a Wiki.

There was also an unspoken assumption that we might read some of the PMIs produced by other pairs (which I have not yet done).

Reflection on my learning

i.e. “what was it’s value to me as a learner?”

Yes. Two main reasons. First, it provided an opportunity to read and reflect a bit more about constructivism than I have previously. Second, it provided an opportunity for me to see the interpretations and ideas of others.

The second point was particularly evident in the differences between the PMIs of my partner and I. Our process was that we did our PMIs separately and then used the Wiki to merge them. My partner had completed first and it was obvious that his approach engaged more with the details of constructivism, whereas my approach was a little more abstract. I hadn’t really directly engaged with the specifics, showing a limitation of my thinking about this.

I had the opportunity to see the ideas of others because I formulated and posted my PMI initially on my blog. And for some reason it has been picked up a bit of a readership. It’s been viewed 198 times in four days and has had comments from a couple of people. Both comments have included different and interesting perspectives. One commenter has obviously read and thought a lot more about constructivism and its connections with connectivism than I.

It is through this and some other experiences that I’ve formed the opinion that I haven’t really internalised constructivism, not in any deep sense.

At the same time, I haven’t read any of the other PMIs produced by other students. Let’s do that now.

Oh, that is interesting. The PMI on behaviourism suggests that it is heavily used in the gaming industry. Especially in terms of the use of levels in games and its addictive nature. My initial response to that idea is to disagree, at least to some extent. This raises a question I have about this activity, to what level are people getting feedback or discussing with others (outside of their group) about what is written. I could have listed something completely wrong in my PMI that is now being read by others and helping them form incorrect conceptions.

As it happens, there are two PMIs on the wiki. A third has a start, but no content. Mm, that raises questions about the effectiveness of the Jigsaw approach being used for these readings. To some extent the intent is that my learning about the other learning theories/issues/paradigms relies on the work of the other pairs. Most of whom haven’t completed (at least based on the view I have).

Reflection on potential for my learners

There are perhaps three aspects to this activity, each with its own potential for my learners.

  1. The use of the Moodle or a wiki.
    As with the previous post, the use of a particular technology is going to be dependent on the teaching context. It would not surprise me to be in a context where a wiki, especially a Moodle wiki would be inappropriate. It would be inappropriate for two main reasons: (1) it’s a fairly poor wiki, and (2) it is a closed wiki accessible only by people in the class/course. A closed wiki prevents limits the benefits that can arise from other people looking at the work.
  2. The use of the PMI tactic.
    Significant potential. It is a useful way of giving students some scaffolding around analysing an idea.
  3. The use of the expert jigsaw.
    Good potential. The more complete description of the Jigsaw approach offers some potential, though not without its problems.

Constructivism

Are there any visible elements of constructivism?

Yes, in both the use of a wiki and the expert jigsaw, especially in a more complete form. The collaboration, the shared construction within the pair and then the reliance on other groups for other insights. The use of PMI as a scaffold may be an indicator. As would the fact that we had earlier read briefly about these theories. i.e. there’s a link with that earlier knowledge and what we’re doing next.

Cognitivism

I would somewhat tentatively suggest that PMI has elements of cognitivism, at least based on some perspectives. It’s an approach that helps guide learner cognition. I’m thinking this may be a long (even incorrect) bow to draw. Finding it difficult to make this connection based on the limited understanding of cognitivism that I have.

Behaviourism

No.

Connectivism

Potentially yes. The pairing and the use of expert jigsaw could be said to be intended to encourage the formation of networks. The exercise is both recognising and encouraging the diversity of opinions. But frankly, my interpretation is that this activity was designed from a constructivist perspective (this is the paradigm being emphasised) and that I may perhaps be over-reading some connections/similarities.

A more connectivist approach to this might focus more on students blogging their PMIs on their own blogs, on having set up an environment whereby students doing the same reading could see and discuss their different perspectives and then produce a wiki synthesis from there. Or even have them produce a second round of individual posts on their own blogs.

Diversity

The jigsaw tactic is dividing the students into smaller groups and allowing them to figure out how best to work for their needs and situations. There’s still enough scaffolding to bring that all back together at certain stages. However, the activity is still based on a fair bit of reading and writing, which theoretically doesn’t always enable diversity. Allowing the option of folk watching animations, lectures etc on some readings might provide more diversity. Similarly, the requirement to use the Moodle wiki, reduces diversity. The PMI approach provides some scaffolding but is still fairly open in terms of interpretation/diversity.

eLearning and digital pedagogy

I can certainly see applications for PMI, the expert jigsaw, and wikis. Perhaps not exactly the same as the structure used in this activity.

I can see how something along these lines might be a useful way for an exercise where IT students have to read and critique some code and/or learn about some new techniques.

One thought on “Reflection on the learning theories wiki

  1. Pingback: Reflection and conclusions: Learning brief « The Weblog of (a) David Jones

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