EQ: What is the role of discourse, collaboration and technology for distributed learning in online courses?
Collaboration and discourse are the keys to building knowledge, an endless human conversation of changing and improving ideas (Harasim, 2012).
I have to admit when I read the word Discourse; I had a different meaning in mind. Maybe it’s because of the biblical term which often means debate. Discourse in education refers to written or spoken discussion and conversation (Harasim, 2012). Of course collaboration means to “Work with someone to produce or create something” (Merriam-webster.com). Technology is the delivery method for the distance education class. Therefore, without the three components, discourse, collaboration and technology, we would not be able to finish our online degrees.
“Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories most often utilized in the creation of instructional environments. These theories, however, where developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology.” (Siemens, 2004).
If I had to order the “keys” in order of importance, I would have to say that Technology is at the top of the list. You don’t believe me? Just wait until Blackboard is down and you can’t summit your final. You could have the textbooks (Discourse) and your finished paper (Collaboration), but without the internet – you can’t submit your final.
Before online learning, all classes were held in traditional classrooms with paper textbooks. We used chalk boards, dry erase boards, and projectors. Then in the 90s, some computer training programs started to emerge. Most were the simple typing programs, others where how to write a resume or accounting software. I believe these simple programs are what paved the way for the convenience for what we could do with technology. Then came the internet!
The internet era created so many avenues for learning. I am often amazed at what we can do with the internet. I was the manager for a distance training education facility on Ft Richardson, Alaska in 2006 which ironically would dial into Ft Eustis in Newport News, VA (where I was raised and am recovering from arm surgery). The soldiers were able to attend trainings, without leaving their home base. This technology saved the government money and time. And this was all before Skype.
Online learning in my opinion is the only way that I have been able to finish my pursuit for higher learning. There is no way that I would be able to take classes with my busy home life. Although I do struggle with the challenges of the limited time I have on some days, I do make it work. I am thankful for the technology that has created the Online Learning or Distance Education industry.
Siemens, George. (2004, Dec 12). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved on September 22, 2016 from www.ingedewaard.net/papers/connectivism/2005_siemens_ALearningTheoryForTheDigitalAge.pdf
McAuley, Alexander, Steward, Bonnie, Siemens, George and Cormier, Dave. (2010). THE MOOC MODEL FOR DIGITAL PRACTICE. Retrieved on September 22, 2016 from www.edukwest.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/MOOC_Final.pdf
Unknown. (n.d.) Collaborate. Retrieved on September 22, 2016 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/collaborate
Harasim, Linda. (2012). Learning Theory and Online Technologies