Friday, May 8, 2009

too rare, but great when it happens

It may be rare, but, when it happens, it gives me quite a lift. I'm talking about "connections". In this case, a discussion list, at the extreme end of "loose coupled" instructional design, has given one student the chance to realise that there is another student on placement in the same physical area as them. Now they're planning to meet up and that has huge potential for supporting and encouraging one-another. There's a lot more than that going on on the forum too, but the virtual meeting prompted me to start writing this post.
It highlights for me that the best thing social media brings to the table is the potential for sparking or enhancing face-to-face real-time conversations.

"Loose coupling" is a term I picked up at Lancaster; you can read about it from Peter Goodyear's paper ( ) but here's a nice quote of his from that one:
The loose coupling of elements gives space within which we can be both disciplined and creative, listen to our instincts and make them accountable to others.
So this is part of my making an instinct accountable... to you. Each year I have set up "General Support, Feedback and Collaboration" discussion lists, just to give some level of interaction potential to our too one-way VLE offerings. The only staff involvement I promise is my own brand of moderation (i.e. fairly hands-off). It strikes me that, for all the attempts at cunning design to draw people out in discourse and dialogue, this loosely framed forum has produced some very special learning opportunities for those involved.
It seems strange, as I think back to a project that ran back in UWCM days, that we dont do more to make students aware of their physical proximity.


Unknown said...

I think you are very right:) We need to talk some more about what we can really expect of dicussion boards and other tools that promote 'commaborative learning'.
My hunch is that students do this location placing quite informally through Facebook. Is that true in nursing?

Mike Johnson said...

I'm sure facebook is important to many, but the course forum is the only place where the students are all guaranteed a 'seat' - that's just not going to happen in any other social media setting.