In both PME 832 and 851, you will be required to contribute to several discussion board topics. These are listed in your respective syllabuses. For those of you who have taken PME 801, the boards were required but not graded directly. For my classes, I did look carefully at what contributions you made to the boards and took this into account when deciding upon a grade. However, in these two courses, you will be graded on each board individually.
So, I would like to discuss my expectations for these boards a bit more thoroughly. I ask you to read about the community of inquiry, (https://coi.athabascau.ca/). You can peruse the site and if you have not heard of this model you really must read a few of the articles listed therein.
In brief, the model highlights how we first must make the community (your classmates) feel safe through social presence – making sure everyone understands your perspective, context and the purpose of your post. This is not always as obvious as you may think. It also requires that you give (literally) permission to others to challenge you, and to feel confident to ask questions of your classmates about their posts. As with any classroom, f2f or virtual, we all must let each of us (the participants) place themselves in the community and in a context where they feel they can contribute.
The next step is the notion of teaching presence. This is the guiding force of the community. These are the questions that we ask each other and more importantly, the answers that we give. I will ask you challenging questions, quite simply to challenge you. Usually, I expect an answer. You are expected to ask questions of your peers. And when asked, you are expected to answer. In other words, to make the most of this discussion board and community, I charge you with asking pointed and direct questions of each other in the posts. Students must ask other students questions. There is only one of me and many of you. This is to push each other forward in the quest for knowledge.
Once we have social presence and teaching presence, then we will get cognitive presence, the creation of new knowledge, and not before.
So, let me reiterate that not only is it appropriate for you to ask each other questions, but it is imperative that you do. Teaching presence not only comes from the teacher (me), but comes in the form of directing questions and inquiry which is what gives the community direction and guidance for sharing our cognitive presence. Social presence is that which makes us comfortable doing so.
That is why we are here.
I would like to comment about making comments on people's posts. If you read about the community of inquiry, (https://coi.athabascau.ca/), you will discover that teaching presence is the supporting presence that makes the whole community actually function.
So, let me say that not only is it appropriate for you to ask each other questions, but it is imperative that you do. Teaching presence not only comes from the teacher (me), but comes in the form of directing questions and inquiry which is what gives the community direction and guidance for sharing our cognitive presence. Social presence is that which makes us comfortable doing so.
I have talked about this in previous posts with other cohorts of students. You can read one discussion here
In other words, to make the most of this discussion board and community, I charge you with asking pointed and direct questions of each other in the posts. This is to push each other forward in the quest for knowledge.
That is why we are here. That is why I love to teach. Students believe that they can ask the teacher questions. Well, students can also ask other students questions. In fact, students must ask other students questions. There is only one of me and many of you.
I look forward to a question-filled discussion over the next few weeks.
I presented at the 2016 Designing for Learning Workshop held at Western Sydney University (Parramatta Campus) on Tuesday, November 29th, with two of my colleagues. You can view my workshop notes here.
Our abstract for the workshop:
Engaging students through active learning
Active learning is "anything that involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing", which can include discussing, collaborating, critical thinking, problem solving etc. In this 50-minute hands-on session, participants have an opportunity to participate in active learning activities that can be implemented in classroom environments and adapted to a range of scenarios.
Participants will be required to bring a learning and teaching activity schedule / lesson plan, in which, they wish to incorporate active learning strategies. During the session, we will have three activity stations where participants will discuss the key principles of active learning, as well as, participate and explore active learning strategies.
As part of the course I taught online at Queens University over the summer, we investigated PLCs (professional learning communities), and the students were required to engage with one and report back on their success. As a follow up, I received an email the other day from a former student asking about PLCs. Here is an abridged version:
Hi Paul, I hope all is well. I was in your Collaborative Inquiry course during the summer. I honestly and truly enjoyed and learned a lot from the course. So much so that at my new job we recently had our first PLC meeting. It was quite awkward (which I know is to be expected). I was talking to my breakout group about building trust and getting to know one another. They asked me to share this with the larger group and I did (reluctantly being the 'new guy') and the principal of my program said that she would like to speak further to me about PLCs.
I am of course a bit nervous both being new to the school while still wanting to share all of the good things I learned. I am wondering if you have any suggestions as to how I should share? I believe all of my apprehensions go directly to the issue of trust in a PLC, but want to know how to best overcome this and present ideas effectively. Do you have any ideas or could point me in the direction of an article that would explain this? Sorry to bother, you but I feel that you were the best person to contact in this instance. Best regards, your student
My response was as follows:
Well, you have gotten off to a good start in your new position. That is great. As for the question of PLCs, you have identified the most crucial element. As a teacher, that is the very same element that we need to secure first in the classroom – is it safe to ask questions? To be me?
I have found a great deal of inspiration through the community of inquiry model (https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/), which I think applies in many collaborative situations. I wrote a paper which is in review now about using this model to manage communities. The goal I think is to make the community feel safe through the social presence – making sure they understand the purpose of the community and letting each other know their own personal goals within the larger community. This is a great activity in itself to let the participants place themselves in the community and in a context where they feel they can contribute.
Also, you as facilitator, need to manage this process.
The next step is to clarify the notion of teaching presence. This is the guiding force of the community. These are the questions that we ask each other and more importantly, the include the permission to ask questions. If we expect questions and tell each other that we are expected to ask questions, when we actually do so, it is easier. You may have noted that even in our discussion boards, people still get a bit put out when some one asks a question or challenges them. However, that is the point. And we just do it in the context of learning.
Once we have social presence and teaching presence, then we will get cognitive presence, and not before.
Have a read of the two articles and look at the website and the actual model. It may take awhile for it all to sink in, but trust me, I have been relying on this model for at least 10 years and it still works perfectly.