Discovering the power of good questions
I’ve been working on pulling together a set of design principles based on learning theory as applied to collaborative learning, online learning environments, and the sense of presence, and have developed the following list of principles for course design:
To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organized knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 16)
It is a student-centered active learning approach focusing on questioning, critical thinking, and problem solving. Students are engaged in finding solutions to authentic, socially valid problems through investigations and collaboration with others. Inquiry-based instruction should help students to communicate with those who have different perspectives, articulate problems out of complex and messy situations, and collaborate with others in finding solutions to problems. In an inquiry-based learning environment, the teacher becomes a partner in the inquiry, a guide and facilitator who presents challenging, interesting, curiosity-provoking problems that entice students to learn. (Gunawardena, 2004, p. 146)
From my own doctoral research, the sense of presence is actually an ongoing process (Spagnolli, Varotto & Mantovani, 2003), is always dynamic and emergent, occurs in a moment and over time, involves experiences (most often, doing with others), the process is both objective (can be observed) and subjective (sensed and felt), and is both transactional and transformative. The sense of presence is developed through:
Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Goldman, S., Booker, A., & McDermott, M. (2008). Mixing the digital, social, and cultural: Learning, identity, and agency in youth participation. In D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, Identity, and Digital Media: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 185–206. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262524834.185
Gunawardena, C. (2004). Inquiry-based online learning environments. In T. Duffy & J. Kirkley (Eds.), Learner-centered theory and practice in distance education: Cases from higher education. (pp. 143-158). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Lehman, R.M. & Conceicao, S.C. (2010). Creating a sense of presence in online teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Munro, J.S. (1998). Presence at a distance: The educator-learner relationship in distance learning. ACSDE Research Monograph 16. The Pennsylvania State University.
Spagnolli, A., Varotto, D., & Mantovani, G. (2003). An ethnographic, action-based approach to human experience in virtual environments. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 59, 797-822.
Suter, V. (2011). I am here – Are you there? Sense of presence and implications for virtual world design. (Doctoral dissertation, Pepperdine University). Retrieved from http://gradworks.umi.com/34/49/3449167.html
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Love your work and your questions! Just one thought re teaching… as a professor, too. I find it useful to place fun near the top of the goals and activities. Games and fun things help learners remember better, I suspect. Or maybe I am just speaking of my own learning and imposing that on the students.