The role of discourse, collaboration, and technology each play an important part for distributed learning in online courses. I think it is important to note, “a key aspect of knowledge creation is discourse” and “collaboration and discourse are key to building knowledge, an endless human conversation of changing and improving ideas” (Harasim, 2012). I have had many incidences where I’ve talked through problems or ideas and because of those conversations I had a “light bulb” moment. I used to tell my kindergarten students that they are problem solvers and they need to talk to each other. I loved to listen to their conversations and ideas.
Discourse and collaboration go hand-in-hand. I read an article by Jabari (2014) where he wrote, “Classroom discussion, dialogue, and discourse are the principal means of exchanging ideas, evaluating mastery, developing thinking processes, and reflecting on content and shared thoughts. Engaging students in effective classroom talk begins by creating a discourse-rich classroom culture.” His article was about the importance of effective class discussions in his face-to-face classroom, but I would argue it is just as important in online courses. I believe that ‘a discourse-rich classroom culture’ is not only possible in online courses, but we have it in this course. Our discussions take place on Thursdays through Blackboard and in our weekly blogs. When we share thoughts and exchange ideas with each other, we are ultimately building knowledge through discourse and collaboration.
We would not be able to achieve our discourse and collaboration without technology because our course is online. We use computers, smart phones, blogs, and Blackboard. In the past, I’ve used Twitter, Google Docs, and apps like Edmodo. “Online collaboration tools are an excellent way to engage students in both virtual and physical classrooms. They not only enable active learning, but also facilitate peer learning. For example, incorporating online brainstorming tools such as Padlet or MindMeister into library instruction allows students to bounce ideas off one another and share their own individual experiences and perspectives, which has been shown to increase cognitive thinking and comprehension” (Mallon & Bernsten, 2015). I have found that online courses are naturally more engaging to me because I am actively involved, even if it is only typing. There is so much technology available to use now and it just continues to grow. Even when it doesn’t work they way I want it to, like my Quizlet Live activity, I learn from it and think about ways I can use it in the future.
Harasim, L. P. (2012). Learning Theory and Online Technologies. New York: Routledge.
Jabari, J. (2014, November). How Rich Is Your Classroom Discourse? Effective class discussions focus on critical thinking rather than right answers. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from Association for Middle Level Education: https://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/459/How-Rich-Is-Your-Classroom-Discourse.aspx
Mallon, M., & Bernsten, S. (2015, Winter). Collaborative Learning Technologies. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from Association of College and Research Libraries and American Library Association: http://acrl.ala.org/IS/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/winter2015.pdf