Week 25 – A2: Mix right ?

Reading:  Anderson (2003) ‘Getting the mix right again: an updated and theoretical rationale for interaction’.

1. On page 2 of this article, Anderson (drawing on Sims, 1999) lists the functions of interaction, as follows:
Learner control
Facilitating programme adaptation based on learner input
Varied forms of participation and communication
Aiding the development of meaningful learning
Interaction is also ‘fundamental to the creation of learning communities’ (Anderson, 2003, p.2).

In what ways have you found that H800 incorporates each of these functions of interaction and through what means?


2. Based on your experience of H800, would you agree with the first claim in Anderson’s equivalency theorem?

‘Deep and meaningful formal learning is supported as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student–teacher; student–student; student–content) is at a high level. The other two may be offered at minimal levels, or even eliminated, without degrading the educational experience.’ (Anderson, 2003, p.4) Anderson also argues that there is ‘pressure and opportunity to transform student–teacher and student–student interaction [interpersonal forms of interaction] into enhanced forms of student–content interaction.’ He later gives examples of this as teacher videos, virtual labs, personalised FAQs, etc. Anderson also notes that students themselves perceive student–teacher interaction as having the highest value and that the teacher–student interaction is the least scaleable (likely most expensive).

Learning to occur needs to have the student as its central actor and interaction with another entity through which learning can occur, Anderson lists the teacher, another student or content being the enabler of learning. As this is refered to formal learning I quiet agree with Anderson.

3. Drawing on the points from Anderson outlined in question 2 above, and the other examples later in Anderson’s paper, make notes on the circumstances in which you would economise on student–teacher interaction and seek to increase the use of student– content interaction. For what purposes, using which tools?

Online and distance learning might put pressure on designers to economise on student–teacher interaction and increase the use of student– content interaction.

4. Anderson does not limit his account to distance education, and briefly discusses classroom delivery, audio and video conferencing and web-based courses. He also sets out an interaction-based model of online learning in figure 2 on page 9, based on the three major elements of student/learner, teacher and content.
To what extent does this model apply to your own practitioner context?
Which of the four different forms of interactive learning is most appropriate for your context?
Paced, collaborative learning
Independent study
Structured learning resources
Community of inquiry

5. Anderson implies that interaction often involves a trade off, in terms of cost, available technology and preferences of learners. How satisfactory would you judge the mixture of interaction in your own practice setting? What are the reasons for its strengths and weaknesses?

I would say that in my context, my students use a mix of interactions in their learning. They interact with their peers, teacher and even content. Support is also found through other sources primarily at home. Although as stated above the learner can experience learning through a high level of interaction in one of the three fields, with minimal interaction in the other fields, I think that it is online and distance learning that such interaction finds fertile ground. For my secondary students, in F2F learning, if one of the interactions is missing (for a short period ok, but not on a long period), the learning will be negatively affected as;

  • without teacher support, the student will loose the experiental figure which guides and motivates
  • without peer support, the student will miss an important aspect of schooling which gives access to e.g. socialisation and skill building
  • without content, the student cannot relate to what is being learned in formal schooling.

Thus students may be studying independently at home, more so when exams are looming. Paced, collaborative learning and structured learning resources are essentially used in their formal learning…


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