I hope you had a very enjoyable Easter break (if you got one!). During the break, my classmates in the MA Technical Communication and e-Learning and I worked on an e-tivity assignment for our e-Learning Theories and Practices module. There were three topics, MOOCS, Flipped Learning/Classrooms and Digital Badges. My group and I looked at Flipped Classrooms. Using a dedicated Sulis (VLE) forum, we each uploaded 2 pdf articles related to the topic of Flipped Classrooms and then provided summaries of these documents. The final stage of the process was the development of a 750-word summary document relating to the subject matter we had covered.
The process presented the usual hassles, associated with group assignments; getting equal commitment from all parties, working around varying time commitments and availability, synthesising individual pieces of writing to make a cohesive whole, etc. Attempting to encapsulate the content of 12 individual summaries, which themselves were abbreviations of lengthy journal articles and papers, in a mere 750 words was, probably, the biggest challenge of the assignment.
Despite the difficulties, however, I think this e-tivity was a worthwhile exercise. The process of engaging in the type of learning exercise we will be expected to develop as future e-Learning Developers and Educational Technologists means having the opportunity to take pedagogical theory and test it in practice. It heightens our awareness of the processes involved and provides us with a real-world method of evaluating the learning outcomes.
The e-tivity was a flipped learning exercise. Using information technology and media, my classmates and I (my peer group) were able to discuss and critically reflect on the content, which we had sourced and judged worthy of examination, prior to the traditional lecture. By extracting appropriate information from the content and redesigning it for presentation as a summary document and ultimately, for presentation in class, we were able to experience the processes involved in developing content for flipped classroom scenarios.
The exercise had the added learning benefit of allowing us to experience what is entailed in e-moderating for online learning. Throughout the summary document development process, our group provided support and encouragement to one another, provided clarity re the direction of the process and attempted to elicit equal involvement from all group members on the forum. This constructive collaboration by the team sought to ensure that the final learning document would reflect the interests and contributions of all parties. An essential element of the role of e-moderator is to provide the necessary encouragement and stimulus to elicit constructive online interactions between learners.
The group was also careful to clearly signpost distinct areas for collaborative contribution, making following the progression of conversations and output easier for the instructor. Clear labelling of topics and conversations enables learners and instructors to negotiate online collaborations and prevents learners from becoming disillusioned with the breath of information that may be contained within any given online collaboration. Clear signposting of online content is a process that e-moderators must encourage their learners to engage in and practice themselves in the development of their online learning content.
Underpinning the learning in this e-tivity was Gilly Salmons 5-stage pedagogical model for e-learning. The 5 stages of learning covered in Salmons model acted as a scaffold for the development of our group resource:
- Access and Motivation stage – Our lecturer, as e-moderator, provided us with the information needed to access the group forum and explained the purpose of the exercise and the expected outcomes.
- Online Socialisation stage – Each member of the group accessed the designated forum to upload their pdf articles and summaries, thereby beginning the conversation that would continue throughout the project.
- Information Exchange stage – The group began a discussion to determine how best to apportion the work. At this stage, the group was quite eager to ensure equal cooperation from all members.
- Knowledge Construction stage – The group decided on the direction of the process and agreed upon the areas that each member would focus their efforts on. Decisions were based on interactions between members and a higher level of awareness of the subject matter.
- Development stage – At this point in the activity, each member was satisfied that they were sufficiently knowledgeable about the subject matter and their responsibilities to the group, to develop their individual contribution to the overall learning resource document.