SansBlogue  
Thursday, March 15, 2007
  Online and face to face teaching
Way back in December Kevin posted on A Semester with Moodle ever since I've had it bookmarked intending to reply and follow it a bit further. First the similarities:
But, the big difference is that Kevin seems not to have used the discussion forum feature, even in onsite classes I encourage this. Often I set a "reading blog" as one of the assessments. This encourages students to read exploratively, by rewarding them for doing so. Gets them to share this reading and comment on its value, and makes them interact with other students and their reading. (They are required to both "post" new readings, and "comment" on what others have posted.)

This extensive encouragement of discussion forums (which email the posts to students as well) has produced some of the most obvious personal growth I have ever seen come out of the interaction of students. In a class on the prophets one student began with a narrow judgemental approach that assumed that anyone who was desperately poor had to be lazy. Another student was working in Southern Asia and began to describe small events from is family life, like the way their son felt for the boy selling flowers on the road side... through their interaction the first student over several weeks evidently came to change their understanding of the world, and therefore their attitudes.

Real personal growth through purely online communication. What's more I suspect that in the faster world of a face to face classroom little change would have taken place. Because:
  1. the student with Asian experience would be speaking about last year not last night (the breadth would be less immediate)
  2. the interaction requires an instant response, I've seen it in the past a knee jerk "the flower seller was just pretending to be in real need, like all the false beggars" - more thought and perhaps follow up questions undo the knee jerk!
  3. Face to face macho males take "sides"
  4. Face to face the extrovert and aggressive dominate the "discussion"
So, my conclusion is that - though face to face teaching is great for some things - online teaching is too. That means that the absolute ideal is a class with a mix...

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