Experiencing Online Learning – The Era of the MOOCs (Part 2)

Monday, 30th November 2017. As I start my second module of the “Deep Learning through Transformative Pedagogy” course, I wonder how proper communication is important in teaching and learning. The professor in the video points out that communication is critically important to effective teaching and learning. Why? This is because part of being able to communicate properly involves building relationships with others. How do I see this in the Pakistani context where corporal punishment is considered as an effective means of teaching and learning? According to AlifAilaan’s “The Voice of Teachers”, private and government school teachers believe this to be true. In fact, the number of private school teachers who believe in corporal punishment is higher. How can we bring about a positive improvement in this regard? Can teacher training prove to be useful? Can we use social media technology to bring about a positive change? This experiment can certainly prove to be worthwhile.

Further study of the module content reveals that communication constitutes verbal as well as non-verbal communication. Therefore, any behavior by a person can be interpreted as non-verbal communication. non verbalAn example of this could be if a teacher does not respond to a student’s question. Then the non-verbal message would be that the teacher has chosen to ignore the student. The case could be otherwise but the behavior can easily be interpreted in this manner. For me, as someone who aspires to be an effective teacher one day, this knowledge is of utmost importance. It shows that I need to be careful with my body language as much as I can while teaching and forming relationships with students.

The module goes on to talk about the Socrates Technique of engaging students by asking them questions. This is something we have discussed extensively in our offline classes as well. This technique is quite effective as it helps to clear understanding regarding topics which are contrary to the Pakistani system whereas teacher simply conveys information with a question here and there. This part of the module is supported by recorded examples of conduction of collaborative inquiry in classrooms which gives a clear insight on how the method works.

My most precious take away from this module was the “I wonder” question format.emerging2 For example, instead of framing the questions as “What kind of butterfly would this caterpillar turn into?” questions can be reframed as “I wonder what kind of butterfly this caterpillar might become?” This subtle change in format will help students to become co-inquirers through dialogue and discussion, thus paving the way for higher-order learning.

The journal reflection assessments for this module were also quite helpful in aiding understanding of the module. I am still not very comfortable with EdX’s layout as it can be made more user-friendly. The modules also provide references for further reading. I feel it would be better if they could also provide links to where these books can be obtained.

I am also a bit concerned about the activity on the discussion forums. I am not sure how many students are enrolled in the course, but the participation level seems low. Can it be because students would rather discuss what they learned with their peers than with people online? I would like to do some further research in this matter to derive a more conclusive answer.

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