Week Three


Essential Question: What is the role of discourse, collaboration and technology for distributed learning in online courses?

Week Three Objectives:

The reading and activities this week will assist you in:

  • 6-A Deepening content and pedagogical knowledge in the foundations of distance learning literature
  • 6-C Reflecting on professional practice and dispositions to improve your ability to model and facilitate distance learning experiences

Week Three Preparation: 

Read Chapters  Six and Seven in Learning Theory and Online Technology (LTOT)

Read Connectivism: Learning as Network Creation

Read The MOOC Model for Digital Practice

About the Week

First of all, I know the essential question for this week is a mouthful (and a brain full!) .I encourage you to just go with it – remember that in Connectivism, the process of learning is more important than the material ultimately learned (because that will change very quickly). I encourage you to trust the process!

This week, we will read about some theories of teaching and learning which are being developed to inform our practice in regards to to the current state of learning and learners. While the theories we read about last week span the last 200 years, the theories we discuss this week, and the way these theories are realised in online courses, dates back only ten years at the most. Your text informs us of  Online Collaborative Learning Theory (OCLT). The text seems to purposefully avoid the term Connectivism, as it has stirred a great deal of controversy – particularly with the assertion that learning occurs both within the brain and outside of the brain. However, I have included references on Connectivism for your reading this week because I believe it is a significant development in our evolution of online learning theory.

A short overview of the stages of the evolution of distance learning courses follows. I think this will be helpful as you begin to consider OCLT and Connectivism. This is from an article I am currently working on with Anne Jones. 🙂

Anderson & Dron (2011) posit that there are three distinct phases of online teaching and learning. These phases are not necessarily progressive and are primarily a result of enhanced technological access and communication technology development. The first phase is based on a cognitive-behaviorist model in which the course was made up of static materials and which included virtually no interaction between students. One-to-one interactions were possible through email and other limited tools, and focused on student submission of assignments, and instructor feedback and grading. As technologies and access improved, instructors moved into a second phase of online teaching and learning.  This phase is based on a Social-Constructivist model.  Students make use of Web 2.0 technologies to create new knowledge and build upon the knowledge of each other.  This phase of learning is best exemplified by the bounded community model. (Wilson, et al, 2004)  In this model, the facilitator of the class manages the interactions of the students through strict rules and guidelines, provides immediate feedback to reinforce proper participation behaviors, and insures students feel “safe” in the experience through creation of private spaces for group and one to one discussion.

The third phase of online teaching and learning, was heralded with CCK08, and the phenomenon this course represented was dubbed a “MOOC” by Dave Cormier. (McAuley, et al, 2010)  Anderson and Dron (2011) indicate that this was among the first of many courses that have since been offered based in Connectivist pedagogy. Far different from the bounded community, Connectivist course design takes advantage of open technologies, and crowdsourcing: interactions amplified through social media. Dependent on social capital and presence, connectivist pedagogy focuses on the creation and maintenance of open learning networks (Siemens, 2004; Siemens, 2005). Because these networks are reciprocal, maintenance of the network is as dependent on production, curation and documentation of knowledge as it is on acquisition of knowledge. It is not surprising that this model was specifically designed to meet the needs of a knowledge economy and to address the development of 21st century skills in students.  (McAuley, et al, 2010)

The observations of McAuley, et al, (2010) reinforce the reality that students need a great deal of support as they create learning communities.  According to Thomas  & Seely Brown (2011) a unique opportunity for networked learning occurs in the “collective”, an organic community to which we choose to belong in order to capitalize on, “people skills and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts. “ (The Emergence of the Collective, para. 4)  Participation in the collective is vital in order for belonging to be established. Those who wish to be a part of a collective are members only in proportion to their participation in the organic community.

 Consider these stages of online learning, the reading for this week, and any other materials you would like as you create your response to the initial question this week

Please create your initial blog entry, due on Thursday. 

Interact with others from Thursday through Sunday to extend their understanding. It is important that you share resources and ideas that will influence the learning of others.

Finally, on Sunday, create a reflection of the week, focusing on the new ideas you have encountered and the way you might implement these ideas in practice. Be certain to also note the way that you impacted the learning of others in the class.



Anderson, T. & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance learning pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Retrieved from: http://        http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/890/1663/ on December 16, 2013

McAuley A., Stewart B., Siemens, G. & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. Retrieved from: https://oerknowledgecloud.org/sites/oerknowledgecloud.org/files/MOOC_Final_0.pdf on July 1, 2013

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved fromhttp://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: Learning as network-creation. Retrieved fromhttp://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/networks.htm

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. [Kindle Edition Available:http://www.amazon.com/New-Culture-Learning-Cultivating-ebook/dp/B004RZH0BG/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1]

Wilson, B. G., Ludwig-Hardman, S., Thornam, C. L., & Dunlap, J. C. (2004). Bounded community: Designing and facilitating learning communities in formal courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning,5(3).

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