Responding here to a conversation with Miguel Zapata-Ros at the Connectivist Facebook site because every time Bloom comes up I wander off and lose track of my thoughts. Learning theories are hard to settle on and this is a bad weekend for settling anything. My response:
Interesting paper Miguel which has me thinking about deliberately building understanding into online courses and how difficult that can be in when you are alone in an office without any connection to the students who might be taking the course. I wonder if this removal from the zone of delivery and response (classroom) is part of what makes instructional design often seem artificial—like “being” on the internet. Bloom was in and of the world he knew, my world is online and truthfully it would more correct to say very little of me remains on Bloom’s side of the border.

Not to be too abstract yet when I think of the online classes I used to help build we worked towards a quality rubric which attempted to accomplish transfer of content to understanding but there wasn’t really a level of understanding specified. It was almost as if we were building in order to present the least number of difficulties to reach an average that represented “success” by completion over success by mastery. The course was “done” as if it was another egg laid by a chicken credited toward the dozen needed to “equal” a certificate.

Education should be more than the simple completions of courses. Even if we don’t expect mastery in all domains, I think Bloom would want us to push past doing something just to have it done to doing it with the purpose of expanding our abilities to operate as intelligent being in the world. Every subject makes a unique contribution to our knowledge and should be given our best effort and support.

A question that bothers me about the raising the level of performance as an accepted goal in education. Most of what I see around me is done with indifference and the world still functions. This is an awful idea…  Why would we want to spend the extra effort improving performance of people who ultimately don’t care?

Maybe we fail somehow to identify online education as within the domain of serious study and see it as noise suggestive of education, but not the real thing? The mention of limits and viability in 1 to 1 tutoring of students “Obviously this is a limit, it is socially and economically un-viable instructional system that can sustain a tutor for a student” cause me to wonder if we can get past the barrier of economics to reach another level in education? Will technology enhanced teaching allow us to leap into another domain of learning? What could technology leverage that exceeds close, direct and responsive tutoring human to human? Or are we mistaken to speak of technology as somehow unconnected to us humans who imagine and build it?

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  • Carolyn Jones  On July 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Whilst I find the concept of Technology Enhanced Learning absolutely fascinating – I would not envisage it ever replacing the need for human encounter in an ideal learning situation. I don’t think there is likely to be a future scenario of this kind – if only because the educational establishment already tends to find the advantages of the use of various learning technologies very threatening to their continued existence. What a different world there could be if we can overcome this resistance – as, in time, we surely will. The knowledge is already ‘out there’ – what are needed now are the vitally important skills of appropriate selectivity and critical evaluation to accompany the process of knowledge acquisition – then perhaps – we will really be getting somewhere!.

    • scottx5  On July 11, 2013 at 8:20 PM

      Hi Carrie, my father worked in advertising and I remember him complaining about the lack of media and propaganda assessment tools offered in the schools. He thought it unfair to have spent so many years training in advertising only to be presenting to “media illiterates”. So I’m not so sure the practitioners of education can fall back on claims critical thinking emerging only from on-campus sources. Think you are right, things will change. But educators are going to have to shake off their claims of being the only true source of knowledge, knowing and evaluation. Probably more important than the technologies is the ability to distribute learning as widely as possible.


  • […] Maybe we fail somehow to identify online education as within the domain of serious study and see it … Interesting question from my friend Scott about human teachers and online teachers. I did search (as Gordon does) on human tutoring and found this study: Human tutoring is a bit overestimated (The Relative Effectiveness of Human Tutoring, Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and Other Tutoring Systems) Do we call it  1 to 1 tutoring when participants in a (connectivist) MOOCs ask questions and give feedback to participants? Is connectivism an educational theory that avoids this need for teacher tutoring? Social connections are very useful and fun for learning. An automated system could help learning, but laughing and having some fun while learning needs a human touch. I did a Mechanical Mooc on learning a computer language and programming, this is a computer tutoring students. And I think it will become a handy tool for learning languages, computer programming and this kind of skills and knowledge. […]

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