"Teaching is Dead!" What's your philosophy of learning?


"Teaching is Dead!" What's your philosophy of learning?

Bill Pelz is Professor of Psychology at Herkimer College / State University of New York.  As the lead faculty trainer for the SUNY Learning Network from 1999 until 2010, Bill facilitated the development of over 2500 fully asynchronous college courses. In 1994 he was presented with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, in 2003 the Sloan-C Award for Excellence in Online Teaching, in 2006 the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, and he was named a Sloan Consortium Fellow in 2 013 and a SUNY COTE fellow in 2014. Bill has published an assortment of scholarly and academic articles, most recently focused on the area of student and faculty satisfaction with asynchronous teaching and learning. His current research interest is in isolating the pedagogical factors that influence student achievement in virtual learning environments. Since 1999 Bill’s full-time teaching responsibility has been entirely online, and he just completed a project to develop 8 online Advanced Placement courses for high school students under a Dept. of Education Race to the Top funded grant.

Adults learn what they choose to learn. The philosophy of heutagogy puts the learner in control. This Chat focuses on strategies designed to engage online learners with the content, with the instructor, and with one another.

Bill's article, (My) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy, remains the #1 downloaded JALN article at OLC (formerly Sloan-C).

Website: http://www.technoheutagogy.com
Location: webinar
Members: 25
Latest Activity: Jan 3, 2017

View a recording of this Fellow Chat: http://ow.ly/xFAOn

Discussion Forum

Share your strategy (stratagies) for promoting learner-contributed content.

Started by Bill Oct 15, 2014. 0 Replies

or comment on my strategies:learner facilitated discussion forumwebsite review and learner facilitated discussioncollaborative term research projectsContinue

Comment Wall


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Comment by Hugh McKnight on November 7, 2014 at 9:04am
I like to solicit life experience stories, which cannot be captured by merely reciting passages from the text. I like to find something to affirm in the comments; when the students feel their observations are treated with respect, then they open up more with each other.
Comment by Eileen O'Connor on October 24, 2014 at 12:56pm

Students do bring important perspectives - and if the discussion questions is looking for meaningful insights or sharing, I think students voices should be honored and respected.  I find that students will respond in a rich way when they are speaking in a "genuine voice" from their own experience.   Ultimately the focus of the discussion boards (in my class anyway) is based on the outcome that I want.   But most often, I want the discussion to facilitate the creation of a learning community among my students (which I state as an objective in my course) and, in that case, the sharing of ideas is paramount.  I do have assignments that I evaluate on different standards - where I might be looking for references to research, but generally that's not how I use discussion boards.  They start a community for me, that I then bring into virtual-reality spaces too.

Comment by Ian August on October 24, 2014 at 10:43am

Eileen, I like that perspective. Students do have rich experiences to share. Sometimes when I post to an online discussion (as a student) and only share my experiences without doing any research, I feel I took the easy way out, because all I really did was think about my past, make some connections, and share them. I feel I put very little effort in. So maybe the idea of having students do research is to have them do more work?

Comment by Tabitha Carter on October 24, 2014 at 7:24am


     As an older student myself who has 12 years experience in online learning, I appreciate an instructor who does not rely solely on research as I sometimes feel that I can contribute substantially to discussions based on that experience "in the field," so to speak.  Some instructors are willing to accept that kind of post and some seem to be inflexible as it did not meet the research requirements.  I do miss individually graded discussions posts in discussions as, as a student, I can really see their value.  It gives the student a chance to adjust their methods and posts while there is still time to turn their grade around.  When you only receive feedback after a module has ended, there is no chance to improve your grade for that assignment.  

Comment by Eileen O'Connor on October 23, 2014 at 5:36pm

My students are generally a little "older" (I am at Empire State College) so they have maturity but I do see how infrequently faculty will trust students to do their own thinking online.   The model for discussion boards is too-often substantiate your thoughts with quotes from research.  Yes, there is a time for that type of discussion, but I prefer having students bring forth their perspective on a topic or issue, using their experience as a guide (a benefit to having an older population).  Discussions are generally rich and productive.  How far you can get with interactive communications (which can really flourish online) really depends on the scenario you develop and the social environment that you create.   I have tried many different approaches (from talk-alouds on science experiments) to discussion loops that have begun in virtual reality meetings.   The students can become empowered and a true community can develop. 

Comment by Ian August on October 23, 2014 at 3:15pm

I have met some faculty who do not think undergraduate students are mature enough to take online courses, I could not even imagine their face if I tell them to let the students teach it the class too. :)

Comment by Alexandra M. Pickett on October 15, 2014 at 12:13pm

"Ask the next professor you pass in the hall this question: "Did you learn more {insert appropriate academic discipline here} as a student or as a teacher?" I predict that many will respond with the second option, and suspect that those who tell you that they learned more as a student had skilled teachers who ALLOWED them to learn.

Classes aren't Glasses! Learning is teacher-centered when the teacher acts like a pitcher and "pours" or pushes knowledge into her or his students (the glasses.) I think this still happens in some college and university classrooms a lot, and I see it as pretty ineffective for many adult learners most of the time. Online classes in which the majority of the content is provided by the professor are the asynchronous close cousin to this classroom approach.

Student Teaching! Google "teaching presence." This idea has hit a nerve with online educators. It's not the same thing as "teacher presence" - though both are important factors for creating a successful online learning environment. Adult students have the ability, and the desire, to add high quality teaching presence to any college level course. The professor has to ALLOW them the opportunity to do so, and then orchestrate the process skillfully. How great would it be if every student in a class added significant teaching presence to the class - everybody teaching each other and everybody learning from each other - is that nirvana! The professor provides the necessary tools and initial training (critical thinking skills, discussion facilitation techniques, effective questions) and the student teachers do the rest!

Heutagogy: Malcolm Knowles suggested back in the '70's that adults learn best when they are self-directed. Adult learning apparently thrives as a pull process - where the learner obtains relevant knowledge from the environment experientially. This is a student-centered philosophy. To the extent possible, shouldn't professors offering online classes for adult learners adopt appropriate strategies to maximize their student's learning opportunities? One such strategy - I call it "Student Led Discussions" - has at its core a simple and logical three step approach to take advantage of each adult student's propensity to pull learning from the environment: read / question / discuss. The 'radical' feature is that the students play the major role in deciding what to read, which questions to ask and answer, and then they, not the professor, facilitate the discussions.

What's the catch? Here is the catch. When students are responsible for determining at least some of the course content, and then teaching it to each other, and it really isn't the professor's job to "pour" all of the knowledge, then the professor's "responsibility to the discipline" may be called into question. To what extent can students be permitted to determine what they read, what questions they discuss, and in general what they learn? Can (undergraduate, community college, ESL, "my" etc.) students ask good questions and facilitate productive discussions? These are important issues that need to be understood and discussed. I now have about 16 years of online teaching experience with a diverse array of courses and students. I have rarely been disappointed with the choices my students made or the results they achieved." - Bill Pelz


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