Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Today's post relates to readings done for CTL 1602S at OISE/UT.

This week, we've turned our attention to Computer Mediated Communication (CMC). To prepare for this discussion, we've been pointed to a number of resources, including two papers co-authored by Lynne Davie. My comments about each appear below.

Fantasy and Structure in Computer Mediated Courses

I liked this article, especially since it:

"argues that the outcomes of CMC education depend on creative designs to support active learning and participation by students rather than on a particular (CMC) system."

Perhaps the most striking thing about this article is how much technology and practice have changed since the article was written (1992) and how the courses I'm taking now were obviously influenced by the work done by Professor Davie and his colleagues. The fact that the issues raised are still relevant in 2002 seems to support the "argument" quoted above.

In the example cited in the paper, OISE graduate students accessed a "mainframe computer" to collaborate with one another. OISE now employs (as far as I've seen) web-ased (Knowledge Forum) and client/server (First Class) applications for its graduate-level CMC courses. Both applications offer significant improvements over the example cited. For instance, both allow for threading of messages. My guess is that the "data bases" referenced by Professor Davie are now used to permit the "threading" available in KF (which was developed, and is produced, at OISE/UT).

OISE/UT no longer requires participants of its CMC courses to "meet once at the beginning of the course." Other than that, any changes in "practice" seem to be "evolutionary" if you will. I suspect that the work we do at OISE today is similar to that described in the paper. My sense is that there is a convergence of practice in these "constructivist" learning environments. For instance, the "scenario for the fantasy role play" sounds very much like the Story Centered Curriculum cited in yesterday's post.

Empowering the Learner Through Computer-Mediated Communication

I really liked this article. I feel that I continue to grow as a CMC-based learner and feel "empowered" and like to think that I take "a visible and meaningful role in the electronic classroom." While there is no doubt that I'm "visible" my colleagues will ultimately be in a better position to judge how "meaningful" my role is in our "electronic classroom."

I'm intrigued by the paper's take on "face-to-face" (F2F) components in CMC courses. Specifically, "a face-to-face meeting can encourage social bonding, but it can also negate the social equality advantages which CMC's lack of visual cues (that reveal age, gender, race, and so on) provides." This is the first time that I've heard the lack of a F2F component expressed as a strength of CMC.

I was also impressed with the "examples and contexts" of synchronous CMC, as well as the use of transcripts for reflection and learning. Great food for thought.

Here's a page CMC and Education with lots of good links on the subject.

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