Much of the Garrison reading aligned with my experience as part of the open learning community Peer 2 Peer University–the value of “a community of inquiry” and seeing the educational experience as an overlapping combination of social, cognitive and teacher presence. And I’m on board with both those points. It’s this thought below that I’ve been wrestling with for some time now:
“Having the learner accept responsibility for one’s learning is a crucial step in realizing successful educational outcomes—both in terms of specific knowledge structures and in terms of developing the higher-order cognitive abilities that are necessary for higher-order continuous learning.” (Location 474)
I definitely agree with several of the ramifications here, i.e. encouraging students to select their own content and direct their own project.
Expecting learners to take responsibility for their own learning is a built-in value for P2PU–the courses are free, so our participants don’t “have” to do anything. But it’s been a struggle to apply that philosophy–I think where I’ve misstepped as a facilitator is when I’ve relapsed to a traditional teacher-student instinct. Balancing the need for some structure with this kind of freedom is a task I’ve found particularly difficult. When to intervene is a hard call to make.
And since I’m outside of a traditional classroom, folks can opt-in or opt out as suits their life circumstances and interests. Which is the very embodiment of learner responsibility–but it can make designing collaborative activities difficult if you don’t know how many folks will be there.
An elastic course that incorporates the aims of the participants seems be a Garrison ideal. I’d like to get there–it requires a bit of rethinking.