20 February 2009

On-line learning (5)

[This post is added pretty well "as is", several days after its original composition. The delay is accounted for by my self-imposed rule not to post if I wouldn't drive (a.k.a. I had a couple of drinks before I drafted it). The parallel is quite close. Mostly what follows is coherent and indeed representative of my views, but observe the twee infantilism of the initial paragraph... I draw attention to this simply because it is so difficult to gauge the state of mind of a contributor on-line, unless they flag it in some way...]

I've been a good boy this week. Or at least a better boy than the hissy-fitting curmudgeon of last week. Why? Fundamentally because a member of our small working group and a tutor were nice to me. That's very basic, isn't it? I got stroppy over something, doubtless in an "immature" way (maturity is independent of age, despite what people seem to think: I'm 64, and I do "immature" much better now than I did at 14...) --and I thought I had burned my boats with the group. Remember that the channels of communication are very limited on-line.

I joined in the conversation again with the merest hint of apology (actually a crass face-saving, "I woz bein' ironic, innit?" angle), and they scuppered my plans to flounce off by being very understanding and building on the few constructive remarks I had made... So! Another attempt to do a good flounce is thwarted. Will I never manage it? Flouncing is a young man's game. Well, no, it's traditionally a woman's ploy... Sorry! the deconstruction of flouncing was not a designated learning outcome for this course!

But was I really back in the group? How much is anyone "in" the group? Regardless of how much I might have offended or alienated the other members, the system posts messages to the group to all of us. Engage paranoia; are there back channels? Does it matter? What is the difference between formative and summative assessment in this context? However...

The above reflections (posh term; incoherent self-mumblings might be a better term) stem from the basic observation that unlike the real world, what happens in the virtual class is either up-front visible or not. "Not" is speculation or fantasy... I don't need to spell out the sequelae...

However! Different tack. I have responded to a number of different threads and forums this week. Actually I have responded to particular points made by individuals who have already posted, and I have done so with reference to those posts, not to the theme set by the tutors. On a couple of occasions I have realised that I could have posted about this issue here, but I have already done so to a doubtless more limited readership, there.

This is a function of the site design, and it has been a continuing bugbear of the whole course. And indeed of all systems which seek to regulate communication.

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Comments welcome, but I am afraid I have had to turn moderation back on, because of inappropriate use. Even so, I shall process them as soon as I can.