Imaginative Pedagogy for Educators
Digital Architecture (DA) is a new way of conceptualizing online content design because it
integrates ID (Instructional Design), HCI (Human Computer Interaction), database design,
project management, human communication theory, and the humanist disciplines of history,
psychology, cultural studies and political economy. DA was conceived and developed by Learn Canada with the
funding support of the University of Ottawa and Canarie.
The 11 modules of this course are structured to meet a variety of different needs; the
course is aimed at all educators and trainers, and starts from the premise that knowledge,
communication, innovation, motivation, and experimentation are common activities of all educators.
Each theoretical module can be enhanced by a workshop, or the whole course can be enhanced by a practicum.
Module 1: From Correspondence to the Internet.
learning objective of this module is to acquaint the educator with the historical
evolution of distance learning from the 18th century to now, and to survey
the emergence of the profession of distance education. What is Distance Education?
How has it been defined historically, how is it currently being defined? Is
there a meaningful way to sort through the bewildering number of terms that
describe the phenomenon of remote learning (distance education, autonomous
learning, self-directed learning, etc). Is there any difference in these definitions?
What are the issues as correspondence and in-class courses are transformed
into on-line content, and why or why not? How are issues of faculty IP (Intellectual
Property) shaping the evolution of DE? Finally, how do these developments
impact the pedagogy of on-line teaching and learning?
Module 2: The Political Economy of Distance Education.
explores the current financial crises in the education industry, and examines
the impact of consequent growth strategies on researchers and educators (funding,
IP, copyright, universities in competition, winning and losing stakeholders).
Does the learnware shape the pedagogy or vice versa or both? Should educational
institutions develop and market their own learnware? This module also explores
the role of student demand (consumerism), the advantages of large amounts
of financial capital and human resources, and the intrusion of government
and profit-driven corporations into the educational sector. Who are the world
educational leaders and how did they achieve their status? What battles are
ahead, who stands to win, and who stands to lose? As on-line education becomes
increasingly globalized with larger and larger consortia of public and private
sector partners, how can smaller institutions survive, and how can on-line
content assist in that survival?
Module 3: Under the Hood.
It is a remarkable fact that so many students
take on-line courses, and so many educators develop them, without ever acquiring
any basic working knowledge of the tool set they need, and more importantly,
of the networking environment in which they are working. This core module
is a basic, lay person's introduction to the technical workings of the Internet,
and its learning objective is to show how knowledge of this technology can
reduce academic dishonesty, and how testing and on-line assessment can be
made more reliable. This knowledge will also help with research methods. As
intimidating as the idea of networking theory might be, these topics are all
treated at a basic level, and will empower participants to talk to their tech
support team intelligently about on-line content. It is designed for non-technical
people and it provides the necessary essentials of networking, security and
background, including the historical origins of the Internet, Email, TCP/IP
and other protocols including FTP and Gopher, security basics including encryption,
LAN's and WAN's including DNS and Routers, web languages, and other relevant
Module 4: Digital Media and Digitization Processes.
Starting with a
definition of digital and analog, and then moving to history and theory of
digitization, this module looks at what digitization is, and how it works
in various media such as sound/music, images, video, and animations. Digital
media is at the core of any enhanced on-line course, and helps educators to
reach different kinds of learners, not only those who are text-based, but
auditory, visual and tactile learners. Some consideration is given to hardware & software needed, acquisition methods available, bandwidth issues, and media
choices for format, storage and delivery. This is not a module that will teach
you how to scan, but it will empower you to choose between when to scan in
high or low resolution, and will enable you to design course environments
that are suitable to the access speeds of your students. Some time is also
spent on an overview of authorware (Dreamweaver, Front Page, and so on). The
learning objective of this module, then, is to provide a knowledge base for
the comprehension and use of digital media as an instructional enhancement;
much of this material will also be directly relevant to Module 10, Discipline
Specific Issues, where media-enriched environments are discussed. If you already
use digital media in your on-line work, the module will also encourage you
to imagine new solutions that will enhance your content even more.
Module 5: Thinking of On-line Content as Asynchronous Human Communication.
The learning objective of this module is to encourage educators to build
a wish-list of features that they would like in their discussion forum, and
to encourage them to think about the advantages and disadvantages of building
a learning environment within proprietary, bundled software (ex: Web CT) and
open standards solutions. What are the essentials of human communication?
Does digitally mediated asynchronous learning distort, preserve or improve
face-to-face communication? How do email, voicemail and v-mail alter human
relationships in the virtual classroom and how can these technologies alter
teaching and learning? Do differences in brand name conferencing software
applications have any impact on pedagogy and on learning curves? What are
some of the software options available to use? Are there any true best practices
out there? How can we stimulate discussions while simultaneously ensuring
that threaded discussions have appropriate subject headings that are easy
Module 6: Thinking of On-line Content as Synchronous Communication. To what extent do IRC, text-chat, videoconferencing and other realtime audio/video
exchanges alter human relationships and to what extent do they re-structure
the teaching and learning experience? In what ways are these media the same
as face-to-face, and in what ways are they different? What is synchronicity,
and can it really be achieved through videoconferencing? What kinds of videoconferencing
technologies are currently available, and what kind of pedagogy is needed
when various participants in a session are each connected at a different bandwidth
and with a different protocol (ISDN vs the Internet)? The learning objectives
of this chapter are: a) to provide the educator with a working knowledge of
various technologies and protocols in videoconferencing, and the appropriateness
of their uses, b) to suggest some best and worst practices c) simultaneously
to show how this mode of communication is superior to other modes of communication
while challenging the idea that this is a "realtime" method of communication.
Educators will also become aware of how communication and culture liberate
and limit each other through factors like camera sightlines and zoom, and
other such measures of "visual intimacy".
Module 7: Thinking of On-line as a Community and a Culture.
addresses three main problem areas in on-line learning, and treats them as
cultural problems that can be both responsive and/or resistant to technological
solutions. Those areas are: intellectual dishonesty (plagiarism), discrimination
(sexism, racism, ageism, classism, denial of accessibility needs) and the
peculiar phenomenon whereby students show a reluctance to work together collaboratively
in a formal context, but an eagerness to work cooperatively outside the (real
or virtual) classroom. Central to this module will be the idea of accessibility
and the new W3 (World Wide Web) Consortium's Accessibility standards (Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0) which have developed under the new Web Access Initiative (WAI). The module argues that the on-line
world automatically becomes a culture, whether the instructor wants it to
or not, and that often educators do not have much control over how that culture
evolves. Yet still, integrity, respect, and acceptance of difference can be
instilled or permitted to grow. How can educators achieve these goals? Should
course design take these factors into consideration in design, and if so,
to what extent? Why do some educators think culture and human relationships
are the essential part of on-line learning, and why do others avoid this dimension
entirely? What are the human and educational costs of cultivating an on-line
culture and what are the costs of not doing so? The learning outcome in this
module is to foster a deeper understanding of how human relationships and
culture play an integral role in learning.
Module 8: Thinking of On-line Content as Research Activity.
ways can your on-line course accelerate the research skills for your students,
and contribute to your own and others' research? Should a course be set up
this way? Are there ethics involved? This module also compares search engines
and conventional library methods of classifying and cataloguing information,
and explores the relationship between research (how to find what you want)
and promotion (getting found). This module, therefore, considers the pervasive
influence of both academic and commercial cultures on the Internet, and shows
how new technologies such as bots, agents and spiders need to be used alongside
good old-fashioned judgment and a systematic approach in order to improve
search methods. The learning objective of this module is to make educators
aware of how amorphous the information is that is now available on the Internet,
and how problems of non-standardization can interfere in the search and discovery
of good information. The learning outcome also encourages faculty to see how
these inherent problems can become wonderfully useful pedagogical tools.
Module 9: Thinking of On-line Content as Data.
What is data? What is
a database? Why are databases important? How does digitization impact the
power and effectiveness of databases? How can a course be improved (or worsened)
if its students and their activities are archived and subsequently searched
and scrutinized as a database? What technologies can be used for database
storage and retrieval? How can database thinking improve assignments, and
how can database thinking be integrated into how you conceive of your own
material? This session shows you how to re-think your course as a project
from two perspectives: first, that of the students and their assignments by
using Excel, and second, by discussing on-line databases in general, and in
particular we shall look closely at Portals, and the new database-driven language
of the web, XML/XSL; we will also look at the analysis of server logs. Finally,
this module makes some distinctions between information (data) and knowledge,
and suggests some ways in which the one can be transformed into the other
while simultaneously showing that it is precisely the failure to transform
data into knowledge that underlines many of our pedagogical problems. The
learning objective if this module is to encourage educators to envision the
power and the advantages of designing all on-line content and participants'
activity as though it were a database.
Module 10: Discipline-specific issues.
This module asks the question
whether there are such things as general on-line design principles that apply
to courses in all subjects, or whether it makes more sense to consider on-line
design from the particular perspective of the unique needs of a single subject
area. Using principles from ID (Instructional design) and HCI (Human Computer
Interface) as a starting point, the module then moves on to its main argument.
Obviously some dialectical thinking is needed here, so the module is divided
into three large sections: the first section discusses the generic features
and guiding principles that are essential to all on-line course design. The
second section categorizes subject areas by the design requirements of their
content (i.e. professional training, memory-based courses, problem-solving
courses, etc. etc.). We will also explore which conditions might be ideal
for the use of realtime gaming and VRML immersion as viable teaching methods.
The Third section provides a synopsis of the major philosophical approaches
to leaning (cognitive, hermeneutical etc. etc.). Ultimately, the module asks
how, if at all, these three different sets of principles can be applied together
to produce a better-designed course environment or to critique an existing
one. Thus the learning outcome for this module then, is to encourage educators
to articulate as clearly as they can, before designing and after completing
the design, what their principles are, and then to determine whether or not
these principles were followed, or if they ever could be followed with any
Module 11: Thinking of On-line Content as a Project.
This session shows
you how to re-think your course or your on-line material as a project, not
only from the perspective of pedagogy and assignment design, but also from
that of creating and managing your own time and intellectual property. We
will explore ways to scrutinize your organizational environment & other institutions,
getting funding, deploying resources, deciding how much to do yourself and
how much to sub-contract, planning, and developing materials in stages. What
are some effective (and ineffective) methods of measuring progress or success?
Microsoft Project is also discussed as useful tool in planning and managing
your on-line development.