DEEPER LEARNING – OCDI PRE-INSTITUTE BLOG 2

If you find errors in these posts, please point them out to me. Even after three eye surgeries, I am unable to error proof everything that I write.

 

“Does the learning generalize beyond this one course?”
http://rampages.us/ocdi/about/
 “How will the course be about more than content delivery and mastery?
http://online.vcu.edu/about/
“What does “deeper learning” mean to you with respect to (online) learning?” http://rampages.us/ocdi/schedule/pre-institute-activities/

 

The prospect of provoking deeper learning in an online environment is exhilarating. From my perspective, provoking deeper learning means that I must facilitate the mastering of core sociological content while promoting the development of an academic mindset and increasing the abilities to think critically and creatively, collaborate, communicate effectively, and to learn independently in an online environment (http://www.deeper-learning.org/resources.php).

 

In the online environment, helping students to improve their time management skills is also an important part of my responsibility. I cannot “know” that the main reason students withdraw from their online courses is that they fall behind and do not think they can catch up without trying to do something about it.

 

I believe that everyone who teaches sociology wants to awaken or nurture the sociological imaginations of those who study with us.  We want them to understand the intersection of biography and history and therefore have some difficulty imagining teaching and learning that do not transfer beyond a single class.

For that imagination is the capacity to shift from one perspective to another—from the political to the psychological; from examination of a single family to comparative assessment of the national budgets of the world; from the theological school to the military establishment; from considerations of an oil industry to studies of contemporary poetry. It is the capacity to range from the most impersonal and remote transformations to the most intimate features of the human self—and to see the relations between the two.

Mills, C. Wright (2000-02-28). The Sociological Imagination: 40th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Locations 106-110). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Putting “applied” in front of “sociology” indicates an explicit intent to provoke learning that transfers into professional lives.

 

I also believe that for first and second year graduate students deeper learning in sociology requires the ability to put the disciplinary humpty dumpty back together again.For pedagogical purposes, the teaching of sociology is usually broken down into theory, methods, and substantive areas. Even at the master’s level, many students continue to believe that these divisions are real. They frequently say things such as, “I love theory but I don’t like methods.” To me that is similar to preferring one arc of a circle to another. One way of helping them to see the relationship between the interesting topics covered in a seminar on social inequalities and the theories and methods of sociology is by teaching the “logic of science” in sociology.

 

The “trick” (a complex act requiring skill) here is to help students understand the logic of science without turning them into the “abstracted empiricists” for which Mills had so much disdain.  I want them to learn the logic of science but not to become more attached to the philosophy of science than they are to social study or social change. My recent participation in Preparing to Teach Online (PtTO) has offered me some insight into how I might approach this task online.

 

PtTO introduced me to the work of Garrison, his colleagues, and their Practical Inquiry Model.

Practical Inquiry Model (Garrison, R. D. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72.)

Practical Inquiry Model (Garrison, R. D. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72.)

The vertical dimension of this model deals with inductive and deductive reasoning, as does the logic of science. The horizontal dimension where the private and shared worlds meet is also the realm of the sociological imagination. I think that I can make this work!

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2 thoughts on “DEEPER LEARNING – OCDI PRE-INSTITUTE BLOG 2

  1. Hi Ann,

    I’ve never had eye surgery–except on my eyelids–and I *still* can’t make my writing error proof. So no worries on that account. 🙂

    Thanks for exploring each of these “desiderata” (as I call them) in your posts. It’s great to read along and learn how colleagues are working these ideas out for themselves and in their particular disciplinary contexts. Welcome aboard! I look forward to more.

  2. Hi, Ann. You had me at “Garrison” 🙂

    I say that because the Community of Inquiry has continued to resonate with me as a framework for online learning.

    I also like your comment: “Putting “applied” in front of “sociology” indicates an explicit intent to provoke learning that transfers into professional lives.”
    It’s another way of saying – Make it relevant.

    Look forward to working with you through OCDI.

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