The article draws from research on how people learn to develop a list of ten principles for effective course design. Most of these are not earthshaking unless you think about them. Here is one that caught my attention:
Every learning experience includes an environment or context in which the learning occurs.
Of course. But in the past, when the environments were all the same–classrooms and texts–it was easy for instructors to not notice this. What is water to a fish?
The learning environment is considerably more complex today, including a network in which all students and faculty have access to powerful digital tools for communication and research.
â€¦ These tools are dramatically changing the communication patterns and relationships between learners and the faculty.
… Another significant design impact of these tools is the ease by which students can customize their own learning experiences as the content boundaries of a course dissolve.
Here’s a point I hadn’t thought of before:
When the faculty member is acting as the “sage [on the stage],” it is the faculty member who is reaping the benefits of working with the content, structuring the content, and communicating the content. One goal in designing effective and efficient learning environments is to get the students to work this intensively with the content.
And something that resonnates with my experience last fall in the First Year Seminar:
[T]he role of technology in the learning environment allows for the teaching functions of the faculty member to be redistributed in other ways as well. In particular, all teaching functions no longer need to be embodied in one person but can be assumed by various members of instructional teams.
… The point is not that faculty will be less involved in classes, but that these new instructional options will provide faculty with more effective ways to leverage their expertise. â€¦ the faculty member has more time to mentor the learning processes of students. [e.g. formative assessment of learning?] Less time is spent on administrative and technical issues, and more time is spent on the formation of thought.
Or related to my experiment in teaching introductory students metacognition last year:
When faced with a new field or discipline, students typically focus on learning the vocabulary of a discipline, but this activity is often done in isolation from an understanding of the concepts that give the words meaning. Without the underlying concepts, words are akin to isolated weeds and seeds likely to be blown away by the winds of time, usually mere hours after an exam.
It may be that I like Boettcher’s article because it agrees with much of my thinking. Or maybe it’s more than that, like the reliance on Vygotsky. Even Bruner gets a cite.