Resources for this week in #CSCLintro include
- McAuley, A. and Walton, F. (2011). Decolonizing cyberspace: Online support for the Nunavut MEd. IRRODL, 12, 4.
- Sandy McAuley’s special presentation summarizing the paper above.
- We will talk about this case with McAuley in about half an hour apparently here: http://piratepad.net/cscl7
I wonder about the different effects of using knowledge building (and Knowledge Forum) with graduate students as opposed to k-12 (with whom McAuley did his initial knowledge building research?)
Were the scaffolds useful in framing arguments, theories and evidence? Or did students use the tool in a more freeform manner?
(We spent a little time in this class thinking about how we could extend Knowledge-building prinicples to online tools outside of the Knowledge Forum software, which we don’t have access to. I was wondering if the scaffolds are an essential part of the functionality with this level of student)
The Nunavut MEd program chose to use one Knowledge Forum database for the entire 3-year cycle of the cohort. This allows for bringing information together more readily between classes, synthesizing a portfolio right in the “views” of the system, and potentially building a more coherent body of knowledge, as well as effects on community- and relationship-building. When I was in school, the online components of classes were mostly mediated by Blackboard; this system created strong divides between different classes and did not provide for continuity. Specifically, at some point after a class ended, the associated Blackboard forum would be deleted. Building content into one system across years of learning and many subjects seems attractive to me.
The fact that the cohort size was so small may have made it easier for the Nunavut MEd program to create a seamless online space. Could such a model work with a (much) larger number of students who don’t necessarily take all the same classes together? Where is the breaking point? This model seems to have some distinct advantages over large-and-compartmentalized online participation. Should other programs consider changing their enorllment structure to take advantage of the affordances of Knowledge Forum-like persistent environments?
Another comment on the inaccessibility of Knowledge forum. The paper’s last paragraph:
A final challenge remains for the longer term. Although the Nunavut MEd Knowledge Forum environment has remained open at the request of students since the program ended, no participation has taken place since shortly after the graduation ceremony in July 2009. Apparently having done its job, it has fallen silent and the knowledge created by program candidates remains inaccessible. Given the groundbreaking work completed by several candidates in their efforts to understand the colonial forces that have shaped education in Nunavut and to contribute to its decolonization, this is a major loss. To avoid similar losses in the future, an easy-to-use bridge
between the walled garden of Knowledge Forum and more open and accessible web-based media must be developed.