Vol. 15 : No. 11< >
Michael J Buell (mb93) Sun Sep 16, 2001 15:26
Our online, peer-to-peer course environment provides revolutionary access to student's located across the globe. Many who are participating would have been denied the opportunity for educational advancement in the absence of web courses. Some live in distant lands, far-removed form the institutions of higher education. Others are full-time parents and employees, unable to attend "traditional" classes. In fact, as one reads the introductions posted as assignment number two, it becomes clear that we are not only talking about those who live a distance from the university, but also some who might suffer from personal "challenges". In the online environment I have noticed a disproportionate number of single parents, divorced individuals, and returning students.
All of these "communities" represent areas that our traditional institutions of post secondary education have "missed" - much to the detriment of what might have been a brighter future. In my opinion society needs to focus on the needs and desires of its "marginalized" populations, for only through their "empowerment" will our civilization promote true social progress. Thus, this revolutionary new approach to learning opens the doors of education to "students" from across the globe, and of diverse social, economic, and religious backgrounds. It also holds the key to a brighter future for many, and the unlimited potential for personal growth. I shall now turn to the relationships that foster individual and community enrichment.
On another level, not only has the classroom been transformed into a global forum, it has also fundamentally altered the learning environment - and pedagogy-andragogy will never be the same. A web course allows for unprecedented interaction between the participants, and creates a learning "ecology" of interdependence among the classmates that has alluded the traditional classroom environment. This interdependence fosters individual growth by allowing students to post their thoughts, while at the same time they investigate the ideas of other classmates. Thus, not only is the original "poster" evaluating the works of others, but "the others" are investigating their writings as well (and those of the other course participants). These interactions fuse in a synergistic fashion to create an asymmetrical, yet dynamic form of "cross pollination" that is unique to the "web" ecology.
Of particular interest is the asymmetry of the response (post), evaluate, investigate, and revise methodology that I feel is at the core of Professor Bensusan's approach to student growth. Asymmetry of response allows for a careful evaluation of another's view, with having the "luxury" of firing off an immediate emotional response. This post - response format is particularly advantageous when dealing with "difficult" issues, for a moment of delay (pondering) and reevaluation can result in marvelous personal growth, and the establishment of a truly cooperative educational environment.
In conclusion, this "community" based approach to learning inherently provides fertile soil for peer-to-peer correspondence, reflection, and personal enrichment. The cyclical nature of this process, and the asymmetrical aspect of multiple responses, all combine with the potential of global interaction to form a truly revolutionary human experience. I am looking forward to our exploration of this most "empowering" learning environment.
About the Author
Various guests visit the courses I offer on line to further their own awareness about teaching in this peer-to-peer online fashion. This is a visitor in my grad teacher's course whose task is to assess the work of students in the two undergraduate courses and to help formulate rubrics for assessment implicit in the growth formula of interaction rather from imposed external criteria. This is Michael's first observation... and it will be interesting to see what he identifies as elements for the rubric.
Gretchen Chamberlain Assign #4 HUM 382 First Post Sept.17, 2001
How appropriate a topic in light of the events of this past week.........
When reflecting about how to interpret Bensusan's stance on personal biases I couldn't help but think about this past week and how it relates to this assignment. In my interpretation of the work I will be using my OWN thoughts on how it effects how I look at the terrorist attacks. This piece is not meant to be one interpreting the events last week but rather how my personal biases make me think the things I do. These are not thoughts that I am suggesting one should have or judge, they are just examples of my biases.
It is safe to say, as Bensusan did, that we all have biases. I think it is so funny when people pretend that they don't have them because they have the potential to have stronger ones than the average person concerned about their personal biases. I myself have many. I think it is important to jump ahead in Bensusan's work to the point he makes about how biases are perceived. He writes about how most people see a bias as a demon or evil that "good" people will try to rid themselves of in their lives. I definitely thought this way at one point in my life and after last week I was thankful I think it no more.
Why is it so bad to have a bias? Why can't my ideas just be different? Why do they have to be better or more open-minded than someone else? When I saw the events on the TV of the airplanes crashing into the WTC towers, I felt all sorts of emotions as many most likely did. I didn't think too much of my own personal biases until I heard a woman get on the TV and give her interpretations of why God let this happen. My ideas of why God let this happen are very different than hers and I started a cascade of thoughts about how the world would change from this moment on based on our own biases.
Bensusan spends a good amount of time explaining why it is good to examine the issue of biases and then proceeds on to more specific examples of biases. He examines PHYSICAL/LOCATION; THE PERCEIVED, THE PERCEPTION AND THE PERCEIVER; CONDITIONING AND OUTLOOK; SEEN VS. SHOWN; ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL; CONTEXT, PLACE AND RELOCATION; ETHNICITY AND BOOKS, AUTHORS, MUSEUMS AND PARKS. In the next moments I will be giving my interpretation, or should I say my biases, about his work. I will be examining his ideas from my situation that I am in right now. In two days when I check back in to do my second post, my thoughts may be totally different.
In the fist section, PHYSICAL OR LOCATIONAL BIASES, Bensusan explains about what the word bias actually means and how it is affected by where we are standing from when looking at the event being analyzed from our point of view. He gives several examples about it including one of God and Satan's different points of view from where they theoretically stand when looking at the earth. When one looks at an issue, standing at a different angle changes the person's biases. How is my bias formed about the events of September 9th based on what angle I saw it from aside from the fact that I saw it from the TV which is a point Bensusan makes later on.
Secondly, Bensusan examines the PERCEIVED, THE PERCEPTION AND THE PERCEIVER. Here he analyzes the 5 W's and the H of biases. Who, what, when, where, why and how did I see the terrorism? I didn't see who did it so I used my personal biases that were influenced by the TV to guess. I saw what was happening from the outside of the plane but not the inside? How does that effect how I understand the situation? A list of questions could be formed about all the different W's.
In Bensusan's third point, CONDITIONING AND OUTLOOK, he really gets into the nitty gritty of biases. Here he talks about how past events in our lives mold us to think certain ways. He also makes a good point that there is truth to every perception. The planes did crash into the WTC. That is truth that I saw. What conditions me to think certain things is possible past events of terrorism that I have seen on TV. What kind of people do I associate terrorism with based on that? To be honest, I think of Arabians when I think of terrorism. That is something that I have been conditioned to think because of past experiences.
The forth point is the question of whether we SEE or whether we are SHOWN an event. Here Bensusan talks about how what we see can only be attributed to what we are shown. He talks about the importance of TRAINING our brains to see. How do we train our brains to see more with what we are shown? It is important to expose ourselves to different exposures of what we are shown to broaden the narrow perspective that we see. To do this, I change the channel to here a different news anchors interpretation of the event or new video clip from a different angel. I can read the newspaper. I can listen to different professionals talk on the topic of the terrorism such as the President or Mayor Giuliani.
This leads into Bensusan's next point about ACADEMICS AND PROFESSIONAL BIASES. Here he discuses how we are trained to see issues from different perspectives. Here is where watching different people talk on the issue of the attacks helps decrease my biases because each person has been trained to look at the issue differently. The president may see the issues total effects where Giuliani may be more concerned with the effects on the state of New York. Another example of how our training affects our biases is looking at GRE scores from different professions. Those who go into scientific graduate programs generally score below average on the verbal section of the test. Speaking from experience I can say that I am not trained to write eloquently in the majority of my schooling. I am trained to write or say as little as possible and to not ever give my opinion. I am only to state the facts of the experiment I am writing or speaking about.
In Bensusan's next point, CONTEXT, PLACE AND RELOCATION, he explains how location effects biases on a more geographical scale. He looks at how living in different parts of the world, or U.S. in his example effects how we interpret a situation. How does living in Arizona change our perception of Mexico verses someone in Maine. Location effects exposure of what is shown. Location can also correlate to the next point about ETHNICITY, RACE AND GENDER. Our ethnicity is often correlated with our location because of where our ancestors moved to and from. Whether we are a woman or man, black or white, married or single affects how we think and how we interpret.
Lastly Bensusan points out how BOOKS, AUTHORS, MUSEUMS AND PARKS are bias. Interestingly enough, Bensusan has his own biases that influence how he interprets the topic of biases. However, he notes about how these people have their own pre-conditioned ideas of things and these are relayed in their work whether it is a book or a museum.
Bensusan wraps up the piece with examining all the different points he makes and ties them all together. He essentially EXPANDS COMPREHENSION and REVISES INTERPRETATIONS. He explains the difference between reality and story. Saying that reality comes and goes but the story lives on through people telling it. He also tries to find the end goal of studying biases. Is it my goal to decrease my biases of the terrorist attack because I want to understand more about who did it and why or am I simply trying to learn more than the next person about the attack so I can be right?
In all, this is one perspective of biases. There are 6 billion people in the world who have their own perspective on biases and reading only Bensusan's article would not help me to see more. I would have to look at the topic from different angles to get different showings so that I can have a better understanding of biases.
About the Author:
Gretchen Chamberlain is a senior in the Online Humanities class, HUM 382. An article by Ms. Chamberlain, "A Student's Journey", appeared in the October 2001 USDLA Journal.
Benjamin C. Krueger Thu Sep 27, 2001 22:41
You took a radically different approach to this assignment than I did, but I like the end-product and may incorporate some of these strategies into my own work. You've got a lot of diverse sources here, which is a good thing.
I completely agree with your point about the differences between websites and books, since books do really allow for more in-depth explanation. At the same time, you're completely right about author bias as well. The bias of book publishers' can also be an issue. For example, would a publisher really want to publish a book of Dr. X's research findings if it contradicted the findings of another popular researcher who used the same publisher? It can be a major source of bias if the publisher has a hidden agenda.
You also have a really interesting research strategy with movies. It's a great idea, since movies show how people construct ideas about epidemics from a cultural perspective. Why not see if you can find examples of epidemics in television or popular fiction as well?
I did have a few questions after reading your post. I hope they don't sound negative; I thought that it might help you focus your analysis a bit more.
#1--When you refer to information from sources such as "prestigious Universities" or "famous PhDs," which type of standards make these people or organizations prestigious? How does this type of research compare to research down by organizations that might not be as well-known?
#2--Good point about the scientists who ignore the social and political implications of their research. While I see exactly where you're going with this point, it would be great if you'd spell out the implications of ignoring these factors. How does it alter the information or the way we think about this topic?
Well, I've gotta go now, so I'll talk with you later. Have a good weekend!
About the Author
Benjamin C. Krueger is an NAU undergraduate student in an online Humanities class. This is an excellent example of the substantive interactions possible within online classes that are well designed.
Mitch Dutch - The Distance Education Online Symposium Sun, 08 Jul 2001
DI am in agreement with Chris when he wrote (Chris Harmon, DEOS -L July 2001) "I had to be more thoughtful in my reflections, more accurate in my references, and more articulate in my communication. I actually had to engage the material, assimilate it with my experience, and be responsive to the challenges that might be raised by my student colleagues as well as by the professor."
Such online discussions should provide students with an excellent opportunity to think about issues raised in class and allow them the time to formulate their responses. Obviously, students are concerned about "saying something stupid." However, class participation is a component of many courses, and students need to develop their skills. Asynchronous communication gives them time to reflect and wrestle with the topic in a way that is simply not possible in a f2f discussion. As a teacher and a graduate student, I particularly like being able to return to a discussion forum after a couple days and refine my views.
About the Author
Mitch Dutch is a teacher at Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, NC. He is also working on an advanced degree. His observations concerning online student interaction appeared in DEOS-L, July 8, 2001. He may be reached via email: mitchdutch@HOTMAIL.COM.
Donna J Cox
Sat Jul 07, 2001 17:08
I think I am learning to trust myself without the teacher's pat on the back. I'm learning to learn from other students and I really have been learning...How's that for a lot of learnin'? Anyway, I have started to question sources which is something we never were allowed to do when I was a child. Everything was black or white and you didn't ask questions.
So, now I am asking questions (unsteady territory for me) and checking my references and it's getting easier. And, I'm finding out all kinds of things I never knew before and I guess that's what going to college is all about. I may never pass Algebra and get my diploma before I'm 100 but I will die smart!
About the AuthorDonna Cox is an online student in an undergraduate Humanities class at NAU. She is returning to school after many years as a homemaker and mother, traveling extensively and living abroad. Her determination to return to school was fueled by a chance remark of one of her teenage boys when he questioned why her statements were of value and should be given careful consideration. Her son's comment, "Why should I listen to you? You're just a dumb old housewife." She is looked upon with great respect by her fellow students who affectionately call her "Mama Bear."