I love the definition of a learning community presented in this article. It is focused on constructivist learning principles …an approach whereby learners are actively involved in creating knowledge often through their own experiences, rather than passively receiving information. Constructivist teaching encourages students to critically think and reflect on their learning. It is aimed at creating motivated and independent learners, which is ultimately one of the goals of offering a more self-directed learning experience to our students through blended learning delivery formats. I think that this is a key mindset in developing a hybrid or on line course because often when we turn the learning over to students it is to get them to read something, make notes, in other words do the things that replace what we do in our lectures. The article suggests that we engage students at a deeper level so that they in fact create the content and the meaning of it themselves.
As we move to offering a hybrid course in the winter 13 semester, my faculty team has had discussions on how to create a community of learners. The hybrid we are delivering is a team based course and by its very nature is meant to develop high performing teams who meet their deliverables through positive working relationships. So creating an environment for interaction is very important. I like the 3 pillars of a learning community that are suggested in this article; a cognitive presence, a social presence and a teaching presence. For our course, the Social presence will be very important…”the ability of participants to identify with the group, communicate in a trusting environment, and develop social relationships by way of expressing their individuality”. But it is the cognitive presence that I found most thought provoking. What can we do in our course to move the students through the phases suggested in the article so that the learning is less passive? Some ideas come to mind as I read through the article. I hope that as you read it you find yourself also thinking of ways to develop a community of learners.