The inclusion of online elements as part of the learning experience is now commonplace in education. However, there is limited research into the quality and effectiveness of such tools (Wickersham & Dooley, 2006; Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Mason, 2011). This presentation outlines research that examines the extent to which higher level skills can be developed using online elements, focusing on the use of collaborative technologies such as online discussion forums and wikis to encourage higher order thinking and self-sufficient learning.
Existing pedagogical models already exist for online collaboration, such as Salmon’s Five Stage Model (2011), Garrison’s Communities of Inquiry (2007) and Gunawardena’s Social Networking Spiral (2009). Using Salmon’s model as a starting point, a case study of adult learners was carried out to review the extent to which the aforementioned technologies can promote the development of higher order thinking. Findings from the case study suggest that whilst Salmon’s model provides an excellent starting point in developing and structuring such online collaborations, it can be restrictive and tends to focus on the method rather than the learner. The research shows that different technologies (Virtual Learning Environments and wikis for example) bring their own advantages and disadvantages, reveals some of their limitations, and shows that an adaptation of existing pedagogical models can encourage adult learners to achieve higher order thinking, especially when supported by the tutor.
The scaffolding provided by Salmon’s model is very useful, but a number of other elements must be in place in order to encourage adult learners to achieve higher order thinking – specifically pre-course preparation, induction, homework, deadlines and appropriate tutor support.
The author presents her own alternative pedagogical model which evolves from the findings of the research: The Arrow Model emphasises the learner, mentions pre-course preparation, and includes three main phases of activity: Post, Interact, Critique. This builds on Salmon’s model and has the benefit of being flexible and responsive, as well as allowing for further development beyond the model.
This presentation will be relevant for anyone planning to develop learners’ use of online collaborative tools as a way to develop higher order thinking.
(2014). Collaborative technologies, higher order thinking and self-sufficient learning: a case study of adult learners, Unpublished MA dissertation, UK University
Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 157-172.
Gunawardena, C. e. (2009). A theoretical framework for building onilne communities of practice with social networking tools. Educational Media International , 46 (1), 3-16.
Mason, R. B. (2011). Student Engagement with, and Participation in, an e-Forum. Educational Technology and Society , 258-268.
Salmon, G. (2011). E-Moderating: The Key to Online Teaching and Learning. Oxon: Routledge.
Wickersham, L. E., & Dooley, K. E. (2006). A content analysis of critical thinking skills as an indicator of quality of online discussion in virtual learning communities. Quarterly Review of Distance Education , 7 (2), 185-193.