Thursday, July 5, 2007

Final KAM II Submitted

Today is a banner day. I submitted my final draft of KAM II to Walden University.

KAM II study refers to human growth and development. My study focuses on the relationship between constructivist adult learning theories and online learning, especially as the theories relate to the development of authentic, student-centered, and collaborative online learning environments.

For the Breadth component of this KAM, self-directed learning, transformative learning, situated learning, and communities of practice provide the theoretical framework for exploring psychological, sociological, and cultural aspects of adult development through the lifespan. The emphasis is on major adult development theorists including: Malcolm Knowles, Jack Mezirow, and Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Malcolm Knowles is known as the “father of adult learning.” His seminal works define his adult learning theory, “andragogy.” According to Mezirow, learning by reflecting critically on one’s own experiences, assumptions, beliefs, feelings, and mental perspectives in order to develop new or revised interpretations is the fundamental aim of adult education. Instructional models based on the social constructivist perspective also stress the need for collaboration among learners and with practitioners in the society (Lave & Wenger, 1991).

Learning is a social and interpretive activity in which several members collaboratively construct their own understandings of information, objects, and events to explain their surroundings. It is the result of active engagement in and with the world joined with reflections upon the relationship between ideas, actions, and outcomes. Collaborative activity presents an opportunity for reflection and interpretation of events by providing a shared context for the interpretation of individual experience. Opportunities for creating and sustaining collaborative, reflective learning experiences for a distributed student body are supported by new technological advances in web-based instruction. Online collaborative tools such as discussion forums (whether asynchronous or synchronous) make it possible to carry out group projects as well as foster rich and constructive interactions between students, independent of their location, schedule, or any other distance or time constraint. Research in the Depth section included research articles detailing how instructors can facilitate interactivity and collaboration through the use of discussion boards and group problem-solving.

Tutoring is a complex set of behaviors that can most effectively be taught in an environment that provides demonstration of effective techniques, allows for practice in real tutoring situations, and gives opportunities for reflection and discussion. One strategy that holds considerable potential for supporting more open, collaborative, reflective activities is problem-based learning.
Problem-based learning involves teaching through goal-directed activity situated in authentic circumstances. The World Wide Web supports collaborative problem based learning in several ways—wide array of information and resources available, conferencing/discussion board capabilities. Given the various factors which need to be addressed in developing an effective problem-based learning environment, the best blend of problem type, technological environment, and support mechanism is not immediately obvious. The Application portion describes the incorporation of student-centered instruction in the online discussion component of the hybrid tutor training program for the Tutorial and Enrichment Center at where I work.

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