Three Generations of Pedagogy
- Cognitive Behaviourist (CB): Anderson and Dron (2010) identify CB as an approach from the second half of the 20th Century focusing on changed behaviour of the learner in response to stimuli. As they point out this has been more popular for vocational training, than university education, when technology was limited to many-to-one (that is broadcast) communication. In making this last point, Anderson and Dron seem to be slipping back into a technologically deterministic analysis. They go to discuss Cognitive Presence, Social Presence and Teaching Presence. Anderson and Dron note that a lack of Social Presence (that is a sense of the presence of fellow students) does not adversely effect learning outcomes. But as a distance education student, I find the lack of student interaction very lonely and stressful. As a teacher I find peer pressure a strong motivator of students. Anderson and Dron note that Teaching Presence is reduced with the use of packaged learning materials for DE. However, this does not not appear to be a consequence of DE itself, but a business model used by DE (there are also very impersonal pre-packaged face-to-face classes). Anderson and Dron attribute resentment with this impersonal approach to "traditional educators". However, I teach on-line and don't like the impersonal approach. As an on-line learner I find the lack of presence of the teacher very stressful. So in my own classes I provide feedback to the class and to individual students, at least weekly (this obviously can only be done where the institutions funds this). As a studnet if I don;t hear personally from the teacher occasionaly, then I wonder what I am paying thousands of doallrs for (I might was well read a $100 textbook). Anderson and Dron summarise the benefits of CB being the scaling of DE to large numbers of students at lower cost, but with obvious limitations of inflexibility.
- Social-Constructivist: Social-constructivist
pedagogy sees the learner constructing their own metal model to
integrate new knowledge. Anderson and Dron (2010) point out that this
approach coincided with the availability of two-way communication
technologies (which further undermines their supposed
non-technologically deterministic approach). They see social interaction
as key to constructivist pedagogy. Anderson and Dron state that "At a
distance, this interaction
is always mediated ...". This appears to be intended to say that some form of communications technology is required. However, all communication requires some media: even when speaking in a face-to-face classroom, there are limitations of the media (everyone can't speak at once, for example). Anderson and Dron describe constructivist distance education as an advance "through to the use of synchronous and asynchronous, human communications-based learning". However, here they seem to be stuck back in technological determinism and it is not clear what is meant by "human communications".
- Connectivist Pedagogy: The Connectivist approach emphasises the ability to find and apply knowledge, rather memorise facts. Showing their technological determinism again, Anderson and Dron (2010) assert that "connectivist models ... would have been inconceivable as forms of distance learning were the World Wide Web not available to mediate the process". This shows a limited knowledge of information technology, as forms of rich networked communications existed before the World Wide Web. The description of connectivist learners who are literate and can use information sources would seem to be able to describe a student in a conventional paper library just as well as a DE student on the web. I suggest that the traditional university, with its cross-referecned library, informal and formal meeting places could be seen as a physical precursor of the Internet and connectivist DE is doing no more than crudely reproducing this online.