Tuesday, 7 April 2009

How can conversation support the development of PELTS?

As part of a learning event hosted and designed by Dave Appleby, one of my fellow students on my MSc Elearning course, I recently used GoogleDocs to consider the role of web 2.0 technologies in developing PELTS.

Being partial to a bit of chat myself, I noted during the session that discursive spaces could develop many of the PELTS described:

Team work - Discussion exposes you to several viewpoints and often involves you in negotiation both in terms of building an understanding and in terms of communicating your agreement and disagreements with diverse perspectives presented. They are also a way to ask for further information from your team mates - eg James' email about what are the important issues in HE today.

Independent Enquiry - discussion boards are a way of raising your hand in class to ask questions remotely to help extend learning and/or clarify understandings or as mentioned above to ask for more information and/or learn from others who may be more experienced in an area than you. Discussion also presents different perspectives and helps cultivate more rounded critical thinking.

Reflective Thinking - a post to a discussion board can reveal a level of reflective thinking based on the writers understanding so far, often linking to what they know already, highlighting new connections made, gaps in knowledge, incongurities in understandings or ambiguities unearthed thus far. Posts to a DB can also help a writer reconcile what they are learning with their own context, way of working or job currently undertaken. This too is a form of reflection.

Effective participation - by engaging with others in discussion, or through the actual processes involved in the 'act of conversation:

  1. the process of harnessing learning, relating it to ones current context, helping the formulation of action plans detailing what still needs to be done or should be done next
  2. the process of constructing arguments, in conversation, in such a way as to be persuasive and convincing enough to influence others

Creative thought - I think if we see mental agility as a creative force or thought then we can see how discussion can also facilitiate this PELT:

  1. through fostering and engendering understanding and inspiration when interacting with others (a social constructivist approach to learning)
  2. by offering an opportunity for an individual to develop their own voice
  3. via shared musings and collaborative building of methaphors to illustrate concepts and further understanding
  4. by offering opportunties to share and discuss observations and ponder connections.
  5. If all learning is metaphorically construed as a type of conversation and
  6. If it is accepted that, as observers, we learn what we learn by interacting with our environment: the spaces, objects, processes and others-who-are-also- observing all around us.

This type of conversation is formally recognised by a conversation theory which was developed by Gordon Pask and which is based on a cybernetic and dialectic framework. In this theory interacting with the environment is considered 'engaging in an exchange which has the structure of dialogue in language' and so forms the basis of a conversation

This theory formalizes concepts such as agreement, understanding, and consciousness with each of these concepts (as well as the concept "concept") existing in relation to conversation."

For more information see: Cybernetics and Conversation:


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