Alternate Paradigm of Learning

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Alternate Paradigm of Learning

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAN-AAAAJGUxNzI4YzE2LTE3ZjUtNDI3ZS1iZmMxLWRjOGU4MTQ3N2FkYQ Alternate Paradigm of Learning

Alternate Paradigm of Learning

This article is long, and has some boring points. So if you don't like long and boring, this probably isn't the read for you.  The articles is on an analogy of a moderately stable learning experience versus an alternate paradigm of learning. .____________________________________________________

As  someone who has studied in the field of education I take a special interest in the logic that people will use to convey messages to me, and to others. There are many ways to say something, but not all ways are beneficial.  We all want to do the best job we can when educating  others. We want others to understand what we are saying and gain from that communication.  

I did a study a while back in an distance education setting, where  I was able to observe how a particular instructor reacted to certain environmental cues as well as individual   student behaviors, both live  in the classroom and over the interactive video conferencing system.  I wrote about the events that I observed, and then proceeded to write an alternate paradigm.* Those observations and the alternate paradigm are below. 

 Observation

The classroom is a modern interactive video conference (IVC) classroom .  The instructor sits at the front of the class at her desk.  For convenience she has two monitors on her desk; one that allows her to see all her classes that are located throughout the state, and the other screen has her power points and internet links that she will use to guide the nights discussion.  Behind her on the wall is an 80 inch plasma screen that projects her teaching materials to those who are sitting in the classroom in front of her.  The back wall has a 70 inch plasma screen with four large images showing all the distant education sites she will teach this evening.  You can see the students at these distant sites collaborating with each other, preparing for their presentation, and adjusting their seating.  Most appear to be happy and engaged with each other before the class begins.

In the back corner of the main instructors classroom sits a site facilitator named Sylvan, who monitors and controls the broadcasting equipment from a desktop touch screen.  He also has dual monitors on his desk that reflect exactly what the instructor sees on her screens as well as what is projected on the wall mounted plasmas.

89 Alternate Paradigm of LearningThe instructor, Bobbie Evers, is a Professional looking woman with short light brown hair.  She will be teaching  a 3000 level Social Work Policy course this evening.  She is new to IVC, but has been able to adapt to the interactive teaching station with ease. Tonight she has planned a four-way broadcasting event where students will debate and discuss a number of social policy related questions.   She begins by taking roll, and each of the distant sites one–by-one proclaims who is present.  At one site, a gentleman chimes in that he is present and announces for his team that “we have brought our A game”.  

We have brought our A game

The topic of debate for this evening is Child Welfare Reform.  Students from the different sites have been split up into teams to represent both the pro  and con sides.   The debate begins and is immediately  lively.   Each participant brings to the debate a number of key points that seem to resonate on both sides.  Some of those issues included: abuse, taking children from the home, permanency, children aging out,  family relationships, providers, school and mental health.  

The plasma on the back wall showing the four different sites is voice activated.  When someone speaks at a distant site, the broadcast is automatically switch to that location.  However, for some reason this evening the screens all remained the same size.  One of the sites had only one individual at it, and the camera must of only been about 12 inches away from her face.  For a portion of the evening the movement of this individual was so distracting I found myself laughing at her a couple times.  I admire that the instructor and the other students, didn’t seem to mind.  But then again, I am not sure what the distant receive sites were seeing, since each site can adjust their views.   It was hard to miss her drinking her coffee, eating a corn dog,  and fidgeting obsessively.  It wasn’t until she finally cued the microphone, and had something to say that she settled down.  Yet, when she did speak it was with a lot of redundant words, particularly the use of the word “LIKE”; and then she would flay her hands in the air.  

For most of the debate there were a number of individuals who seemed to be quite confident in their delivery.  Although shaky at first, their voices and delivery became much more stable once the debate was well underway.   In particular, the confidence level of the debaters rose when the issue of whether or not the state and local governments should keep families together.  This topic drew some of the strongest comments, with one student even raising her voice.  Another student also chimed in with the comment that all abusers should be outfitted with “shock collars”.  The students were generally engaged and appeared to be knowledgeable about the topics they discussed.    Most sat still in their seats and watched the debate with interest. The groups who debated against the majority of the issues tended to have won the debate as far as I could tell. They were more prepared, more engaged, and confident in their delivery.

As the debate wound down, the instructor opened the floor for discussion. Through these discussions I learned that most of the students were employees from a range of different social agencies.  So many already had a background in social welfare.  The students were very open and willing to discuss personal information as well. They expressed their thoughts openly, and were able to elaborate on the processes of knowing and/or understanding the plight of others.   The instructor throughout the debate and the discussion was fully engaged with the distant site students.  She would nod her head in agreement to much of what was being said, and was deliberate in her note taking.  She was able to step in whenever the topic shifted or began to slow.  She brought substance into the debate with strategically noted phases and kept the debate lively.  She was able to speak on relevant current issues, and was patient with student concerns and questioning.  

Paradigms of Leaning

The teacher was very much engaged with her students, and leaned more toward a cognitive learning view , which leans toward moral statements that express beliefs and is suitable to measure truth and falsity.   She was able to effectively lead her students into open discussion, and kept it flowing.  She did not attempt to interrupt, but rather was open and objective only when the discussion would slow. She allowed for open expression and creativity. She allowed students to work through any misunderstanding or mistakes as a team and to problem solve in order gain a deeper understanding.  

PRO: The teams that debated in favor of the status quo did so with a more behaviorist approach. They were not willing to sway from the policy standards already set and maybe accept that not all things are as they seem.  The mantra I heard from them was always “It’s the parents fault”.   

CON: Those who tended to disagree with the status quo came from more of a cognitivist point of view. Their concern was more about children growing up without a home and permanency, or children aging out of the system with no skills.  They were open to positive input and had a number of very good ideas.    

During the debate the instructor challenged the group by interjecting  the socioculturalism aspects of social policy.  This paradigm was evident  in the debate, when the  topic turned to Native Americans and ideas of the whole child approach.  As the discussion moved forward, the role of foster care and Native Americans was also  introduced; and it became apparent that there are many dynamics that a community of social workers has to deal with.  In any particular role, the paradigms could easily be interchangeable, especially in social work.  The teacher was able to formulate direct questions that inspired more debate, in all these areas.  It was a very fascinating debate to watch especially for a layperson such as myself.

Now for the alternate paradigm of learning.

Alternate Paradigm of Learning

The teacher was very behavioristic, and would often stop students mid-sentence to correct their ideas and elaborate on what changes the students needed to make. Her mantra was “do not interject personal sentiment into the policy process”.   She was stern with a set of pre-defined objectives, and did not allow for much self-expression or choice.    Students were not actively engaged in the discussion following the debates, and were not prompted by the teacher to do else wise.  Students followed a prescribed course of action the entire evening.  Repetitive information was sited at the beginning of each new topic. Points for discussion were listed by the instructor, and only simple responses were accepted.  Those students who closely followed the pre-defined objectives were rewarded with additional points.

Alternative Observation

The classroom is a modern interactive video conference classroom (IVC).  The instructor sits at the front of the class at her desk.  For convenience she has two monitors, one that allows her to see all her classes that are located throughout the state, and the another screen has her power points and internet links that she will use to guide the nights discussion.  This instructor prefers to not use the monitors nor any other digital technology.   Behind her on the wall is an 80 inch plasma screen, that for tonight will remain off, since she feels certain technology is distracting.    The wall in front of the instructor has a 70 inch plasma screen with four  large images of all the distant education sites she will teach tonight.  She allows this screen to remain on.  You can see the students at these distant sites slowly starting to  funnel into the classroom.   In the back corner of the broadcast classroom sits a site facilitator named Sylvan,  who monitors and  controls the broadcasting  equipment from a desktop touch screen.  He also has dual monitors on his desk that reflect exactly what the instructor sees on her screens as well as what is projected on the wall mounted plasmas.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIHAAAAJDRmZGQ3NmJkLTgwMzgtNGVhZS1hYWYwLTZhMzZmNTU1ZjI4NQ Alternate Paradigm of LearningThe instructor, a dark haired woman in her early 40’s, Bobbie Nevers, teaches a 3000 level  Social Work Policy course.  She is new to IVC, and has not been able to adapt to the interactive teaching station very well.  Tonight she has planned a four way event where students will debate and discuss a number of social policy related questions.   She begins by taking roll, and each of the distant sites one–by-one declares who is present.   Before the debate she instructs the class on a set of pre-designed formats that they should follow.   The debate is to be very formal and the subject matter will be condensed to allow for repetitive justification of each opening and closing statement.

The topic of debate for this evening is Child Welfare Reform.  Students from the different sites have been split up into teams to represent both the pro’s and con’s of the matter.     Social issues that will be addressed include: abuse, taking children from the home, permanency, family relationships, providers, school and mental health.  Students are asked to reframe from interjecting personal sentiment into the debate.

The plasma on the back wall showing the four different sites, is voice activated.  When someone speaks at a distant site, the broadcast is automatically switched to that location.  However, for some reason this evening the screens all remained the same size.  One site had only one individual in it, and the camera that was on this individual must have only been about 12 inches away from her face.  For most of the evening the movement of this one individual is none existent, she is almost like a statue. I was amazed when she finally moved and asked a question.  The other students were also very unresponsive in their demeanor.

For most of the debate students took turns reading from paper, their responses.  There were no highs and no lows within the two groups. It was very formal. The issue of whether or not the state and local governments should keep families together drew only one comment from the teacher, who reminded the student that without laws there would be no social workers.   The students were not generally engaged and appeared to be only semi knowledgeable about the topics they discussed.   Most of the debate was read from paper, and many items were redundantly recurrent.   During the debate, most of the students seemed to be reading other materials at their desks, and generally disinterested.

CON: The groups who debated against the majority of the issues tended to have lost the debate as far as I could tell. They were more prepared, more engaged, and confident in their delivery, but did not follow the exact protocol the teacher wanted them to.  She felt the students were not properly conditioned and make way too many mistakes.

PRO: The teams that debated in favor of the status quo did so with a more behaviorist approach. They were not willing to sway from the policy standards already set and maybe accept that not all things are as they seem.  The mantra I heard from them was always “It’s the parents fault”.   

CON: Those who tended to disagree with the status quo came from more of a cognitivist point of view. Their concern was more about children growing up without a home and permanency, or children aging out of the system with no skills.  They were open to positive input and had a number of very good ideas.    

During the debate the instructor challenged the group by interjecting  the socioculturalism aspects of social policy.  This paradigm was evident  in the debate, when the  topic turned to Native Americans and ideas of the whole child approach.  As the discussion moved forward, the role of foster care and Native Americans was also  introduced; and it became apparent that there are many dynamics that a community of social workers has to deal with.  In any particular role, the paradigms could easily be interchangeable, especially in social work.  The teacher was able to formulate direct questions that inspired more debate, in all these areas.  It was a very fascinating debate to watch especially for a layperson such as myself.

Now for the alternate paradigm of learning.

Alternate Paradigm of Learning

The teacher was very behavioristic, and would often stop students mid-sentence to correct their ideas and elaborate on what changes the students needed to make. Her mantra was “do not interject personal sentiment into the policy process”.   She was stern with a set of pre-defined objectives, and did not allow for much self-expression or choice.    Students were not actively engaged in the discussion following the debates, and were not prompted by the teacher to do else wise.  Students followed a prescribed course of action the entire evening.  Repetitive information was sited at the beginning of each new topic. Points for discussion were listed by the instructor, and only simple responses were accepted.  Those students who closely followed the pre-defined objectives were rewarded with additional points.

Alternative Observation

The classroom is a modern interactive video conference classroom (IVC).  The instructor sits at the front of the class at her desk.  For convenience she has two monitors, one that allows her to see all her classes that are located throughout the state, and the another screen has her power points and internet links that she will use to guide the nights discussion.  This instructor prefers to not use the monitors nor any other digital technology.   Behind her on the wall is an 80 inch plasma screen, that for tonight will remain off, since she feels certain technology is distracting.    The wall in front of the instructor has a 70 inch plasma screen with four  large images of all the distant education sites she will teach tonight.  She allows this screen to remain on.  You can see the students at these distant sites slowly starting to  funnel into the classroom.   In the back corner of the broadcast classroom sits a site facilitator named Sylvan,  who monitors and  controls the broadcasting  equipment from a desktop touch screen.  He also has dual monitors on his desk that reflect exactly what the instructor sees on her screens as well as what is projected on the wall mounted plasmas.

The instructor, a dark haired woman in her early 40’s, Bobbie Nevers, teaches a 3000 level  Social Work Policy course.  She is new to IVC, and has not been AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIHAAAAJDRmZGQ3NmJkLTgwMzgtNGVhZS1hYWYwLTZhMzZmNTU1ZjI4NQ Alternate Paradigm of Learningable to adapt to the interactive teaching station very well.  Tonight she has planned a four way event where students will debate and discuss a number of social policy related questions.   She begins by taking roll, and each of the distant sites one–by-one declares who is present.   Before the debate she instructs the class on a set of pre-designed formats that they should follow.   The debate is to be very formal and the subject matter will be condensed to allow for repetitive justification of each opening and closing statement.

The topic of debate for this evening is Child Welfare Reform.  Students from the different sites have been split up into teams to represent both the pro’s and con’s of the matter.     Social issues that will be addressed include: abuse, taking children from the home, permanency, family relationships, providers, school and mental health.  Students are asked to reframe from interjecting personal sentiment into the debate.

The plasma on the back wall showing the four different sites, is voice activated.  When someone speaks at a distant site, the broadcast is automatically switched to that location.  However, for some reason this evening the screens all remained the same size.  One site had only one individual in it, and the camera that was on this individual must have only been about 12 inches away from her face.  For most of the evening the movement of this one individual is none existent, she is almost like a statue. I was amazed when she finally moved and asked a question.  The other students were also very unresponsive in their demeanor.

For most of the debate students took turns reading from paper, their responses.  There were no highs and no lows within the two groups. It was very formal. The issue of whether or not the state and local governments should keep families together drew only one comment from the teacher, who reminded the student that without laws there would be no social workers.   The students were not generally engaged and appeared to be only semi-knowledgeable about the topics they discussed.   Most of the debate was read from paper, and many items were redundantly recurrent.   During the debate, most of the students seemed to be reading other materials at their desks, and generally disinterested.

CON: The groups who debated against the majority of the issues tended to have lost the debate as far as I could tell. They were more prepared, more engaged, and confident in their delivery, but did not follow the exact protocol the teacher wanted them to.  She felt the students were not properly conditioned and make way too many mistakes.

PRO:  Those debating in favor of the social policy issue didn’t necessarily win, they did however stick to the pre-described debate platform that the instructor laid out at the beginning of the class.

The instructor was not fully engaged with the distant sites; rather she spent more time addressing those students who were live in front of her.  She would nod her head in disagreement to much of what was being debated.  She informed the  class  that they would need to go over certain materials again to make sure they properly understood it.  She noted a significant amount of errors in the debates.  Whenever the topic shifted away from the pre-defined format, she was quick to stifle any response. As the debate wound up, the instructor asked if there were any questions.  There were none.

__________________________________________________

When you look at your own educational styling and training methods, alternate paradigms can help you to visualize what your students are actually seeing and hearing.  Something to think about before planning your next lesson plan.

 

*Note:  The instructor in my study was a model instructor. 


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