Saturday, 28 May 2011

Developing socialisation - a counter view to Salmon's e-tivities

The development of socialisation in an on-line learning environment’, Jones, N. and Peachey, P. (2004)

This paper takes a critical view of Salmon’s five-stage model and questions the validity and usefulness of all the stages as they are presently described by Salmon. It is also an example of a small-scale piece of ethnographic research and evaluation.

The paper describes a number of iterations of an e-moderating course, developed to support teachers/lecturers new to computer-mediated communication. The course adopted a constructivist approach, with social dialogue as an essential feature of the pedagogy.

At Stage 1 (of Salmon's framework) a face-to-face induction workshop was held. This allowed familiarisation with the VLE and for students to experience initial message posting and sharing. 

Each time the course was presented, a relatively high level of informal interactivity was observed at Stage 1, which was followed by a significant drop at Stage 2. It then slightly increased at Stage 3, as would be expected of Salmon's framework. This suggests that there was not strong evidence of the formation of an effective online community during Stage 2, and that the intended socialization which underpins an effective community did not emerge. The authors argue that this is because effective socialization in fact emerged during Stage 1 due to the effective design of induction sessions. Given this success, Salmon's recommendations for Stage 2 e-tivity design may need to focus more on maintaining motivation than on socialization.

Take away thoughts
  • Stephenson and Coomey (2001) - promoting dialogue, and the consequent development of learning communities are important factors contributing to success of online courses.
  • "Social factors as well as intellectual factors are important in e-learning"
  • Development ins elearning have "not provided practicing educators with the wherewithal to reconstitute and embed constructivst ideas within their personal philosophies and teaching practices" (Bonk, 2003).
  • "... for effective learning, the skills of the moderator are more important than the features of the software tools being used..." (Alexander and Boud, 2001).
  • There are contrasting views on whether the socialization stage of a course can/should be carried out entirely online (advocated by Salmon, 2000), or partly face-to-face (advocated by Mason, 2002, who argues that this is one of the 'most important' features of successful online courses.

Jones, N. and Peachey, P. (2004) ‘The development of socialisation in an on-line learning environment’, paper given at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in 2004 [online] (Accessed 10 February 2011).

Alexander and Boud (2001), Bonk (2003), Mason (2002) all cited by Jones and Peachey (2004).

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