Meaningful Learning in E-Learning Forums: A Case Study of a Long-Distance Teacher College Course

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The on-line forums can be used in E-learning environments as a main tool to foster collaborative learning in order to construct new individual and common knowledge. The design principles that we used and which enable community of inquiry were:
• Practices for creative discussion to expand meanings (Treffinger, Isaksen, Dorval, 2000; Glassner & Schwarz, 2007).
• Practices for critical discussion to make decisions and to come to conclusions (Paul & Elder, 2008).
• Enable open and inviting atmosphere.
• Construction of tasks and action instructions that encourage meaningful dialogue (Osborn, 1996).
• Enable on-line information resources in order to ground arguments.
• Presenting tools for evaluation, reflection and feedback (Ennis, 1989).
• Enable students' independent control and management (Davidson, 2003).
• Creating a variety of scaffolds.
During the course, each small group of students (5-7) had been asked to choose relevant and authentic problems from their professional educational life and discuss them by: a. learning about them through the web using principles of reasonable search; b. bring up fruitful solutions using practices of creative thinking; c. choosing the most fruitful idea using practices of critical thinking and argumentation.
Our findings indicate the meaningful development of the students' argumentation and the level of their involvement during their participation in the course forums. We use Garrison at al. (2000) and Lotan Kochan (2006) models in order to evaluate the student forums' contributions.
In addition we analyzed the students' reflections feedback using questionnaires and interviews. Most of the students expressed reflections on the course which indicate meaningful learning and especially about the implementation of the course design principles into their teaching practices. Some of them reported about great success for such implementations. We will also discuss the limits, the difficulties in order to learn and to upgrade the learning process.


Keywords: Online Forum, Meaningful Learning, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking
Stream: Technology in Learning; Maths, Science and Technology Learning
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Amnon Glassner

Lecturer, Ben-Gurion University in the Negev 
Kaye Academic College of Education
Achva College of Education

Israel

Mostly, my research concerned to the study of different aspects of arguments (as a products) and argumentation (as a process) skills; skills one needed for critical and dialogical thinking, for participate in creative and critical discussion, and for knowledge construct during and from discussions (self and 'with other' discussion). My Doctoral dissertation (Glassner & Schwarz, 2005) tested the connections between different environmental and personal factors and anti-logos skills of the participants; the skills which someone need in order to critic and challenges the support of specific information in specific claim. This skill was tested among children and adolescents. The findings of this research yielded a continuance study that tested the connections between different skills of creative and critical thinking, and the anti-logos skills among adolescents (Glassner & Schwarz, 2007).

Dr. Rafi Davidson

Lecturer, Kaye Academic College of Education
Israel


Ref: L09P0317