Follow-ups on Learning: communities vs. courses
George Siemens summarises main benefits of communities and courses and suggests that “good” elements of courses can be supported in communities. I’m not so sure.
Structure and focus of courses have something to to with teacher’s authority (courses are other-directed), while in communities there is no real authority (ok, there are respected experts, but respecting someone is not enough to discipline yourself 🙂 I’m not sure that a combination of both will work.
Jeremy Hiebert reflects on his own learning in different forms (read it!) and describes three main reasons to join formal learning program: credentials, discipline and feedback.
I especially liked parts on feedback in courses and in blogging community. On feeback in blogs:
The blogging community talks a lot about the interaction of blogs, and we’ve all seen some great quasi-conversations emerge across several sites at once, but the type of feedback you get on your writing tends to be somewhat impersonal, even if you get to know the personalities behind the writing. Comments might point you somewhere for more info, or disagree with something you’ve written, but they rarely give you a sense of how you’re doing overall. You might know that Person B disagrees with your stance on standardized testing, and that a study exists to refute one of your points, but you probably won’t get help in improving the articulation of your arguments or research skills.
Bill Brandon summarises problems with communities:
1. Accountability: with formal instruction, someone is accountable for results; and 2. Bad information drives out good
He also adds, “Much of what is learned informally is wrong, and there is no easy way to correct it.” [related: piece on why articulation of implicit learning is important in implicit learning]
Oliver Wrede suggests that not only who is learning, but also what is to be learnt is important for making choices between communities and courses.