February 23 2007 (Refreshed July 6, 2012)
E-Coaching Tip 37: Pausing, Reflecting and Pruning Strategies
Expectations of learning increase rapidly with the passage of just a few weeks of a course. Learners often begin feeling overwhelmed and lost amidst the flood of content and increasing complexity of the ideas. What teaching and learning strategies can help at this stage of a course? Here is a cluster of strategies that increase learning and reduce stress: pausing, reflecting and pruning experiences.
As a way of getting started, let’s model a pausing strategy and return for a moment to the recent tip on cognitive presence (Tip 36). As you will recall, cognitive presence means that you and your students explicitly and publicly construct and confirm meaning through sustained discourse. If you have not had time to use that concept or begin to build it into your course, it is good to simply take forward the key phrase of "constructing and confirming meaning."
This tip on pausing, reflecting and pruning strategies reminds us that while the process of learning requires constructing and confirming meaning, that learning also includes the processes of reflecting and pruning. Our brains and memories are simply not designed for remembering everything (Schacter, 2001). This fact is very comforting as we get older as well.
Many of our new technologies, such as smart phones, tablets, cameras, and GPS trackers and the world of apps are going beyond capturing key life moments to supporting "life-logging," a term used to describe systems that document every conversation, movement, etc. A 2007 interview with Emily Nussbaum, a contributing editor of the New York magazine, on NPR’s Talk of the Nation explores the issues inherent in life-logging and the shifts in privacy perspective that appear to be occurring. The new almost inescapable phenomenon of one’s timeline being public on Facebook is even starting to do this life-logging for us.
Just as we cringe, at least, I do, at the thought of every moment of my life being captured and recorded, we may well cringe at every moment of our teaching and learning processes being recorded as well. Yet, there is a silver lining here. The journaling and blogging tools that are now almost ubiquitous can be very effective tools to log our learning. We can start with what we don’t know and record our paths to learning core concepts. Blogs and journals can be public or private or a mix.
Learning, as well as life, is generally messy. When my children were young, I left the kitchen to them as they baked or cooked; I couldn’t bear to watch. Yet it is how they learned and did just fine.
Similarly, in the online environment, where so much is being captured, discussed and presented, it is a good thing to watch some of the time, but not all the time.
Here are some pausing, reflecting and pruning strategies to design into your courses.
Pause and Reflect Strategies
Boettcher, J. V. E-Coaching Tip 36 (2007, 2012) Cognitive Presence in Online Courses- What is it? Retrieved July 6 2012 from http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/tips/tip36.html
Nussbaum, E. (2007). Life-Logging and the Generation Gap over Privacy. Retrieved July 6, 2012, from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7402921
Schacter, D. L. (2001). The Seven sins of memory: How the mind forgets and remembers. New York: Houghton-Mifflin. A concise summary is at http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct03/sins.aspx
Note: These E-coaching tips were initially developed for faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2010 in a book -- The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached at judith followed by designingforlearning.org.
Ecoaching Table of Contents