Online learning: through the looking glass

Online learning is learning in an environment without parameters. Without direction, an initial point of entry, a student can be overwhelmed, wandering through endless portals without arriving at solid (credible) information. The teacher must become the role model of excellent curation skills.  The instructor’s most important role is mentoring the process of discriminating among sources of information. Alice should go down the rabbit hole, rather than merely pass through the looking glass of reflection, one that only represents the environment for her.  Part of the problem of the research of credible e-resources is that the journey may seem endless, hyperlink after hyperlink — portal after portal.  Students can become frustrated, overwhelmed, lost in the moment.  The looking glass is the replication of information without engagement. All research projects require an engaging in conversation: a dialogue with the source, a response to the source: content replication is tempting in the world of cut and paste.  Students must interpret and synthesize the information for the experience to be meaningful.  A subjective stance (a thesis idea in the broader sense or an interpretation in the more narrow sense) is a journey element.  It means immersion in e resource information and then direction (determined by the student). If a student merely collects then a student is reporting not analyzing.

The experience of learning must be a journey, if it is to be worthwhile. But it must be a journey that is grounded in the authentic and not lost wavering in the illusion.

The teacher should actively role model the accessing of e-resources, which is essentially research. Critical discourse via posting (wiki or discussion board) allows for the challenging/testing source information: these are the important conversations — whether the teacher will have students curate or create a project or a blog.

But curation is merely a collage of data if synthesis of information collected is never achieved. 



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