Monday, June 6, 2011

Social Technology- Changing The Learning Process- DRAFT 2

"In Charlotte’s four novels (The Professor, Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette), education takes two forms: self-teaching, primarily through reading, and classroom lessons, either at a school or with a governess or tutor (Lonoff 458)."  
 Self-teaching is a necessary addition to effectively learning information presented in a classroom setting.  Technology available today and the technology yet to be invented are transforming the learning process.  The novel, Jane Eyre, supplies a teaching formula leading to an enhanced learning experience.  

“I had the means of an excellent education placed within my reach. A fondness for some of my studies, and a desire to excel in all, together with a great delight in pleasing my teachers, especially such as I loved, urged me on (Brontë 106)."
The first motive for learning for the character, Jane, is a liking for some of the subjects.  The second is a desire to excel.  The last motive is the most powerful, recognition and feedback from her teachers (Lonoff 462).  Technology allows students to explore their subject through a way that they are interested in the topic.  This personal research leads students to learning the information that is engaging for each personal reader, as opposed to class discussion which usually ends up in a direction that is only truly engaging for certain students, or perhaps in some cases, only the teacher.  However, the need for instruction is still absolutely necessary.  Technology should be embraced to help students become self-reliant learners, but teachers help model the strategies for effective learning (Lonoff 471).  Miss Temple serves as a role model for Jane Eyre.  Miss Temple is a young and accomplished young woman who is still striving to learn all that she can about the world and herself.  Most of us have those teachers in our remembrance who really cared about us and our learning, and these were usually the teachers that we aimed to please.  We begin to model our learning habits after those teachers.  We recognize that to master a subject, first must come an imitation of the learning process for said subject.  Students watch teachers analyze and write about a subject and learn how to to so themselves through their teacher's examples.  A struggle has always been in existence to get students to deep-read a text.  Now, with new technology, literature students discussing Jane Eyre may look at clips from video adaptations or discuss how the issues of the book, such as gender issues, individuality, the role of the governess, and elements of Gothic literature are present in the novel, utilizing different web sites and media tools (Lonoff 472-473).

One of these new media tools for the classroom is and should be online forum groups.  As constant learners, we need to remember that there is much to learn from those who have different experiences and personalities than ours.  A study was performed involving the use of online forum groups to supplement the classroom learning experience.  Effective learning takes place when the learning environment is learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered, and community-centered.  "Interactivity has been considered as central tenet to the concept of 'online learning theory' (Balaji 3)."  Online resources, such as online discussion forums and blogs, allow learners to reflect upon their thinking.  The learning experience becomes individualized by this deep level learning and "new knowledge structures."  These methods of learning communication allow students to learn at their own pace and according to their interests, previous knowledge, and style.  Feedback is important for the smooth-functioning of these online learning centers. 

Also, the community or social component presented on these sites play a huge role in online learning.  Interaction on these online sites give learners a sense of community or social connectivity.  Just like the personal literary study between Miss Temple and Jane's friend, Helen Burns, online discussion forums may provide a more comfortable learning environment for readers than the typical classroom discussion can present.  As learners explore and discuss a subject, relationships are formed between the participants.  "Previous research has shown that learning communities exhibit increased student learning, and course satisfaction (Balaji 3)."  Learning effectiveness, in using online discussion forums, is influenced by the interactions and communication that take place.  The level of interaction that takes place depends on the learning environment, learning process, and learner characteristics.  The lack of nonverbal cues in online discussion forums may lead to less intense interactions, but the lack of cues may unbind the social hierarchy in the online environment, enabling users a more equal footing. 

Each individual learner's preparation and personality contributes something different to the forum.  Students who have a high understanding of the internet perform their online learning tasks more efficiently, showing the need to teach students how to utilize the new technological learning tools.  The study found that students who had more difficulty using the internet, showed low motivation to contribute to the blog, simply because of the difficulty for him/her to share their contributions.  Studies of individual personality and internet behavior have revealed that introverted students tend to be more able to communicate with others in an online environment than face-to-face.  Extroverts are more likely to participate in online discussion forums though, because of their strong need for gratification and higher success rate of interaction (Balaji 6).  The immediacy of feedback in the online environment gives a greater opportunity to communicate with other learners.  The sense of connectedness among the learners increases the interactions in the online environment.  Media richness theory argues that using appropriate media will improve task performance.  Online discussion forums are built as effective learning communities.
Technology gives us a way to connect with each other and extend the learning experience.  Listening, disputing, and communicating with one's peers opens students to perspectives and ideas that they would never have thought of themselves.  In the classic classroom setting, time serves as a barricade for an array of possible discussions.  Social networking has allowed me as a student to easily keep in contact with teachers and professors that have affected the way I learn or simply me as a person.  By maintaining this connection, I have been able to continue my personal learning experience.  For my Writing Literary Criticism in the Digital Age class, each student kept a blog and were expected to interact with one another through comments on these blogs.  Personally, I found a greater satisfaction with the class by having the opportunity to communicate ideas with my peers when outside of the classroom setting.  We were also encouraged to utilize other forums, web sites, and media tools.  This 24/7 learning method allows students to be actively engaged in the learning process at all times.  My sister, Natalie Lewis, has a Master of Education in Technology in Education degree. She has been a full-time teacher of various subjects for the past eight years, and she had this to say on the use of technology in the learning process: "I have discovered that with the use of technology you can adapt and merge all types of curriculum to have total instructional alignment.  Technology used correctly can motivate and engage students in learning.  Our student's present and future experiences are based on technology.  The student's transition from technology to everyday task is seamless.  If teachers make a choice to eliminate the use of technology in their classrooms they are limiting the future potential of our students."  After reading articles about multiple studies, speaking with multiple educators on the subject, and my own personal experience, I believe that online discussion forums should be implemented into the curriculum of all English literature courses.  The digital tools are there to enhance the learning experience for readers today.  Now, it is the time for us to utilize those tools and enhance the learning experience, growing and learning from one another.

Balaji, M. S., and Diganta Chakrabarti. "Student Interactions in Online Discussion Forum: Empirical Research from ‘Media Richness Theory’ Perspective." Journal of Interactive Online Learning 9.1 (2010): 1-22. Web. June 3, 2011.
Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York978-0-517-22775-6: Gramercy Books, 2006. Print.
Lonoff, Sue. "The Education of Charlotte Brontë: A Pedagogical Case Study." Pedagogy 1.3 (2001): 457. Print.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see a solid draft developing. Right now, however, this seems to be very academic in the traditional sense, with the reader and her personality pretty much absent until right at the end, where we just hear a bit of opinion from you. You need to make a narrative that grabs and engages the reader, not just a dispassionate explanation of well reasoned ideas. Those ideas are going to be more interesting if they come by way of more of the primary literary text, and more of your personal experience.

    You should probably use your secondary sources more sparingly, and be careful not to become overly dependent upon them. At times it seemed as though you were largely paraphrasing them, rather than using them to make your claim. Get that claim more up front. Right now it is buried toward the end when you finally tell us that forums should be used.

    A good start, but don't forget to keep centered in the primary text, and in your own primary experience with it and as a researcher discovering things.