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The Pedagogy of Social Development in Online Learning

The Pedagogy of Social Development in Online Learning
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Author(s): Robert H. Woods (Spring Arbor University, USA) and Jason D. Baker (Regent University, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 8
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch238


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Optimal learning outcomes, whether in face-to-face or online settings, are inextricably intertwined with the establishment of social networks among participants engaged in a collaborative enterprise. Students who feel socially connected to other students and faculty are more likely to persist in coursework and report higher levels of learning than those who report being less connected (McDonald, 2002; Rovai, 2002; Tinto, 1987; Wegerif, 1998). But in the online setting, creating and maintaining a learning community is somewhat more challenging than in the face-to-face-setting. For despite advances in audio and video streaming technologies, online learning remains primarily a largely textual and asynchronous environment. The challenge in this setting might be stated as follows: “How do we adapt a series of threaded texts to make them build a socially interactive, diverse network of learners who experience a positive sense of community?” There are numerous pedagogical strategies that may be used to build highly interactive and socially rich educational environments. In this article, the researchers propose a model of “communal scaffolding,” which serves as a framework for a variety of online and off-line activities that can positively enhance the social dynamics on online courses toward the goal of increased cognitive and affective learning.

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