Looking back at the “flavor” of the forum discussions so far and comparing them with the “traps” Zimmer describes and the Interpersonal Action & Learning Cycle (IALC), I think that:
- Most learners do pretty well in making explicit that what they write is their own opinion. Many statements start with “I think…”, “I believe…” etc.
- Offering our understanding to others is more limited. Most reactions to other’s statements include a short reference, but we don’t really check whether our interpretation corresponds with the interpretation of the author. The practice of “weaving”, i.c. combining, comparing and interpreting everyone’s statements in a synthesizing round-up, isn’t common yet, apart maybe from one initiative to make a Wordle of learning definitions (although this was more an automatically-generated synthesis, rather than a “woven” one).
- Inviting others to react isn’t very present either. A few times, statements ended with questions or invitations to react, but not often. I think that the tendency to post one’s own answers to the activities, rather than engaging in discussion is an element that we can still improve in the forum. People feel that doing the activities takes priority to reacting to others’ experiences on the forum, and a lack of time then reduces the latter to a short reaction. Isabella added that it’s not so easy to correct each other; We may often feel uncomfortable doing this, in particular in an online course, where you haven’t met each other.
Another difficulty with applying the IALC is that it’s a different way of writing than standard academic writing. In academic writing you’re not allowed to write in the first person or write your personal opinions. Of course, the objective of an academic text may not be to start a collaborative discussion, but rather to present results of your research or to convince people of your theory. I think that the IALC is particularly useful in discussions where both parties are open to learn and less when one party wants to convince the other or win the argument.