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Paralinguistic Cues

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 2 May 2018, 15:34

Don't you just love it when you get the vocabulary to succinctly define and describe an idea you've been struggling to articulate?

I got that this morning when reading Price et al. describing the research carried out about students perceptions depending on whether they experienced face to face tutoring, or online tutoring. 

In my last TMA, and in various forum posts, I have expressed my own unease with the online tutoring format. I fully accept that MAODE - being the study of online and distance education - would be subject to some ironic eyebrow raising if face to face activity constituted any of its activity but the complete lack of 'being in the same room' as my tutor and tutor group is something of a gear change for me and one which is a little sticky! 

It's funny because I am very adept and comfortable in written forum situations - Facebook is my online home - and I find the forums very satisfying if not as user friendly as Facebook (I'd love to be able to 'like' a post rather than comment on it, I'd like to be notified if someone responds to something I have posted, I wish that the 'threads' of conversations were more easily defined so we could see who was replying to whom etc.) but I am finding the online rooms more tricky.

My idea is that were we all in a room together the tutor would be able to see if someone looked confused, and conversely if someone looked like they'd had a lightbulb moment! People struggling to articulate an idea wouldn't be talking to a broadly silent online room but may be assisted and prompted by their peers and tutor. If someone was desperate to make a contribution that would be evident by their body language, and if someone hadn't managed to get a word in edgeways then it is easier to identify a person who hasn't contributed rather than a voice you haven't heard. These paralinguistic cues enable a smoother and, for me at least, more satisfying encounter. 

I absolutely concede that this may simply be 'my problem'. I am an extrovert (a pretty garrulous one!) and this means of communication (a group chat so to speak) is entirely new to me. I am hoping to get more adept at it, and more comfortable. I also think the technology is not quite up to speed yet - there appears to be a delay in the voices (much like an international phone call from years ago) which further complicates the interaction. 


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A word saving diagram!

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My last blog may have contained a hint of a moan about the word count in this TMA I am writing. This word count has been my nemesis for the last few days as I have edited and rephrased and contracted almost every sentence of this assessment! My overactive brain keeps thinking of things I should have included but hadn't so I keep writing new sentences and then having to steal words from previously written ones to make room for it! 

And then I made this diagram. I am hoping to both demonstrates my understanding of the key concepts we are being asked to discuss and also adds a little personal interpretation. (I am also hoping it doesn't reveal how massively I have misunderstood the whole thing!)

The acquisition metaphor is represented by a one way, downwards pointing arrow from teacher to learner. We are all familiar with this type of learning - it's where a teacher tells us stuff we are supposed to remember. We remember the stuff for papers and exams and (very occasionally!) real life. 

The participation metaphor is represented by a four way arrow between learner and learner, teacher and expert practitioner. This is because there is no one way we learn through the participation metaphor, but the flow of knowledge is also not one way. It flows in all directions.

The study group method - so enthusiastically espoused by John Seely Brown - is a two way arrow between learners. Learners work together to extend their own understanding and thus learners are both learners and teachers. The learning is organic and no linear but the opportunity to properly discuss and debate ensures that better understanding is reached. 

The authentic environment situated cognition learning theory is represented by a one way, though horizontal, arrow from expert practitioner to learner. In this learning type there is still an expert. Teaching may not look so hierarchal but the flow of knowledge and expertise is still one way. 

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