In response to the thought-provoking thread at http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/forums/topic/deep-learning-is-not-the-ideal/#post-17535, here’s my understanding of surface and deep approaches to learning, using Activity 1.3 from the ocTEL course as an example.
Feedback very welcome on whether you agree with my way of describing this.
A surface learner might say…
This activity involved learning about B.F. Skinner’s Teaching Machine and several key educational thinkers and educational approaches.
I didn’t get the point of looking at the video – it was just weird – or of looking at other people’s posts about what they thought about the different theories. I just read the articles that were linked and made my own notes.
If we were to sit an exam at the end of this course, I would use flashcards to memorise the names, dates and theories of the different people and approaches.
I don’t really see how any of this relates to online learning, and I’m not sure which of the theories described is the correct one.
A deep learner might say…
This activity involved thinking about B.F. Skinner’s Teaching Machine and how this method of teaching relates to different educational approaches and the views of several key educational thinkers.
It was very interesting to explore the different theories and to think about how the advocates of these approaches would view the teaching machines. This gave a context in which to think about their theories.
I liked reading a range of views from other learners who had different experiences and viewpoints; it made me think more widely about the subject.
This also led me to think about how online courses are structured and, for example, the importance of self-pacing, peer interaction, questioning, who is the teacher?, etc.
As Rose mentioned, the ‘assessment’ – i.e. what we were asked to do in this activity – is very important. It was structured to make us look at the question deeply. This is a lot more interesting and meaningful than just reading/learning a set of descriptions of educational theories.
An online environment can help with a task of this nature by making it easy to view and comment on other people’s contributions.