Social Cohesion within Online Learning Environments: Enhancing Diversity and Supporting Learning Amid Social Mobility through Instructional Design and Instructor Competence

By Caroline M. Crawford.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The online learning environment has developed over the past ten years, so that we now have the technological support and understanding to develop a more advanced and appropriate online learning environment. Although the study of semiotics has grown in interest within the instructional and communications technologies, further consideration of theories and real-world support towards social cohesion within the online learning environment is of utmost importance. Social cohesion within an online learning environment not only extends the learner’s understanding of the subject matter based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy (http://www.coun.uvic.ca/learn/program/hndouts/bloom.html), but enhances the innovations of burgeoning minds as they relate the subject matter within the course to their real-world experiences and understandings, such as Vygotsky’s conceptual framework of understanding (http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/comment/lois1.
htm). Bloom’s Taxonomy shifts a learner’s understanding of knowledge from competence as it relates from the lower order thinking skills of knowledge, comprehension and application competency levels towards the higher order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The nurturing, supporting online learning environment is continuously developed through tow primary areas of focus: instructional design of the course knowledge and environment; and, instructor understanding and competence. Instructional design may be delineated as, “the analysis of learning needs and systemic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction” (Wikipedia, 2006, paragraph 1), while instructor understanding and competence may be based more upon an instructor’s philosophical belief system and pedagogical understanding of the learning process. Yet perhaps the term “pedagogy” isn’t the most appropriate way to describe an instructor’s understanding of the learning process, as pedagogy delineates the characteristic learning of children while androgogy delineates the learning of adults.

Keywords: Distance Learning, Web-Based Learning, Web-Enhanced Learning, Cognitive Load, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Communication, Interactive Activities, Pedagogy, Androgogy, Instructor, Philosophy, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Higher Order Thinking Skills

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 655.358KB).

Dr. Caroline M. Crawford

Associate Professor, Instructional Technology, University of Houston-Clear Lake, USA

Caroline M. Crawford, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in Houston, Texas, USA. At this point in Dr. Crawford's professional career, her main areas of interest focus upon the appropriate and successful integration of technologies into the learning environment.

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