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#DigitalScholar Day 5: Learning as Conversation

Today’s learning comes from a blog post by John Millner, Learning as Conversation. In it he discusses Diana Laurillard’s learning conversation that happens between the teacher and student as learning happens.

  1. a discursive phase in which the teacher presents a new concept and learners enter into a dialogue with the teacher, trying out the idea and its corresponding language, questioning and clarifying.
  2. an interactive phase in which learners interact with teacher-constructed tasks, attempting to put the new concept into practice, and getting feedback on their performance
  3. an adaptive phase in which learners attempt to put their ideas into practice, modify their ideas and adapt their actions in the light of what they have learned, and make their own links between ideas and events; and
  4. a reflective phase in which learners consider their experience of 2) and 3), reflecting on their learning, relating the theory back to the practice, adjusting their thinking in the light of reflection and framing future actions to be more successful.


The figure below is from Atherton J S (2013) Learning and Teaching; Conversational learning theory; Pask and Laurillard [On-line: UK] retrieved 8 July 2016 from


I’m thinking how I can apply this to the online course I am developing for #DigitalScholar. Reda had given me very constructive comments about it.


I realized that this learning conversation framework is a good way to scaffold the learning activities I am planning for my course, Build a Personal Learning Network on Twitter.

For example, those who are new to Twitter will need an introduction to terms such as “retweet” or “hashtag.” There are many such helpful lists of Twitter terms online [theoretical representation] that I don’t need to gasp 😉 lecture it. I can certainly point them out so they can read those. But the students will be able to grasp it better if they are able to do it themselves – retweet someone else’s tweet or use a hashtag in their tweet [conceptual representation]. I can ask the students to start a Twitter conversation with someone [goal-oriented behavior]. Twitter is the experiential environment. Many Twitter newbies often wonder how conversation can happen in tweets of 140 characters! In the reflective phase, students can document this conversation and reflect on Twitter’s strengths and limitations as a social media platform.

My learning outcomes for the course are as follows –

  1. Examine what makes up an effective Twitter profile.
  2. Demonstrate proper Twitter etiquette.
  3. Develop criteria for following others on Twitter.
  4. Appraise Twitter management tools.
  5. Assess participation in a tweet chat.
  6. Evaluate experience of live tweeting an event.

For #3, I can give a guide on how to assess if someone is worth following on Twitter but in the end, it is an individual decision by the student. The students may also develop criteria different from mine in choosing who to follow. And so Reda’s suggestion on an annotated list of people to follow is a good idea indeed. While I was thinking about the learning activities for example, I had wondered what to do with those people who have a Twitter account (an entry requirement) but hadn’t followed anyone yet. There would be no one to retweet! I was planning to give a list of people to follow. I could then explain to the students how I came up with my own list.

So I will add a 7th learning outcome.

Document the effective strategies used to build a personal learning network on Twitter.

This documentation will encompass learning outcomes 1 to 6. It can be the project that students can create on Scholar. As I told Reda in my reply, this is both exciting and frightening at the same time. If this is the project I will ask the students to do, then I have to make a rubric for it. And that is the most challenging part for the teacher!





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