3 | What Do You Believe?
The Importance of Beliefs about Teaching and Learning in Online Assessment
The chapter title above uses the word “beliefs” rather than “philosophy,” which is what this chapter is really about. While not synonymous, these words are inextricably related, and, regardless of the term you are comfortable with using, the bottom line is that successful teaching and assessment requires you to be aware of your own approach to teaching, learning, and assessment. In their 2009 text on evaluation, Fenwick and Parsons stipulated:
To bring your evaluation and teaching practices into line with your ideas, you need to reassess your philosophy of teaching and ask yourself if your methods and criteria for evaluation match your beliefs about what and how adults should learn. (p. 13)
Following this declaration, Fenwick and Parsons (2009) presented four stories illustrating the contexts and results of occasions when teachers’ philosophies of teaching, learning, and assessment did not align with their actions. The unfortunate outcomes—all from different courses and classes—ranged from students’ cynicism, to accusations of fraud, to complaints to the department chair.
How do we know what we believe in? How do we identify our teaching philosophy? What do we believe about how learners learn? Theorists and educational philosophers have identified schools of belief—different approaches to teaching and learning—and various theorists have created typologies, or categories, of philosophies. Before examining some of these typologies, it’s useful to review our own views of instructional practice. Fenwick and Parsons suggest asking yourself these questions:
- What are the most important things that learners should know or do by program’s end?
- Is knowledge created by learners or should they master the knowledge given to them by others?
- Which is more important: collaborative learning or individual learning?
- Who should control learning, the instructor or the learner?
- Is learning systematic and sequential, or is it holistic and idiosyncratic?
- Do we grasp learning—“aha!”—or grow into it?
- Can learners be viably asked to demonstrate their learning immediately after the learning experience or should they be given time to reflect? (2009, p. 15)
The potential answers to these questions indicate the different ways that one can approach these aspects of learning.
Overview of Philosophical Orientations to Teaching and Learning
Of the several typologies available to distinguish among philosophical orientations to teaching and learning, the one that follows here is perhaps the most popular, having been presented by Darkenwald and Merriam (1982), Zinn (1990), Draper (1991), and Lange (2006).2 This classification outlines five philosophies that may underpin and guide our teaching.
Liberalism is considered the oldest philosophy of teaching, harking back to the classical period. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle extolled the virtues of the human mind, arguing that rational thought would lead us to truth. Learning was for learning’s sake—for the sake of acquiring wisdom, as opposed to practical skills. From the liberal philosophy came “liberal education” and the liberal arts college. Lange (2006) writes that liberalism is based on the maxim that “knowledge sets you free” (p. 96). A liberal arts education includes subjects in both the humanities and social sciences (fine art, literature, history, political theory, sociology, anthropology, language studies, and so on). What is important to note for our purposes regarding assessment is that the liberal philosophy privileges the expertise of the teacher over the knowledge held by students.
The progressive philosophy sprang most immediately from 19th-century scientific advancements and from ideas about social progress that developed out of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Scientific and technological discoveries encouraged the belief that all things were possible, following the principles of experimentation, logic, and problem-solving. As Lange (2006) notes, the progressive approach to education can be traced back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, with his faith that human beings were “born with unlimited potential for growth in a nurturing environment” (p. 97) and that education should allow children’s natural curiosity to flourish. Progressivism thus differed from liberalism in its emphasis on science, empirical forms of learning, and the practical dimensions of knowledge. The American pragmatist John Dewey contributed to progressive thought, holding that “scientific and social literacy were necessary components of a strong democracy of thoughtful, responsible citizens” (Lange, 2006, p. 97). Education was perceived as the future; its application promised an answer to society’s problems.
Nineteenth-century industrialization and its resultant technological focus gave rise to the notion that the environment—and human behaviour—could be shaped, controlled, and measured using systems of reward and punishment. B.F. Skinner’s study of classical and operant conditioning, using rats, pigeons, and dogs, focused on stimulus and response in order to evoke desired behavioural changes. In education, behaviourism found favour in vocational and technical training, where learning was observable and measurable. Behaviourist adult education espoused behavioural objectives that directed sequenced content and favoured learning.
Exactly contrary to behaviourism, humanism aspires to foster and develop individuals’ potential for self-actualization through recognizing their autonomy, freedom, and dignity. Humanism’s belief in inherent human goodness dictated that individuals would strive to better themselves and their world. Based on the humanist psychology of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, humanism prizes student-centred learning environments and casts the teacher’s role as one of facilitation and support, helping learners on their educational journey with positive support and the freedom to choose. Humanism embraces Knowles’s (1970) assumptions and values reflection, self-direction, and personal knowledge.
Radicalism pushed humanism to its extreme; individuals could only reach their full potential when not oppressed or limited by society. Using Freire’s (1970) conscientization as a founding principle, radical thinkers see society as flawed by social injustice and power imbalance, thus creating conditions of marginalization for many of society’s groups such as women; immigrants; gays, lesbians, and the transgendered; the poor; the illiterate, and the challenged or disabled. Education is seen as a tool for those in power, and, through a “process of empowerment, marginalized peoples can collectively uncover the power relations and hegemonic ideologies” (Lange, 2006, p. 201) that oppress them and keep them contained and unable to realize their true potential. This is a philosophy sensitive to power; this is a philosophy that demands action.
The “big five” schools of thought, outlined above, have been supplemented over the years with additional orientations as well as alternative typologies to describe the same beliefs—slicing the pie differently, in a sense. Below, we describe the two most common “add-ons” to the typology above.
Cognitivists focus on information-processing skills and explain learning in terms of cognitive, or mental, ability and development. Based on the work of Piaget, Ausubel, Bruner, and Gagne, “interpretation, meaning, perception and insight are recurring themes in the cognitivist approach” (Magro, 2001, p. 77). Piaget’s (1972) pioneering work that determined stages of development in the individual’s ability to think was followed by Ausubel’s (1978) position that teachers must help learners in developing their thinking skills by appropriately structuring learning activities to link new knowledge to old knowledge.
If there is a predominant philosophy hailed as foundational to online learning, arguably, it is constructivism (Mbati, 2013; Liang & Tsai, 2008; Yang, Yeh, & Wong, 2010). Following this perspective, knowledge is created among learners, working together, drawing on their individual perspectives and past experiential learning. Based on Vygotsky’s (1978) work, constructivism also contains elements of Dewey’s emphasis on the importance of learners’ experience. This approach to learning serves adults well, both respecting their histories and fostering collaboration and creativity. However, as Rose (2013) points out in her excellent essay on reflection, today’s emphasis on group interaction and collaborative knowledge-building lessens the time available for individual and quiet reflection by learners. She questions whether, in our move away from standardization and teacher-centred classrooms, “we have allowed the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction” (p. 75).
The philosophical orientations above are those used most often to explain, rationalize, criticize, or defend various approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment. But there are additional models and paradigms within which to understand learning. The pie can be sliced many ways.
We acknowledge Cross’s (1981) delineation of barriers to learning: situational, dispositional, and institutional. We acknowledge Houle’s (1960) typology that classified learners’ motivation to learn as either goal-oriented or social activity–oriented, a combination of both, or simply learning-for-learning’s-sake. We acknowledge Wlodkowski’s (2008) classification of motivation into extrinsic and intrinsic and the grey areas in between. The complexity of the learning process needs all of these tools to facilitate understanding and, in turn, appropriately apply them.
We want to elaborate, however, on one more important classification of learning before discussing assessment in terms of one’s philosophical beliefs. The concepts described in this system have already been outlined in previous descriptions above, but we feel it is important to present Habermas’s typology in the following three terms as well: instrumental, communicative, and emancipatory. The discussion around these three types of learning is based on the fact that different kinds of knowledge necessitate different kinds of learning. The way we learn, and why we learn, as outlined above, affects the ways in which we should be assessed, if assessment is to be authentic and meaningful.
The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas held that individuals have three basic interests: “a technical interest in controlling and manipulating the environment, a practical interest in understanding each other and their social group and an emancipatory interest in becoming free from ignorance” (Cranton, 1998, p. 191). Pursuing each of these interests leads learners to a different style of learning. The “basic” learning is termed instrumental; this is the knowledge that permits us to exist in the world, to do things, to build homes, and so forth. To co-exist with each other in groups and in society, to make ourselves understood in order to accomplish our needs, we must communicate; hence, communicative knowledge.
Communicative knowledge is clearly also practical, and its acquisition occupies much of our learning energy. Learners, regardless of discipline, must hone the ability to express their views and deal effectively with the interpretations and discussion that follow (Laurillard, 2012). But, beyond communication prowess—and reflecting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—human beings also want to achieve, grow, and self-actualize—they want to acquire knowledge and options to free themselves “from self-distortions and social distortions” (Cranton, 1998, p. 191). Critical reflection is the central process necessary in this type of emancipatory learning (Cranton, 1998; Magro, 2001; Plumb & Welton, 2001; Scott, 2006).
Critical Reflection: An Oxymoron?
We will establish here the importance of critical reflection in adult or “mature” learning, its role within constructivist environments, and its usefulness in online assessment. Rose writes about the importance of reflection: “Without reflection, it’s almost like we’re hollow” (2013, p. 35). This sentiment, somewhat akin to Socrates’s words about the emptiness of “the unexamined life,” questions the effects of not engaging in reflection. In her essay on reflection, Rose comments,
I cannot imagine the work of esteemed critical thinkers such as Henry Giroux, Paulo Freire, and bell hooks, who strive to overturn existing assumptions about teaching and learning in our society, beginning in any way but with independent thought in conditions of silence and withdrawal. (p. 34)
Rose follows this by musing on the relationship of critical thought with reflection, pointing out that “critical” requires analysis and deconstruction, while reflection comprises contemplation and “inner” work. Nonetheless, she is clear that the apparent oxymoron does not diminish the credibility or value of the reflective process but rather accentuates how important it has become, and how entrenched it should become, to scholars and to learners. As humans, we are both rational and reflective; we can bring both those strengths to our teaching and learning. Rose makes a final, eloquent plea for the presence of reflection in our lives,
It is only by opening ourselves to reflection, according it value as a way of thinking and being, that we can counteract the prevailing influence of the technical mindset, with its privileging of efficiency and instrumentalism, and thus achieve balance and fulfillment in our lives. (p. 35)
But what is reflection? Rose (2013) points out that this is a question well debated over the years, from pre-Renaissance philosophers through to modern poets. She arrives at a definition that emphasizes a type of sinking into deep and meaningful thought, with no impingement from the outside world: Reflection is a “form of deep, sustained thought for which the necessary conditions are solitude and slowness” (p. 3).
Similarly, Garrison and Archer (2000) suggest that reflection “is an integral part of all learning activities if they are to be educational” (p. 142). Schön (1983) further explores the nature of reflection, differentiating between two different kinds of activity: reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflection-in-action occurs mid-action when, all of a sudden, something unexpected happens and we must reorganize our “knowing-in-action”—our habitual responses—in order to make sense of the event (Garrison & Archer, 2000). Reflection-on-action is post-activity consideration of a completed event.
Can We “Cultivate” Reflection?
As teachers, we are often asked by learners if reflection can be “learned.” Is it innate? Somewhat akin to the discussion on whether teachers are born or made, it is our opinion on this issue that reflection can certainly be fostered or, in Rose’s (2013) terms, cultivated. Rose’s take on the matter of cultivating the ability to reflect is intriguing, and perhaps romantic or idealistic (but who can blame an educator for dreaming?). She asks for the space and quiet to permit reflection, but she does not want to tag it as a problem-solving activity, because, she reasons, putting such restraints and guidelines around the process diminishes it. She does not want to see reflection used as a tool or a process, as “an approach to problem-solving nor a form of professional navel-gazing” (p. 102). Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987), on the other hand, define reflection as indeed a process: a “dialectical process by which higher-order knowledge is created through the effort to reconcile lower-order elements of knowledge” (p. 300).
The fact that scholars have identified two different approaches to the consideration of reflection does not in any way reduce its usefulness as a part of meaningful learning. And regardless of stance, Rose, Garrison, and Archer, in their respective works, share some techniques for helping to foster reflection in learners.
Education, Learning, and the Need for Reflection
Before elaborating on fostering reflective learning, we should sort out the terms education and learning. A common discussion in higher education classes revolves around the semantic differences among these two often synonymously used terms. We accept that education, broadly put, is a process of learning. Rose (2013) cites educational philosopher Maxine Green, who defines education as,
openings, in unexplored possibilities, not in the predictable or quantifiable, not in what is thought of as social control. For us, education signifies an initiation into a new way of seeing, hearing, moving, feeling. It signifies the nurture of a special kind of reflectiveness and expressiveness, a reaching out for meaning, a learning to learn. (p. 99)
But many would term what Green describes as simply learning. The visual below demonstrates a conceptual separation of education from learning, where education is perceived as an external process that happens to the learner, and learning is perceived as an internal process in which the learner engages.
Figure 4.1. Education Versus Learning. Source: Holmen, M. (2014).
Within the realm of learning, on the journey to learning, reflection captures all the notions of terms like intrinsic, curiosity, and active, as listed above. Consequently, when the product of reflection is expressed in writing, Garrison and Archer (2000) picture that writing as “intentional, autonomous, rigorous and explicit” (p. 142). What, then, is the role of reflection in online learning?
The Role of Reflection in Online Learning
In Chapter 1, we discussed the pedagogy of online learning; in this chapter we have presented various philosophies of teaching and learning that should guide us in our practice. To those considerations, now, we add the importance of reflection. We are building the foundation for Chapter 5, in which we will discuss all these epistemological aspects of teaching and learning online as we outline our view of authentic, engaging, and quality assessment for online learners.
Although much of the seminal work on reflection is today perhaps attributed to Schön (1983), no one wrote more passionately about its value than the educational philosopher John Dewey. A pragmatist and a progressive, his views were complex and not without their critics (Garrison & Archer, 2000). However, he advocated ardently for many of the concepts that we hold dear today in higher and adult learning: collaboration, interaction, the sharing of control between teacher and learner, and a recognition of the value of the learner’s experiential knowledge (Dewey, 1938).
Reiterating Dewey’s beliefs about the importance of reflection, Garrison and Archer (2000) emphasize that reflection requires continuous judgment and insight. Even more telling to the importance of the reflective process, they continue, is that “the antecedent of judgment is the uncertainty of complex situations” (p. 22). Similarly, Brookfield (1990, p. 53) speaks of the power of “unexpectedness” in learning situations, where learners who have encountered an unintended challenge or obstacle remark in hindsight that such an occasion provided their best learning. Dewey, Garrison and Archer, and most constructivists call for knowledge-building situations that tax learners’ comfort and their cognitive “place,” and call on them to grow, use judgment, and reflect. The end-goal in advocating this stance is authenticity—of activity, and eventually, of assessment. In cementing his plea for interaction and reflection-generating learning, Dewey (1933) asked, perhaps rhetorically,
How shall we treat subject matter that is supplied by textbook and teacher so that it shall rank as material of reflective inquiry, not as ready-made intellectual pablum to be accepted and swallowed just as if it were something bought at a shop? (p. 257)
The affordances of online learning lend themselves so well to reflection. Consider first the technology. Online courses use Learning Management Systems (LMS) that are essentially text based. While multimedia—enabling audio podcasts, live chat and synchronous gatherings, video, YouTube, animated presentations, and all manner of graphics, pictures, and photos—has become a valued addition to earlier and less-sophisticated online offerings, the backbone of these platforms is still the written word. Writing words is a cognitive process that involves “intentional” and “deep” (Garrison & Archer, 2000, p. 141) actions—more so than orality, which often spills out without organization, complexity, or completeness. Time is the function at work here. Online learning, recognized to be, in many cases, more labour and time intensive than traditional face-to-face learning (Conrad, 2006), gives participants the time to consider what they are about to “say.” There are a number of factors at work here, not all of them welcomed by learners: Typing words on a keyboard takes both time and skill; creating a posting online usually demands an edit before pressing the Send button; posting risks the chance of receiving questions or even negative feedback from others; and posting commits the words learners type to an archive for future reference and accountability, depending on institutional policy or the software itself. All in all, for many learners, especially the novice or insecure, writing online can be stressful and time consuming.
However, it also provides—forces upon—learners a vehicle to encourage them to think more deeply about the issues at hand than they may do in a face-to-face classroom, where a blurt or a nod can suffice for interaction and participation. While we don’t assume that all online classes promote this type of deep learning, the potential is there, and an abundance of literature points out the online advantage (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005; Ravenscroft, 2011; Wang, Chen, & Anderson, 2014).
Another prime advantage of online learning is the exposure that each learner’s thoughts can receive using LMS features, such as the discussion forum or conference, which are places where teacher and learners interact with each other and with the course material. The richness of this discourse depends on several factors, including course design, instructor approach to online teaching and “teaching presence,” instructor expectations, and the resulting sense of online community (Conrad, 2005; Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). Online community, in turn, fosters a sense of safety and trust among learners as well as the fertile ground for higher levels of engagement in learning activities (Akyol, Garrison, & Ozden, 2009). Online “talking,” therefore—verbalization via the written word—provides grounds for assessment. And whereas it’s normal, perhaps customary, to award a portion of the evaluative grade for learners’ participation in online courses, the largest portion of online evaluation in the social sciences and humanities will usually come from written work in the form of essays, tests, examinations, projects, or portfolios. Further discussion of strategies, rationales, and tools for assessment occur in the following chapters; assessment strategies for online discussion are discussed in Chapter 7.
Constructivism and Connectivism
Having discussed the role of reflection in online learning, we return now to a discussion of two philosophies that underpin and explain the online teaching-learning dynamic. For those whose task is to develop and design online courses, knowing the philosophy to which one adheres and the guiding framework for each pedagogical decision is key. But this book’s topic is assessment, not course (or program) design, and we cannot enter into that very lengthy and complex discussion.3 We do, however, discuss here the contribution of adult education and philosophical theory to the creation of online assessment instruments, specifically those that are intended to promote deep learning through collaboration and reflection.
Constructivism and connectivism are the guiding philosophies of choice for successful online learning and appropriate assessment strategies (Boitshwarelo, 2011; Ravenscroft, 2011; Siemens & Conole, 2011). We unabashedly endorse these approaches while acknowledging that there is still a role in online learning for other educational philosophies, such as behaviourism, cognitivism, and certainly humanism. Learning philosophies are not mutually exclusive, and the complex integration of factors that blend together to create any learning environment—a mix of the physical, emotional, social, cultural, and cognitive—permits a kaleidoscope of various potential situations in which learners engage. Garrison and Archer (2000) point out elements of cognitivism that can lead to an interpretation of learning as an information-process activity; similarly, elements of behaviourism lead to a doctrine of control and behaviour modification through environmental stimuli. From a broad educational perspective, both approaches “are reductionist in their views of learning” (p. 46). Humanism and its underpinning Rogerian psychology, in emphasizing personal growth and the potential for autonomy and self-direction, contributes to the constructivist tenet of respect for the individual’s prior experience but does not speak to the collaborative and social aspects of knowledge building that must be central to online learning activities. Vygotsky (1978) was instrumental in marrying the concepts of cognition with social and cultural milieus. From this union came the notion of his Zone of Proximal Development and a theory of social cognition: “The zone of proximal development emphasizes the teaching-learning transaction and the socio-cultural context” (Garrison & Archer, p. 47).
Following on this is the constructivist tenet that “knowledge is a dialectic process [that] shifts attention from the mastery of content to the sociocultural setting and the activities of the people in a learning environment” (Campbell & Schwier, 2014, p. 359). More recently, Siemens (2005), collaboratively with Stephen Downes, has introduced the notion of connectivism, which he defines as,
a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements—not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning (defined as actionable knowledge) can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing. (p. 7)
The principles of connectivism feature a distinct technological bent as well as containing bits and pieces of cognitivism, constructivism, and epistemological tenets. It has been suggested that, rather than a learning theory, it is more appropriately labelled a theory of how knowledge is distributed.4 Nonetheless, the actions of knowledge being built, shared, and distributed are fundamental to successful online learning and therefore must be acknowledged, not only conceptually but also instrumentally, in design processes.
Aligning Philosophy with Design and Online Instruction
Campbell and Schwier (2014) note that critical theorists accuse instructional design of being prescriptive, restrictive, and reductionist, but they point out that a transformation that considers context, learning theory, an emphasis on sociocultural frameworks, and lifelong learning is underway. In other words, the effects of learner-centred learning theory, coupled with the increased effects of globalization and resulting cultural awareness and sensitivity, are shaping a changed sense of design. Assessment, as a part of design, will also benefit from this shift away from cognitive and behavioural learning design, where a focus on one answer, or the “right answer,” gives way, where plausible, to responses that are socially or contextually constructed by learners.
Constructivist-inspired online activities and assessments will reflect various themes. At the most technical level, activities will make intelligent but accessible use of the technology available in LMSs. Those activities include encouraging collaboration and interaction within the course as well as constructing tasks that send learners out of the course—to other online resources, to simulations, to YouTube, to the many presentation tools that are available for educational use (Prezi, Emaze, PowToon, GoAnimate, and many more.)
At the instructional level, designers can incorporate opportunities for more autonomy for learners—choice of topic areas in which to engage, choice in selecting resources to access, and choice in participating in thematic discussions and conversation that permit the building of community among learners.
At the social level, designers can create spaces in which learners can virtually meet, engage, and share. Campbell and Schwier (2014) list the many informal spaces of virtual learning communities, beyond the sharing of knowledge:
- Spaces that allow learners to “know” each other and recognize their individual circumstances,
- Spaces that permit the building of social networks,
- Spaces that foster linkages among various cultural modes—language, politics, professions. (p. 366)
We acknowledge that assessment design is not the exclusive purview of course designers. Depending on the process in place at institutions of higher learning, individual instructors could well be responsible for developing their own courses and assessments. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) could be hired for course development. The range of expertise and experience at work vis-à-vis pedagogical comfort could vary widely. We call for attention to not only instructional and design prowess but also to an insightful philosophical stance to guide both course development and presentation—and of course, assessment.
The Philosophy of Control
Dron (2007) highlights another lens through which to conceptualize assessment, terming it “control of the past” and describing it as “among the highest level of constraint in a traditional, institutional learning setting, guiding huge swathes of activities, acting as strong constraints and extrinsic motivators alike” (p. 101). Unfortunately, he is correct in many instances; his displeasure with the controlling aspects of assessment reinforces our own commitment to address the constraints of the traditional learning setting and challenge educators to break out of old restrictive patterns of assessment to recognize assessments as opportunities for learning and growth. Rather than using occasions of assessment as the “hammer,” which Conrad’s (2004) study of novice online instructors indicated was one perception of instructional power, assessment and its feedback should be couched in terms of support and potential enhancement of learning. Rather than rely on assessment to document the past, in Dron’s language, use it as a building block to create a future of connection. Although there is no question that assessment feedback must point out errors and misconceptions, in what Garrison and Archer (2000) term “confirmatory” feedback (p. 162), it must also offer “explanatory” feedback in which misconceptions are analyzed and further “negotiation of meaning” is provided. Garrison and Archer point out that in occasions of higher-level learning, when tasks are less delineated and responses are expected to address more complex issues, explanatory feedback is essential for the learner.
The emphasis here, then, is less on control than on forward-looking growth in learners’ ability to handle the material. While accepting the usually inevitable institutional demand for evaluation and the production of a grade, educators need not accept assessment as a constraint, but instead can employ it as a communication, a motivation, and a confirmation. Dron (2007) wryly admits that assessment has its uses and is a necessary part of the educational experience. Garrison and Archer (2000) see assessment as both challenging and uncertain. We agree that it is all those things.
The assessment process affects teachers as well as learners. As educators, we have experienced, often through reflection-in-action, epiphanies during the grading process, wherein our understanding of ourselves, our process, or of learners’ learning becomes suddenly enlarged or perhaps clearer. Ramsden (1992) acknowledges and sums up the complexity of assessment and its many purposes, saying, “It concerns the quality of teaching as well as the quality of learning: it involves us in learning from our students’ experiences, and it is about changing ourselves as well as our students” (p. 182).
This chapter opened with a discussion of the many and various philosophical approaches to teaching and learning. Constructivism was presented as a viable, and perhaps preferable, approach to teaching and learning online. To build knowledge in meaningful ways, it is necessary to help learners develop an appreciation of and ability to reflect on a process regarded more pragmatically by some (Garrison & Archer, 2000) than others (Rose, 2013). In overviewing the learning process, we distinguished between learning and education and then discussed the role and contributions of reflection in online learning. We outlined the need to align philosophy with both instruction and design, introduced Dron’s (2007) criticism of assessment as a control mechanism, and countered with Ramsden’s (1992) view of assessment as providing opportunities for knowledge building and growth for both learner and teacher.
2 For a fuller list of typologies over five decades of Canadian and American thought, see MacKeracher 2004, pp. 17–18. We use the term philosophical orientations to refer to various sets of beliefs on which educational practice is founded. One also encounters the terms philosophies, approaches, and paradigms, all with reference to the same thing.
3 Though we can suggest many related references, Terry Anderson’s chapter, “Teaching in an Online Learning Context,” in The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, 2nd ed., (2008) is useful, as is the entire third section in the same book, which is dedicated to the discussion of design of online courses. For novices, try Susan Ko and Steve Rossen’s Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, 3rd ed. (2010) and Michael Moore and Greg Kearsley’s Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning, 3rd ed. (2011) is a classic. The online ODL journal International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning publishes many articles on course and program design, as does the International Journal of E-Learning and Distance Education.
4 There is some dispute over the status of connectivism and whether it is indeed a theory or a learning theory. See Downes (2011).