I belatedly came across a blog post by George Siemens on The Challenge of Coherence that got me thinking asbout some of the things we’re doing in The Internet Course. He talks about how teachers traditionally make sense out of their subjects for their students in the design of their courses, through readings and lectures. But when we learn, we make sense for ourselves. We have to make ideas and information coherent by making connections among them, and making connections with what we already know.
We’ve designed our course as a cooperative exploration. We have our central topic, the Internet, and several main topics that branch off of that. Then we brainstormed ways to approach each of those main topics and did our research. Now we’re making sense of all that, making coherence out of it, through our discussions.
Another way we’re making coherence is through our maps. We literally draw the connections so we can see how the pieces fit together. A nice thing about Cmap Tools is that it encourages you to label those connections. I found it kind of irritating at first to have to do that, but I realized that it was pushing me to think more deeply about how things connected, so it ended up making more sense and more coherence.
Blogging about these things helps make coherence too. I think we all need to work on that more. Except maybe Jim, because he’s the blogmaster.