Global Voices

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Re: Some Ideas on Transactional Distance

From: "Brad Jensen" <[log in to unmask]>

> Please note that regardless of our views on TD, we highly respect the work
> done by Dr. Saba and Dr. Moore, and their continuous contribution to the
> field.
> Regards,
> Pambos
> Charalambos Vrasidas, Ph.D.
I'm sorry folks, this sounds like Tweedledum and Tweedledee to me.

Constantly trying to grab the spotlight and put it back on the teacher. It
ought to be on the learning.

Learning occurs in one and only one place - between the ears Of the student.
(begging the metaphysical question)

"Transactional distance" sounds like a hysterical response to the imagined
threat to the authority of the teacher.

Distance education is about mediated education. It began with the first,
hand-copied books. I saw a rather clever children's book the other day,
where it presents some information, then in the

last few pages asks questions, and the answers are ach behind a little
sliding door, two or three to a page.

This is a mechanical computer, and it is distance education without a doubt.

Actually I think what we are seeing now is a move away from distance
education. The computer is being used more and more as a real-time
communication tool. At some point the virtual reality of interaction will be
so good you will not easily be able to tell that the teacher is not in the
room with you, and the other students are scattered across the globe. Then
what happens to your hair-splitting and nomenclatures?

Since educational theories are so insufficient and almost irrelevant in
explaining learning, it seems to me to be more about who gets the money, and
the credit, and as a method of satisfying the human-nature need for cheap
certainty in the face of fundamental ambiguity.

(In the Tao te Ching, it says something like : "In times of chaos, loyal
ministers appear.")

The strength and ubiquity and multiplicity of learning processes in the
individual are so powerful, that we can't do much to derail learners. Well
except for whole language, maybe.

What the Internet (and now blogging) are giving us is a multiplicity of
voices. It's the informational equivalent of the invention of differential

We are moving from ritualistic, fact-based knowledge to dynamic,
process-based knowledge. The answer we have today will always be superceded
by what we learn tomorrow. In that sense, every fact is in error.

I like to say "Small minds have the consistency of hobgoblins."

Fortunately, we now have the Internet and our collaboration as

the beginnings of a metamind.

I was discussing excessive sweating with my 83-year-old father the other day
by email, and he replied 'have you Googled that yet?' - he already had - and
it wasn't so much embarrassing that I hadn't, but awe-inspiring that he had,
and had pointed it out to me.

Elearning has escaped the LMS, and the experts riding herd on it.

Brad Jensen


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