Conversation Theory in Blended Learning

This article includes Bernard Scott as a coauthor (though third).  Scott has cowritten many articles with Gordon Pask on Conversation Theory.  I was excited to see how it was applied to Blended Learning.

The article reviews the basics of Pask’s theory, and then comments briefly on additions made to the theory by Harri-Augstein and Thomas (who have applied Conversation Theory to self-organized learners).  They then address Laurillard’s expansion of Conversation Theory and provide a diagram of the four elements and twelve stages that Laurillard fits into her Conversation Framework.  However, the elements and stages are never fully explained, so one must look to Laurillard to truly understand them.

What is most disappointing about this article is that they describe what methods they used in their research, and their findings/ interpretations, but never explain what they were really asking participants in the interviews, or looking for in the document analysis.  They seem to come away with a sense of how the blended learning class was experienced by students and by lecturers.  But it’s unclear what they asked them, other than something vague along the lines of “How was the experience?  What did you like and what did you not like?”  They share in their data section “topics [that] emerged as trends from the staff and student interviews” (p. 115).  But what questions were being asked of the interviewees and of the documents they interpreted.

So I walked away from this article without a clear sense of how this research might be replicated.  I hope other articles that address Conversation Theory in Blended Learning settings are more specific.

References:

Heinze, A., Procter, C. and Scott, B. (2007).  “Use of conversation theory to underpin blended learning.” International Journal Teaching and Case Studies. Vol. 1, Nos. 1/2. pp.108–120.

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