Published on Dec 10, 2012
· DOI :10.4324/9780203803738.CH22
Norman Friesen1
Estimated H-index: 1
Alex Kuskis1
Estimated H-index: 1
Th is chapter focuses on the pedagogical and technological aspects of interaction in distance education. It reviews a number of types of interaction and suggests areas and approaches to research that will expand our understanding and competence in using new tools, technologies, and techniques. Th e rapid growth of social networks like Facebook, both on and off university campuses, together with access to the Internet over portable devices, has more recently confi rmed and hastened the expansion of interest to the domain of contextually embedded, self-directed, informal learning (e.g., Jokisalo & Riu 2009; Bransford et al., 2006). Much of the literature relevant to these domains focuses on student-student and studentteacher interaction. However, the mediated context of distance education has compelled distance educators to consider more seriously interactions between students and diverse educational media (in Moore’s 1995 words “the content”). Th is chapter considers questions concerning the effi cacy of equating this student-content interaction in online environments so dominated by social activity. Another meaning of interaction becomes clear when it is understood in terms of the scientifi c and technological developments occurring around the Second World War. Th e emergence of the science of cybernetics (and also of general systems theory) is perhaps the most important of these developments. As defi ned by its founder, Norbert Wiener (1950), “cybernetics” is “the study of messages as a means of controlling machinery and society, the development of computing machines and other such automata [and it includes correlative] refl ections upon psychology and the nervous system …” (p. 23). Communication, as Wiener (1950) defi nes it, is a matter of an exchange of messages “between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine,” in which the human or mechanical nature of the source or receiver is irrelevant: When I give an order to a machine, the situation is not essentially diff erent from that which arises when I give an order to a person. In other words, as far as my consciousness goes I am aware of the order that has gone out and of the signal of
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