Symbolic Approach for Developing Collaborative and Autonomous Learning (C&AL) in Higher Education

H. Nishinosono, T. Okamoto, H. Miyata, S. Mochizuki, N. Mashiko, and T. Togo (Japan)


Symbolism, collaborative learning, autonomous learning and metaphors


A strategy is introduced for converting ordinary teacher- led instruction in large classes to student-centered learning distributed at workplaces and homes. Metaphors, images, models and propositions give us a framework for designing collaborative and autonomous learning. We start from inspection in a large class divided into a number of small teams and repeat revisions in order to accumulate sufficient technological know-how in the form of symbolic representations for instructional design. This method facilitates transformation of teachers' perceptions about teaching and learning. The second step is to investigate team learning with a small number of students and develop instructional know-how for effective management of teamwork at a distance, gmdually increasing the number of distant teams involved. We introduce three steps and a future plan: 1) collaborative learning in a class divided into numerous teams of around six members each under the supervision of an instructor and a mentor, 2) close observation of a small number of students, teachers and adults working corroboratively on campus as well as at a distance, 3) collaborative and autonomous learning by doctoral candidates who share their experiences implementing the projects and 4) a future plan for forming a large number of teams working at their work-places or homes.

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