Brenda Allen

      Essential processing

      Clark and Mayer talk about this as the ability to process the ‘inherent complexity of the material’. For students on a pre-sessional, which one of these topic areas do you think would require the most processing from students and why: learning the passive voice, learning how to paraphrase, learning the Harvard referencing system?

      I was interested that you said ‘learning the Harvard referencing systembecause, taken at face value, that would seem to suggest a lengthy amount of essential processing – even allowing for the help given by the available websites nowadays.  Otherwise I’d agree with my colleagues that paraphrasing would be the most complex of processes, largely for reasons laid out by @Sue.  Learning to apply and manipulate the passive, although complex, is a task that could far more easily broken down into its components – so I would definitely put that one as number three. I notice here that we are also talking about ‘learning the passive’, whereas, with paraphrasing, the emphasis is on learning ‘how to’ – which suggests taking it into another realm.

      Judging by the results we are familiar with, it remains a moot point whether the skills of paraphrasing can, in actuality, ever be fully developed by the array of mechanical approaches so often propounded – whether on or offline. Certainly, the kind of techniques mentioned by @robert play an important part in a teacher’s arsenal or in any asynchronous online materials.  Nonetheless, I can’t help thinking that the true skill of paraphrasing can only be fully achieved by those with higher level reading skills, a superior command of structure and an extensive range of vocabulary and – dare I venture – a genuine feeling for the language which is being manipulated.  (Let alone the content.) Of course, nowadays students can turn to software for paraphrasing too.   I have been trying to locate/remember the name of a paraphrasing tool introduced to us in the Online Technologies course?  @David, I recall this had made a significant attempt to move forwards from mere substitution and raised all manner of ethical and other issues. It was also pretty evident this summer that Chinese students now have some pretty sophisticated software at their disposal in this respect.  I am fascinated by how such tools are created – as at some level (maybe AI) they will have had to break down the inherent complexities of the material in order for these to become both viable and marketable.  This would appear to entail a great deal of essential processing at the outset?  I imagine this is where AI plays a part… aware as I am of my limitations as a layman.  (laywoman… layperson!?!)

      Generative processing

      The authors identify this as the ability of the learner to organise and integrate the content/material into knowledge store. Over the last few weeks you’ve seen plenty of examples of digital content – including those made by yourself. What kinds of tasks or activities do you think might help students to organise and integrate content more effectively?

      Most of the online tools exhibit an extensive range of tasks and activities to help with organisation and content integration – as is evident even if we were only to look at HP5 and Wordwall alone.  Again, @rob has already highlighted some of the key ones available and, like @sue, I have found the Notes function on our present course quite a revelation for online study.  There still seems to be plenty of scope for developing asynchronous tools to aid with the receptive skills online, for example, where many of our accustomed f2f approaches to listening, and especially reading, comprehension can fall flat on their face in the absence of tactility and physical presence.  I feel it is in whole area involving generative processing that the interactivity provided by online learning has so much that is exciting to offer – very much in contrast to the static, paper, ‘workbook’ approach referred to by @david earlier in the forum.