OTL 101… Blog Two: Down the Rabbit Hole…

  • What do you know now that you did not know prior to starting the course?

I have much to learn…. Curiouser and curiouser…

  • What questions would you like to explore on the topic of cognitive presence?

So……there is a BIG difference between social construction and social constructiVISM.  Constructivism is very much a cognitive approach. The notion is that our “private, internal” minds are “influenced” by what happens in the social world. For the constructIONIST, there is no need to go internal…..we are interested in interactive processes (S. McNamee, personal communication, March 3, 2019). Community of Inquiry (COI) and cognitive presence are new terms to me in the context of online learning, as I have little experience with online teaching. It appears that both COI and cognitive presence are framed in individualist, cognitive discourse. COI has created curious questions for me. In the learning provided there was no discussion of cultural presence, human diversity, historical context or environmental pieces of the COI puzzle. And…what diverse communities has COI traveled in?

More Curiosity and Critical Thought…

Curiosity is the impetus for my learning, my practice, and my being “a certain relentlessness to break up our familiarities and to regard otherwise the same things” (Foucault, 1996, p. 305). A lack of curiosity engenders an uninspired way of knowing. The old adage “curiosity killed the cat” resonates in my mind. What ever happened to that cat?

What excites me about critical thought is, currently in my imperfect practice, I have a strong emphasis on the appreciation of critical thinking and reflective practice, which I believe is integral to all areas of learning and practice. I encounter surprises, unknowns, uncertainty, unpredictability, strengths, challenges, beauty, joy, sorrow, and pain. Critical thinking invites me to recognize that things are not always what they seem on the surface (Payne, 2005). Thinking critically is an exploration process that invites me to deconstruct and rediscover things, situations, and/or events that I encounter. This creates a means for me to consider, re-consider, analyze, process, make meaning, and co-create possibilities relationally with people, communities, things, situations, and/or events etc…. Critical thinking links knowledge, meaning, and theory to my imperfect knowing and practice and provides me with the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct my learning and practice through a process of unlearning and relearning. But…. How does one teach critical thought and therefore, measure critical thought and analysis?

Are all two leggeds the same, are we truly like two peas in a pod? How does one create a safe, relational learning environment of dialogical discourse, co-inquiry, and appreciation conversational space that supports being-in and being-with critical thought and reflection online together? My hope is that relational dialogical discourse will embody curiosity and generate inquisitive intrigue in the deconstruction and co-creation of different ways of being-with the ideas of others. I hope we have the courage to be curious together. McNamee (2007) suggests that we bracket the metaphors of re-search, therapy, and teaching as a means to form:

Collaborative conversation… a relational approach… requires that we abandon the idea that knowledge or information can be conveyed from one mind to another and, instead, I will describe knowledge as constructed in our conjoint activities with others – in what people do together. (p. 314)

This infers that when re-search, therapy or teaching is practiced from a collaborative standpoint, intra-actional moments in conversation embody “visceral ways in which we move others, and are moved by them” (McNamee, 2007, p. 317).

Currently, this is a place of unknowing, as the courses I am teaching are yet to begin… so I continue my adventure of fascination down the rabbit hole…


Foucault, M. (1996) [1980]. The masked philosopher. In Sylvère Lotringer (Ed.), Foucault Live: Collective Interviews, 1961-1984. (2nd ed.). (Lysa Hochroth and John Johnston, Trans.). (302-307). New York, NY: Semiotext(e).

McNamee, S. (2007). Relational practices in education: Teaching as conversation. In Anderson, H. & Gehert, D. (Eds.) Collaborative Therapy: Relationships and Conversations that Make a Difference. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.

Payne, M. (2005). Modern social work theory (3rd ed.). Chicago: Lyceum



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