Week One: Why #crit101?

Introductory Lecture



What do we mean by ‘critical’ and why in(ter)dependence?

The word ‘critical’ is used here in two distinct ways. Firstly, the word critical refers to specific academic processes of analysis, interpretation, synthesis and evaluation which will be explored during the course. Secondly, these skills are considered to be critical for both the development of learner in(ter)dependence as well as being fundamental to study at A-Level, Undergraduate and Post-graduate level.

Within the course we use the term in(ter)dependence rather than independence to support the idea that independent learning is not necessarily an autonomous process but is more about learning to work both independently and also to recognise when the support of peers or experts will aid your learning. A truly independent learner has control over their learning, thinks critically and believes that they can overcome challenges. They can think for themselves and would certainly not get stuck on an escalator.

It is hoped that the course will encourage you to develop a more critical approach to learning while also providing the means to enable you to learn autonomously, without the need for regular support from a teacher or expert. The learning approach within the course is based on the ‘connectivist‘ model advanced by the likes of Stephen Downes and George Siemens. Dialogue between participants as well as collaborative tasks will be an integral feature of the learning, building knowledge and expertise as the course progresses. Success within the course therefore is dependent on the way that you work with your peers.

Moreover, the course seeks to uphold three tenets drawn from Catherine Cronin’s teaching: “openness ~ social media ~ student voice/choice”. The course is open to anyone that wishes to participate and all information is made freely available on the World Wide Web. The course embraces social media as a platform for sharing information and encouraging discussion between participants. Participants are given voice and choice through the use connectivist principles that underpin the course. It is a platform from which participants are encouraged to plot their own path each week, organising their time as they see fit, engaging with the different parts of the course to the level that they see fit.


Twitter Discussions

Archive: Monday 11th March

Archive: Wednesday 13th March

Assignments (Due: 10:00AM – Sunday 17th March)

1. Complete this survey reflecting on your skills and characteristics as a learner.

2. Write and publish a blog post reflecting on your reasoning for participating in the course; considering the following questions:

  • How do you define independent learning (skills/characteristics)?
  • Can you learn to become a more in(ter)dependent learner?

3. Read and comment on the blog posts of the 3-4 members of your comment group. (Do you agree with their responses to the questions? Would you add to what they have said?)