Austria Cycle 1 – PD 1

Date and Time: 10.2.2011, 15.00 – 17.00

Participants: Two teachers; Peter: director of a primary school – Wolfgang: math/computer teacher in a secondary school Researcher / Designer: Harald

Setting (pictures at_pd_01 to at_pd_03): The workshop took place in a primary school (Volksschule am Unteren Stadtplatz Hall in Tirol). In this school there are 8 classes with about 180 pupils. This is an average size of primary schools in Tyrol except of a large amount of very small schools we have.

All classrooms are equipped with interactive Whiteboards and IT-workplaces for the use of pupils; there is a set of learning response systems available; 10 classmates are in use; the school has two IT-rooms with 10 PCs each; all rooms are connected to the internet (broadband).

Participants and designer met in one of the IT-rooms of the school (pic at_pd_04).

Basic information: Peter (pic at_pd_05): teacher since 34 years; primary and secondary school (pupils from 6 to 11); headmaster since 25 years; working with ICT in schools since 1992; one of the first primary schools working with PCs in Tyrol Wolfgang (pic at_pd_06): teacher since 35 years; secondary school; working with ICT in schools since 1981; worked with platforms like blackboard from the beginning; system administrator of 13 schools with about 1400 pupils, 500 PCs and 20 servers; is now working with interactive whiteboards

Scenarios discussed: Support network of experts, Practising research skills, Reacting to student feedback (pic at_pd_07 to at_pd_09)

Support network of experts

The idea to incorporate experts isn’t new. But today those experts are living in the neighborhood. New is the idea to contact experts living and working away from the school location. This means: the principal concept is working today and therefore the expansion using the internet and social networks will work probably too.

A problem might be, that experts have enough time and if it is possible to bring in the experts during the school-lessons. But if we expand the network of experts and incorporate parents or elder students in other countries (native speaker or foreign language able experts), then it will work.

Another idea is to bring in eTwinning, because this is a good platform to find these experts and get contact with them. This is a very realistic scenario. One of the teachers has already done a project like this with some schools and a research station in the Antarctic. In the meantime all needed software is included in LMS and therefore for most of the schools it is possible to work like in the described scenario.

A project like this has to be limited to 4 to 6 weeks. Then it will be very enduring. The role of teachers has to change from teacher to trainer/moderator like the trainer in soccer (‘from sage on the stage to guide on the side’). Teachers must take care about the hardware and give students some advice, but the work has to be done by the students themselves.

Practising research skills

Starting point of the work in this scenario must be the local library.

Very important is the role of the librarian: he has to be an agent of knowledge. In former days the librarian recommended only a book. In this scenario his work is upgraded to recommend different ways to knowledge, databases and so on.

It is important to guide the pupils not to use only one source of knowledge.

The librarian or the teacher has to provide a range of online-databases which are reliable and the information in there is on a level a students can understand them. Normally students mostly use only Google.

Students know many things and in this scenario they are forced to share their knowledge to the others or write it down. This will be a very good motivation for them.

It is not a good idea to allow students to compare with the curriculum because they don’t know nothing about curriculum and they are not interested in this kind of work.

To compare different sources and to evaluate them is very important. There should be a focus on this.

Reacting to student feedback

This scenario depends strongly on the presence of a learning response systems. They are very expensive today, but in our schools there are such systems available so this scenario is possible.

It is an expansion of the buddy-system which works properly throughout the whole school system in different situations. Students are working as learning-buddies and the teacher uses the response system to mentor/assess them.

The trainee changes to the trainer.

A high ‘emotional quotient’ is useful and will be trained. Even infirm students (in common understanding of school) can be very important for their classmates.

One teacher has a critical point of view according to the use of app stores. He thinks about the danger of high costs for the pupils using such stores in privacy.

Learning response systems are means to help the teachers in their role as observer and guide within the classroom. Pupils are working at different speed and with response systems it is easier for teachers to observe them and to react fittingly. Therefore the lessons will be more individually.

It is important not to abuse such systems as perfect testing systems!

Specific design ideas: (pic at_pd_10 and pic_at_11)

Peter (drawing at_pd_12): because of the fact, that a large amount of equipment is very expensive and the financial problem isn’t solved, he wants to concentrate hardware at a ‘knowledge center’ within the school. He remembers the libraries or reading rooms in monasteries in former days, where all the knowledge at that time was concentrated alike the working materials such as light, pens, place to work together and so on.

Wolfgang (drawing at_pd_13): School is like a street of knowledge with different means and different ways to different aims. Teachers have to define the aims and to help pupils on their way. ICT is one of the important means, teachers have to help students in using ICT in the right way. But nowadays he recognizes a lack of activities in the teacher-training to instruct young teachers in that way.

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