Norway Cycle 2 – PD 1

Date and Time: 17th of june 2011, 9.30-12.00

Participants: Two secondary school teachers:

Cathrine – teaches maths, Norwegian, religion. Team leader on the school

André – teaches Norwegian, social sciences. Team leader on the school.

Both teachers are relatively experienced with ICT, but the school suffers from poor ICT-infrastructure, the computers are old, slow, and are regarded as unstable. So even though there are many good ideas circulating in the teacher staff, it is difficult to bring these ideas to life. They describe their teacher colleagues as relatively open-minded to using ICT as learning tools (except for the ones who never read their e-mails, and who not use the schools LMS (fronter) at all). The school doesn’t have many plans or a systematic pedagogical use of technology, so the use depend in many ways on the teacher’s interest.

The interview is done in one of the schools Computer labs.

Researchers / Designers: Jørund Høie Skaug and Vibeke L. Guttormsgaard, Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education.

Scenarios discussed:

Main points:

  • Researching online social behaviour:
    Both teachers gave a very positive response to the scenario. The questions of online behaviour raised in the scenario are themes that are often discussed at the school. However, the teachers felt that the scenario also should address other teachers and parents more clearly. Many teachers and especially parents are negative or sceptical to using social media integrated in learning or communication. They consider social media as playing and wasting time, and as a threat to the teacher’s authority.  Some of the fellow teachers (and parents) are ”refuseniks” that don´t want to touch computers, and much less consider using them to learn, about behaviour online or anything else that´s remotely digital. So the scenario should also include strategies to make the parents and the schools staff less negative to computer assisted learning. [VG1] This could be done through courses in blogging as a classroom tool, or working with Facebook as a supplement to the schools LMS, which few pupils use.

    André communicates with his students on Facebook, and likes it because it gives him the opportunity to give information to the class faster than the LMS, and reach all of his students rather than the few that are regularly logging into the school LMS.

Both teachers felt that a conference for other teachers and parents, where the students present their findings from the project, is a good goal for the scenario as a whole. By showing how the students actually reflect on their own use of social media, might work as an eye opener for those who are negative to the use in school.

Cathrine suggested that the project takes place in the 8th grade (first year of upper secondary), and that the conference/presentations can be held at the beginning of         next school year, at a parent/student meeting for next year’s students.

The teachers felt that no existing, available software would give them a good and secure way to collect data. But they were not against using a social network, like Facebook or Ning. The most important aspect is that the user interface/technology should be very easy and intuitive to use.

André formulated a wish for a platform where you can feed info both from and to i.e. Facebook as well as the schools LMS. That would make learning and communication easier, as the teachers wouldn´t have to log in to too many different tools and sites.

Both teachers found Facebook a more interesting social media to research on, rather than the suggested blogs, since “everyone” is on Facebook, many without thinking much about what they post or comment.

  • Using multiple resources and technology to research a common topic
    Both teachers gave a very positive response to the scenario. Partly because themes like multiple sources are often discussed at the school, or to put in another way: the teachers feel that the students are relying on Google and Wikipedia in everything they do, and will not go longer than their computer when they search for information. The teachers regarded this project in many ways as a project centring on reading skills. Many of the students have poor reading skills, and all the students are said to prefer to read only the ingress, some only the heading. Very few to none go into the full text body while reading articles, also in Wikipedia.

Andre was very interested in how the scenario could be used to differentiate between students. He would have liked to split the class into groups who should use their preferred way of learning to do the project: those who are very auditive could be put in one group, those who are strong textual or visual in other groups, and so on.[VG2]  This way they could use  their different strengths (or intelligences, competences).

The teachers felt that the schools library should be an integrated part of the scenario.  As part of the preparation for the project, the teacher and the librarian shold make a database of relevant sources the students can use, in addition to what they find themselves.

The teachers also told us a story which really had touched their students: at an excursion where they learnt about Second world war-history, the guide told them a story in which one of the students grandparents actually appeared, in 1943. The guide did not know this in beforehand. This story had made the students reflect over sources and storytelling, and the teachers felt that digging in local history by using other sources than the Internet is something that they would like to do more.

The school had their 40th anniversary last year, and many of the teachers contributed to a collection of history articles related to the school. Both teachers felt that bringing in students to do a research project based in their community would be an exciting idea.

They also looked at this scenario as a way of broadening the horizon for other teachers. Many of their colleagues teach quite traditional, and this would be an interesting challenge for them, to work differently and more cross-curricular.

The result of the research project, a website or a wiki, should be owned and evenly accessed for both the students and the teacher. All that is published is worked through and all the information is validated. This publication is open for students next semester to elaborate on.

 

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