dinsdag 29 november 2011

Reflection on design, TPACK and the use of technology


Like I said in my  post Monday the 14th, we were actually working with TPACK to design a teacher development course! We had our own experience with it, so in this post I will reflect on  that design process and my experience with working with TPACK. I will also reflection short on the use of technology in education.

Design process

During the design process we worked with four people on the design for a professional development for teachers. In this course we wanted to let teachers use technology in the classroom for scientific classes.

Analysis phase
Before we started with the actual design we read articles to get a better view on basic conditions like the contents of science education, the potential use for technology in the classroom (or for science education), vision and policy and teacher training. We used articles from Kennisnet, SLO and the Dutch school inspectorate to understand the context were we were designing for. We separated this analysis task in four parts so every member of our team had something to read about and to tell the others ab out during the meetings. After the  basic conditions were clear, we focused on materials we got from other courses in this master, like the right conditions to make educational changes, the integration of technology in the classroom combined with sustainability and after all scaling up.
Of course everybody found much more information than we needed, so after this stage we decided to look for information about inquiry learning and TPASK, a model like TPACK specially made for science education. From the literature and our interpretations, we ended up with twenty design guidelines and a model for the use of technology in the classroom. 

I think this stage was well structured. Everybody knew what to do and after the first meeting it was clear for everybody what to do. We decided what topics we wanted to know more about, so we found useful information we could use during the whole design process. Because we did not use a particular school, we focused on science education description from the Dutch school inspectorate so that our course would be useful for every school who want to have more technology use. I think this was nice for this course, but in real life in the analysis stage you have to focus more on the particular school. Then you can take school specific characteristics in account. But I think, it is also possible to perform this general course and change some things based on school characteristics.

Design phase
In the design phase we were actual working with TPACK! That was much more difficult than we expected, because we had to think about how teachers can actual use TPACK without all the knowledge we got from Petra's lectures. Again in the meeting we splitted up the work in parts. Two members were working on the actual worked out course design. The other members including myself were thinking about sustainability and scaling up for the course that was designed. Of course, there was a lot of communication with each other about the course design, so we spoke a lot about details.

You may think it is pretty 'easy' to design a professional development course with all the guidelines we made. Well, I can say it is not. At first the guidelines seemed very clear, however we had a lot of discussion about the interpretation. As a educational designer you want to satisfy every teacher and design something you think it fits with a lot of thoughts from teachers. But every teacher is different, so you cannot design a 'general individual course'. You want to adopt the course on teacher's preferences, but for such a course you have to find a balance between general and individual approach. I think that worked out pretty well. We focused on the individual teacher who has general workshops. The workshops are general, guided by an expert, but the teachers have their own freedom to try new things in the classroom they learned from the workshop. In this way, we hoped to satisfy teachers by not forcing them to try new things. This is just an example, there are more design choices we made where teachers have both something obligatory and freedom in their lessons. So, workshops were obligatory and general planned, the use of new things is free. In this way we wanted to avoid negotiation between teachers about their view on education. They can use their view in the classroom and later on share their experiences with each other.

So, I can speek for both myself and my group, we are proud of our product. I think it is useful in education, and the course respects the teacher. They have enough freedom to try new thongs based on bot their experiences in the workshops and their professional knowledge. The workshops guidelines and provide new insights.

Some other thing I mentioned, was during the presentations. Our course was very different from the other designed courses. Maybe it is because most of the other groups designed something specially made for a particular school. Our course was designed to train a whole school for about thirty months, other groupes designed a course for only ten weeks. Maybe it is because we focused on the big picture to make a school ready for the use of technology in science education in little steps. Huge changes in little steps will take some time.

Working with TPACK
In my opinion, TPACK is a great model that really describes the interrelationships and interaction between content knowledge, technological content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. I can help teachers to combine all three dimensions with each other. Like said in an older post, most of the time only two dimensions are combined. But, teachers cannot combine these three with each other by themselves. I think they need a coach or trainer - like the expert/professional in our course - because teachers have a lack of some knowledge. If teachers really knew everything about technology, the right pedagogical use of it, and the combination of their content knowledge, implementing TPACK was not that difficult. But we do not live in such a world. The fact is, TPACK contains three different dimensions of knowledge and those are not equally present by teachers. And that is OK, because we educational designers can help them by supporting them.

Back to TPACK. The model visualizes the interrelationships between the three dimensions, so teachers know where they have to deal with. But the model in theory is not enough. There are no strict rules or general guidelines for good use of TPACK. There are psychological theories about human thinking that could be really true, but there are no such things in TPACK. There is no one way to go.When we worked on the course design, at the beginning it was hard. As a designer you want to check for doing the good thing. It is nice to have on paper that some kind of approach could work in practice. Now we had to use our professional knowledge and decide with the group what could be working in practice. Of course, there are indeed good practices available on the TPACK website, but I think you will get my point. So, I think TPACK is more like a 'philosophy' or a 'way of thinking' where educational designers have to make the practical translation in cooperation with teachers and technological experts.

To use TPACK practical a, translation should take place. This translation can be made with a course like we designed. It gives clear guidelines, workshops and a schedule for teachers professional development to follow. So, I can say I had a good experience with TPACK in the way we used it. It gives overview in all the dimensions you have to deal with. The model also gives the designer freedom how he wants to use it. Like I said, there is no one way to go so the designer is not caught between strict rules or required steps. The designer can choose the ratio between the dimensions, for instance the use of one technology with a lot of pedagogical approaches, or multiple technologies and one pedagogical approach. TPACK makes both the educational designer as the teacher aware of the main dimensions and gives freedom in the actual implementation. After my experience, I like that kind of freedom.

Stimulate teacher to use technology
I will be a bit shorter about my view on stimulating teachers and the use of technology, because a lot of critical thoughts are already said in earlier posts.

Nowadays in my opinion it is impossible not to use technology in the classroom. I have to think about a cartoon, with a classroom in 1970 and 2010 where students are still sitting in rows with a teacher in front. Students use a lot of technology and should use it at school. But there are practical limitations. For instance, novelty effects where students are not really motivated but like the new technology, students who play with games, communicate with social media and.... but wait, maybe those things could be useful in education. Why not discuss via Facebook or gather information together via a Wiki. There are so much pros and cons. Sometimes technology is overrated in my point of view. Just having a interactive whiteboard does not say the technology is well integrated with the pedagogical approach. But having a mathematical graph simulated instead of draw it each time on the blackboard. It is time efficient and is shows the effects of changing variables in the formulas better. Some tasks, like solving sums have (I think) the same efficiency on paper as on an iPad. So it is not all about technology, but about the right choice of technology appropriate to the learning task.

Teachers have to see the value of technology in the classroom. Some technologies are more time efficient, so teachers have more time to help slower learning students. It can also help to motivate students and it could be positive for students development. I think teachers can see the value when they know that using the technology is not such a big step. It could also help to show teachers good practices. So just visit a school where they work with technology in the classroom, share experiences and try it by yourself. Most of the time it is just something in the mind I think: "I cannot deal with it" of " I am too old". Of course these thoughts are important, but when teachers see it and try it, these thoughts could be taken away.
Teachers need to have the feeling that they can handle the technology, there should not be any fear. If the conditions are good (fast helpdesk, usable technologies, trained teachers) teachers have no reason not to use technology. With teacher design teams for instance teachers can design their own use of technology integrated in the curriculum, so they do not have to do things they actually want not to do. Stimulate teachers to use technology could be done to involve teachers during the implementation process. They need training and an 'I-can-handle-the-technology'-feeling.

maandag 14 november 2011

Our own use of TPACK

Since a week, we work in groups together and use TPACK to design a professional training for teacher education. We want to design and develop a multiple year course where teachers learn to use and integrate technology in the classroom. When designing, there are a lot of factors you have to take in account. In the course we want to help teachers step by step to integrate technology. We do not want to teach the teachers how to use, but the teachers really have to explore the potentials. I think we will finally have a nice result, but first back to work!

dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

TPACK. A helping hand in integrating technology in schools?!

I think both teachers as education scientists know teaching is a complicated practice. There is a lot of specific knowledge teachers have to know to teach in a good way. Classrooms are dynamic and complex, and even more complex when teachers have to integrating technology in the classroom. Teachers have to make the right combination with pedagogues and technologies. It is not about the technology, but about the pedagogical use of the technology in education. But how does teachers have to implement technology? And are there guidelines? Teaching is a difficult and loaded job, so some help is welcome.

Well, there is hope for teachers: TPACK. According to P. Fisser (personal communication, 19 October 2011) TPACK is a framework for teacher knowledge for technology integration. The model can help teachers by integrating (new) technologies in the classroom. In this article I will discuss the model and the potential use. TPACK is well known in the educational research domain. Just google 'TPACK' and you will find websites from TPACK itself (tpack.nl, tpack.org), Dutch parties like Kennisnet (pdf) and blogs. So, what is so special about this model?

Difficulties with the use of technology in education
TPACK offers help to teachers who have inadequate (or inappropriate) experience with the use of technology for teaching and learning. You cannot blame teachers for having inadequate experiences, a lot of teachers earned degrees in periods when the use of technology in education was in a different stage. And not only 'older' teachers, also novice teachers can have inadequate experiences. There are also teachers who does not consider themselves sufficiently prepared to use technology, does not know how to integrate the technology or just does not see the value or relevance to use technology. And for the teachers who wants to use technology, acquiring a new knowledge base and skill can be very challenging, especially in a busy schedule - and believe me, teachers really have a busy schedule. There is no ultimate way to integrate technology, but there are some core elements involved: content, pedagogy and technology. In my other blogpost I discussed the interrelationship between those. Now, we just take a look deeper.

In the middle of the elements: TPACK
The three core elements can be drawn as circles who overlap each other (Figure 1). Now it is clear where the abbreviation stands for: Technological knowledge, Pedagogical knowledge And Content Knowledge. Technological knowledge (TK) is about necessary skills to operate with technologies, the ability to learn new technilogies and an understanding of technologies. So basically, teachers may have a certain interest in technology and enough skills to work with it. Pedagogical knowledge (PK) is about students, students' prior knowledge, knowledge about how to use resources, classroom management and other skills a teacher may have. Content knowledge (CK) is knowledge about the content that is learned such as central facts, concepts, theories and procedures, explanatory frameworks and evidence for proof (P. Fisser, personal communication, 19 October 2011).

Figure 1. TPACK (from:www.tpck.org)


Like I discussed in my earlier post, there are many interrelationships between PK and CK, CK and TK, TK and PK and so on. TPACK focusses on the relationship in al three. This technological pedagogical content knowledge is an understanding that emerges from interactions among content, pedagogy and technology knowledge: " True technology integration is understanding and negotiating the relationships between these three components of knowledge" (www.tpack.org). In fact, the model shows the importance of the involvement of all three core elements, because it is all needed to implement technology successfully in education. When teachers only focus on two or even one core element, there is no balance between all core elements. In that case, the model has some similarities in message with Van den Akker's curriculair spiderweb (Van den Akker, 2003). He also states there should be a balance between curriculair elements otherwise the intervention will not work properly or will fail.
Important is the contexts circle in the model. There is no single technological solution combined with pedagogical content and content knowledge that applies for every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching. When using TPACK you always have to take the contexts into account. This connects to Koehler and Mishra "Rather, solutions lie in the ability of a teacher to flexibly navigate the spaces defined by the three elements of content, pedagogy, and technology and the complex interactions among these elements in specific contexts" (2007, p. 66). This is exactly what I  just mentioned. Every solution for the implementation of technology in education should be adapted on the specific contexts.


Nice, but how to use?
The model is helpful for those who want to implement technology in schools. TPACK gives insight in the main factors involved. But TPACK it is not just a guideline which contains all the possible answers. It is also not a simple model with phases you can follow. It is more a reproduction from the overview you may have by implementing technology in schools. TPACK users have to understand the idea of interrelationships between the elements and the importance to adapt these on each other. You can chose a technology and adapt the pedagogical style on it, but you can also search for a technology that fits within the pedagogical style, as long you keep in mind to adapt all the elements on each other.

I think TPACK is just the immersion we need for the implementation of technology in schools. Like I discussed earlier, there are interrelationships between the elements. But there are so many interrelationships you have to take into account, you can lose the overview. With TPACK teachers can easily see in a glance the most important factors. They know they have to adapt the contents on each other. How they do it, depends on the context. Teachers are free to design their solution without following phases or required steps. When teachers get stuck, the community of TPACK also provides examples and good practices for the use of TPACK, so teachers can learn from it.

I think, when teachers work with TPACK they have to know they could train their experiences with technology. They can work together or even get help from technological specialists outside the school. That is also something that depends on the context, they can work in a team (like teacher design teams) with help from the contexts to develop a "TPACK-Proof" solution. TPACK is sometimes written as TotalPACKage. I think it really is, when implementing a TPACK-designed solution, it should probably work.

In this article I am quite positive about TPACK. However, there is a negative thing about TPACK but that is moreover general in curricular development. That is, teachers need time and motivation to develop a solution with TPACK. So I would say, teachers only have to work with TPACK when they really want to implement technology in schools. Although there is a understandable model, they still have to spend a lot of time in designing the solution.




Van den Akker, J. (2003). Curriculum perspectives: an introduction (In J. Van den Akker, W. Kuiper and U. Hameyer (Eds.), Curriculum landscape and trends (pp. 1-10). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Retrieved from: http://www.citejournal.org/vol9/iss1/general/article1.cfm

dinsdag 18 oktober 2011

All together: flexibility, pedagogical approaches and technology

In this article, I will reflect in short on the (possible) relationship between flexibility, pedagogical approaches and the use of technology in education.

Flexibility
According to Collis and Moonen (2001), flexibility is "not just about distance". There are multiple conditions that make education more flexible. For example letting the students chose how they will assessed and what contents they want to learn. (For more information, see my other post about flexibility). When using flexibility, it is possible to adapt the course to student's needs, but also student's and teacher's availability. In conclusion, flexibility is all about the adjustment of the course on both teacher's and student's needs. To implement flexibility, teachers can use different pedagogical approaches and technologies.

Pedagogical approaches
Teachers can use multiple pedagogical approaches to transfer the content. There are different pedagogical approaches, for instance traditional learning, inquiry based learning, collaborative learning, problem based learning and project based learning. All these approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages when using in education. Like we have seen in simSchool for example, teachers can use different pedagogical approaches to meet every student's learning style. In conclusion, pedagogical approaches are about how the content is transferred. To support pedagogical approaches, teachers can use different technologies and be flexible in the arrangement of the course. Some approaches are more flexible than others.


Technologies
There are many technologies teachers can use in education. Think about computers, beamers, laptops, iPads and smart boards. But also mobile phones can be used. In a lecture I had, we used smartphones to answer multiple-choice questions and later we discusses the results. It speaks for itself that teachers has to decide in what way they use technologies in education. Technology can be a tool to provide flexibility, for instance when students can watch the lessons via video-conference. Technologies can be also used to manage the course and provide information to students, for instance what universities do with systems like blackboard and teletop. Technologies can also be used for pedagogical reasons. Some pedagogical approaches can be addressed with technologies. For example, in project based learning, students can communicate and share documents with each other via a course management system. Teachers can be reached via email, facebook or twitter. In conclusion, technology can be a tool to apply flexibility and pedagogical approaches.


What we have seen, is that the three topics - flexibility, pedagogical approaches and technologies - are connected with each other. They have interrelationships. To apply flexibility, some other pedagogical approaches than traditional learning could be chosen, and some technologies are needed to provide flexibility. In the other hand, some pedagogical approaches are more flexible than others and can be combined with flexibility. There are also technologies that support some pedagogical approaches. At last, technologies can be used in education, but they should be chosen by matching flexibility and pedagogical approaches. So, teachers cannot just chose a technology but they have to think how a certain technology will match flexibility and/or a chosen pedagogical approach. Technology is - in my opinion - always a tool to reach a certain goal (connected to flexibility and pedagogic approaches for example) and not just a goal itself. Technology can be used as a tool to make students more enthusiastic and motivated, but then the technology is still a tool.



In my model above, I made the interrelationships visual. Flexibility can be implemented by adapting pedagogical approaches and technology, technology can be implemented by adapting the technology on pedagogical approaches and flexibility and so on.

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001, second printing 2002). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.

maandag 17 oktober 2011

Cool tools for schools: playing with technology

Last week, we worked during the lesson with the website Cool Tools For Schools (http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/). This website contains multiple tools, teachers can use in education. They selected the tools and grouped them in categories. I really like the concept, because both teachers and students dont have to search on the internet, so the website has some kind of portal functionality.
In my group we searched on a laptop and iPad for tools. Unfortunately - somthing I already knew - the iPad was not able to run the cool tools since most of them are Adobe Flash based. But, it did not matter, we searched for cool tools on the laptop. We choose to search in the category 'Drawing Tools' and tried out multiple tools. After that, we made a presentation about one tool and selected 'pros' and 'cons'.


Floor Planner
 
With Floor planner, you can design your own house and fill it with furniture. It is a web-based (cloud based) tool, so you do not have to install a program. For a web-application, I was quite surprises about the wide range of functionalities and variables you can influence. The tool is very easy to use (good interface) since you arrange everything from a top-down perspective. In this perspective you can already see a lot of details. After you finished designing, it is possible to see an 3D view. In this view, there are some bugs, but really gives you an impression about the room or house you just designed. At last, you can just insert sizes and the walls, doors or furniture changes to that size.






Use in education
I think, the tool is useful in education because it gives students the possibility to experiment with sizes and values. It also provides training in spatial awareness and eye-hand coordination.

Pros:
  • Web-based, so installation needed
  • Well designed and easy to use interface
  • Cloud application, so always the most up to date version
  • 3D view is pretty cool
  • Library with furniture
Cons:
  • 3D view has some bugs and lags while rotate the view
  • Not possible to import own furniture models
  • Possible to make unrealistic sizes of furniture and materials
More information: www.floorplanner.com


Google Sketchup
 
Google Sketchup is a tool one can use to make 2D or 3D models. The application is provided by Google and has regularly updates. You have to install the application on your computer, so it is not a web-application. With the tool, you can make cube-based models within minutes. But, you have to train the coordination in the 3D view. Sometimes it is hard to move or transform the model in the right axis. Sometimes it happens you placed a figure, and from another view it is completely out of line. But after you learned it, create something in 3D mode is very easy, especially for people where programs like 3D Studio Max are too extensive.
The coordination is, with some training, good to learn. In my own time, I already used the tool to design hobby projects. The nice thing about Sketchup is that you can import 3D models on the internet. So, if you make an overview of your room, you can search for an IKEA Billy cabinet and import it in your model!
It is also very easy you can measure sizes, so you can make an exact copy of a product.





Use in education
Since Sketchup is a more complex tool, it has a broad appliance in education. During design projects, students can make models and take a look how it will be in real. It also gives students the opportunity to see what elements you need to build to make the product. For example, if students have to make a wooden box. They can measure and fit the elements together. It really gives insight in spatial awareness and eye-hand coordination.

Pros
  • Multi functional, not only for one purpose (like floorplans)
  • Good smooth 3D view without bugs
  • Import function for models like furniture
  • After training some minutes, the 3D view helps you to design what you want in minutes
Cons
  • Maybe handy to select at the beginning where you want to use it for. When making a floorplan, you will need the symbols of walls, doors and windows.
  • The 3D view is for some people still too difficult
  • You can measure lengths, but not specify a length to an item
More information: http://sketchup.google.com/


Word it out
 
With the webtool Word it Out, it is easy to make wordclouds in multiple designs. They offer you some examples where you can change the texts, but you can also make an own design. The tool is limited in the functions they offer, but I think that is the power of the tool. People who want more options in making their wordcloud can use other software of webtools. During the lessons we made multiple wordclouds. It works easy, but you do not always know how it will look like after you submitted your preferences. Maybe they can make a preview function, or examples of shapes you can chose between.
Really nice is actually the download to image and view full-screen function. They also give feedback/information about how to use the tool.



Use in education
I think this tool is useful for presentations or more artistic assignments.

Pros
  • Wordcloud in minutes
  • Nice ready to use templates
  • Download to image function
  • Fullscreen function
  • Limited functions, so very understandable
Cons
  • Limited functions could be too less for some users
  • No good idea what you will get (shape)
More information: http://worditout.com

maandag 10 oktober 2011

Become a teacher: simSchool

1. SimSchool



Figure 1. simSchool

Today's lesson we worked with a simulation online, called simSchool. SimSchool is classroom simulation that "supports the rapid accumulation of a teacher's experience" (simSchool, 2011, About section, para. 1). Dr. professor G. Knezek from the University of North Texas gave a guest lecture about simSchool. According to G. Knezek (personal communication, October 5, 2011) with simSchool teachers can simulate their lessons and learn from interactions in the classroom. SimSchool provides teachers for "analyzing student differences, adapting instruction to individual learner needs, gathering data about the impacts of instruction, and seeing the results of their teaching" (simSchool, About section, para. 1). Zibit and Gibson (2005) compare it with a flight simulator where novice teachers were immersed in some complexities of teaching. The students in the simulation are 7th and 12th grade students with a variety of different learning characteristics and personalities. 

SimSchool is not designed to replace the experiences from novice teachers while learning how to teach. The simulation is designed as a virtual practicum, which supports teachers in the development of teaching skills before they actually experience in real classrooms. As stated before, the main goal is to provide novice teachers insight in classroom interactions and complexities.

The simSchool About page provides information about the results of teacher’s experience. According to the simSchool (2011), teachers improve in general their teaching skill and the use of technology. There is also an “increased belief that the teacher has the skills and ability to make a difference in a child’s life” (About section, para. 2). With simSchool, teachers also improve the preparation for courses and attitudes toward inclusion of student’s special needs (simSchool, 2011). Working with simSchool has a positive impace on the mastery of deeper learning capacities that comprise the readiness to teach and acquires through rapid development of strong self-efficacy and resilience (simSchool, 2011). Zibit and Gibson (2005) state simSchool also provides expert feedback, so the simSchool program can been seen as “simulated apprenticeship” (Zibit and Gibson, p. 1) because of the “tacit processes, mental models and professional skills of an expert that are needed to succeed in teaching are embedded in the structure, rules, choices, and environment of the” (Zibit and Gibson, p. 1). 


2. Everly's bad day
In this module, I worked with a simulation where I learned to teach only one student, named Everly. Everly is a student who needs stimulation, is diligent about assignments, follows instruction and has a good self-esteem. This information was available in his file on the computer (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The student's file on the computer.

During the lesson, I started with an introduction to recall the contents from previous lesson. It was hard to get Everly to get to work. During the introduction I tried multiple ways to let Everly recall the contents from previous lesson. After the introduction, I gave Everly the task silent reading, but after finishing this task his motivation went downhill. Because I knew Everly is creative, I told him to make a creative product about the content. Then his motivation grew.


Figure 3. Everly's graph.

In conclusion about Everly, not every task was right to give to Everly. When deciding what task to give, Everly became bored and went to do something else. After such a period, it was hard to get Everly back to work. Figure 3 shows six factors in a graph, where the teacher can see the progress of the lesson.

3. The module

The module is a simulation of a classroom where you have to teach one or multiple students. The time in the simulation goes six times faster than the actual time. So, you can play of pause the simulation when thinking about the next task you will give to the students. In the simulation, you can use multiple buttons to assign a recall, skill/concept, strategic thinking or extended thinking task. These grouped tasks are separated in different actual tasks, like ‘silent reading’, ‘do design on multiple criteria’ or even ‘do a team worksheet’. It is also possible to talk to the students. Talking is grouped in behavioral assertion, behavioral observation, behavioral inquiry, academic assertion, academic observation and academic inquiry. These groups contains multiple items vary from positive to negative.

In the simulation it is clear that you as teacher have to try different ways of teaching by giving different tasks to the students or students individual. You also have to react to students who have questions and sometimes there is need to give students separate tasks simultaneous. In the simulation, it is clear the teacher must deal with a lot of different variables.

The usability of the simulation could be more effective in my opinion. The buttons you have to use by giving tasks are small, and you have to keep your mouse on the icon to view its definition. So, the icons used are not enough to understand the functionality. While the simulation records the time, in the simulation you lose time by finding out the button’s definition and clicking. I think an improvement for the simulation is to create bigger buttons with both an icon and text. In that case, the icon should be more explainable.

 Figure 4. Small buttons.
 4. Reflection
I think the simulation is usable for both teachers and novice teachers. Most teacher preparation programs focus on preparing novice teachers through methods courses (Zibit & Gibson, 2005). These courses include a mixture of “lecture, hands-on activities, and lesson plan development assignments” (Zibit & Gibson, p. 2). Such courses deal more with the ‘know-how’ of teaching mathematics, rather than tacit ‘know-how’ knowledge. SimSchool tries to provide training to learn ‘know-how’ knowledge. ‘Know-how’ is even more than ‘know-what’ essential knowledge when becoming a professional (Orlikowski in Zibit & Gibson). In my opinion simSchool meets the need to learn outside the classroom the ‘know-how’. Of course, a program like simSchool is not complete, there are far too many variables the program’s designers have to count for. But such a simulation is a good solution for providing apprenticeship opportunities and expert feedback, when in practice there is too little time. Besides, simSchool is a handy simulation of the classroom, where a novice teacher can make mistakes without consequences. When working with simSchool, novice teachers have to keep in mind to keep the general principles and complexities of learning in the classroom.

Resources

  • simSchool. (2011). simSchool. Retrieved on 10 october 2011, from: www.simschool.org
  • Zibit, M., & Gibson, D. (2005). simSchool: The game of teaching. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 1(6). Retrieved from: www.innovateonline.info/pdf/vol1_issue6/simSchool_-__The_Game_of_Teaching.pdf

woensdag 5 oktober 2011

Flexibility: learner-centered?

I was thinking, there could be a relation between modern educational approaches and flexible learning. When a course is more flexible, students have the ability and influence to make key decisions about learning dimensions are made in advance by the instructor or institution (P. Fisser, personal communication, september 28, 2011). The learner has a range of options to choose. Maybe you can conclude, there is a movement from teacher-centered education to learner-centered education. Students can choose what to learn of how the assessment would be like. In practice when instructors use other educational approaches such as project-based learning, inquiry-learning or problem-based learning, the already choose what to learn, how to work on the assignment (together, in groups) and how many interaction they have with the instructor. In my opinion, flexible learning will be automatically achieved by using modern educational approaches.