Knowledge building- designing for learning using social and participatory media

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Author: Gail Casey This report presents the results of a classroom action research that looked at how one teacher redesigned her curriculum while integrating social media, Web 2.0 and face-to-face teaching in an Australian public high school.


  • 1. From the field Knowledge-building: Designing for learning using social and participatory mediaAuthor This report presents the results of a classroom action research that looked at how one teacher redesigned her curriculum while integrating social media, Web 2.0 and face-to-Gail Casey, Deakin face teaching in an Australian public high school.University, Geelong,Oceania It explores the qualities that social and participatory media bring to the while focussing on students as active and valued participants in the learning process. Building knowledge using the uniqueness of social media enabled students to become active and valued resources for both the teacher and their peers. Designing for learningTags is a key challenge facing education today; this case offers ideas for learning designerssocial and participatory and contributes to a research base that can support educators from all, online learning,knowledge-building,classroom action research,secondary school 1. Introduction Todays youth are growing up in a digital world. Where and how they learn is changing as mobile learning and social networking become part of their every day life. As a result of this phenomenon, what it means to teach and learn is changing as new technologies make it possible to easily tap into the knowledge and skills that students bring with them into the classroom. Valuing their often hidden talents can be a difficult task within a high school cur- riculum program. As this research found, venturing beyond the walls of the classroom, to design learning that involves knowledge-building activities, is well supported by the integra- tion of online social media, Web 2.0 and face-to-face teaching; producing a flexible student- centred environment. Course design using Web 2.0 technologies needs to be seen as emergent (Mason 2008, p. 155). When designing the projects used throughout this research the teacher/researcher in- corporated concepts of student empowerment, user generated content, and the harnessing of collective intelligence which Mason (2008, p. 155) describes as a mismatch between cen- tralised control (traditional course design) and increased user control (course design reflect- ing Web 2.0 practice). This is a time where pervasive media and a technology landscape is becoming increasingly global, participatory and connected, one in which learners and teach- ers can increasingly become creators of knowledge rather than mere consumers of prepared messages and ideas (Jacobsen 2010). Schools at present are justifiably wary of social media in their classroom. Over the last four years the researcher has been using social media in her classroom and, as a result, provided students with an environment involving more freedom and flexibility than the traditional classroom. A major issue of concern is that teachers are not available to monitor students twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; hence, an element of trust and understanding must be built. For some young people, monitoring their own developed online site for new activity or comment can become a seemingly addictive pastime but as Mason (2008, p. 70) discusses, there are many advantages in using the unique qualities of social media when in ing earn eLearning Papers ISSN: 1887-1542 www.elearningpapers.eueL ers 27 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n. 27 December 2011Pap www 1
  • 2. From the fieldthe classroom: they require students to participate, think, con- proximately 900. The data collected included teacher planningtribute and become active in their learning. documents, field notes, student work, end-of-week reflections, mid-term and end-of-term reflections as well as critical friend2. Research Design and peer feedback. Students used pseudonyms when online which they could change at any time hence they often couldThis research is a qualitative study investigating emergence, not identify who a student was or from which class they wereconnections and designs for learning. The connections now be- a made, outside the classroom, with social media and learn-ing, demonstrate that what it means to teach and learn is chang-ing. The researcher combined Graham Nuthalls (2007) lens on 3. Designing for learning - knowledgelearning with Luckins (2010) knowledge building pedagogy to buildinghelp her conceptualise and analyse data whilst making links to Knowledge building pedagogy is based on the premise that au-social constructivist teaching in addition to chaos and complex- thentic, creative knowledge work can take place in school class-ity theories. rooms knowledge work that does not merely emulate the work of mature scholars or designers but that substantively ad-This study uses an action research method. The researcher is vances the state of knowledge in the classroom community anda PhD student as well as the classroom teacher and uses Arm- situates it within the larger societal knowledge building effortstrong and Moores (2004, p. 13) framework of the action (Scardamalia & Bereiter 2006). By using one online Ning eachresearch spiral which explicitly seeks to encourage inclusive semester as a shared social networked classroom the teacher/processes through research design, practice and process, and researcher could observe the building and sharing of knowledgeresearch outcomes. This action research cycle included the de- that occurred through formal teacher directed projects and in-signing of learning experiences that combined social media with formal student directed activities. One could also monitor theface-to-face teaching and Web 2.0. The data was collected over visitors to the Ning from around the world. At times classes en-approximately 18 months commencing July, 2010 and was col- gaged in global projects but the Ning was not used directly forlected from all of the teacher/researchers semester long-class- these. It is interesting however, to see the selection of wideres. The teacher/researcher taught 7 semester-length classes audience shown in Figure 1 which shows the automated visitorduring the first semester and 5 during the second semester. maps for each of the 3 Nings at the time of writing this paperThe third semester of data collection was still in progress at the (each computers unique identifier ensures that any one com-time of writing this paper. Students were aged between 13 and puter is only registered once). This perhaps shows some work16 years of age and the average class size was 25. All students towards building, what Scardamalia and Bereiter call, societalduring the first two semesters of data collection were from one knowledge.Year 7 to 12 co-educational public high school in Geelong, Aus-tralia. Students were predominantly from mid-range socioeco- Throughout this research, students were faced with a widenomic backgr


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