The ‘official curriculum’ is central in shaping the work we do as teachers. Presently ‘official curriculum’ in Australia is undergoing a significant ‘makeover’ in an attempt to create an approach to education that can respond to what scholars refer to as ‘new times’ (Yates & Collins, 2010). The hopes for a ‘curriculum for the 21st century’ are inextricably linked to governmental economic and social imperatives. Following this then, questions are raised in relation to:
- what are the hopes for the ‘new curriculum’?
- what are the various reasons that underpin such hopes?
- how are such hopes influencing curriculum development and pedagogy?
- how can the individual teacher respond at classroom planning level?
I attempt to answer them in the following essay:
Read Chapman, D and Nicolet, T (2003) Using the project approach to online course management at http://technologysource.org/article/using_the_project_approach_to_online_course_development/ and Van Rooij, S. W. (2010). Project management in instructional design: ADDIE is not enough. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(5), 852-864.
On your blog answer one or more of the following questions:
- What experience have you had personally in managing instructional design and development projects?
- What have you learnt that would have, or will, assist you in your management processes?
1. As I am a primary teacher and not teaching in the VET or Adult teaching area I generally plan units of work currently by myself as I deliver learning projects to students incorporating creative technological approaches in three separate schools. One project that is growing is a unit connected to UNICEF and incorporates virtual world technology. This could probably be considered an example of a project design as I had to run it past my Principal, accommodate the EAL/D teacher, and allow for the teacher aide. It is a fantastic project that is morphing weekly as changes and tweaking occur. I think however, that it is successful because I initially planned well and therefore further rich experiences have been fostered.
Linking to Chapman and Nicolet (2003) I did use in its construction a template (Program Builder) for the unit plan, I am the project leader and record the lesson sequences/changes/adaptions in the registration column and date them ‘to track changes’. I constantly discuss and reflect with the EAL/D teacher and Aide as I believe this is critical to creating cohesiveness and clarity when running a project of this nature. There has to be ownership of all parties.
2. I have learnt throughout this unit that good planning strategies are critical and you must always reflect/evaluate and modify. Project management skills, as stressed by van Rooij (2010), are also key in enabling the learner to complete a project successfully within a set time frame. I expect skills in this area will develop as I begin to work collaboratively with my colleagues to plan and implement learning endeavours for the future.
Chapman, D and Nicolet, T (2003) Using the project approach to online course management at http://technologysource.org/article/using_the_project_approach_to_online_course_development/
van Rooij, S. W. (2010). Project management in instructional design: ADDIE is not enough. [Article]. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(5), 852-864. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00982.x
Using virtual worlds as part of your instructional design can open up possibilities for flexible learning and shift the dynamics between student and teacher and student and resources. Groups of students who are studying at a distance (such as all of you in MNG00085) are able to come together in the one space and have a sense of presence through their avatar. Flexibility, however, can take many forms and is not always desired by the learner. I invite you to read a text about flexible learning, a case study example of virtual worlds. By so doing you will be able to apply some theories to the motivation for providing flexible learning and using virtual worlds in your context.
On your blog answer the following questions:
- Reflect on a number of learning experiences that you have been involved in and the degree of flexibility which each involved. How did this influence the effectiveness of the learning context?
- In what ways could you use virtual worlds in your instructional context? Click here for an example
Early in 2011 I was given the opportunity to complete an university assignment using Second Life as Southern Cross University has a virtual presence there. It was extremely challenging and to be truthful many times I felt like quitting. I remember when I would go into the world and try and learn about the tools and then my tutor, Lisa, would suddenly appear and I would feel embarrassed as generally it was when I was trying to do something that had gone wrong. I think having the ‘physical’ presence of an avatar made it worse because she could ‘see’ me. Either way, I persevered and as a result I now use virtual worlds for many learning projects with my primary students.
What then transpired was that many of my unit assessments were modified to include a virtual world component and therefore I was provided with an opportunity to develop deeper learning and success with unit outcomes. Maths, English, Science & Technology, Learning Technologies, HSIE and Pedagogical units have all have been linked to the use of virtual worlds within my pedagogy. I am not sure what direction my studies would have gone and what particular skills I would be leaving my degree with had I not been provided with the opportunity to use and develop skills and understanding with this technology but am sure I wouldn’t have achieved the self confidence I now have. Having this flexibility certainly helped me connect with core understandings of each unit as I was so meaningfully engaged.
Flexible learning is described by Collis and Moonen (2001) as learning that offers choice to the learner but still achieves stated outcomes. In some ways I would call this differentiation as choice allows the student to identify the component that will interest them and ultimately enable the best opportunity for success. When I read Table I. The lessons learned I readily identified with: Lesson 5. Watch the 4-Es:
An individual’s likelihood of voluntarily making use of a particular type of technology for a learning-related purpose is a function
of four ‘E’s: the environmental context, the individual’s perception of educational effectiveness and of ease of use, and the individual’s sense of personal engagement with the technology. The environmental context and the level of personal engagement are most important (p. 219)
Even though in many cases having a virtual world component created more work for me my personal engagement with the technology and seeing the bigger picture and how I could really use this authentically in the classroom negated the extra effort required.
Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001). Flexible learning: It’s not about the distance. Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations (pp. 8-28). London: Kogan Page.