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Developing effective e-Learning

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#1 Andrew Field

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 11:11 AM

Lots and lots of activities can now be very easily made for teaching and learning using ICT. Things like Hot Potatoes, Quandary and (slightly more advanced) Flash allow teachers with the time and inclination to create all sorts of materials. Also Webpage scripts and so on allow so-called 'interactivity' to be created easily.

Yet how do you think we should move e-Learning forward? There is strong criticism of the gap-fill, multiple choice answer activities. Some of this criticism is unwarranted because it comes from individuals who are not aware of it's use within our teaching - i.e. how we use it - but I fully understand such criticism if these are portrayed as shining examples of effective e-Learning, allowing a student to learn all they need using ICT.

This is where we would go wrong - simply assuming students can entirely be taught by ICT. However, I do feel we can be more effective in what we offer. What ideas do you have?

I feel "Learning Objects" have a real role to play. These are what some of the professional e-Learning companies have invested a great deal in - plug-in adaptable elements that can be edited for specific purposes. On a simpler level this is what I'm trying to create with my 'Interactivities' section on my site. Currently this comprises the Interactive Diagrams and the Games and Quizzes (but to a lesser extent) - http://www.schoolhis...nteractivities/. There are, of course, criticisims of Learning Objects - so it's important to be aware of these - [I can't find the url at the mo - it's something about "3 criticisms of e-Learning objects" - I'll put it later!]. For balance, Macromedia have some great positive information on such objects: http://www.macromedi...arning/objects/

What I plan to develop are two things - one being a basic interactive storyboard maker - where students have a few images to play with and can then add captions and speech to create a six-page comic-book style interpretation of an event. The other is a simple marking activity where the computer looks for specific words within an answer. This wouldn't make any attempt to be 'e-Assessment' but would allow for a more effective version of the things I develped two years ago to 'check-and-test' students work e.g. http://www.schoolhis...questions_1.htm

I think we do need to appreciate what is possible with ICT, but also what we really want. I want to make use of ICT for less controlled exercises, making use of ICT as scaffolding for students perhaps akin to having me next to them offering ideas and suggestions. Students who dislike always asking for help and asking questions certainly don't feel as concerned about having a computer offering ideas and assistance.

What do others think? As has been said elsewhere, history is very much leading the curriculum in terms of teaching and learning using ICT - it's time to raise it to the next level!


Edited by Andrew Field, 16 November 2003 - 11:33 AM.

Generate your own versions of my games, quizzes and eLearning activities: ContentGenerator.net

#2 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 02:06 PM

This is where we would go wrong - simply assuming students can entirely be taught by ICT.  However, I do feel we can be more effective in what we offer.  What ideas do you have?

I agree very strongly with the first part of this statement. It is important to look upon online learning resources as a powerful teaching resource rather than as a substitute for teaching.
I also agree that the comprehension, quiz and blank filling activities which much of the software available encourages has to be used in a context where opportunities for higher ranking thinking skills and discussion come regularly as part of the general teaching process.

This said I believe that online resources can certainly revolutionise how we teach. For instance I am currently experimenting in the 6th form with a part-taught part-distance learning A1 Sociology online resource.
I have reduced the teaching time from 7 to 3 periods a week and timetabled the students with 4 computer periods where they are expected to work through the resource. It is difficult to gauge the success or otherwise of this so far but most students appear quite capable of accessing the information and processing it for discussion in the lessons and many seem encouraged by the control of the speed of the learning process the resource gives to them.
The obvious benefits to the College are that an extra A1 can be offered in a small 6th form with very tight timetable at a greatly reduced teaching load. Message boards etc. can also help to overcome any isolation the struggling student may feel in such an environment.

The "interactivities" that Andrew has set up are a great help in the creation of challenging and varied resources especially for someone like me who has neither the time, inclination, nor technical know how to develop this themselves. Myself and many others owe him a great debt of thanks that he is willing to put our diagrams, and exercises online :flowers:

I see my own e-learning resources developing in 2 ways. Firstly with the continued development and extension of GCSE revision materials which will unashamedly be pitched at developing "knowledge" and practising exam style questions (the most crucial factor in turning D's into C's), and secondly in the continued development of e-learning distance learning post 16 resources. Ultimately both will necessarily remain fairly "controlled" in their approach though the development of file sharing to store readings linked to evaluative exercises could be an interesting route forward. The problem I have with "scaffolding" is that you develop all these wonderful external links connected to exercises and then the buggers take their materials off line (BBC take note :angry: )

#3 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 16 November 2003 - 04:22 PM

At the moment I feel we don't make enough use of other applications. It would be nice to see our new lessons utilising a wider variety of applications to make use of a wider range of ICT opportunities. There are several examples of this happening already, but theres a lot of scope for additional development of this. This would link in with some of the ideas raised in the Assessmrnt seminar - resources being created with a method of assessment in mind that allows for the analysis of a range of historical skills, rather than the ability to recall information. Doing this seemlessly can provie quite difficult though - and there's the ever present problem of differ people having different pieces of software for word processing, databases, spreadsheets etc.

The Macromedia examples are interesting, though not all of us can get our heads around Flash quite as well as Andrew has!

#4 Russel Tarr

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 06:32 PM

I think there is sometimes a danger that we get so wrapped up in the potential of ICT that we actually use it in place of a perfectly good classroom lesson just for the sake of it.

When I do my INSET courses I make a point of saying that ICT is just another tool we can use, and that we should only use it if it adds something to the learning experience.

In this sense, whilst Hot Potatoes quizzes are good for revision and so on, I think they are rather limited as classroom teaching aids.

I'm quite intrigued myself with the possibilities offered by digital video and audio - I'd love to get a sixth form club together to produce a short documentary on topics like Henry VII and Philip II, who are traditionally very poorly served. Maybe short video clips on key aspects of the topic which viewers can watch as the fancy takes them.

At present, the bulk of my attention is focused on my Martin Luther King Virtual Interview, which has been really hard work already even before its beta lauch; I hope it proves as popular as the Hitler one.

"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good" - Stephen Colbert

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