What will the constructive learning community look like in the 21st Century?
The four key teacher actions will be enhanced by ICT tools:
1. Developing reflective attitudes in their students – through learning about and using editable spaces where participants can observe others learning processes and learn about and appreciate diverse ways of problem solving and developing ideas, for example Google Docs and wikis
2. Explicit teaching of metacognitive language, skills and processes – through learning about and using ICT tools which can become creative and constructive learning artefacts such as Prezi and blogs
3. Making space for reflection in the classroom – sharing knowledge digitally, through text, images, audio and video creates a dynamic repository of ideas that can be reflected upon and becomes a record of learning
4. Using and encouraging a responsive interaction style – digital communication and collaborative interaction which can be stored, shared, published and is not the property of one individual but becomes the artefact of all
Can you see how using ICT tools can support students’ exploration of diverse ways of thinking?
… And support students striving for a shared objective – one that advances each members knowledge and skill?
… And maintains an emphasis of learning about learning by making learning visible?
… And provides methods and motives for sharing what is learned?
When ICT is aligned with the characteristics of a constructive community of learners, we have effective e-learning.
When a constructive learning community has mastered learning-oriented patterns of practice necessary for working together as partners in learning, the next step may be to take their skills and apply them to a wider field. Creating connections with other communities is a way to develop student’s authentic participation and socially responsible citizenship.
When students begin exploring beyond the classroom there are a variety of platforms available for different purposes – depending on whether students are primarily producing and publishing still image, audio, written or video content; and how they intend to communicate and collaborate with their cyber-peers. As the teacher you will need to consider the most appropriate platform and then explicitly teach the language, skills and processes involved. The eLearning Action Plan for Schools 2006 – 2010 (MoE, 2006) States that, “…it is the teacher’s strategic and deliberate planning of the learning and use of ICT that will ensure the desired learning takes place…”(p.10).
There are many experienced teaching practitioners available to guide teachers – many using the same information and communication mediums that students can benefit from. So here is an ideal opportunity for the teacher to learn alongside their students. In fact, the eLearning Action Plan for Schools states that “Effective teaching for all students will depend on teachers becoming confident and capable users of ICT and understanding how to integrate ICT effectively into the classrooms in order to achieve the desired learning outcomes for students” (MoE, 2006, p. 10). One of the easiest ways for teachers to learn about ICT integration is to seek out what other teachers are doing and many ICT savvy teachers are sharing their experiences through professional and class blogs.
Why “promote a collaborative, inclusive and supportive learning environment”, that “provides opportunities and support [students] to engage with, practise and apply new learning to different contexts” and “assists [students] to think critically about information and ideas and to reflect on their learning”?
Well, for a start, doing those things covers a couple of the Registered Teacher Criteria for New Zealand teachers, it also covers many of the characteristics for quality teaching of diverse learners described by Alton-Lee in the Best Evidence Synthesis as well as fulfils the vision written for students in the New Zealand Curriculum statement. The Ministry of Education also defines best practice for e-learning as “using technologies effectively across the curriculum to connect schools and communities and to provide accessible, relevant, and high-quality learning…opportunities that improve student engagement and achievement.”
Creating Constructive Communities embraces modern teaching practices and tools for learning to support our youngest citizens as they become confident, connected, actively involved life-long learners.