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Information about the mémoire work at Tecfa

Proposed by: Michele Notari (promo Heidi)

Table of content:

1. working title
2. research problematic
3. theoretical and practical aims of research
4. work hypothesis or list of research questions
5. theoretical frame
6. grid of analyse
7. description of sample survey

preliminatory research: trial with a Swiki:


Concept: version 0.2

1. working title
Learning Activity Portal (LAP): An applied approach to (e)Leaning scenarios based on a constructivist pedagogy

2. research problematic
Learning Portals seem to be hip and many researches are done in this domain.
Two different main approaches:

'Learning Objetct' approach: It could be described as a content/ or instruction/centred way of a learning scenario. In fact the learning objects (LO) are conceived the way, that they contain a small block of pedagogical instruction (e.g. look at this picture to learn more about the Brain) related to a information source or just an information source (e.g. a picture or a flash animation...). After a certain amount of given information a test is proposed to see weather the student has achieved the aim of the lesson. The Test can also be defined as a LO. Modern LCMS (learning content management systems) provide of course also tools which permit a communication within students or teacher and students and some groupware too. But the central strategy of the System is to transmit information form the 'machine' to students brain.

'Learning Activity' centred approach:
This way of learning is based on a constructivist pedagogy. The tecfa seed project is an exaple of this approach. Learning within such a system consists mainly in 'poducing' AND comparing content, based on non filtered or transposed facts or problems merging from 'real world situations'.
So the main learning activity consists not in 'storing' prepared information in once brain but proposing a ‘personal’ view of a given problem or concept and comparing / discussing it within a group of learners.
This approach requires no preparation of information and less transposition of 'real' content but needs a list of ' recipes' to approach specific problems and a categorisation of adapted pedagogical methods to handle this type of task. Some recipes based on such a pedagogy are proposed by Catherine Frété, Vivian Sinteta, Daniel Schneider 2002 http://tecfa.unige.ch/proj/seed/catalog/docs/activity-catalog-fr.pdf

Not many applied researches based on this ‘learning activity approach’ with a constructivist background have been done. C.Frété (2002) proposes a list of activities, the research of CSL (Collaborative Software Laboratory)and also Nink (2002) http://brainspace.isbe.ch:8000/BrainSpace .
My work will base on these researches and publications and show further possibilities to use the concepts in a ‘real educational context’.

3. theoretical and practical aims of research
Firs of all the aim of such a research is trying to have some knowledge about the impact of such learning environment in a 'real' learning situation. The choice of the age and knowledge level of students may be parameters to check out and relate to the effectiveness of learning situations; and last but not least the chosen subjects. So a survey on different subjects with students of different age and knowledge are more than enough parameters to compare in a first overview.
The experimental approach could be lead not on a quantitative level but rather on a qualitative level. In a questionnaire after passing the learning situation, data could be recovered and evaluated.
Two different tools proposed in a postnuke portal are chosen and tested with high school students.
1. practical tests with the Wiki tool
2. Tests with the ‘journal’ tool

These tools are part of postnuke portals and can be downloaded as modules to integrate. To test these tools in ‘real world situations a pn-portal has been installed. To test pedagogical scenarios on the wiki tool a swiki was also installed on the schoolserver. Slight but interesting differences exist between the phpwiki proposed by the postnuke community and the swiki porposed by the squeak community. For my purpose I think that a swiki is more easy to apply for beginners. The advantage of a phpwiki would be the fact that it could be integrated in the school-portal and so permit to work on a more homogeny ‘platform’.
The theoretical aim of the work could be to point out 'the' parameters which could impact effectivity of learning and adopt the 'common activity theory' following the results.

4. work hypothesis or list of research questions
The socioconstructivistic approach of a 'pedagogy of activity' in larning situations supported by ICT is often realised using open web environments like Portals, blogs or Wikis. Among this tools two types of learning situations are choosen.

Research questions:

5. theoretical frame (list of literature see also
http://tecfaseed.unige.ch/door/modules.php?op=modload&name=phpWiki&file=index&pagename=list%20of%20litterature )

See theoretical frame of 'pedagogy of activity' proposed by seed Rhodes paper
Examples of 'Activity design' can be seen on the following document http://tecfa.unige.ch/proj/seed/catalog/docs/activity-catalog-fr.pdf http://tiger.coe.missouri.edu/~jonassen/courses/CLE/main.html :
Welcome to the Design of Constructivist Learning Environments (CLEs)
http://opensource.mit.edu/papers/butler.pdf :
Community Effort in Online Groups: Who Does the Work and Why?
Beyond Adoption to Invention: Teacher-Created Collaborative Activities in higher education
Related to the two subjects which will be analysed as ‘wiki’ and ‘jounal’ the following list of literature can be proposed:
Portals in higher education: What are they and what is their potential
Collaborative learning at Low Cost CoWeb used in english Composition
Over-scripting CSCL: The risks of blending collaborative learning with instructional design
http://www.intermedia.uio.no/konferanser/skikt-02/docs/Researching_ICTs_in_context-Ch11-Mortensen-Walker.pdf :
Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool
http://ericacve.org/docgen.asp?tbl=pab&id=112 :
Journal writing as an Adult Learning Tool

6. grid of analyse
The grid of analyse is related to the parameters chosen for the research. I could imagine to make first a grid of analyse of different recipes to choose the adapted to analyse deeper.

7. description of sample survey
The sample survey consists of different classes of high school students and their teachers (may be).


Literature: and comments related to the subject: