In winter I was asked to provide an online course at Linz Pädagogische Hochschule for Erasmus exchange students. With a colleague from Linz we agreed to call this course “Learning and teaching in the 21st century”. The purpose of the course was to explore together with students some new trends in learning and teaching. During a 7 week’s period we spent some time on reading, thinking, analysing and reflecting on concepts such as personal learning environments, bring your own device, open content and open educational resources, e-portfolio, etc., but we also tried out some networked tools and services for facilitating our learning and teaching.
I have facilitated many entirely online courses, but despite of my experiences I have to admit that I feel a need to have at least one face-to-face meeting with students to get to know them better. It gives a more promising start for the whole journey with people you haven’t met before. However, I believe we managed to create a nice motivating atmosphere for exploring learning and teaching in the 21st century.
In the beginning of August 2012 I took part in an intensive program called “Psst” (Personal & Shared Strategies for Teachers in Web 2.0). The purpose of the program was to provide opportunities to develop knowledge and skills using technology for teaching and learning. The intensive program brought together 25 students from Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia and Austria. Topics covered during the intensive program were rather wide, from storytelling to serious games, from Web3.0 and copyright issues to philosophical aspects of technology in our society and education.
Although being in this field for quite some years now there is always something new to learn. Students’ presentations demonstrated the use of various tools and services in formal educational settings. I got a bunch of new tools to try out myself. For instance, BigBlueButton synchronous communication tool turned out to be a rather useful finding for my teaching. As I have a few courses taught entirely online, I’ve been looking for quite some time a nice alternative to Flashmeeting. In addition, Anneli demonstrated some tools for storytelling (ZimmerTwins, Creaza, Mapskip, Storybird). However, having all these fancy tools at our hands, I noticed that we tended to forget about what actually makes up a story and what the necessary characteristics are. Is a video introducing a set of London’s sights forming a story?
Our Latvian team also demonstrated some interesting sites and tools for making music, which I can imagine can be a nice supplement to music lessons. Some examples are:
or some music databases, in which the content is under one of the Creative Commons licenses:
I found Christian Kogler’s presentation about McGurk effect (a perceptual phenomenon) and interesting one. He also claimed that “we don’t see what we don’t know”, which made me think of a concept “affordances” we have used in our research to analyse the rationale for using particular tools for certain purposes.
Although our colleagues use quite a bit of technology in their classrooms, I nevertheless got the impression that we tend to repeat traditional teaching practices without considering or rethinking whether the roles and responsibilities should change, whether a different culture of learning should be accepted and promoted. And what is exactly this different culture of learning?
This academic semester started for me with two new courses: New Interactive Environments for IMKE (Interactive Media and Knowledge Environments) international master’s program and Learning Environments and Learning Networks for Educational Technology master’s program. Both of them have been rather challenging tasks mainly because I teach them with other colleagues and we had to design them basically from scratch.
Learning Environments and Learning Networks (in Estonian) concentrates on different opportunities to support one’s learning environment with technological solutions. In addition to various potential learning environments this course also focuses on learning networks and their applicability in a learning process. The target group of this course is mainly active teachers and educational technologists who have come back to the university to get a master’s degree, but also to acquire new knowledge and skills regarding educational technology. The course has four contact days, rest of the activities are done online.
New Interactive Environments (in English) focuses on the (re-)design of new interactive environments for collaborative work and study. Particular attention is paid to the analysis, representation, and (re-)instrumentalisation of human activities and activity systems with networked tools and services. The course will be conducted online and uses a variety of assignment and collaboration formats.
Both courses are supported by a set of networked tools and services, in which personal Weblogs are the most important tools.