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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy
Can the use of think.com transform classroom teaching?
Computer Mediated Communication in the Classroom
Year of posting: 2004
The use of think.com in the classroom changes teaching methods. During the timespan of the project teachers used the system to distribute teaching materials via class web pages; they collected and returned homework by email; they set up online assessment tasks for students. A move towards a constructivist method, where teaching becomes more learner centered and the teacher assumes the role of facilitator, requires appropriate training for teachers, a change in classroom/school organisation and new methods of assessment.
CMC Computer Mediated Communication Constructivism eLearning eModerating
This case study is based on research evidence that was collected in Tideway School from September to December 2003. It seeks to identify and assess the ways in which the use of think.com transforms the nature of classroom teaching and the role of the teacher. · what evidence is this paper based on? Qualitative research ‘involves the gathering of evidence that reflects the experiences, feelings or judgements of individuals taking part in the investigation of a research problem or issue whether as subjects or as observers of the scene.’ This kind of approach to evidence gathering is common in classroom based research and is not without its risks in attempting to record findings and interpret them in a way that can have an application and relevance outside the institution in which the case study is based. Data for this paper has been collected in a number of ways: · Think.com was piloted in Tideway School during the summer term of 2003 with two classes. The aim of the pilot was to identify any issues relating to pupil and teacher access and the training that would be required. Over the summer break a pattern of use was written into schemes of work and lesson plans for Year 10 GCSE Business and Communication Systems. In the autumn term classes were logged on to the system and it was used daily in classroom teaching. Data was collected through lesson observations and teacher interviews. · INSET on the application of think.com in the classroom was delivered to staff from the school Science and ICT Departments . Evidence was collected during discussions with colleagues on the two training sessions. Most of the research into the use of CMCs has taken place within further and higher education. Gilly Salmon’s five-step-model for students and staff involved in online conferencing is the framework that has been used on which to base the reporting of this research project.
Can the use of think.com transform classroom teaching? Summing up the kind of changes that online conferencing leads to within a higher education teaching environment Salmon said, “There is absolutely no evidence that learners are able or willing to do without teachers, no matter how well designed the materials, how extensive the resources or how "just in time" the learning…. The fundamental role of the teacher or tutor has not changed but the mode of operation has." The situation within the secondary school classroom is somewhat different. The use of think.com does transform the ‘mode of operation’ of the teacher. During this research project there were plenty of examples of teachers readily adapting think.com to replicate many of their traditional classroom tasks. Learning was however still led, directed and controlled by the teacher. As the example of the ‘fox hunting’ debate shows, think.com could transform the role of the teacher from leader-director-controller to that of facilitator as students use the service in a way that begins to display features associated with a constructivist method of teaching. For this to develop more fully requires a transformation in school/classroom structures, effective training in eModerating skills for staff and a change in assessment methods.
What I have learned
It’s clear from policy documents that the kind of transformation in teaching that government looks for is one that will lead to improved achievement, attainment and ultimately preparation for employment. Research shows that the application of ICT in the classroom, under current pedagogy, may not be the vehicle that leads to this transformation. (This was the conclusion from my literature review and it tied it closely with the results from the case study).
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