Get students involved in their learning! This proposal, for the Educational Droid Use competition that Google is hosting, will explain the details of the lesson students will be exploring. The theory this lesson is based on is the constructivist school of thought. This was chosen because it puts learning into the hands of the students. One of the basic tenets of constructivism is that students “learn by doing not by observing” (Carvin, 1994). This lesson will be highly active and will rely on the student’s exploration of the topic.
Though the lesson is organized and planned, it is designed for students to take it in the direction they see appropriate. In constructivism, the ideal situation is to let student inquiry drive lessons. Students will have full autonomy to respond how they need and want to. Students will be responsible for sharing the information they get with each other via person to person and on the web. This is another tenet of constructivism. Constructivism encourages dialogue between students and with the instructor.
Students at the beginning will have to predict outcomes. The reason for this is to produce contradiction. By providing incongruous experiences, students will naturally find other methods of inquiry and other methods of completing the assignment. Disagreements produce contrasts and provide information that would not have been obvious had they not predicted. Constructivism encourages student involvement that can produce contradictions for this specific purpose.
This lesson is steeped in constructivist theory in many other ways. The Learning Outcomes section explains specifically what students are expected to take away from this experience. It will also reveal some additional ways constructivist theory is evident.
Learning outcomes will guide how the technology is used. It is important that technology have a useful purpose in acquiring new information. However, it is also important know how to use new technology as it comes out. The purpose of this lesson is going to be threefold. There will be three major objectives that will be accomplished by students.
One objective will be for students to analyze and utilize community resources. This is essential for students to know simply because they will be out on their own and will need to know how to do this. They have seen their parents access the grocery store, the bank, the post office, the police station, etc. Seeing it done is different than doing it though. Students will be given the opportunity to be out on their own making their own decisions, making their own mistakes and finding out how the real world works.
Another objective will be to decide how they will save as much money as they can while accessing the resources they are required to access. Students will be given a particular amount of money to use and will have to account for what they spent and saved.
The third objective will be to learn how to use the technology they have been given. They will be given a lesson on the basics of the MID. For the most part, however, they will learn how to use the required technology such as a GPS through trial and error. It is important today for students to know how to use new technology. That is why we have classes today like wood technology, family and consumer science, information technology and others. Preparing our students for life-long learning is imperative for global competition. Why not give students the tools to be successful right out of school? If we do this, they can be ready to prepare for the future themselves rather than play catch up.
The Experiment (Modeling of Web Apps)
The modeling of web applications will be expanded upon but here is a brief description. This lesson will require students to use this MID to complete the previously mentioned objectives. Here is how they will do it. Four teams will be deployed in Lancaster County at different points. Each team will have the same GPS objectives and the same tasks to complete.
The teams will be required to use the GPS to reach predetermined destinations: A local bank, two local post offices, two grocery stores, two gas stations, one restaurant, the local mall and a local technology school.
In their travels, students will be required to post on the class wiki when they arrived at a particular destination and when they left. They will also be required to make a post on their group blog about their experience at the particular location.
Students will be allowed to choose their method(s) of transportation but will be responsible for reporting costs. This will be explained further when modeling of web apps is expanded. Students will have chaperones. The chaperones will only be there to monitor but will not be involved in the learning/decision-making process unless intervention is needed for re-direction.
Connection to Technology
The connection to technology will be in one of the objectives. It will be difficult to complete this assignment not using technology so to replace that particular objective, an objective about using maps and calculators will be provided.
In the end, students will be asked to complete a survey asking questions about their experience in this lesson and whether or not it would have been easier or harder without the use of technology. Some simple yes or no questions will be asked but some specific questions about how it would have been easier or harder will also be asked.
Outcomes without Technology
If students do not have access to MID technology, there will be alternate ways to accomplish the tasks without it. Receipts with timestamps will be required when arriving at a destination. Maps will be used instead of GPSs and calculators will be provided for students.
Which Method is Better?
Working with technology will provide a better experience for this lesson. It gives students the ability to interact with each other face to face but also with others that are not in their presence. Not all is lost without technology, but real-time co-learning is not available. With technology, students will be able to see how others groups made decisions at particular destinations and learn from other group mistakes. Technology provides being able to learn from each other’s mistakes, sharing in each experience when it is happening and having access to extra resources they may not have had without technology. Technology also provides a management factor for the instructor too. Without technology, the instructor would not have been able to communicate with all his groups simultaneously nor as quickly.
Appropriate Choice of Web Apps
The wiki application is the best choice because it can be updated real time, time stamps can be utilized, everyone can see everyone else’s posts and immediately know how they fare in the exercise or competition. Blogs are the best choice for explaining group experiences because they can very easily incorporate pictures, they are easy to read and access.
Appropriate Use of Web Apps
Appropriate use of the web apps is important and is evident in its utilization. For instance, online maps can be used to find a quicker way than a GPS may you. The blog can be used to post pictures, to make comments about experience at particular junctures. The wiki can be updated by all team members. They can make comments to each other. It gives the instructor, one place to check all timestamps and progress of the groups.
Why Not This App?
There are other applications that can be used for this kind of activity. Ning is one but I felt that it wasn’t as “quick-viewable” as a wiki for time stamping. One advantage of Ning is that it doesn’t allow users to edit other’s posts but I thought that I could forego that feature because Wikis do have an edit history feature.
To be able to get the most from this experience, technology must be used. To have the most effective lesson, technology is critical in accomplishing goals from a constructivist perspective. It is with great anticipation that we await approval for this proposal to be submitted to Google for the MID competition. We have a firm belief that these learning objectives are relevant and that this technology would be enormously beneficial to our cache of instructional technology for providing 21st century skills and education.
Carvin, A. (1994), EdWeb. http://www.edwebproject.org/constructivism.basics.html