Module 2.7 Education Informatics

I enjoyed learning about Education Informatics because what I’d thought might be a scary and complicated concept turned out to be something quite simple – putting people (teachers and learners) at the centre of discussions about information technology and education. Obviously it is not so simple when you start to delve but at least the concept is understandable and should be accessible to anyone involved in education. Levy and others (2003) more formal definition “the study of the application of digital technologies and techniques to the use and communication of information in learning and education” sums it up nicely in more formal language. I’m interested in the distinction between learning and education in this definition. I think it is important, as is separating the “people” into “teachers” and “learners” even though the two groups can and should overlap.

As I read it occurred to me that much of what we have covered so far in this subject can be considered part of education informatics…and then that was stated as part of the forum topic.

I think I fall in the Liberal and Humanistic schools of thought about what learning is for. The various purposes of education and how they impact the design of learning and teaching seem to have crossovers with some of the things we have looked at. Humanistic, being driven by individual’s intrinsic motivation fits with the Connected Learning movement while the Social/Situated where it’s about interaction between people and real-world contexts seems to me to be what Connectivist learning is about.

As an educator I try to take account of my student’s existing knowledge and experiences and I want to enable authentic learning opportunities where the students can make connections with their real-life experiences. My recent move from a large, multi-cultural, lower socio-economic state school to a small, Jewish, private school has required significant adaptation on my behalf. Expectations are different (parents and students particularly, less so from other teachers) but other things are not so different. Kids are kids by and large. The biggest difference is that the new school does not have the range of extremes. In one class I taught I had a brilliant student who topped the state in VET Lab Skills as a year 10 student and got 50 in two VCE Unit 3&4 subjects when in year 11 (I can’t wait to see how she does this year when she’s actually in year 12). Contrast her with another student in the same class – a recent arrival from Somalia with a highly dysfunctional family. I can only imagine the horrors he had experienced in his short life but in my classroom it manifested itself as complete disengagement from learning, a law unto himself, coming and going as he pleased, and unable to string two words together unless one of them was f@#$. At my new school the worst behaviour I have come across is from the highly intelligent “bush lawyer” type who will argue that black is white, just because he can do so so eloquently.

Training, instruction and education are all aspects of learning as a whole. As a teacher and particularly as a teacher-librarian I find myself doing quite a bit of training and instructing on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully I get some educating in from time to time. Crosby’s (2002, referenced in Ford, 2008) safety analogy was a clear demonstration of the differences. It reminded me of a curriculum day speaker (whose name I’ve sadly forgotten) who spoke of the differences between amateurs, para-professionals and professionals; and then spoke of artisans who lifted teaching into a whole other dimension.

Around two years ago at my old school we spent a great deal of professional learning time working on “The Mill Park Instructional Model”. I was fascinated to find that what we came up with almost exactly followed Gagné, Briggs, and Wager (1992) (referenced in Ford, 2008 p. 82-83) nine instructional events for providing the right conditions for learning to occur.

Gagné, Briggs, and Wager’s nine instructional events The Mill Park model
Gain the learner’s attention (reception) Orderly classrooms

Developing clear and consistent routines and cues for students to follow

Make the learner aware of the objective of the learning activity (expectancy) Learning intentions and success criteria:

Ensure that expectations for learning are set at a challenging but achievable level for all students

  • Clearly identifying and displaying the learning intentions for each lesson that are linked to the relevant standards and build on student prior learning
  • Ascertaining student levels of knowledge as well as other needs that impact on their learning
  • Providing students with a range of ways to access the learning and demonstrate success
  • Clearly articulating and displaying the success criteria for learning so that students will know if they have met the learning outcomes
Stimulate recall of the learner’s relevant prior learning (retrieval) Teacher input: Design learning experiences that are engaging and encourage student curiosity and achievement. We do this by

  • Linking learning to student experience
  • Reviewing previous learning
Present the learning stimulus (selective perception)
  • Using ‘hooks’ to generate student interest in learning
  • Ensuring that the ‘Pace ‘ of the lesson is appropriate to maximise student engagement and learning
Provide the learner with appropriate guidance (semantic encoding)
  • Differentiating the learning experience to cater for a range of student interests, skill levels and learning styles
  • Using activities that are clearly and explicitly linked to the learning outcomes
  • Encouraging collaborative learning through use of grouping strategies and peer coaching
  • Using and encouraging higher order questioning techniques
  • Providing a range of activities to maximise student learning and provide access to the learning for all students
Elicit performance on the part of the learner (responding)
  • Using ICT to engage students and to enable students to demonstrate their learning in flexible ways

Activating student learning: Provide opportunities for students to actively engage in learning and to demonstrate this learning

  • Ensuring that students practise skills being taught using a range of scaffolding devices
  • Ensuring that all students have access to appropriately pitched curriculum materials and support so that all student learning needs are well met
  • Providing opportunities for students to apply concepts taught in a range of ways that link to the learning intentions, to prior and possible future learning
  • Clearly referencing the success criteria outlined at the beginning of the lesson to guide students in the development of their knowledge and demonstration of their learning
Give the learner feedback (reinforcement) Feedback: Seek and provide feedback to maximise student learning by:

  • Coaching and correcting student performance to provide feedback to students as they progress
  • Tie feedback to the specific learning intentions
  • Provide information that students can use to improve their performance
  • Deliver feedback on student work in a timely manner
  • Provide opportunities for students to participate in generating feedback rather than always acting as passive receivers
Assess the learner’s performance (retrieval)
  • Use a range of formative assessment strategies to determine which aspects of the lesson have been learnt well and which aspects may require reteaching
Enhance the learner’s retention and transfer of what is learned (generalization). Review: Wrap up and review what has been learnt and reinforce expectations for students

  • Explicitly revisiting the learning intentions and success criteria
  • Identifying which students have mastered the learning and which are yet to do so using a range of strategies
  • Summarising the key learning using student input where possible
  • Outlining the next steps for future learning including possible review and revision for students who have not yet reached the target learning

I have and will continue to use the Mill Park model for planning learning activities because it is a really comprehensive and useful document and  I now know it is grounded in research! (and my new school doesn’t have a similar document).

References

Ford, N. (2008). Education. In Web-based learning through educational informatics: Information science meets educational computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from: http://www.igi-global.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/gateway/chapter/full-text-pdf/31399

Levy, P., Ford, N., Foster, J., Madden, A., Miller, D., Nunes, M. B., McPherson, M, & Webber, S. (2003). Educational informatics: An emerging research agenda. Journal of Information Science, 29(4), 298-310. Retrieved http://jis.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/29/4/298.full.pdf+html