Sunday, 4 August 2013

Science curriculum, the e in science

I have been reading a number of papers lately, not the ones i should be reading though,

This report explores innovative possibilities for e-in-science practice to enhance teacher capability and increase student engagement and achievement. It provides insights into how e-learning might be harnessed to help create a future-oriented science education programme and puts forward a possible framework.
The report draws on four focus groups and two case studies. It is part of a Ministry of Education project investigating e-learning in science education (e-in-science). The project is one of three strands in a larger programme of work.

It fascinates me, that i have heard no Science teacher talk about this work, even when I posted it on twitter to a science teacher i got back "Thanks for the link. Will have a good read of that tomorrow. I hadn't seen it before but it looks valuable on 1st glance"

In the report it talks about Principles for future oriented science education
In considering how future-oriented education (including science education) might be supported, Bolstad and Gilbert (2012) identify six emerging principles:
1. personalising learning 
2. new views of equity, diversity and inclusivity 
3. a curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity 
4. rethinking learners’ and teachers’ roles 
5. a culture of continuous learning for teachers and educational leaders 
6. new kinds of partnerships and relationships between schools and the wider community. 

The majority of these principles relate to how the teacher thinks about the purposes of 
education, and how these purposes might be realised. In the sections below, each principle 
is explored in the context of the data we obtained from the focus groups and case studies.

Interesting to note is the how the teacher thinks about the purposes of  education, and how these purposes might be realised. It's not the school, curriculum, or other factors, it comes directly on how the teacher thinks about the purpose of education. Something that we need to look at a bot more within our schools.

Looking at the first principle, 

Several of the focus group teachers saw moves towards BYOD (bring your own devices) as opening up opportunities for greater customisation of learning pathways. Others were exploring the use of Moodle to offer multiple learning pathways to students. Isaac reflected on this becoming more possible with changes in technology: 
Sometimes something happens which enables you to make a jump in terms of your own teaching strategy. For example, Moodle … When we went to Moodle 2, all of a sudden, for me, it becomes personalised learning. You can do conditional pathways. 

Within the current schooling system, it is difficult to envisage deeper levels of customisation, where students or the community, or both, might shape the direction, scope, content, and contexts for learning (Bolstad, n.d.). Hipkins and Spiller (2012) also note that, in instances of innovative curriculum design which they identified at the senior secondary sector: 

[T]eachers worked hard to make space for students to learn about themselves and their own potential—to bring something of who they were and what they were interested in learning, and to build from this positive, more personalised foundation. (p. 38) 

Alongside this is a need, in science education, for students and teachers to be thinking about what science learning is important, and why. 

Principle Two notes in it

Clearly, however, system-wide change is likely to be needed before teachers are able to fully engage with what alternative views of education might actually look like—and how they might be enacted.

While the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) signals opportunities to do this, current NCEA assessment tasks do not go far enough in valuing the multiple skills students would need to bring to such a task.

How can we as teachers change the way we assess multiple skills through our assessments when NCEA won't allow it?

Principle Three: I look t this with my technology hat on,

Education for the knowledge age must prioritise developing learners’ dispositions, capacities and competencies to deal with new situations and environments, including those with high degrees of complexity, fluidity and uncertainty. This does not mean that knowledge no longer matters. Rather, a more complex view of knowledge is adopted, where knowledge is not “stuff” but something that 
“does stuff” (Gilbert, 2005).

Giving students skills is simple, but giving the student to knowledge behind the skills, the knowledge behind the way the computer works, computer science is a great avenue of this, its not skills, it is knowledge that they will be able to work with, think about data, algorithms into making a program better, thinking about what makes up a good design, a good interface. How Artificial Intelligence works and is going to be used in their work and world. 

Through the paper we see 
In a similar vein, several secondary school teachers reported using forums within Moodle to facilitate learning discussions among students. In some cases, these were related directly to content-rich NCEA-type questions. In other cases a socio-scientific issue was used. For example, Chris talked about his Level 2 biology students debating the pros and cons of IVF on Moodle. This latter use hints at what might be possible when the focus of science education shifts from access to a fixed stock of knowledge to “equipping people to enter and navigate the constantly shifting networks and flows of knowledge that are a feature of 21st century life” (Bolstad & Gilbert, 2012, p. 32). Such a focus will also need to include greater connection with views and expertise from outside the class and school, and ICT has significant potential to help mediate this. Although Chris’s class had not invited external input in their Moodle discussion, he was keen to explore this possibility. 

At the senior secondary level, NCEA assessments in science, by and large, also continue to rank content knowledge highly. Schools, teachers and students are under significant pressure to “conform” to these priorities in order to “do well” under the current assessment regime. Despite this pressure, some secondary teachers are able to envisage ways to develop future-oriented learning within and around existing assessment approaches (Bolstad, 2010; Hipkins & Spiller, 2012).

How do we envisage future oriented learning within Technology?
Do we need to make more reference to the Nature of Technology strands in our area?

Principle Four: Rethinking learner's and teacher's roles

e-Learning is a whole new environment. The whole pedagogy of teaching needs to move away from what has been the traditional industrial model of teaching, to the student at the centre. Because now the student is able to have far more up-to-date information. That is itself should provide some changes in what we do. 

The teacher described a shift in her practice so that her junior secondary students had far greater control in choosing the questions they would investigate for their science-fair projects. She talked about running the science lab and computer lab at the same time, and reported that: 

Some of the research that’s being done, by quite limited pupils, is quite amazing. They have an idea, and because they don’t think the same way as we do, rather than me directing them to a traditional project, they’re going off in some quite interesting directions, and they’re actually researching stuff that’s actually beyond my knowledge. They’re coming out with quite in-depth studies, and linking the whole thing together. I think we have to accept now that we’ve got to go in a student-directed direction. 

In each example, there are glimpses of teachers seeking student “voice” and input into their classroom learning. It is far more challenging, however, to move beyond notions of “student-centred” pedagogies to thinking about how teachers and learners might work together in a “knowledge-building” learning environment. Within this context, roles and relationships are structured in ways that draw on the strengths and knowledge of each in order to support co-learning. For example, while teachers often reported learning IT skills from students, a future-oriented interaction would involve the students and the teachers working together to maximise opportunities for co-learning in other areas as well.
In this environment, where the Internet is used for production of information in addition to retrieval, an effective teacher is a facilitator of knowledge acquisition and manager of the visible interactions among members of the learning community (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011). This is likely to be an unsettling and challenging role for teachers, particularly where they are uncertain about what knowledge will be needed—and need to be developed—to pursue the task that has been agreed to. 

Principle Five: A culture of continuous learning for teachers and educational leaders

Change can be difficult to articulate and implement. The transformation to a more futureoriented, participatory learning framework will not be easy for many teachers and educational leaders—in part because most have been socialised into educational ideas and practices common within 20th-century education systems. 

How are we being shown change in our school? Do we still see examples of educational ideas and practices common within our school?

It is important that the professional development is appropriate for teachers’ current stage and interests.

One aspect that some teachers considered to be particularly intimidating in the context of professional learning related to ICT use in their teaching was the over-emphasis on how technology literate students are. This appeared to have two foundations: first, it made them feel less than competent, and that the students were “way ahead”; secondly, they quickly discovered that the students needed a lot more “education” about digital literacy than they had expected. As Glenis reported:
I do find it surprising that, at my age, I am teaching a lot of students how to do this—the [digital skills] they need for what I’m doing. While it may not be first nature for me to do all this, and I’m learning as I go, a lot of our students don’t know how to do it. 

The theme of teachers needing to see themselves as learners was raised in each of the four focus groups. It also seems noteworthy that many of the participants had entered teaching after a first career doing something else. Perhaps these participants have an intrinsic belief in on-going (lifelong) learning. 

Many also enjoyed “playing” with ICTs—which ties in with Wagner’s (2012) view of innovation requiring play, passion and purpose. Many teachers considered that learning about and playing with ICTs was intensely time consuming. For the most part, this was offset by the benefits that resulted for their own learning, and the ways in which they were able to incorporate ICTs in their teaching and learning programmes. However, any resources to help circumvent the time-consuming process of searching for relevant tools were appreciated (e.g., lists of appropriate apps for different science concepts). 

The problem with IT is it is presented as a solution to the problem. Now find me the problem. 
Whereas we need to come from, ‘This is what I can do. Where’s the solution that will fit it?’ 

Similarly, Sam lamented: 

That is where technology falls down. Too often, it’s ‘Let’s take the gee whiz gizmo aspect’ which is passing and fleeting … You have to go to what is the fundamental purpose of what you are trying to achieve, and how is this best supported by ICT? 

Principle Six:

The future-oriented literature drawn on by Bolstad and Gilbert (2012) suggests that schools, as they are currently set up, simply do not have the resources to provide “in house” all of the very different kinds of expertise needed to develop 21st-century learning experiences in which students contribute to the development of new knowledge. Futureoriented teachers require strong pedagogical knowledge, but they also need to be able to collaborate with other people who can provide specific kinds of expertise, knowledge, or access to learning opportunities in community contexts.

I love this quote, Once it’s in a book, it’s dead information. We’re teaching artefacts of stuff we once thought was important. What’s happening now is changing at such a rate that they need to be part of it. 

Insights into e-in-science 
This case study offers a range of insights into how digital tools might be harnessed to facilitate the development of learning communities supporting future-oriented science education. In particular, it offers an example of an education programme that:
  • has potential to support both teacher and student learning 
  • relies on and is developed in conjunction with community participation 
  • has potential to support peer collaboration and knowledge co-construction 
  • has potential to explore complex, open-ended, cross-disciplinary problems. 
These are explored in greater detail in the full report.

I now starting thinking, are we really doing the tech in technology justice?
The following is a link to the Nature of Technology Achievement Objectives

Though as I read the information on the technology site, one thing hits me, The explanatory papers for the Nature of Technology and Technological Knowledge are still under development.

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