Teaching Technology through MUVE

Following the MUVEnation project (MUVE: Multi-User Virtual Environments)

Pre-week 1 activities – Reflecting my own experience

Posted by slandete on Sunday, November 2, 2008

A. I am your friend. I don’t work in education. You are talking to me about the idea that we all learn from each other, in all kinds of contexts, and that this can often be richer than more formal classroom based learning. I am sceptical. Tell me about an informal learning experience you have had online in which collaboration was involved, show me a concrete example to help me to see what you mean.

When thinking about an informal learning experience I have had online in which collaboration was involved, the first thing that came to my mind was the planning of our trip to Costa Rica 3 years ago. There was four of us going, each working in a different city in 2 different countries, and we were going on our own, so we had to do all the plans.

We started exchanging e-mails. After the first 20 e-mails it all became way too confusing because the information was scattered and finding the e-mail with the piece of info you were looking for was difficult. To make things worse, sometimes 2 people were writing e-mails at the same time saying 2 different things.

Then we decided to write on a wiki – each of us will gather information about things to do in the 5 more famous spots and write it down on the corresponding page of the wiki, while the rest could edit the page adding things to do, comments, etc. It made things easier even though only one of us had previous experience with the wiki language and had to help the rest with the basics. After that, when someone made a useful discovery about the language such as how to write ordered lists or insert an image, the others could just have a look at the code behind it to see how it was done. Before we even noticed we were engaged on a competition about which wiki page was nicer, increasing our knowledge about Costa Rica and about the wiki language at the same time.

When we were back from our trip we decided to edit the wiki so that it could help other people like us trying to make up their mind when visiting Costa Rica on their own. We used the information previously gathered and the data and pictures collected over our visit, and by the end everybody was pretty competent with the wiki language and we all did put our grain of sand in the final result. You are welcome to visit it here.

footprints in the sand

B. Tell us about that new tool, or set of tools, you have just discovered that really excites you, talk about the potential it has to change your work. What do you want to do with it?

The most important tools I work with in class are:

  • Wikis: I would like to have a wiki hosting a dictionary of technological terms. In groups of two, pupils would have to write down the assigned entry among those important in every unit. They will have to look up for other entries related to theirs in order to link them accordingly, so they’ll end up visiting all the other pages and reading them at least once. This resource can also be used as an easy and collaborative way to write a report about the projects that children build during the course. I will put this in practice in the near future.

  • Webquests: Webquests are not a technology themselves but a way of using the internet in the classroom. They were first introduced by Bernie Dodge (San Diego State University) and are a good way of making sure that pupils do not just gather snippets of seemingly unconnected information but build appropriate knowledge with it. In a webquest a concrete measurable goal is set that requires teams to gather information and transform it in order to get to the final result. Given the appropriate thinking, it could make pupils build their own knowledge of a whole unit practically unassisted. I’m working on my first one, it’ll be linked here shortly.

  • Electronic simulation software: after explaining how a light switch circuit works, I run a simulation of the same circuit and pupils see how it works, can know the values of voltage and current anywhere in the circuit simultaneously, can change values and see how it affects the behaviour, etc. All of this at no extra cost (KTechlab is free software), with no danger involved and so easily and quickly that they can begin designing their own circuits straight away.

C. Do you see yourself as a pioneer? Do you think you are more innovative than others in your organization? Do you think your organization is lagging behind? Tell us how you feel about this.

My work is to teach Technology to 12-18 year old students. I do not consider myself an entrepreneur and am certainly not the kind of person that will start its own business, but I am very curious and have a lot of interest in all things related to Technology, which makes me more aware of all the possibilities available than the average teacher. I am looking for ways to improve the learning experience using different resources like videos, flash animations, etc. and have used IT resources before many coworkers had even heard of them – the moodle platform, wikis, etc. So in a nutshell yes, I consider myself more innovative than many teachers. After all, I have enrolled the MUVEnation project.


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