Design session results
- English summary of the session (generated from the audio recording)
- Around two good photos of the situation (as attachments to the page)
- Do not publish the audio recording itself - let's respect people's privacy.
NB. Please keep in mind that these design sessions were held with teachers, and teachers are only a portion of the focus group for this tool. So these results do not give a complete picture on user opinions. Teachers are more focused on using the content, but others (publishers, learners, etc.) are more focused on content authoring.
There was a concern for copyright issues: although the scenario is plausible in principle, in reality one may not be able to take other people's material from the web and reuse it.
Teachers are not taught to use new computer-based tools in their everyday work. This requires larger structural changes, but the system must also be super easy to use. You have to be able to develop a routine in its use and reuse and improve on your own work. Recommendations and advice from experienced users are also considered valuable.
A challenge: it is easier for the teacher just to tell students to visit the appropriate websites or read a book. Why would a teacher write his or her own material?
It is important for the teachers to describe the starting point and the results of the work. What is interesting is what the students are made to do with their new knowledge.
In real life there is much harsher discipline and it is not as important to motivate students to study instead of playing games. If a student misbehaves, the school can just temporarily disable his or her user account.
The students do love to chat using computers, but the teacher has to prepare good questions for them to discuss. However, discussion forums also work as documentation of what has been discussed, but a chat without a log file does not.
Having games, like students rating other students's work, is perhaps not a good idea. Playing computer games is something they already do all the time, and it might even contribute to problems in concentrating on their studies. However, games are good for learning mechanical tasks and things like multiplication tables. Also, educational simulations of real-life situations ("running a hamburger restaurant") may work.
Flashy aesthetics and coolness may stimulate interest in the topic, but when overdone they are simply tiring.
Borrowing learning processes for use with other content may not be useful, as things become too abstract. Generalities are not helpful in practice. The process is secondary to the material that is being taught, and the material partly determines the process.
You have to know the learning process model very well to use it: second-hand summaries are helpful just as pointers and starting points.
Mutually beneficial sharing as a motivation: when I contribute, I get to enjoy what others have contributed.
Three main areas:
- subject matter (history, biology, languages etc.),
- general learning methods and
- perhaps smaller activities like specific games, but it is not as important.
The subject matter section should be organized according to a simple multilevel system (e.g. History -> World War I), with the level of difficulty (comprehensive school, high school, etc.) indicated under the subject. This would help a teacher find material originally intended for less or more advanced students and adapt it for his or her particular needs.
Everything is built around one central idea or another ("the Stone Age" in history class), and the related ideas from other subjects ("Stone Age painting" from art class) are shown in perhaps a tree or a list.
In the methods section would be descriptions of new, different methods of teaching. These descriptions might lower the threshold of adoption. Teachers do not have enough energy to experiment, and being able to learn from others would help. The description of the teaching processes is primary, the actual materials the teacher uses are secondary.
Automatically generated visual maps might be useful particularly in understanding large wholes, but they would not replace traditional methods.
If you use the system a lot, a list of newest additions on the front page might be useful. Optional notifications in selected areas of the site might work as well, but things must not get too complicated.
The teachers do not consider themselves visionaries, as their thinking is connected to their actual practical work.
Three teachers participated in Estonian design session. They are teaching computer science, English and German.
- All teachers find that Toolbox is similar to Koolielu portal. The main difference is that Toolbox provides image and multimedia content for authoring learning content.
- One of the teachers find Toolbox to be similar to eJournal.
- One of the teachers notices that Jana did not learn about Toolbox in university. All the teachers emphasise the importance of teacher training.
- One of the teachers was using bank metaphor about Toolbox.
- Teachers understand from the scenario that it is possible to search for Wikipedia content from Toolbox. They seem to that idea.
- All teachers find that the scenario seems to be real.
- Teachers separate two ways of collaboration: real collaboration and „I use yours – you use mine“ type of collaboration. They agree that it is much more difficult to achieve real collaboration.
- Teachers don’t think that they will use a ready-made learning resource exactly as it is provided. They will modify it or sometimes use it only for ideas.
- Suggested functionality: easy way to thank the original author („Thank you“ button).
- Teachers don’t think that they will have time to comment other learning resources.
- Teachers are surprised that Toolbox is so simple to use – Taavi just completed ICT training and is already able to do complicated things.
- Only template is not enough for problem based learning.
- Teachers notice again that Toolbox is found from Google in the scenario. Teachers emphasise again the importance of teacher training. They agree, that teachers usually don’t start to use things that they find. Somebody has to show that „this is good for you“.
- It is important to teach learning methods that are connected to templates.
- Teachers like that it is possible to find learning resources from other countries.
- Teachers think that good learning resources must be translated.
- Suggested functionality: „Please translate this“ button.
- Teachers can‘t imagine themselves in Taavi’s role.
- Teachers think that Taavi must have very much time.
- Teachers think that next time he will not spend so much time in Toolbox and take it more realistically.
- Teachers who create their own learning resource will never use the same resource two years in a row.
- Problem is in teacher, not in students.
- Two reasons: the task was boring or there was not enough work.
- Even the Toolbox will not help.
- Learning resource does not have to look like an entertainment website.
- Chat alone cannot solve the problems.
- Game is not an entertainment, it is serious work. The educational task must not be hidden behind the game.
- Students like instant feedback, not the game. Students like charts. Everybody wants to be the best.
- Teachers discuss the problems with peer reviews. Students need very good guidelines for assesment.
- Teachers agree, that it is difficult to develop learning resources for groupwork.
- Teachers agree, that every second lesson in computer lab is too much in case of economy.
- 3rd grade students are too young to make efficient searches in Google. It would be good to have a template, where teacher can specify the sites from which stundents can search.
- Teachers agree that it is not possible to comment a learning resource before using it.
- Teachers think that the keywords should be translated to help finding the learning resources.
- The environment and community must be in local language.
- There can be international communities in English language.
- Teachers tend to prefer existing contacts to virtual online communities. They agree that only verbally fluent teachers who have free time will start participating in communities.
- One of the teachers points out the possibility, that many students will join teachers community. The other one disagrees.
- One of the teachers is worried that students might upload pornographic photos. They agree that there must be a moderating system.
- International learning resources can’t be grouped by forms, because national curriculas are so different.
- Teachers talk about eTwinning, which has also many good learning resources.
- Teachers agree that one of the main obstacles for international collaboration and reuse of learning resources is language skills.
- Functionalities: image upload, text writing tools, simple drawing program, import/export
- Teachers agree that for small modifications it is easier to use web-based editors. For big tasks it is better to use software installed on their own PC.
- Possibility to combine individual learning resources to courses.
- Possibility to use learning resources in virtual learning environments.
- It is important to be able split learning resources to items. Teachers will most likely reuse items.
- It is important to search for items: texts, images, animations, etc.
- Teachers will not develop learning resources specially for Toolbox.
- Before teachers will share their resources in Toolbox they must get some benefit from Toolbox.
- Teachers notice the problem, that some teachers try to steal the authorship.
- Teacher’s came to open content licenses and sharealike principles.
- There could be a „Collaboration corner“ in front page for collaboration proposals.
- Content based search.
- Possibility to browse learning resources.
- Possibility to search learning resources based on learning resource type.
- Simple search and advanced search.
- Teachers are not aware of folksonomy and tagging. Thy confuse it with Google bombing.
Drawings and explanations will be added soon.
- TOOLBOX must be very user friendly. We should give the teachers ONLY the FINAL version of the TOOLBOX (shouldn’t publish beta version). It is important, because most of the teacher is not assiduous, if use of the system is difficult, they will give it up, and they will never come back to try the TOOLBOX again.
- Teachers are not motivated to create learning materials. They are not content providers. One of them told, only the professional content developers should provide learning materials, and publish these in the system, or the repository should mark (with metadata) the professional contents.
- Teachers suggested that the major task of the TOOLBOX should be providing tools which makes the lessons more interesting, or helps to check the knowledge of pupils. For example they should helps to make interactive tests, make presentations (simple specific designer programs, specific animation makers), because the digital learning materials could better because of this things. Consequently the teachers think, interactivity and the multimedia facilities are more important things like the raw, collected knowledge.
- Somebody should TEACH the teachers, how they can use the TOOLBOX, somebody should motivate them. The teachers will not connect to the TOOLBOX, if nobody shows the advantages of this tool.
- One of the aims of CALIBRATE is facilitating the international communications. This communication will not begin spontaneously. Somebody should TEACH the teachers, how they can take part in a international community. Big problem that most of them cannot speak English. One of the teachers thinks, that teachers should organize little communities, and choose a “mentor”, who deputize them. This mentor would keep the connection with the international community.
- The other task of this “mentor” is checking, filtering, and moderation. Consequently he/she select the interesting materials from the repository, because teachers have not enough time for this task.
- Teachers search only animations, presentations, and multimedia contents with foreign languages, the textual content wouldn’t be interesting for them.
- Except in school with two languages, because they search the content in the second language.
- The copyright issue is very important! Nobody will store materials without payment. Making of good content is very difficult task, and much work. How can the owner get the money for the content? How can the content keep the copyright information, when anybody use it in their content? If anybody make content from copyrighted fragments, who will the owner of this content, and how can share the money if anybody sell it?
- The content in the repository must be up to date!
- Teachers thinks the major types of contents are: test (test templates, test questions), illustrations (images, sounds, animations), learning games. The raw textual content is minor thing.
- TOOLBOX should provide the following functions:
- Making adaptive, on-line tests, which are evaluated by the system realtime.
- The repository should contain validated test questions.
- Interactive, user friendly exercises for the pupils.
- The requests should provided by teachers (they think, they would write scenarios), and developers should communicate with teachers and the pedagogical experts through the whole developing period.
- TOOLBOX should totally localized.
- TOOLBOX would contain a structured link folder.
Teachers think, scenarios not realistic, they wrote some own scenarios:
Béla is a history teacher in the primary school. He finds that his students orientate themselves very badly in time. He looks for an interactive timescale on the internet. He is glad when he finds it but he becomes upset because the events of Hungarian history are missing from the database and the other data do not fit into the Hungarian curricula. He gets know from one of his friends that there is a timescale in Toolbox as well, where the teacher can add events and also can assign pictures to them. Now he can prepare training material for the next lesson with happiness.
Next time, he looks for maps to support orientation in space. He is especially interested in puzzle and blind maps. He is very happy because he finds such maps about all continents. He plays also with the rivers, mountains and cities. He decides to organise a contest using the maps on the school day.
Elemér teaches physics. He loves electronics, likes to assemble circuits and he made his students like this activity as well. He would like to have a tool set for arbitrarily putting together the wires and equipments of a flat (in space) and which can calculate the energy need of a household and the value of the electricity invoice. Also he wants an interactive simulation where he can fill in the consumption and the price of the electricity. Unfortunately, he did not find such thing.
Éva teaches English. She should prepare her students for language exam (oral only, written only, both, intermediate and advanced levels). She makes customised tests with the help of Toolbox for oral and written examinations. It turned out during the trial examination that one of the students prepares for wrong examination type. Éva gives him the other test package, which is easier for the student.
Ágnes teaches music. She would like to bring the Baroque music near to her students. She introduces the genres and the structures with the help of music composer software. She finds pieces of music in the Repository and a simple composer software which she can use together with her students. Jóska has an own music band. He composes paraphrases for a Baroque motif in different pop styles which everybody likes very much even those who are against the classical music. At the end of the lesson, the students listen silently to the five-minute long multimedia presentation with music and pictures about the Baroque culture.
2 teachers, one pedagog and one former school leader participated in the design session.
In general participants recognise the scenario. There is a need to get content from the net, because the textbooks are not up to date. In particular on recent crisis, wars etc. One teacher would love to have a system that makes search easier. Comparing with e.g. finding a picture on google, which can be time consuming due to the number of hits.
In general teachers should be able to perform the activities described in the scenario, but there is generation issues about the use of content from the net. However, older teachers learn from the younger.
Content/source critics, and content reference are important issues when content are integrated and refined in several steps. This is a skill that both teachers and pupils must learn.
There is a need to refine the content that is retrieved from the net and make it ”mine”. It is difficult just to use another teacher’s material.
There where discussion about the sharing-culture on a particular school, and how the management could improve structures for sharing of information and resources.
One teacher said it was easier to share with strangers via the net than local colleges. Also, it is easier to use that to contribute resources. Contributing material is a bit scary and revealing. Material may be regarded as ”used”, and be of lesser value if shared.
To select pedagogical approaches is an advanced activity. There is usually not sufficient time allocated for this for teachers. In general the group wants more time to develop more problem based learning activities. For a teacher a template is connected to an operational/action level rather than a pedagogy/theoretical level.
The use of templates is interesting, and may be regarded both at a collective and an individual level. Collective levels (e.g. at a school) may imply that the variety disappears. There is a need to make templates personal, a basis on which a teacher can work from.
Kelly is a participant in a community, which is not common for teachers. Is there really time during the day to do this? What is the effort a teacher would like to put into preparations for a single lesson compared to a large project work? The group thinks a teacher would participate in a community e.g. when preparing a larger cross discipline project work.
The teachers wanted a database of methods. Methods are activities that are not subject specific, and are not pedagogically connected to subject content.
The teachers do not want their contributions to me anonymous. One teacher said she would be proud to be associated with quality resources on the net.
There was a discussion on the role of the printed textbook. Some argue its importance will decrease, and some argue it will continue to be important.
There was a discussion on idealism, business for the schools and copyright issues.
Is there a competitor’s edge for a school not to share? Could we compare the schools with consultancy? What if the teachers were not allowed to share content? There is an idealism in community pages.
What teachers expect from Toolbox?
List of expectations in order how often they were mentioned:
- learning process modules and learning methods (mentioned 5 times)
- recommendations and advice how to use learning methods and toolbox by local mentor (4)
- tools for resource modification – resource content manager (3 times)
- digital rights management tools (3 times)
- Toolbox is easy to use (2 times)
- materials must be ready made by professionals (2 times)
- language support – templates in multi language, text free resources as much as possible (2)
- visual maps like charts, time line, maps, schemas, ...(2 times)
- search (by resource type and content) and catalogue (simple multilevel/difficulty) of resources (2 times)
Mentioned only one time:
- Thank you button – maybe its better to live authors name under module.
- Toolbox installed in local computer (not web host)
- New additions on front page
- Collaboration proposals on front page
- Forums (not chat)
- educational simulations
- “Pleas translate this” button – who will translate
- tools that can add learning materials instant feedback
- Creation tools (text, drawing, animation, interactive exercises, puzzle)
- Import – export tools
- combination tools (put resources together in course)
- convert learning resources to LMS
- tools for interactive test creation