Last modified 13 years ago Last modified on 12/16/06 17:33:10

Method / Case description

The empirical case we have tested LAMS and IMS LD with is labelled “Case 9c - Classroom Management and Leadership” (case9c). It has been a part of the final year of the practical pedagogical teacher education program and it aims at teacher-students’ co-construction of professional knowledge in every day practice (Hauge, 2005). It starts from a rather chaotic episode in a classroom on Monday morning with 15 year-old students. The episode is a two and half minute long video showing students rushing into the classroom and being busy talking with friends without noticing the teacher and her orders. One of the students brings with her a pet rat that attracts a group of students reinforcing the disorder (Figure 6). Other students are opening their computers and ignoring their teacher.

Figure 6: Disorder in the classroom.

The case is designed to include several predefined steps (Figure 7) where the teacher-students have to observe the video case and reflect upon the episode based on the predefined questions: “What is happening in this lesson? What are the challenges facing the teacher in this situation? What is the reason why it takes such a long time before the pupils calm down?”. The teacher-students’ thoughts are written in a text area and stored for later examination by the teacher-students’ instructor. Then the teacher-students continue to a collaboration part where they pair in groups. One of them (teacher-student A) has to seek advice from his fellow teacher-student (B). Teacher-student A has to (based on the chaotic movie episode) ask for advice on how to achieve respect from pupils in the classroom. This will be done by writing an email explaining the problem and asking for advice. Hints of problems to ask advice for given to teacher-student A are: “What problems is there in this class? What kinds of problems do you as a teacher experience? Point specifically to the aspects you need advice on”

Figure 7: Predefined activity steps in case9c.

Teacher-student B receives the email and will respond based on a problem description provided by teacher-student A, his/her experience as a teacher (if any) and some literature provided by the system solution. The advice given by teacher-student B is sent by email back to teacher-student A. After this advice and emailing session the teacher-students go on to an individual part where they reflect on the advice they received (A) and gave (B). This part consists of some questions as guiding hints to what the teacher-students should reflect on and a text area where they can submit their thoughts that will be being stored permanently. In the last task the students pair again to reflect on classroom management framed by a model of four components:

  • The pupils’ basic skills,
  • The teacher’s ability to lead a class,
  • The learning culture of the class, and
  • The pupils’ competence both socially and in different subject domains.

These components are considered key theoretical concepts from literature on classroom management. This reflection task is done as a co-writing exercise and the resulting document is submitted to the teacher-students’ own instructor.

Original version

The case described in this chapter has been studied after use by Hauge (2005). However, the study was based on the original LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) version of the system. The original version had an Apache web server running on a Linux server. The videos (on the left side of the browser window) included problem descriptions when it arrived at its final frame, and there would also appear an html text area on the right side of the browser window (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Video on the left and html text area with submit button on the right.

In the html text area the teacher-students would reflect and write based on the video and the guiding problem descriptions, and the answers would then be stored through a PHP script in a database that we had specifically constructed for all the cases used in this educational programme. The email feature was constructed using PHP and the teacher-students filled in the email address of their co-student and body text of their questions or advice. Our solution, however, did not have an integrated email viewer so the teacher-students had to use their default email system to read the email from their co-student, thus they had to switch between two applications. After the email activity the teacher-students had to reflect in a text area about the advice they received and gave. Their reflections were again saved to a database. The last task was co-writing and our solution did not support distributed co-writing. Instead the teacher-students had to pair up in front of a computer and discuss together while they were writing. They were supposed to write one page reflecting on classroom management and then they would copy and paste their work into a document in the LMS they were using, thus switching to a third application during the case9c.

The previous descriptions of both the pedagogy and technical solution give some indication of what kind of problems we would face when we were going to recreate and model the same case using LAMS and IMS LD.

LAMS version

It was interesting to us not only to model our case using IMS LD, but also using LAMS. The motivation is that LAMS is also activity centred when it comes to design of learning situations. LAMS has a lot of features that supports both synchronous (real-time communication) and asynchronous (distributed in time and space) collaborative work. A preview feature also makes it easy to test different types of designs. Our solution was to use the Noticeboard-tool to display the introduction text. To display the video we used a HTML-noticeboard.

This tool supports all kinds of html text and we were able to embed a streamed video object. We had to use real time streamed video because the video was too large for the clients to download (using progressive streaming). In a class with 20 teacher-students, a download solution would choke the bandwidth. As the video was playing, the teacher-students would have to make notes in a notepad tool where only they themselves could see what they were writing (private vs. public spaces). Then they would use the Journal tool to reflect and write, based on the video and the guiding problem descriptions. This Journal tool was used as an equivalent to the html-text area used in the original version of the system. The text that the teacher-students wrote would be stored in the LAMS database. To get the teacher-students to collaborate in pairs, we used the grouping tool and created as many groups as teacher-students divided by two. The students would be randomly paired and got an introductory text explaining how they would collaborate. This collaboration activity would be the same as the advice activity in the original version.

We used the Noticeboard tool to describe what each teacher-student in the group should do. We also suggested that they should to use their default email program to send and receive mails. There is no email program or tool in LAMS. We could have used another activity tool (e.g. chat or discussion tool), but sending emails to each other was considered more authentic and close to the original case. After the email activity the teacher-students would enter the stage of reflection about the advice they received or sent. The last task was to co-write on a document. Here we used the “Chat & Scribe” tool in LAMS. The student could discuss using the Chat and agree upon text that one of the students in the group would write (Figure 9).

Figure 9: LAMS authoring screen showing a case9c model.

IMS Learning Design

The design of the IMS LD version of case9c was done using the RELOAD editor. First we made all the files and resources we wanted to use outside the editor. We used Dreamweaver to create html files (some would later be changed into xml) and we already had the different videos available from previous versions of the same case. The RELOAD editor is a reference-authoring tool, which means that it only organises a pre-created set of files in a certain order. However, after the files have been created and uploaded into the editor, they can be modified in RELOAD’s own text-editor.

The first file we added was the introduction file that described the learning goals of case9c. We had already modelled the different users and their interactions so there was no need to use UML, which is the usual way to create IMS LD scenarios. Rather, we could straight away go on to define the two roles necessary in this case: The two teacher-students. Then we linked all the different pre-created files to the different activities we knew where going to take place. The activities and support resources (created as environments) that logically belonged together, we grouped as activity structures. The supporting environments needed were typically resources that the teacher-students could consult before reflecting on and writing their texts. After linking files to activities and activity structures and defining the support environments, we constructed the method section. We considered the case as one play divided into two acts. In the first act the students would work independent of each other. They would watch video and do some reflections. In the second act they would pair and do a collaborative session. The different activities within one act were then assigned to a role (Figure 10).

Roles, method, plays and acts are all a part of IMS LD level A. To let the teacher-students write text in a text area, we had to add properties for holding the value. The file embedding the text area must be an xml file and the IMS LD player must understand the elements describing the text area’s property. All the properties used in this study were local (the results where only kept for the user in this run). In our test study we did not use any type of notification (level C), as it was not needed to express the case needs. Level C gives opportunities for email notification, but in our case we needed only standard email features.

IMS LD specifies standard email services as part of the VLEs, but the RELOAD learning environment does not currently provide such a service. This meant that the teacher-students had to use their default email application to send and receive emails, as they had to do in both the original and the LAMS versions of case9c.

The co-writing part had to be solved in a similar way as the original version. The teacher-students would pair up in front of a computer and discuss together while they were writing. We chose to implement it as with a text area where the written text would be stored in properties.

Figure 10: Method section of IMS LD version of Case9c.