Saturday, 7 August 2004

Confession of a Learning Technologist

With my learning technologist hard hat on, my yesterday's post set up the scene for today's confession.

Yesterday, I wrote about pet projects. Some pet projects are developed by teachers. Obviously such pet project would have immediate appeal to all like-minded teachers in similar context. My argument is to look at how such valuable resources can have wider use, beyond the immediate utility of the pet project owners and about extending the utility of the resource beyond this immediate group!

These projects are driven by immense enthusiasm by their owners. There are colossal amount of effort throw into the projects - imagine the time devoted to the project by the pet project owner over many years! It would be a waste if we simply say that these are not sharable. Again, this is not my point. This was not my intention of yesterday’s post.

Let me draw one analogy first. Museums are mostly collection of artifacts which were created without any learning outcome in mind. But the way these artifacts are arranged, the supporting narratives or worksheet may make a visit to a museum very educational. Schools routinely organise students visits when a certain topic is taught. Most museums these days have special people providing support to these student- groups and address their need in achieving the intended learning outcomes.

We have news which are told to inform a general audience with no particular learning outcome in mind. When a piece of news is used in a classroom, depending on the intended learning outcome, the teacher will scaffold the news with additional material, or draw the attention of the students towards some specific part of the news. The news may be used in a language lesson – to illustrate the use of certain word. The news may be used in a social lesson. The news may be used in a second language lesson….

If resources which are created without any learning outcome in mind can be used in a classroom, many pet projects created by teachers would have tremendous value. The trick, I think, is to create scaffolding material which reflects specific learning outcomes in our syllabus. Once such scaffolding material is associated with the material, the use of the resource would require little additional effort. As a learning technologist, I have been missing my point by singly focussed on technology without linking the technology with syllabus. I hope I won’t make the same mistake in the future.

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