Implementing Open and Flexible Learning Environment: Dalton College and e-learning
- 0 Colaboratori implicaţi
- 17529 Vizite
Reinder Vrielink, the headmaster at the Stedelijk Dalton College (The Nederlands) writes about implementation of an Open and Flexible Learning Environment (OFLE), pointing out the critical factors and conditions that e-learning is based upon and the importance of supporting different learning styles.
The implementation of a rich Open and Flexible Learning Environment (OFLE) strongly support the Dalton concept. Examples of an OFLE are Blackboard, Fronter, N@tschool and Profiler. Dekeos and Moodle are examples of Open Source OFLE's. An OFLE manage the process of education by pupils themselves.
An OFLE is a rich digital environment, where the pupil is able to study based on the basic assumptions of constructivism (Vrielink, 2003). The name rich is not incidentally chosen. It should encompass more than a traditional environment within which the teacher and/or the curriculum are the distinctive factor. The use of ICT should contribute to the design of teaching, to authentic teaching, integrative teaching, active-reflective teaching and to social or collaborative learning (Kral, 2005).
The Dalton principles
The three Dalton principles are freedom (responsibility), cooperation and assignment (self-reliance). These principles lead to the formulation of three questions:
- How can we increase the self-reliance of pupils through an OFLE?
- How can we stimulate cooperation among pupils through an OFLE?
- How can we increase the responsibility of the pupil for his own learning process through e-learning?
Ad 1. Teachers are obligated to put study planners on the OFLE. Pupils can study any were ant any place if there are ready for it.
Ad 2. The products should be delivered electronic in a drop box or on the discussion board. Peers and teachers can give feedback. The quality of the products will rise
Ad 3. Put the answers on assignments on line. The pupil is responsible for his digital portfolio. This portfolio will be assessed.
Implementation of an OFLE
When a school starts to implement an OFLE there should be a strategic action plan, which includes:
- A shared vision on the use of an OFLE
- Participation of the management
- An exchange - celebrate successes!
- School arrangement on structure
- The OFLE must be on the agenda of the job evaluation
To make online courses more attractive for pupils the enjoyment could increase by:
- Improve the usefulness
- Same simple structure
- Attractive announcements
A number of critical factors distinguish the use of Web based tools and OFLE's, like Blackboard.
The study of Selim (2003) revealed four major critical factors for the perceived usefulness of course web sites. The first of these factors is course work interactivity. Several Web-based tools improve course work interactivity. For example, asynchronously offered course material allows pupils to retain control as to when and where they wish to engage in the instructions. Electronic discussion forums are a qualitative improvement tool, which enhances communication and interaction among pupils. Deinum (2003) investigated the implementation of Blackboard on 35 schools in the north of the Netherlands. This research pointed out that the use of the discussion board in courses is low (4%).
Another critical course web site usefulness factor is, to enable pupils to complete their course work quickly by providing them with on-line components such as animations and multimedia modules. The third factor is to make studying course material easier by promoting its availability of: anytime and anywhere, by facilitating pupil-pupil and pupil-instructor communication lines, and by using interactive tools to explain the course contents. The last critical factor is to increase the pupil’s productivity and effectiveness.
Although a Blackboard supported lesson will enhance the quality of education, teachers do not tend to see the benefits of a Blackboard supported lesson.
Working with Blackboard more or less forces the teacher to look more critically at the structure of his or her lesson. Therefore the quality of the lesson will rise. The lessons get a clearer didactics (Helder, 2004). Another point is that it will become easier for pupils to start the lesson themselves. A certain degree of independency allows pupils to take responsibility for their own learning process and this will increase when Blackboard supports the lesson (Oudshoorn, 2004). This electronic form of communication combined with a proper use (good assignments and tasks) makes it possible to engage oneself in intensive exchange, more time-on-task, and effective discussions than is the case with many face-to-face groups in education (Deinum, 2003; Kanselaar, 2004). The quality of the pupil’s products will increase because pupils will become more motivated when the assignments are supplied in a digital form (Helder, 2004). For instance, Power Point promotes linear-hierarchical thinking (Laanpere, 2005).
The Seven Principles of good practice in undergraduate education
If a school introduces an OFLE without sufficiently formulating the different goals and without a teacher’s experience how to actually use the OFLE, there is a great change that the use will be under utilized (Vrielink, 2004) or sometimes abandoned because of the lack of user acceptance (Yi, et. al., 2003). The critical factors as mentioned above prove, that the assumptions, which have been used to analyse courses in Blackboard, were good. Investigated were the present and use of the following functionality's: the use of announcements, study planners, the possibilities of answers, tests, the discussion board, the use off group work and e-mail (communication) and the drop box . Analysing courses at a secondary school in the Netherlands in this way, Vrielink (2004) found that only 20% of the teachers use Blackboard; the barrier is considered (too) high and working with Blackboard implies extra time investment. The facilitation present is poor.
Therefore, it is important that managers and teachers are aware of the critical factors and conditions e-learning is based upon. The critical factors as mentioned before flow in the Seven Principles of good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering et. al., 1986). Understanding and awareness of these principles are essential for a successful implementation of a rich OFLE.
Those principles are:
1. Encourage contact between pupils and school: frequent pupil-school contact, both inside and outside class, is an important factor in pupil motivation and involvement. (Baars, et. al., 2003). The pupil’s intellectual capacities will increase. Current communication technologies such as e-mail, chat and discussion boards make it more accessible for pupils and teachers to ask questions and to give feedback. Shy pupils, for instance, will more easily start asking questions than when they are confronted with an actual face-to-face situation.
2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among pupils: School should create and encourage opportunities for collaborative learning among pupils. Collaborative learning stimulates the involvement of learning. Exchanging ideas and giving and receiving feedback improves the thinking en engrosses the understanding (Weiland, 2002).
3. Encourage active learning: School should require that pupils apply their learning process in oral as well as in written form. Pupils should actively work with their knowledge and skills. Interaction is an important feature of an active on-line way of working. Interaction is essential in order to receive feedback on the learning process. Feedback is a relevant factor in the interaction between the pupil and the teacher as well as between peers. Next, it is important that an assignment is geared to the pupil’s perception of his or her environment. This can be made possible, for instance, when data is used coming from the pupils themselves. Pupils tend to become more motivated developing their own product. If this product is really actually used in a factory or at school than it works extra motivating (Andernach, 2005).
4. Give prompt/immediate feedback: School should provide appropriate and prompt feedback on performance. Pupils need assistance in assessing their actual competence and performance, and they need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestion for improvement. Such feedback should be an ongoing process in collegiate settings; it is essential to the pupil’s learning process. Periodically, pupils should also be given the opportunity to reflect critically on what they have learned so far. An OFLE offers the possibility to give pupils feedback in different ways. A digital portfolio makes it possible to assess on the learning process, to see if their is prove that the learning goals are reached.
5. Emphasize time on task: School should create opportunities for pupils in order to enable them to practice good time management. This includes setting a realistic deadline for pupils to complete assignments and to use class time for learning opportunities. A teacher’s support is made effective when clarity on the overall aim, time investment and choice of literature is provided. As a result, pupils are able to learn more efficiently. Furthermore, pupils tend to lose time by searching for resources on the Internet. However, on-line communication can be efficient if you organise it well.
6. Communicate high expectations: School should set and communicate high expectations of pupils. Such will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy and pupils will often endeavour to meet the challenge. When a pupil has a clear awareness of his/her own expectations, he/she will work harder.
7. Respect different talents and ways of learning: School should create learning opportunities that appeal to the different ways pupils will process and attend to information. A variation of presentation styles and assignment requirements will allow pupils to highlight their own personal and unique talents and it offers them different ways about how to learn on an individual level. Pupils differ in talent and style of learning and they should be offered the possibility to show their talents in a way that suits them. This can be made possible by taking account on the different styles of learning by supplying a variation in ways of working (Winkel, et. al., 2004). We have to be aware of another dimension; does the OFLE consider different learning styles?
Pupils possess their own way of learning; our “traditional” education does not respond to the differences in the individual learning process of pupils. The study of Sandra Seagal and David Horn “Human Dynamics” (1997) supports this idea. In general, Human Dynamics divide people into three categories namely mentally centred, emotionally centred or physically centred. To avoid any misunderstanding: no discrimination whatsoever is implied by drawing this distinction! The mentally centred pupil proceeds in a linear way and does so mostly alone. He gathers information and he asks himself what the use of this information is, next he comes to a product. The emotionally centred pupil starts immediately. The process looks chaotic. He proceeds by trial and error. His product gradually improves but is never finished. He has an eye for detail. The physically centred pupil gathers a great amount of information, many details and after a (long) time he completes his product. That is the end; they do not chance it any more.
A rich OFLE has the intention to be in account of these different learning styles, to be in account of independent working of pupils and their own responsibility of their learning process. A rich OFLE fits with social constructivism. Nevertheless, if there is no master plan and without a pedagogical or didactical component introduction of Blackboard has no extra value to education; “Moore’s gap; Mind the gap.” (Siekkinen, 2000).
Significant effects of factors which influence the use of a OFLE
Recent research (Vrielink, 2005) pointed out that by the arrangement of courses in an OFLE there should paid attention to its Usefulness. Usefulness is the key factor. It predicts most powerful the use of an OFLE.
Picture: Significant effects of factors, which influence the use of an OFLE
Usefulness is influenced in two ways. First, learning goal orientation influences usefulness through enjoyment. This is an intrinsic factor. If a pupil or a teacher is able to sufficiently clarify the goal, and render it obtainable, then there is enjoyment. It has a direct and positive effect on usefulness and on the ease of use. Second, a goal within one’s reach, affects application specific self-efficacy. This deals with competency. If a pupil thinks he/she is competent enough to work with Blackboard, there is an experience of ease of use, which effects usefulness. Again, enjoyment has a positive effect on application specific self-efficacy. The relation between learning goal orientation and application specific self-efficacy indicates that users who orientate themselves on learning and mastery of content are more likely to develop a higher sense of confidence in using the specific target system (Yi, et. al., 2003).
Understanding the factors that promote effective utilization of OFLE’s continues to remain an important issue for researchers and practitioners.
By the arrangement of courses in Dalton education, the recommendation is to pay attention to its usefulness. This can be done by putting the study planners on line as well as the answers on assignments. The use of the discussion board and the drop box should be promoted too.
Reinder Vrielink is headmaster VMBO Stedelijk Daltoncollege Zutphen, the Netherlands and manager/owner of Revédi Consultancy Deventer, the Netherlands. He is holder of the Diplome Masters in eLearning, Multimedia and Consultancy of the Sheffield Hallam University (UK).
Andernach, Toine. (2005) Activerende online werkvormen. Digitale Didactiek: E-Journal voor het onderwijs, nummer 3, Januari 2005 Last accessed on 15 July 2005 at URL:http://www.digitaledidactiek.nl/dd/ejournals/846
Baars, Gerard. Jager, Karen. (2003). Hoe kun je pupilen motiveren om actief bij te dragen aan een online cursus? OECR, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam;. Last accessed on 15 July 2005 at URL: http://www.digitaledidactiek.nl/dd/didactiek_algemeen/357
Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles of good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 39 (7): 3-7.
Deinum, Jan Folkert. (2003). Brainbox rapportage 3; Statistieken en eindconclusie. Rijks Universiteit Groningen november 2003.
Helder, Anke.(2004) Brainbox vervangt het boek. Van 12 tot 18 februari 2004
Kanselaar, Gellof.(2004). Invoering Blackboard. Intervieuw. Onderwijs Expertise Centrum. Faculteit sociale wetenschap Universiteit Utrecht 31 juli 2004.
Kral, Marijke. (2005) Hoe leren leraren constructivistisch leren en onderwijzen met ict? HAN. Februari, 2005.
Laanpere, Mart. (2005) Pedagogical foundations of Web-based learning management systems: a comparative analysis. Seminar Thursday 27 January 2005 (Sheffield/Nijmegen).
Oudshoorn, Ton. (2004) Ict-in de praktijk. Van – 12 – 18. Nr 1. February 2004.
Seagal, Sandra & Horn, David (1997). Human Dynamics. A New Framework for Understanding People and Realizing the Potential in My Organizations. Pegasus Communications, inc. Cambridge.
Selim, Hassan M. (2003) An empirical investigation of pupil acceptance of course web sites. Computers in Education 40(2003)343-360.
Siekkinen, Pertti. (2000) Background and milestones for ICT policy development; Adopting ICT in Finnish education & “Moore’s Gap”; A presentation at Helsinki Education Department (Media Centre Kuutio) 10 March 2000.
Vrielink, R. (2003) How can Blackboard become a rich Open and Flexible Learning Environment (OFLE) in Dalton-education for pupils aged 12 to 16. A research of the use of Blackboard in secondary schools in the North of the Netherlands. MSc in e learning, multimedia and consultancy. Sheffield Hallam University/HAN. Module 1: OFLE.
Vrielink, R. (2005) Predicting the use of Blackboard with the Technology Acceptance Model. MSc in e learning, multimedia and consultancy. Sheffield Hallam University/HAN. Module 6: Dissertation.
Wieland, Annemiek.(2002). Hoe organiseer je online discussies met weinig pupilen?
OECR, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam;Last accessed on 12 March 2005 at URL: http://www.digitaledidactiek.nl/dd/opdrachten/31
Winkel te, Wilco. Jager, Karen.(2004) Hoe zorg je ervoor dat pupilen actief met de leerstof omgaan? Organisation: OECR, FSW EUR. Last accessed on 8 June 2005 at URL: http://www.digitaledidactiek.nl/dd/opdrachten/810
Yi, Mun Y., Yujong Hwang. (2003) Predicting the use of web-bases information systems: self-efficacy, enjoyment, learning goal orientation, and technology acceptance model. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 59, 431-449.