Abstract: This mixed methods study examined the effectiveness of a virtual world curriculum for teaching elementary students complex science concepts and skills. Data were collected using pre- and post-content tests and a student survey of engaged learning, An additional survey collected teacher observations of 21st century competencies conducive to learning. The study involved a five-day intervention of fifteen 4th grade students in a small Midwestern school using a virtual science computer game from Arizona State University. Thirty elementary teachers from Australia, England, and the United States were surveyed on classroom observations of their elementary students working in the virtual world environment. Research questions guiding the virtual learning study were: (1) do pre- and post-content tests show significant learning in the virtual environment; (2) are students academically engaged during the learning process; and (3) are students actively demonstrating relevant 21st century competencies. The study supports prior research in game-based learning showing measureable learning results, highly engaged, motivated students, and observations of student behaviors conducive to learning science in school, namely collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking/inquiry, global awareness, and technology use.
Educ. Sci.2014, 4(1), 108-121; doi:10.3390/educsci4010108 - published online 24 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article considers the potential of 3D printing as an eLearning tool for design education and the role of eMaking in bringing together the virtual and the physical in the design studio. eLearning has matured from the basics of lecture capture into sophisticated, interactive learning activities for students. At the same time, laptops and internet enabled phones have made computer-based learning mobile, invading classroom learning, changing communication between students, enabling on the spot research, and making the recording of ideas and activities easier. The barriers between online and offline are becoming blurred in a combined digital and physical learning environment. Three-dimensional printing is part of this unification and can be an empowering learning tool for students, changing their relationship with the virtual and the physical, allowing them to take ideas and thinking from screen to reality and back again in an iterative, connected process, however, from an eLearning point of view it is, more importantly, a transformative technology with the potential to change the relationship of the learner to their learning and the scope and nature of their work. Examples from Griffith Product Design student learning illustrate the potential of eMaking to enhance combined learning in a digital age.
Educ. Sci.2014, 4(1), 87-107; doi:10.3390/educsci4010087 - published online 20 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper reports on the findings from a two year research project that explored the potential of digital tools in support of teaching–learning across different disciplinary areas at a New Zealand university. Two courses (in History and Tourism) are case studied using data collected through interviews with lecturers, tutors and their students, and an online student survey. Findings from the research revealed that both lecturers and students were challenged in learning about the affordances and use of the lecturer selected digital tools as a mediational means. The tools were not initially transparent to them, nor were they able to be easily deployed to undertake their primary task—teaching for the lecturers, and, learning and demonstrating learning for the students completing assigned tasks. The process of learning and using the tools disrupted participants’ prior thinking and led to new understandings of both disciplines and of effective pedagogies for the two disciplines. The findings increase our understanding of the ways digital tools can develop, challenge and expand tertiary students learning and have implications for practice.
Educ. Sci.2014, 4(1), 64-86; doi:10.3390/educsci4010064 - published online 17 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper is initiated from a position that, until recently, the nature of schooling globally has remained largely unchanged since its design in the last century, and there has been a hegemony that supported its form to be enduring and largely unchanged. However, in a digital, networked world, there is a need to rethink and redefine schooling. Following an examination of schooling in the 21st Century, summarising the context and critical challenges presented by new and emerging digital technologies, suggestions about what schooling might look like in an increasingly digital, networked world are presented. Guidance is provided in relation to key questions for leadership to reshape schooling in a networked world, including: - how might schools move into the networked mode? - what is required to lead and manage a networked school community? - how will a networked school become defined less by its physical space and timetabled lessons, but by being networked and that learning can take place anywhere, anytime?
Abstract: Academic staff in Higher Education (HE) need to transform their teaching practices to support more future-orientated, digital, student-centered learning. Promoting, enabling and implementing these changes urgently requires acceptable, meaningful and effective staff development for academics. We identify four key areas that are presenting as barriers to the implementation of successful staff development. We illuminate the Carpe Diem learning design workshop process and illustrate its impact on academic staff as a viable, constructive alternative to traditional staff development processes. The Carpe Diem model directly exposes and addresses the irony that educational institutions expect their academic staff to learn to design and deliver personalized, mobile and technology-enhanced learning to students, whilst wedded to ‘one size fits all’ face-to-face interventions…or worse, ‘page turning’ e-learning that masquerades as staff development. To avoid further frustrations and expensive, inappropriate initiatives, the spirit and practice of Carpe Diem could act as a ‘pathfinder beacon’, and be more widely adopted to enable fast, effective and fully embedded, learner-ready, future-proofed learning.
Abstract: There are intersections that can occur between the respective peak Australian school education policy agendas. These policies include the use of technologies in classrooms to improve teaching and learning as promoted through the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and the Australian Curriculum; and the implementation of professional standards as outlined in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. These policies create expectations of school leaders to bring about change in classrooms and across their schools, often described as bringing about ‘quality teaching’ and ‘school improvement’. These policies indicate that Australian children should develop ‘democratic values’, and that school principals should exercise ‘democratic values’ in their schools. The national approaches to the implementation of these policies however, is largely silent on promoting learning that fosters democracy through education, or about making connections between teaching and learning with technologies, school leadership and living in a democracy. Yet the policies promote these connections and alignments. Furthermore, understanding democratic values, knowing what is a democracy, and being able to use technologies in democratic ways, has to be learned and practiced. Through the lens of the use of technologies to build digital citizenship and to achieve democratic processes and outcomes in schools, these policy complexities are examined in order to consider some of the implications for school leadership.