Daily Tasks – Thursday, 11-20-2014

  • Lecture: 3 hours (double session)
  • Literature:
    • Schulmeister, Ron: Hypermedia Learning Systems. First Edition. http://www.zhw.uni-hamburg.de/uploads/hypermedia-e.pdf

Today we had two lessons in a row due the WUD conference last week. I will reflect my experience on the double-lessons in a separate paragraph.

Lecture 1

The first lecture took place in our well-known learning environment: room WH C 577. The topic was “Didaktical-Methodological Design”. The main concepts behind this complicated title are didactical models and methodology to apply didaktics. You can separate didactical methods from didactical models  (behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism). Didactical methods are about the question: “How to learn?”.

So, didactical models are mostly about the learning environment that needs to be set up in order to transfer knowledge into the learners’ minds. Instructional Design go a bit farther – it is about authentic learning environments where the student learns mostly by doing. Thinking of my studies this could be a software project that I absolved in my bachelor programme for example where you have kind of real customers (companies that cooperate with the university, for example). This project allows group work where each student has to define the learning goals by him- or herself while requirements are defined by the customer. The requirements are only focused on the desired product. During the project, I had to learn the technology and methods to fulfill the requirements myself. The docent within our project was only kind of a “facilitator” who you could ask for advice in any situation. But the facilitator would never force you to achieve the goal in a specific manner – the classical behaviourism method.

Comparing group work to single work opens the so called “Five Cs of Internet-based Group Learning” (introduced by Karsten D. Wolf, 1990): creation, communication, cooperation, construction, collaboration. The ordering of the terms is important: creation is the minimum goal that you achieve doing group work – while collaboration is the maximum. Collaboration is about several students learning together and also “melting” their learning processing. At the end, the group of students can create a product that is the outcome of a shared learning activity. In order to create the product, the students supported each other, worked actively together to achieve the learning goals and had active discussions. E-Learning environments can support collaborative work – if you think of Etherpad, for example, where many people can write a document together. The Pad also contains a chat so that you can communicate actively.

Since today, I’ve used GoogleDocs many times because it was easy to create products of group learning: e.g. presentations, charts and reports. Wikis help to documentate everything – that’s why project management tools like Redmine offer wikis per default. I think you should documentate many problems during software development – like configuration issues and solutions for common problems in the style of a FAQ. You should use the wiki to create a project-specific knowledge base collaboratively.

Didactical Methods include different elements, such as “learning objectives” (I mentioned them some weeks ago), teaching strategies and motivational elements. The learning content should be seletected wisely, structured and in a special order. The order should not be irritating to the learner – that’s what many of the students complained about in their learning unit reports. The learning strategy needs to be choosed by looking at the addressess: first-semester students need an instructional paradigm for example. They need small portions of knowledge that is transfered. The transfer can happen by using the Socratic Dialogue which is mostly about responding questions by questions – but those questions should be constructive and help the student to solve his or her problem for sure. Master students should be served using the problem-solving paradigm which means the students are more active learners in general. They are given more freedom to process the learning material – by defining their own learning goals as I mentioned above.

You can apply didaktical models and elements in an online learning environment using methodology like online slides, exercises and active communication channels (like boards where students can exchange themselves). You can make use of social media elements like blogs or wikis so that the students can create learning products (collaboratively).

 Lecture 2

The second lecture took place in another learning environment. Here, the seats were arranged differently. We didn’t have the circle arrangment like in our regular environment. So our professor Professor Ms. Weber-Wulff stood in front of us – it was the normal “lecture feeling”. I didn’t feel as integrated in the teaching process as normal. The circle arrangement helps to feel more like an active part of the lecture – you can easily see other students if they say something. The “lecture arrangement” is directed towards the instructor, so you can’t see the faces of the other students. This doesn’t allow as active discussions as in circular arrangements. The student also feels more influenced by the instructor because he or she appears to be the only influencing person.

The topic of this lecture were online exams: how do you create them, what are the special requirements, how can you realize proctoring? You can create different kind of tests.

First, we have Multiple Choice Tests. Questions can reflect different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. You can ask special “application”-level questions for example by having the student applying a mathematical formula in order to choose the correct answer.

Other tests can be essays, where the student has to formulate the answer his- or himself. This means, he or she applies his or her own logic. Ordering tests are good to engage the comprehension level of Bloom’s taxonomy. Matching items seem to be better for the basic knowledge level because you need to combine facts.

The advantage of multiple choice, ordering and simple matching item questions are: the teacher can grade them easily and give pre-defined feedback on wrong answers. Essays need the teacher more time to understand the student in order to give him or her feedback. Learning management software like Moodle can’t grade essays themselves while multiple choice, matching and ordering questions can be graded by algorithms.

Each question type has specific advantages or disadvantages regarding the level of knowledge you want to test. For example: the synthesis level of Bloom cannot be tested by multiple-choice. Such creative exercise require essays where the student needs to develop the response him- or herself.

All in all, online exams need extended support by the software especially regarding the topics proctoring and system failure tolerance. Tools like moodle were developed by teachers who have a lot of experiences – that’s why they are so successful and helpful.