Thinking About Thinking Through Multimedia: Undergraduate Learning with MicroWorlds (ED-MEDIA 2008)

ED-MEDIA 2008 paper: Thinking About Thinking Through Multimedia: Undergraduate Learning with MicroWorlds.

Abstract: Undergraduate education students engaged in a multimedia project using MicroWorlds displayed levels of engagement in the activity that was beyond that displayed in other assessment tasks. Students also displayed deep levels of understandings about their own learning and about their understandings of teaching and learning. This paper investigates three years of student engagement with MicroWorlds and reports that in each year students achieved high grades and reported high levels of self satisfaction. It became apparent that through this task students were thinking about their own thinking and making practical connections to theory.

ICT in children’s learning is a whole year subject in the 2nd year Bachelor of Education at the University of Melbourne. Most students were not “digital natives.” The author wanted to use MicroWorlds to develop the constructivist and constructionist pedagogical skills of pre-service teachers using ICTs.

The assignment: in 5 weeks construct a multimedia project (a story, a book, a game, etc. in MicroWorlds). Needed to have at least 4 pages and 4 major components of multimedia.

At first the students were thrown out by the vagueness of the assignment. “The idea that these students ‘had to work things out’ for themselves, was alien and threatening for some; they were not being ‘taught'”. Some students complained bitterly about the assignment for this reason.

But gradually as the students engaged with the assignment, they realised that they themelves had to complete learner-centred tasks that involved creation, exploration and self-discovery — constructivist and constructionist learning attributes — before they could one day expect to engender these qualities in their classrooms. They realised that these skills could not be taught, but only learned through practice.

This study highlights the need for effective and practical teacher training when constructivist and constructionist learning is desirable in schools.

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Authors: Nicholas Reynolds, The University of Melbourne, Australia

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