Therory course: Collaborative learning

Now I will conquer the second subject of the three, Collaborative learning. We read an article on this subject for our book, the article was O’Donnell, M. & Hmelo-Silve, C. (2013) Introduction: What is collaborative learning? Handbook of collaborative learning. And I found this article hard to read too. It was about cooperative work also, so I had to be really observant so I don’t mix those two up. I want to focus my blog post so, that it shows the deeper information that I have acquired on collaborative learning from those multiple references that I have read and studied for the book that we are writing for this course.

collaborationOnce again the definition of collaborative learning is: “It is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together.’’ If you remember, I have talked about the effective interactions (explanation, disagreement, mutual regulation) in collaborative learning before, but the three different criteria for those effective collaborative interactions are interactivity, synchronicity and negotiability.  These wanted interactions can initiate different cognitive learning mechanisms (knowledge elicitation, internalisation, induction, conflict). I also learned new things about the difference between cooperative work and collaborative work. They differ from each other not only by the difference in division of labour, but also by the level of equality and mutuality of influence. Cooperative learning can have a high level of equality, but a low level of mutuality. But in contrast, collaborative learning can have a high level of equality and mutuality. In cooperative learning, the work is distributed vertically. That means that the task is divided in smaller sub-tasks and the group members work on those smaller sub-tasks individually and assemble those individual outputs together in the end. In collaborative learning the work is divided horizontally between the group members. The horizontal work distribution means that the group works together on the same task. This kind of work distribution can reduce the cognitive load of an individual. From our article, I learned that the five characteristics of effective collaborative learning are: positive interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, individual accountability, interpersonal and small group skills and group processing.

blogi1CSCL (computer supported collaborative learning) studies how collaborative learning can be improved with the help of computers. Remember when I told about how we can create those collaborative situations and increase the probability of those wanted interactions? The different CSCL tools can help to create this environment and a situation in which, those particular effective group interactions are expected to occur for collaborative learning. Computers can also help the group members to verbalize and visualize their thinking and knowledge. Different studies show, that deep learning happens more often in a complex social and technological environments. I learned four different motives for using technology in supporting collaborative learning. 1) It prepares students for the knowledge society of today and it teaches students the skills for collaborative work and knowledge creation. 2) Technology can improve students cognitive performance and boost deep learning. 3) Technology adds flexibility of time and space for groupwork, for example we are using google docs for our book and it helps a lot! 4) Technology can also boost students engagement in work and technology helps to keep track of students groupwork.

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Theory course: Self-regulated learning

We started our new LET-course, The theory course. During this course we will discuss and learn new thing about the three major subjects: Self-regulated learning, Collaborative learning and Learning of expertise. We will produce a science book in groups about these topics. In my group are Esa, Ruicen, Ken, Noora and me. Our book’s name is ”TO GATHER KNOWLEDGE TOGETHER- Seven credits, five minds, three approaches, one book”. We have to produce this book collaboratively, which is very hard for me. First topic is self-regulated learning. We had lessons about this and we had to read one article and write a book chapter.

I read Dabbagh’s and Kitsanta’s article + Zimmerman’s article and about self-regulated learning and he defines self-regulated learning as ”an ability to engage in self-motivating and behavioral processes which increase goal achievement.” I also learned from this article that self-regulation can be described as a skill. This skill has the knowledge about how to set- and achieve certain goals. The skill also has the knowledge about what is needed to achieve the certain goal. So what qualities does a good self-regulated learner have?

  1. At first, self-regulated learnes have the ability to understand and use different learning strategies in different situations. Different self-regulated learning strategies are for example: 1) self-evaluation, 2) organization, 3) goal setting and planning, 4) information seeking, 5) record keeping, 6) self-monitoring, 7) environmental structuring, 8) rehearsing and memorizing, 9) seeking social assistance and 10) reviewing notes.  Self-regulated learners are described in those articles as 1) metacognitively, 2) behaviorally and 3) motivationally active participant in their own learning. When we think about those different metacognitive aspects, self-regulated learners 1) plan, 2) set goals, 3) monitor and 4) self-evaluate their own performance and learning. Self-regulated learners also have a high self-attribution, self-efficacy and a natural task interest (motivational processes).
  2. In addition to motivation, behaviour and cognition regulation, learners can also regulate their emotions. I learned that for example different emotion regulation strategies are reappraisal, suppression and rumination. Jonna Malmberg defined self-regulated learning during her class as a student who has the ability to take charge of their own learning and understand his or hers own weaknesses and strenghts in various learning situations. It is a lifelong process and it can be taught and learned.

Our groups article for this subject was Dabbagh, N. & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal Learning Environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. And I have to say, I think all of the articles that I have read for the book are quite hard. But I am doing a lot of work for them.

Applied research in the field of learning and educational technology

We had three visiting lecturers for our last theory lesson of INTRO course. First Ernesto Panadero told us more about self-regulated learning. He showed us a cycle of self regulated learning which contains 3 phases. Forethought phase,  performance phase and self-reflection phase. He defined collaborative learning as a joint effort to reach a joint understanding. After that we talked about self-regulated learning and collaborative learning together. Do groups regulate? Ernesto told us about socially shared regulation of learning, or in other words, SSRL. This was very interesting for me. He also emphasized the fact that even though you provide the groups opportunities to collaborate, it doesn’t automatically work. To help SSRL, teacher should help the group plan, monitor and evaluate. Teacher should also try to present opportunities for group collaboration and communication. SSRL also doesn’t happen automatically.

This is the cycle of self-regulated learning

Kristiina kurki told us about different emotion regulation strategies. She has studied the emotion regulation of children. We pondered, do teachers help children to understand emotions? One of my classmate told us an example how her kids are in preschool and their teacher helps them to understand their emotions by giving words to those emotions. Like if child seems to be tired, gives a word to that emotion and ask a child: do you feel tired? That is one way to help children to learn emotion regulating. She defined emotion regulation as ”an ability to adapt to emotionally challenging situation”. She showed us an example of little boy Kalle, and during that example we pondered all the different emotion regulation strategies that he used in a emotionally challenging situation.  Different emotion regulation strategies varies, depending on the child’s skill level. For example different strategies are: to seek help, express an opinion, inhibiting, alternative activity and expressing emotions. I notice that I use alternative activity a lot when I am tired or can’t concentrate for some reason. But that usually helps, if I can’t concentrate, I focus on alternative activity for about five minutes. After that I can concentrate again. I can’t remember anything if I force myself to listen or do schoolwork. My alternative activity is usually drawing. But don’t understand me wrong, usually I can concentrate just fine 😉

One product of my alternative activity, if I remember right, it was a math class in high school.

Piia Näykki was the last lecturer. She showed us the cyclical model of self-regulated learning too. Piia told us some aspects that group should monitor during collaborative work, such as task understanding, goals and processes. She said that teachers should educate students about collaboration and teach students essential collaboration skills, because they are more and more important skills nowadays. All of our lecturers told us about different studies made in this field and with these topics. It was very fun to hear about different results and studies, and the way these studies are being, and could be executed.

For the last jigsaw class we had to read Vuopala’s own article which has been published in scientific magazine called Kasvatus. This was the article: ”Vuopala, E. (2012). Yhteisöllistä oppimista edistävät ja vaikeuttavat tekijät verkkokurssilla. Kasvatus.” But sadly I couldn’t find the article anywhere and me and Vuopala had this misunderstanding when I tried to ask where I could find it. But during the jigsaw I got to read it and we made a video about it! This video shows the main points of that article. Here is a link to our video!

After this last lesson I started reflecting my learning during this course. For example concepts like collaborative learning, self-regulated learning, learning of expertise, socially shared regulation of learning were totally new to me before this class. But now, I can tell quite much about each of these subjects. I feel that I have learned the basics of these subject for sure, and I am looking foward to deepen my knowledge on these topics. Second major thing that I have learned is how to do collaborative group work. My group work skills have developed a lot during this class! But ofcourse we have trained collaborative skills during this course every friday when we have a jigsaw class or other kind of group work. like a study circle. These skills I know I will need in the future, for my schoolwork and when I get a job.

Global perspective – ICT in education

We had a panel discussion about global perspective for the use of ICT in education. We had lecturers from Finland, Russia, Romania and Spain. What I learned about ICT use in education in Russia? First sasha told us little about the history of ICT use in Russia. In 2002 internet was brought to school. she said that nowadays Russia is investing in developing resources to distant education and for the different parts of the country (rural-) to have the same level of education. The level of ICT use in different schools varies. Private schools are more better equipped than public schools. Location also matters. Schools in urban area use more ICT in education than schools in rural area. The use of ICT also depends on the individual teacher. Not all teachers have the motivation and skills to use ICT in a pedagogical way. Sasha told us about how learning is seen in Russia. She told us that in Russia teaching is more teacher centered and traditional. Grades are seen as a very important indicator of learning. She said that grades are got from almost everything. It is very important that you get very good grades. Learning is seen more as an individual process and technology is used in Russian schools in a traditional way. She said that students use technology a lot when they are self-studying and they feel comfortable using technology. She emphasized that you should not build your teaching around technology. Technology should be integrated in teaching. You should not use technology only for the sake of using technology.

Martha from Romania taught us a little about the history of the use of ICT in Romania. From the year 2000, Romania has invested in producing educational softwares and educating teachers. Because of the resession, some schools are scared of using expensive technology in classrooms. They are afraid that technology might get damaged. She told us about how students are good with computers but they are not allowed to use smartphones to for example search something online. She said that students are wondering why they can’t use more ICT in class. Most teachers in Romania have an idea about technology: it is only for fun. They think that if students are allowed to use smarphones in class, they will start playing with them. Internet usage in class is uncommon. She emphasized that there is a big difference between the usage of technology at home and at school. When we were discussing about how knowing programming language is an asset of tomorrow, she said that some teachers in Romania can’t even send e-mails so teaching them programming language seems futuristic to her. In Romania education is teacher-centered but teachers are being educated into more student-centered teaching methods. But still, teachers views are traditional.

I learned new things about the use of ICT in education in Finland from Tommi. He said that the use of technology in schools isn’t automatic, it depends much on the teachers and schools. He emphasized the attitudes of teachers towards using technology in classrooms. In Finland the use of technology doesn’t change regionally (rural/urban). Some rural schools might use much more technology in class compared to some urban schools. Tommi said that programme language is necessary nowadays. In Finland, views of learning are in a transition phase from behavioral views to more social-constructivistic view of learning. Development of ICT is faster than development of learning theories, and that can be a problem.  Teaching methods in Finland are more collaborative than before, but still the idea of individual learning is prevalent.  Some of the teachers don’t understand the concept of collaborative learning properly, and just put pupils in a group. This of course isn’t effective. Some of teachers doesn’t know how to use ICT in a pedagogical way.

The fourth lecturer was from Spain. He emphasized the importance of open source. He also said that knowing programme language nowadays is important. The use of ICT in classrooms divides teachers opinions in Spain. Some think that it is important, and some say that it is waste of money. Schools are equipped, but technology is there only collecting dust. This sound very familiar to me, when I think my own ”school history” in Finland. The use of ICT in classroom again depends a lot on teachers. The use of open source means that if you don’t like the program, you have the possibility to change it. It could also make the use of ICT more equal between poor, rural, urban and rich schools.

The most important thing for me during this lesson was to understand that the use of ICT depends a lot on the teacher. That also highlights the importance of teachers education. The use of ICT depends on what are the teachers willling to do with it and what is their attitude towards it. We have to remember that all pupils and teachers are different. On friday we had a study circle where we had to do a SWOT analysis of ICT in education. We made posters about these. In our group we made a mistake and mixed opportunities with strenghts and threats with weaknesses. Main points of our poster: 1) ICT strenghts: motivates, creative thinking, interactivity, lifelong learning, distant learning etc. 2) ICT weaknesses: using technology can be expensive and teacher training costs money too. 3) Threats: Resession, without money we can’t use technology. 4) ICT opportunities: We thought that ICT has limitless possibilities. Technology evolves incredibly fast.

Our SWOT- analysis

Our SWOT- analysis

For the study circle we had to find articles on our own. I found a survey of schools -ICT in education, benchmarking access, use and attitudes to technology in Europe’s schools. This is a survey study report which have been published in February 2013. It is a study for european commission. It surveyed 31 countries and studied ICT infrastructure and use, the use of ICT based learning activities and confidence in digital competence and school policies, strategies, support and attitudes in those countries. There were some interesting facts. I was shocked when I learned that in Finland only 10% of students at grades 4 and 8 are taught by a digitally confident and supportive teachers. The use of ICT varies much between countries. 50% of students are in schools were formalised schools policies about using ICT in general or specifically in subject exist. There was a higher frequency of using ICT based learning activities if there were incentives to reward teachers for using them, there were concrete support measures for them and if schools combine policies about ICT integration. Teachers usually use ICT only for preparing classes, not during a lesson. 50% of students at grades 8 and 11 in general education use a laptop during lessons, but 20% of students use never or almost never a laptop during lessons. This for me was shocking too. There are 3-7 students per computer on average in the EU. The main message of this study for me was that there are huge differences between countries, and we should aim for  digitally confident and supportive students and teachers.

You can find the survey here!

My islands of expertise

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Our lecturer Pirkko Hyvönen

Pirkko Hyvönen gave us a task to think about our own islands of expertise. I have tried very many things from many forms of self defence to . I have been always very interested in trying new things and getting new experiences. Despite of this, I have made few islands of expertise of my own. Or maybe I should call them islands of interests. First island for me is drawing. I have done it ever since I was little. My mom always tells me how I didn’t even speak yet properly but I always had to have crayons or something to draw with nearby. I have always been very interested in arts and I wanted to become an a teacher of arts for elementary and junior high schools. I have trained much by using internet for tips and by watching youtube teaching tutorials. I have tried many different tools for drawing such as photoshop + drawing tablet, graphite, pastels, coal, watercolours…..but my expertise is using graphites and drawing photorealistic pictures.

My drawing of one of the horses I train with 🙂 A3, graphites HB-9B, 16 hours.

Next island is riding horses. I was seven years old when I tried it first time, and I have done it ever since. I love it. I have read a lot about horses and I have participated in many training camps for riding horses. I have participated for riding lessons two times a week for over ten years. I compete also. At first I was sure I will be a riding teacher, but as the time passed by only thing I knew for sure was that I want to be a teacher.

Me training for competition last summer 🙂

Educational psychology as an island is new, because I didn’t study psychology at high school, and the first course of psychology for me was in University of Oulu last year. It has been great! I chose this as my major studies. I am really into it. I have also read many books about educational psychology in my free time, its that interesting for me. In future I want to be an expert in educational psychology.  I have even thought if I should go and try to get in Helsinki university and start studying to become a psychologist. But I have always wanted to work with children, so this educational psychology is perfect for me.

I would say that education is last island of mine. Educational sciences are my minor studies. I want to take the pedagogical studies for my masters degree later. I have always wanted to be a teacher, but I have still some questions on what I want to teach. This kind of wraps all my islands together. In future, I want to be an expert of education. That is why I chose LET studies as one of my minor studies. First I wanted to teach arts or riding horses. After that I thought I want to be an elementary school teacher. But now I know more clearly what I want. I want to teach psychology and I will also take pre- and primary school teaching (esi- ja alkuopetus) as my minor, so that I can work as a preschool teacher.

Blog assignment week 39-40

Portfolio assignment 3 (weeks 39-40)

We had a lesson about collaborative learning, self-regulated learning and learning of expertise. We also talked about computer supported collaborative learning. Collaborative learning was described as a studying method which involves a joint task and it has a goal of constructing joint understanding between students. But that contradicts the article I read about collaborative learning for jigsaw-lesson. In the article it was emphasized, that collaborative learning is not a method, it is a type of situation. During the lesson we made a difference between collaboration and co-operation again. As a reminder: co-operation means that work is divided between participants, collaboration means that every participant does every phase of the task together. This has the possibility to activate learning mechanisms, such as questioning and argumenting. We discussed about how latest learning research has shown that social interactions lead to successful learning. I read an article (Dillenbourg P. (1999) What do you mean by collaborative learning?) from the book : ”Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and computational approaches”. The article emphasized that collaborative learning has 4 paradigms: situation, learning mechanisms, interactions and effects. If you want to understand collaborative learning, you have to understand the relations between these paradigms. I learned from the article that collaborative learning is not a single mechanism, you can have dialogue with yourself too. Dialogue with yourself can trigger learning mechanisms such as induction and deduction. On the other hand, interaction with peers can trigger these learning mechanisms and some others like disagreement and explanation.

Collaborative learning is linked to educational technology for example through learning environments. Collaborative learning is described as a situation in which particular form of interactions are expected to occur. We can create those kind of situations by using educational technology. We can increase the propability of these useful interactions by setting up initial conditions and by monitoring and regulating the interactions. We talked during the lesson about CSCL: computer supported collaborative learning. That can include different media for sharing material and forms of distant learning. I talked about the use of technology in learning in my last blog post. During jigsaw lesson we took photographs about these three major subjects.

This photo represents our group’s idea of collaborative learning. Working together with the same goal on the same task, creating new knowledge as it goes on.

Other big subject we had on our lesson was self-regulated learning. That basicly means learning in which we monitor and evaluate our own motivation, learning and behaviour. It is a life-long process. Emotions and motivation can be regulated, which in my opinion has something to do with self-efficacy too. When you feel that you are good at something or that you can do it, you might put more effort in learning, task choice and you could do more work for your goal. There were three different goal-types: mastery goals ( I want to learn), performance-approach goals (I don’t want to look stupid, want to perform better than others) and avoidance-performance goals (low self-efficacy) in which a student doesn’t want to perform worse than others. Educational technology makes self-regulated learning easier. Technology provides many ways to organize your studies and can motivate a student. It makes giving feedback easier and can initiate metacognitive processes. ”Recent research suggests that technologically enhanced learning environments (TELEs) represent an opportunity for students to build their ability to self-regulate, and for some, leverage their ability to apply self-regulated learning (SRL) to acquire knowledge” (http://bit.ly/GzI4r1).

This picture presents self-regulated learning. When you organize your tasks and feel motivated, you can accomplish anything!

Last subject was learning of expertise. We talked about the difference between novices and experts. Formal education produces the users of experts, not the experts themselves. LET program educates us to be experts in learning technologies. Experts use best strategies, qualitative analysis and are opportunistic. Experts can also detect features that novices cannot detect. During the jigsaw discussion, we talked about how novices have data and information, but experts have also knowledge and vision.

This picture shows the difference between a novice and an expert….

Portfolio assignment 2

Educational technology

What have I learned?

During Sanna Järvelä’s lecture I learned what is deep learning and collaborative learning. Deep learning is something we would have to try to achieve. Deep learning basicly means learning in which we understand the phenomena as a whole instead of just random facts. It occurs in complex social and technological environments. Active learning means a learning process in which we reflect our own learning. What have I known before? What is hard/easy? Self-reflection stimulates our minds to be active. We talked about how computers articulate our developing knowledge and initiates an intensive metacognitive process. Collaborative learning basicly means activating your mind in a group activity. We can do this by arguments, questions, comparing opinions, creating new ideas in order to build a joint understanding of certain problem. Teachers can create these conditions for collaborative learning and effective interactions! We discussed about how new gadgets motivate children and how different social + cognitive activities are critical for learning.

Paul Kirschner 

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Paul Kirschner visited our class last thursday. He had many great ideas and it was very interesting! First he made a difference between educating a child and raising a child. He made a very interesting  metaphore about educational technology. He talked about being a chef and needing three things: tools, technics and ingredients. In educational technology tools are all the different gadgets you      have, technics means that you understand differences between tools and how to use them correctly and ingredients means the content of your domain. You have to understand them and how they  work. To achieve the best learning result, you have to choose the best combination of those three. I asked him what he would do to solve the problem concerning teachers inability to use technology  pedagogically in a classroom. He said that technology should be integrated in teachers daily life, the pedagogical use of technology should be taught to teachers and teachers should be given time to  try out different uses of technology between classes. This could be organized if teachers had their own offices, for example.

I read the chapter 9 of the book How people learn (Bransford, J.D, Brown, A.L, Cocking, R.R, 2000, How people learn) technology to support learning. I learned much about the chapter. It said that  technology provides scaffolds and tools to enhance learning and problem solving if used in accordance with knowledge about learning processes. Computer scaffolding allows students to do more  advanced activities and to engage in more advance thinking and problem solving compared to studying without technology. It gives students and teachers more opportunities for feedback, revision  and reflection. it also expands opportunities for teachers learning. Technology has a capacity to create new opportunities for curriculum by bringing real-world problems into the classroom for  example via computer-based learning programmes. It creates an environment in which students can find and solve problems themselves, and connects students with scientists and practitioners.  Interactivity in technology environments allows students to test ideas and receive feedback efficiently. Technology creates collaborative experiences which helps children to understand complex  concepts. The book mentioned about the goal of education: to create lifelong learners and competent adults. New tools make possible to present data in new ways and to learn in more complex ways. Children acquired a deeper understanding of certain phenomena if they could build and manipulate that certain phenomena. They can do that in interactive computer microworlds.  Different kinds of classroom communication technologies can promote more active learning and highlight the different reasoning processes used to solve problems. Interactivity of technology makes it possible for students and teachers to be in contact with the broader community, which can enhance learning.

During the jigsaw session we decided that the three main points of this chapter are the following: 1( Enhances learning by bringing real-world problems to classroom which activates more complex thinking and cognitive processes. 2) Interactivity, which motivates students and makes giving feedback easier. That activates self-reflection. 3) Technology isn’t good on it’s own, the teacher should know the learning processes and use technology according to that. In other words, technology should be used in a efficient pedagogical way.

This is the result of our groupwork:

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Click to zoom, I made this mindmap with bubbl.us

Members: Jenna, Tiia, Suvi, Sally

 Learning is adding and building knowledge to existing background knowledge and experiences (these are individual for each student)

  • Active learning needs to take place- students need to recognise what they already know and how they can use this to build on their understanding of certain concepts
  • The teacher needs to encourage deep learning so that students can understand whole concepts and how they can apply this knowledge in real world situations
  • Learning is a life long process and is not confined to happening only within the classroom
  • Technology enhances learning by bringing real world problems to the classroom and it activates more complex thinking and cognitive processes
  • The interactivity of technology motivates students and makes feedback more consistent and efficient, encouraging constant reflection
  • Technology can be used to offer more opportunities for active and collaborative learning, encouraging deeper learning
  • More advanced activities and engagement in more complex problem solving is more available with the use of technology
  • Technology highlights the reasoning processes used to solve problems