In the MIL course my co-facilitator Mew Aeon and I currently are running in SL the students are expected to analyze SL as teaching and learning environment, and in order to stimulate the students’ critical reflections we have prepared 4 discussions on different topics related to ICT-based Didactic Design. Last night we had the first discussion and for this I had prepared some slides (in Danish) focusing on two main topics; the field of Didactics and target groups.
8 students are enrolled in the course and since 3 of them did not have the possibility to participate in our recent f2f kick-off introductions I had decided to repeat some central points. First of all there is the term ICT-based Didactic Design, which my colleague, Professor Birgitte Holm Sørensen from the Danish School of Education defines like this:
The process by which the purpose, the goals and the content is determined, and where the planning, the organization and the arena for teaching and learning is shaped based on theories and in relation to ICT-based practice in a context.
Via course readings the students are introduced to various didactic theories and models – one of the latter being the so called Didactic Triangle (usually attributed to German Pedagogical Philosopher Johann Friedrich Herbart 1776-1841) that depicts the basic relationships between teacher – content – student. Though all of us can agree that the field of Didactics includes more elements than the relationships in the Didactic Triangle it does, in my opinion, highlight the fundamentals and creates an excellent starting point for discussions on some of the key issues in Didactics.
Now, what I find particularly interesting when you combine ICT with Didactic Design is that ICT not only serve as materials but also as arena or “room” for teaching and learning –an aspect which clearly is amplified when using 3D virtual technology like SL. Most MIL students can be characterized as being tech-savvy educators/trainers for whom it is relevant to further enhance their competencies in integrating ICT in their practice and we naturally ended up discussing what impact especially web 2.0 tools/services will have on the way we think and practice didactics.
As I see it Web 2.0 tools/services have the potential of changing our perspectives and thus practices regarding:
- Users – both the students and the teachers with regard to relations/roles/responsibilities
- Participation – as we shift from consumption to (co-)production
- Multimodality – new possibilities to design for teaching and learning processes
- Networks and connections – from local to global citizenship
- Knowledge management – both from an information and communication perspective and with regard to security and ethics
For the last decade the Danish pedagogical debate has been focusing on learning and learners (in opposition to teaching and teachers) – and this shift in perspective has been highly welcome and much needed. On the other hand this shift seems to have placed the role of the teacher in some sort of vacuum (are teachers obsolete in the future as polemically stated by David Gelernter ?) making the challenges related to especially ICT integration more difficult and complex than necessary. When discussing target groups we therefore also encourage the MIL students to carefully consider the roles of the teachers. Much as anticipated we did not reach any solid conclusions on any of the topics, but I do believe the discussions inspired the students and I’m looking forward to the next session later this week.
As part of our focus on target groups who could benefit from an environment like SL, we ended the night by visiting Health Info Island, including The Path of Support and finished off by investigating the Virtual Guide Dog.