Re-visualising innovative online learning spaces in an early childhood teacher education programme. Lesley Pohio and Maryann Lee, from the University of Auckland, described an exciting initiative, which included having students access a camera and have the freedom to use it as they wanted. The creativity was heartening, and illustrated the many different ways the young learners interacted with the environment and their communities. The video of the young learners experiences with the camera is, in turn, shown to ECE students when introducing early learning principles, especially around ownership of their own learning, engagement with each other, and focus on the learning process rather than the end product. These translate well to the online space.
A DVD was developed to contextualise learning (and features different foci around different ECE centres in Auckland). The context is important as it helped the student teachers consider learning outside the school gate. The use of visuals supported students to think about, and notice, details of what they are taking images of, which illustrates understanding of their environment.
Re-visualising the online space began with thinking about visual fluency. There was a disparity between the face-to-face and the online experience. In particular the online environment is seen as a third teacher. “...the space has to be a sort of aquarium that mirrors the ideas, values, attitudes, and cultures of the people who live within it....” (Edwards, et al, 1998, p. 177). The ECE initiative was framed within the notion of the environment as a third teacher, where the environment is formed around more of a workshop focus. This was the type of experience that they wanted to create within the online experience.
The challenge was to develop such a rich environment within a Moodle environment. Topics were divided up into weekly chunks. Because it was a beginning course they wanted to keep it quite structured. Four key things led to the design elements. The first was multiple design pathways (not a linear process, but rather it had lots of layers). There was online forums, practical tasks, and online journal, required texts, a video clip, and a variety of Internet resources. An artist was featured every week...not as a central course requirement, but rather as an appreciation of the visual arts. Even though it was a closed online course, they didn't want this to inhibit the learning of the students.
They were keen to infuse the skills and the environment with the pedagogical focus. The development of online identities was key as an initial step, and the focus was visual arts, which led to reflections around how these visual experiences had greater significance in the formation of their own identities. Alongside this, historical information was wrapped around a practical task, such as development of their own tapa, which they shared online as examples of their own work. The aim was to broaden the notion of visual arts, rather than focus on activities – it is a holistic notion of visual arts.
Español: Caja de tapa y fondo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)