Introduction to technology used:
The learning activity chosen for my particular design project could be regarded as an amalgamation of several learning technologies. The activity is considered as a collaborative learning tool; social software; a quiz generator; and formative assessment tool. The digital learning platform – Edmodo – is the social online classroom, designed with teachers, students, and schools in mind. The software is intended for teachers to create classrooms to connect and collaborate, share content, access homework, receive formative grades and provide a notification platform for the students. Edmodo is the social networking site that helps promote anytime, anyplace learning.
Edmodo developers have listened extensively to teacher feedback, and they have integrated several excellent learning system adaptations into the software, including how to manage submission of assignments in a quick and functional process. The layout of the platform is similar to Facebook, including the feel and functionality. The cost to run the software is free for teachers and students. Creating classrooms is effortless and transparent, the grading system is intuitive, and the calendar is simple and easy to navigate. There is also a mobile app for quick easy access on the go. The application overall provides a secure learning environment protected by built-in privacy controls
The rationale for using Edmodo is that in my current teaching establishment, there was a current move to a new VLE. The development of this VLE was in its infancy (and still is), it was not fit for purpose in terms of the application I required it for one of the classes I teach. Edmodo has all the aspects of a intuitive bespoke VLE and it was simple to use for the students, with the look and feel of Facebook. Edmodo also has 45 million subscribers internationally, securing its place as the largest learning network in the world. The driver for the activity was that I required a learning platform, which was modern, easy to use, adaptive to my requirements and applicable to the age group I teach. Edmodo fitted the bill in this respect. Teaching to an
Learners in my practice:
I am using Edmodo with a group of 23 students aged between 16-18 years. The group is studying the AQA AS Health and Social Care course (single award) course. All of the students are studying 3 other AS subjects throughout the academic year. The students are expected to complete a compulsory unit: Unit 1: Effective Care and Communication, and the optional examined unit: Unit 2 Understanding Health Conditions and Patient Care Pathways. This is the unit, which I am teaching over the course of the academic year.
Online collaborative learning is the key driver for this learning activity. The students all have the same goal in mind – to be successful in their exam and achieve high grades in the process. But this goal is served best when collaboration about the specific learning outcomes is expressed and shared amongst the teacher and the students (Roberts 2003 pg. vii). In terms of the pedagogical principles behind the use of Edmodo and the exam, there was a specific requirement to have an interactive learning platform. Which kept me in continuous contact with the students – something other than weekly emails. Emails are usually a one-way process from the teacher when it came to student-teacher and student-student interaction.
The theory I have centered my learning activity on is based on the pedagogical principles of Laurillard (2008). Laurillard discusses how collaborative technologies have offered teachers a range of new ways of supporting learning by enabling the students to share and exchange both ideas and their own digital products. The report argues that to get the best from technologies, in terms of educational application, teachers and academics must assess the best requirements of their pedagogical educational application, in terms of both the learners’ and teachers’ needs. The activity should therefore concentrate on what we know about what it takes to learn, and build this into a pedagogical framework with which to challenge digital technologies to deliver a genuinely enhanced learning experience for the students’ requirements.
Atherton (2013) argues that the Laurillard Conversational Model is focused on the on-going learner-teacher interaction, and particularly in the process of negation of views of the subject matter, which takes place between them in such a way as to modify the learner’s perceptions. In the context of my learners and the technology being used, it is the continual reinforcement of health related content, which is rich in detail and feedback to enhance their understanding of the assessment criteria. As well as learning the specific exam technique required for successful outcomes.
Laal (2013) refers to collaborative learning as an instruction method that students at different performance levels work together in small groups towards a common goal. In the context of my activity, the collaborative common goal is the examination. Collaborative learning can only happen when some basic elements are met, including: positive interdependence – this is an obligation to rely on one another to achieve the common goal; considerable interaction – learners begin to help and encourage each other to learn; individual accountability – the students learn to be accountable for contributing to their share of the work; social skills – students are encouraged to develop and practice trust-building, leadership, decision-making and communication, as well as group self-evaluation techniques (Laal 2013).
Despite Edmodo’s technological participation in educational social networking, there are certain drawbacks and limitations of the technology. There can be times when students perhaps discuss off topic messages, which is not a major issue in itself, but it does take away the drive and motive for its original purpose. This would require being monitored by the teacher. Another limitation to the technology could me that some students may not have Internet access at home. This has limited implications in terms of completing formative tests in their own time. Teachers should also encourage students to be aware of copyright laws when posting material on Edmodo.
Roberts (2003, pg. viii) suggested that research on collaborative learning also has disadvantages in terms of theory associated with the activity, such as the ‘free rider’ effect, the ‘sucker’ effect or social loafing, which is the phenomenon of people exerting less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone (Roberts 2003, pg viii).
Atherton. J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Conversational learning theory. Pask and Laurillard. Retreived from: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/pask.htm
Laal. Marjan. (2013). Collaborative Learning; Elements. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83(2013) pp. 814-818. doi doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.153
Laurillard. D. (2008). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. 4(1) pp. 5-20. doi: 10.1007/s11412-008-9056-2
Roberts. T.S., (2003). Online Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=MwKfrjcDI_0C&oi=fnd&pg=PR6&dq=Online+collaborative+learning:+theory+and+practice&ots=59Av5cx_SM&sig=slLSJ0MMCKIqZ5v7dl86yYe5XJE#v=onepage&q=Online%20collaborative%20learning%3A%20theory%20and%20practice&f=false