Tuesday, 14 October 2008

cck08 - Week 6 - Complexity, Chaos and Research

On Sunday, I posted the photo of my grandmother Maria - schoolmistress at the beginning of past century - with her little-schoolchildren in their white smocks.
A good introduction for this week subject! ☺

Have you read Renata Phelps' article? Citing Lee she says: "the two learning systems and cultures, that of school and of the Web, are fundamentally different; one has a basis in control and structure, and the other is seemingly unstructured and chaotic." The photo I have published perfectly visualises the idea of control and structure, order and directive-style typical of the traditional school. (Any element of chaos, in some way present in any classroom - also at the time of my grandmother, I suppose - has been eliminated at the moment of the photo, that means "at the moment of the formal representation").

In my thirty-year experience as a teacher - without having read Doll, Bjork, Honebein, … - I have, step by step, shifted from a directive-style, focused "on objectives and learning outcomes," to the promotion of processes: use of the laboratory, projects activities, working experiences out of the school, also out of Italy. I strongly agree with the statements: "Rather than simplifying the environment, the goal of educators should be to aid the learner to function in rich learning environments" and "education should be process-oriented and students must be actively engaged".
In the lab, teaching Electronics, I asked my students to design, realise and test simple, or more complex, circuits; teaching Automation, to write programs for a PLC in order to control motors or other devices. In the last course year, generally, I proposed to my students to choose a project and work on it for many months.
It's a way to capture students interest, to promote their creativity, to develop their problem solving capability, to learn through "errors, mistakes and difficulties" (see Bjork quoted by Phelps).
I have also spent a lot of my time organising working experiences, exchanges with foreign students and working experiences abroad. Wonderful learning experiences - in the real, complex, environment - for my students!

Thus: it's not only a question of digital environment and of digital natives. I did such experiences 20 years ago, and I found them useful for my (not-yet native) students learning.
Obviously, with digital native students it's much more crucial to leave the old - linear and teacher centered - school.


Jørgen said...

Hi pierfranco ravotto,
Nice story about your teaching and hacking experience. I wrote the same story from a Danish point of view here: http://ilearner.dk/cck08/?p=83


Andreas Formiconi said...

I like your story Pierfranco, very much. People should know it. Do you feel alone? Have you friends that had a similar story to tell? IN which measure are you able to share these experiences with your colleagues?

EQ said...

Dear Pierfranco,
Great to hear your story and view. As teachers, it is not easy to share our experience with colleagues, due mainly to "control" that we may feel overseeing us. What happens if our headteacher overhear our comments? But in a network, you could share more openly, without fear of repercusion. I could see that you are enthusiastic in supporting your students. I share your view in such passion. Looking forward to more sharing.
John Mak

Jo Ann Distance Education said...

Dear Pierfranko,
Thanks for sharing your story. I have just been appreciating some of the ground work of outreach and learning about utilizing web knowledge management, fieldwork emphasis, and chaos/complexity for learning rather than conformity as organized and often restricted in learning opportunities and sharing. Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers (CCK08)