quinta-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2009

Activity 4 - One-Question-Interviews

Make a one-question-interview with either an online teacher or an author of one of the articles in your annotated bibliography. The question should be related to online teaching techniques, teacher workload or online assignments.

Question to Dr. Steve Ehrmann

My name is Rosalina Simão Nunes and I am taking a master degree on E-Learning Pedagogy, by Universidade Aberta in Portugal. In this semestre we have a uc taken by professor Morten Paulsen and I quoted your paper IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES: Technology as Lever, in a annotated bibliography about online teaching techniques.

In the Activity 4, to the Unit 2, professor Morten Paulsen asked us to make a one-question-interview with either an online teacher or an author of one of the articles in our annotated bibliography. The question should be related to online teaching techniques, teacher workload or online assignments.

I choosed online teaching techniques and I related it with a issues that, here, in Portugal, we are discussing.
The portuguese government promoted last year, one program - the Magalhães - that aims to democratize access to information technology and supported by the distribution of a computer (The Magalhaes) for each student of the 1st cycle (children between 5 and 10 years).

Beyond other problems, one of the issues that is currently discussing, too, is whether there are benefits in using computers for children of this age. So, my question is: Should we use this kind technology, at this age, as lever for education in classroom?

Best regards
Rosalina Simão Nunes


Thanks so much for asking me. In the mid 1990s, I was a member of an OECD team that evaluated a Portuguese program to use computers to improve education for students of that age. The program was called Minerva, I believe, and it was a great success, the best we'd seen in any country in the world.
I congratulate you on your English. But English is full of ambiguity in education, so I'll take a chance and reword your interview question. If I've misunderstood your intent, please correct me.
Interview Question: the Portuguese government is providing a computer with Internet connectivity for every child ages 5-10, along with resources that can be used online in schools. Do you see ways to take advantage of these computers, connectivity and resources to help the children of this age learn?
Answer: My experience is mostly with college age students and mostly with students in North America, so please consider these suggestions with caution.
First, nothing will work without the appropriately prepared teachers and the staff who can help them. Part of the genius of the Minerva Program was the skill with which this was managed through an elegant collaboration among the Portuguese government, universities, and the schools themselves. (Minerva helped schools install a half dozen computers in a lab in each school building and then take advantage of those few machines to improve the learning of many, many children in that school. Teachers were seconded to the project and trained by the universities. These trained teachers then collaborated nationally to develop and implement ideas for using the machines. One popular practice, for example, was for children to interview people in their towns and create magazines of family stories, recipes, history, and such - a computer was used to do page layout and the printer to print the magazine. Ten year olds in one school wrote a whole cookbook which was published and widely circulated.)
One of the classic uses of computers to improve learning is to shift attention from mechanics to process -- from lower order skills to higher order thinking. School children of this age all need to learn the mechanics of writing. Students all need to learn to write with a pen or pencil. But even at this age, students also ought to learn to write (and rewrite, and rethink) at a keyboard, using letters, pictures, color, images and even music in their writing. For adults, and for children, writing should be like sculpting in clay not sculpting in stone (as it was when I was a child). And computers can bring multimedia into the picture. It also makes it more likely that children can create their own projects, magazines and web sites for the enjoyment of their families and neighbors.
That same logic can be applied to other kinds of learning. Students can learn about certain musical ideas by using computers (with appropriate software) to create their own music. Seymour Papert suggested decades ago some means for learning math by playing with math. Ditto art, history simulations, geography, and other areas of learning. (And I do think play is an important element of learning at this age).
The internet opens a much larger library for students. Instead of the tiny library I remember as a school child, the school could manage the children's access to books read aloud (along with the texts), music played aloud (along with the score), and the like. I imagine that there are interesting learning games, such as role playing simulations, that children can be play from computers.
And, of course, for some skills, self-paced, interactive computer tutorials are appropriate. There is ample evidence that, for such skills, children can learn about 1/3 faster than with more traditional methods. I don't know if the learning is any deeper than with traditional methods, but it's quicker, which frees time for other uses.
In all this, I imagine a shortage of software and materials in Portuguese might be an issue.
That problem might become an opportunity if it provides opportunities for college students, high school students and perhaps even somewhat younger children to create the software and resources for children of this age, and to work with the chidren as they try out the prototypes.
To conclude: with this policy in place, I'm very hopeful that there are worthwhile ways to use the investment to the benefit of both the children and the teachers.
Stephen C. Ehrmann

4 comentários:

Alien8 disse...


Gostei da resposta, que li com muita atenção. E da pergunta, claro.

É pena que a maior parte das nossas crianças (tanto quanto me é dado saber) usem o "Magalhães" quase exclusivamente para joguinhos. Falta a "tal" outra parte... aparte que não é política nem comercial.

Será que continuarei a ser um crente? :P

Rosalina Simão Nunes disse...

Não deixas de ter razão. Mas sabes o que me assusta mais? É ouvir colegas a dizer que para saberem usar o Magalhães têm de ter formação específica. Isso é que é de lamentar.

Alien8 disse...

E de rir, também!

Posso muito bem rir-me. Não sou da área de Informática, nem de perto nem de longe. Há muito tempo que uso computadores, e é com o uso que se aprende (na dúvida, a net ajuda...). Com o tempo, até aprendi sozinho a programar (porque me dá prazer fazê-lo) em linguagens simples, como o Basic ou o VBA. Também fui refinando o uso de programas como o Word ou o Excel. Não vejo, portanto, qualquer dificuldade nisso. Formação? Específica? Para o Magalhães? Ahahahahahahah!

Rosalina Simão Nunes disse...

É isso, Alien. Há coisas que só mesmo rindo.

Porque depois há tantas incongruências. Precisam de formação específica para trabalhar com o MAgalhães que é para trabalhar directamente com os alunos.

Mas venha qualquer simples ou complicada aplicação do ministério ou criada nas Escolas para informatizar o sistema e toda a gente aplica sem qualquer formação a bem de despachar as reuniões e achar que porque não se tem de tratar com papéis se pode acabar a reunião mais depressa.

E ai daquele que quiser debater, à séria questões pedagógicas...

[Hoje estou em dia não. :)]