Guiding Questions When Planning M-learning Workflows and Analysing the Pedagogic Potential of Apps and Web 2.0 Tools

Planning for Student Centred Learning Versus Lecture Mode

When planning a student centred teaching and learning experience, teachers need to begin with the learning objective in mind i.e. what exactly do we want the students to gain from this lesson. What do we want students to be more capable of doing by the end of the lesson? Learning objectives may exist in isolation in a lecture scenario   or even in a screencast  explanation delivered as part of a flipped classroom, where the main aim is to transfer knowledge content to students. The students listen and watch the unfolding boardwork, and try to comprehend and remember the grammar structure, mathematical formula, engineering principle, historical event etc. They process the information in isolation and are often not required to demonstrate understanding via output, until a later stage.

However, learning objectives can not stand alone in student centred classrooms, as the students need to employ a variety of  skills  to interact with the content input. Furthermore, in student centred learning by doing scenarios, content input and  student produced output is more intertwined. Hence, teachers must think of and  plan for:

The learning objective(s) e.g. using the simple past to communicate about finished events.

Skills to be used so that students engage with the learning objectives e.g reading, writing, speaking,listening

Activity types e.g. comparing, asking and answering questions, ranking etc.

Classroom interaction patterns e.g. whole class, pairs, groups etc.

With the advent of mobile devices, teachers also need to think of which apps or Web 2.0 Tools  and sharing platform(s) facilitate this process.

Guiding Questions When Planning M-learning Workflows

What is the learning  objective for this lesson?

How does the learning objective fit in with what students already know?

What key content information or rules do students need to be given prior to the lesson  via flipping or at some point during the lesson?

How will students receive this content information? Via a reading text,a listening text such as a podcast, a screencast or video or through teacher or student fronted elicitation?

Which activities will encourage students to process the content? Making predictions, answering comprehension questions, completing a gapfilled text, highligfhting specific features of the text, taking notes etc.?

Which app or Web 2.0 tool best allows for the delivery of the text and the activities to be carried out with the text e.g. Pages, a PDF annotator, Keynote,  an e-book, a sound file  app, mind mapping app or a n app permitting several layers of text and picture to be uncovered etc.?

How will texts and instructions be shared with students e.g. through a LMS, email, Dropbox, Google Drive etc.?

How will students have access to the answer key for example through automated digital feedback built into the app or Web tool,  orally from the teacher,  in a written document  shared via email. a LMS, a QR code etc?

What student output engages students with the learning objective, enabling them to hypothesize test and demonstrate their emergent understanding and acquisition of the learning outcome e.g. creating an ebook personalising the information, planning and recording a dialogue or monologue, creating a keynote presentation or iMovie etc?

What apps or Web 2.0 tools are involved in student output generation?

Why should students interact with the work of peers? What task will they be required to do that gives them a reason to interact e.g. listening for a discrepancy, listening for new information they have not encountered in their own work, voting on an opinion etc?

Which platform is needed to share student output in a particular app e.g. do students need to upload their output onto a LMS, email it to the teacher, add it to a class blog or do they simply need to share it by Apple TV?

Will feedback be given to individual students or to the class as a whole?

Will feedback be given about the students’ understanding of the learning objective only or will feedback also be given about their skill in using a particular app?

It goes without saying that the educational processes apps and Web 2.0 tools enable learners to participate in, during active learning, is the key reason for their selection. Therefore, it is important to spend time analysing the features of an app and brainstorming the interactive processes and activities which they can be used for, separate to lesson planning. When this is done, lesson planning becomes quicker. Once the teacher identifies the lesson  learning objective and  skills to be  fostered,  or  broadly decides on the activity types to provide practice, then the appropriate apps and tools start popping into mind.

Guiding Questions When Analysing the Pedagogic Potential of Apps and Web 2.0 Tools

Which  of the four main language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) does the app or tool require students to use?

Can students create with it?

What mode of text is created for other students to engage with e.g. video, audio, written, pictorial?

Are student responses non verbal, word level verbal, sentence level verbal, paragraph level verbal?

Can students create something alone or are two or more people required?

What type of multimedia can be added?

Are their multi levels of text and images i.e. can some information remain hidden?

Are other apps such as Camera Roll, audio recorder etc. necessary to be able to produce something on this app?

What are the sharing options?

Can the app be used on different mobile devices?

How user friendly is it?

Are there instructional materials available on You Tube , Lynda.com, in PDFs etc?

How interesting and motivating is the app for students?

What classroom activities have I used, or heard about, this app being used for before?

Is the learner output and ensuing student to student interaction patterns worth the time spent using the app and sharing the student generate artefact?

A Two Pronged Approach to Lesson PLanning

A clear understanding of how an app or Web 2.0 tool can facilitate teaching and learning, prevents the use of technology for the sake of technology. Using a PDF annotator to write down answers from a listening passage is a clear case in which technology is not the most efficient tool. On the contrary, the technology detracts from the listening sub skill of being able to keep up with the speaker’s voice and be able to jot down information in real time listening. In lesson planning for learning by doing, the technology should not be the starting point, the learning objectives need to take priority. However, in our experience, the two pronged  approach of analysing apps separately is highly beneficial, as it allows the teacher to see the fit between the pedagogy and the mobile technology more rapidly.

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