Moving from the traditional model of learning to new learning with online technologies has the potential to engage students in the active creation of knowledge. Assessment tasks are not about testing memory but challenging students to work together to share their knowledge and insights, present ideas and propose solutions.
Many students cannot or prefer not to attend local (face to face) classes. Providing online spaces means students living remotely, who are house-bound (or incarcerated) and those who are time poor can still participate in collaborative projects.
When we move our project spaces online we need to replace the physical place with an online place where the project group can meet, synchronously or asynchronously. From there the students will be able to access the tools and resources needed. This is the same really as in local classes, where a reliable internet connection is usually a priority.
Effective online spaces have been created using Learning Management Systems, virtual classrooms such as Adobe Connect, Facebook groups and many other concepts. This useful article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning looks at six ways to create online learning spaces for your students.
To work on a project together students will need some or all of the following:
- share and discuss ideas and information (eg a discussion forum, a virtual classroom such as Adobe Connect)
- share images, information, links (eg photosharing servces such as Flickr, social bookmarking tools such as Diigo)
- co-produce a deliverable or project outcome (eg Google docs/slides/maps)
- share completed projects with a wider audience (eg Facebook Groups, Google docs/slides/maps, Vimeo or YouTube, Pinterest, Slideshare)
Access to teacher to clarify and test ideas: to get some feedback at key project points
Example of students creating knowledge artefacts:
Students in a Travel and Tourism course design an itinerary for a trip around NSW
(This task was developed by Annabel Palfreeman, TAFE NSW and is not available outside that organisation)
The students collaborated in several online project spaces to complete this task:
LMS (Canvas) – this is where the class is divided into groups using inbuilt groups functionality and where the instructions are, including samples and procedures for using Google maps.
Adobe Connect – Online meeting where students discuss how they will approach the task
Google Maps – where the students develop the itinerary and share the finished product.
Online project spaces, and the associated tools that are available in those spaces, support project based learning, problem based learning, peer learning and active participation in real world tasks. They underpin active knowledge making.