Introducing innovations to enhance teaching and learning and sharing these innovations with colleagues (in department/school/NMMU/at national forums)

I believe that I have to cater for my students’ needs, thus, I ask myself what would they like or perceive as interesting. I am a digital immigrant (considering my date of birth); they are digital natives (Prensky, 2001) who are very much concerned with visual and ICT processing. But dates can be deceiving, so although I am not born in the year span of digital natives, I do consider myself as not only being a digital native, but also as an innovator. In order to get the attention of digital natives, I have to try in ways that goes beyond the verbal approach. I share my innovations with staff during Faculty Board meetings as well as during special meetings when we invite NMMU staff to our faculty.

‘Student-Designed-Cyberhunts’ is an Internet strategy that I have developed. I would like to implement this in the second semester of 2010 in one of my modules. In order to guide colleagues and students, I have created an online website, [See link, but here you would have to be able to connect to the internet to explore further]  (www.nmmu.ac.za/Cyberhunt/index.htm) that guides any potential user on how to plan and design extended Cyberhunts. Cyberhunt design requires that the students become the designers of online artefacts and is based upon the notion that ‘knowledge results through design’ (Perkins, 1986; Harel & Papert, 1990; Kafai & Resnick, 1996). Hence, students must become active designers instead of passive consumers. During design, the process is just as important as the final product. Jonassen, Myers and McKillop (1996) argue that students should become designers by using similar design software that an instructional designer can use as a tool, in order that the students become designers or constructors of knowledge by designing Cyberhunts, rather than using the software as a conveyance tool, as the only people who really benefit from the instructional design, are the designers themselves.

 

What makes the ‘Student (Student) centred Learning-by-design Extended Cyberhunts’ significant and different from other Internet based teaching/learning tools, is the fact that the students design educational ICT based tools to assist other students to explore a topic by means of posing questions on different cognitive levels based upon the taxonomy of Bloom and the revised taxonomy of Anderson and Krathwohl (Wilson, 2005). These student designed artefacts provide any prospective student-designed-Cyberhunt user with hyperlinks, which the user has to explore in order to find appropriate answers to the student-created questions. Another positive aspect of student designed Cyberhunts is the fact that another lecturer could also benefit from using these student designed Cyberhunts to explore a given topic, especially if the lecturer is not Internet skilled and/or if a lecturer is in need of more information regarding a specific topic. The design of Cyberhunts by students provides an opportunity for lecturers to tap into their students’ thinking and their students’ perceptions about topics. When students become designers, they actually represent what they see or think as important about the topic that they explored. One could therefore argue that student completed designs represent, to a certain extent; their cognitive maps (see Salomon, 1998).

 

Another advantage of this approach is that other students could use the completed student-designed Cyberhunts to enrich themselves, to clarify misconceptions that they might have or/and to assist students who do not have an adequate understanding about a given topic to explore the topic by means of Internet based Cyberhunts. Lecturers could also ask students to design Cyberhunts on aspects or topics within the curriculum that the lecturer will not be able to ‘cover’ for example as a result of, amongst others, time constraints. Lastly, the fact that the students have to explore a given topic on their own, or that they have to find the necessary resources on the Internet by themselves, and that they have to pose questions based on the different cognitive levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, are all aspects that make the design of student created extended Cyberhunts novel. Hence, students would have to be well versed in the verbs associated with the different levels of the taxonomy of Bloom or the revised version by Anderson and Krathwohl.

One of my colleagues, Mrs Carmel Mohammed, has invited me to introduce and explain the Extended Cyberhunt approach to her students to show them the capabilities that ICT offers with reference to classroom implementation. I have done this for her since 2009.

Cyberhunts


I also use ICT based platforms for example the NMMU LEARN online portal (learn.nmmu.ac.za) as a learning tool [See image below].

LEARN PORTAL

On LEARN I provide information regarding the topics for the next week or two, as well as what I expect from my students for the next session(s). I also post snippets from articles, hyperlinks to other useful Internet resources and YOUTUBE links (www.youtube.com) [See image below] on LEARN, so that my students can explore what we have done in the classroom at a deeper level. In addition, I post tips for their assignments, as well as examples of previous tests and exam papers, on this portal.

 

Patterns YouTube

I also use the iPad and create my own iPad mathematics videos on the iPad. These videos are uploaded onto LEARN, the NMMU iLearn system, where students can review aspects that have been discussed in class. I also play some of these videos in class and use them then as a tool to further understanding and discussion (See image below).

Educreations Topic 8

 

Below is a screen image and links to some of my videos:

 

  • Educreations Circle Example

Polygons iPad

 

Click here to go to the Educreations app.

The LEARN portal also serve a special purpose for our MEd and PhD/DEd students. A link has been placed in the MEd section which guides students and lecturers to a special website which I have designed. This website serves as a scaffold for research students, as it provides useful information and links related to the research journey. A vast number of aspects are covered, for example how to decide upon a research question, how to write a research proposal, research perspectives and paradigms, video interviews with well renown researchers, referencing techniques, resources on methodology available online and in the library, writing tips, specific academic phrases and terminology, etc. I believe in sharing and building capacity as a collective, therefore I go to great lengths to share the MEd designed website (http://tutor.nmmu.ac.za/med/index.htm) with my fellow colleagues and have shared its existence with them.

MEd Website

Prof Bill Holderness (no retired) has shown great interest in this, as has Prof Lesley Wood. A very positive aspect of this innovation is the fact that a student could use this online resource irrespective of where he/she is residing in the world.

 My PowerPoint Animation Tutorial 

Click on the PLAY button at the bottom to play tutorial. I develop these videos on a continuous basis to cater for my students' different needs. Some are fast learners, some slower ones. The video assist all learners as they can view them at anytime outside the classroom contact time.

My EXCEL Animation Tutorial 

Click on the PLAY button at the bottom to play tutorial.