Involving users in the design of apps for the writing processes. An experiment in the primary school

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  • 1. Involving users in the design of apps for the writing processes. An experiment in the primary school Maria Ranieri & Liana Peria University of Florence Bristol, 9th October 2013
  • 2. The Research Context Scuola-Città Pestalozzi is a public school in Florence, founded by the Italian pedagogist Ernesto Codignola after the second war conflict (1945) and largely inspired to the philosophy of Dewey, where education and democracy are strictly related. Scuola-Città Pestalozzi - Florence Key words: Education & Democracy
  • 3. The Research Context It is an experimental school organized in four two-years periods including primary and middle school. Since its foundation, the didactic has been always based on laboratories and project work (see e.g. The Journal ‘Il nostro piccolo mondo’). Scuola-Città Pestalozzi - Florence Key words: Inquiring & Project work
  • 4. The Research Context Scuola-Città Pestalozzi of Florence Nowadays the school participates in "Scuol@2.0" (National Plan for Digital School) and is committed in combining the heritage of the best past experiences (continuity) with the transformation of the learning environments through ICT (innovation). Key words: Continuity & Innovation
  • 5. The Research Context Scuola-Città Pestalozzi of Florence The school received large funds to buy iPads, but not for training or testing. However, in continuity with its history, teachers are trying to critically introduce these devices as means to improve their teaching approach with special attention to avoid the “McDonaldization” of education.
  • 6. The Research Context Something about apps There are many apps on the market for storytelling. They are mostly characterised by a series of editing features and library of visual or audio resources. Much less has been done in terms of ‘technology enhanced writing’ referring to more specific (meta)cognitive dimensions. Just some examples
  • 7. Theoretical framework Linda S Flower & John R Hayes (1981). “A Cognitive Process Theory of Writing”. In College Composition and Communication32.4 (December 1981): 365-87. John R Hayes (1996). A new model of cognition and affect in writing. In M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The Science of Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Scardamalia and Bereiter (1983). Model of the CDO process. Procedure of revision adapted with permission. In D.Alamargot & L.Chanquoy, Through the Models of Writing. (2001): 102: Kluwer Academic Publishers Architecture of planning, translating, revising processes in writing models Writing as an interative process of rewriting From writing as a cognitive process of problem solving to writing as a social and contextual activity 1 2 3
  • 8. Aims and objectives Research interest is focused on meeting/convergence between 1. Educational reflection on needs of writing process of text production in primary school - Planning process (Ideas generation & Structure organization) - Translating process (Editing with Structure facilitations) - Reviewing process (Reading & Listening, CDO cycle) - Monitoring and Process controlling 2. Main technological characteristics of mobile devices (tablet) portability, mobility, significant battery life, ubiquitous connectivity, personalization, dimensions of screen, sensors availability, native gestures, multitouch screen & specific affordances, marketplaces & their infinite number of applications To investigate if (and how) involving pupils in the design of a app for writing can help to promote a better metacognitive control on their own writing needs and, at the same time, to learn to take part and guide an innovation process on a micro level into the school.
  • 9. Participants • 19 Pupils (11 females & 8 Males) aged 9-10 (4° grade) • 1 Teacher • 2 Researchers Pupils were divided into two groups, one attending the Linguistic Lab and the other the Librarian Lab. The experimentation took place within the Linguistic Lab on Tuesdays, from April to May 2013, with each single group for 45 minutes.
  • 10. Methods General approach - Design-Based Research (DBR) We adopted a D-B R. approach by involving the teacher and the pupils in the participatory design of an app while fousing on pupils’metacognitive reflection on their specific needs in the writing process Instruments Three focus groups for (explicit and tacit) needs’ assessment in relation to the process of writing a text and to gather elements for design. Each focus group was based on: - Providing a document as a stimulus and collective discussion - Teacher’s moderation of the discussion - “Participant observation” by researchers
  • 11. Phase 1 - Needs Analysis and Participatory Design (February – June, 2013) Phase 2 - Development and Implementation of the app (July-November, 2013) Phase 3 - Testing, Validation and Dissemination (from January 2014) Main steps
  • 12. Phase 1 (Feb. – June, 2013) Needs Analysis and Participatory Design
  • 13. 1° FOCUS GROUP: Me and the text Goal Gathering a first set of data on pupils’idea of a​​ text and on the aspects of textuality considered as working or not working Used tool Story (narrative genre fiction) written by a girl of the same age as an input for discussion Questions 1) What are the most significant words (or sentences) in the story? And why? 2) Do you thing there are some sentences that could be deleted since it is unuseful or not clear? Please, highlight it in the text 3) Could the story be real? How do you infer it? 4) If you were asked to rewrite the story, what would you changed and how? 1st document Phase 1 (Feb. – June, 2013)
  • 14. 2° FOCUS GROUP: The text and the writing process Goal Gathering data on the aspects that characterize the writing process Used tool Text reports (non-fiction) written for the school’s newspaper by a child of the same age On the background According to all the pupils it was "a well written text" Questions How the pupil managed to write this (well written) text? 1)FIRST the pupil… 2) DURING the process the pupil … 3) AT THE END the pupil … Phase 1 (Feb. – June, 2013) 2nd document
  • 15. checklist Goal Reflecting analytically on the needs related to the process of writing Used tool A checklist including 16 different "aid" (considered as "facilitators" ) to be judged as more or less useful for the design of the app (rated 0 to 5) Proposed supports - Plannig 1) Recording the story before writing 2) A map to note ideas and words 3) A scheme to order ideas 4) A visual library with images and pictures representing differents situations and contexts of life 5) A visual library with images and pictures representing people may help describing the characters - Translating 6) A scheme to be filled in to develop the story 7) A scheme always visible during the writing 8) A list of words useful to describe the situations 9) A list of words useful to describe the characters 10) A dictionary - Reviewing 11) A reviewer for orthographic mistakes 12) A sheet to monitor during the process what has been written 13) Freely moving parts of the story to change their order 14) Listening the reading of the text by others (vocal software) 15) Recording and listening tothe story 16) A sheet to monitor at the end what has been written 17) Other [specify]... 3° FOCUS GROUP: The facilitation of writing Phase 1 (Feb. – June, 2013)
  • 16. 1) Me and the text 2) The text and the writing process Phase 1 (Feb. – June, 2013) First results high awareness low awareness - alternative strategies for assessing the quality of the text in addition to the personal understanding of the story - "time" awareness of the story - role of descriptions - concept of rewriting as reworking (complete overlap between rewriting and correction) - importance of the ongoing revision (the control is final) - tendency to identify the transcription with the conclusion of the work - lack of awareness of a metacognitive organic plan (writing is essentially an executive technical exercise) - situation of fiction - narrative text function to tell something to someone - narrative function of the phrases (attention focused on their meaning) - narrative significance of the title - actions needed for text generation of news (observation, attention to the reality, looking for an interesting topic, organization and order of ideas, scheme of 5W) - complexity of the task (need for concentration , use of strategies) - habits and practices emerged during the study as a result of educational preferences of the teacher
  • 17. - automatic reading of the written text (the aid more strongly desired) - corrector of spelling mistakes - listening to the recording of their reading written text - tab to control, during the writing, the part of the story already written 3) The facilitation of composition Phase 1 (Feb. – June, 2013) First results high usefulness low usefulness - list of useful words to describe the "characters" of the story - list of pictures of different environments ... to get better in the situation - list of useful words to describe the setting of the story - available to dictionary high agreement low agreement - usefulness of being able to reflect on the various aid proposed by the checklist - draft as a traditional compositional strategy privileged - revision as a means to control singular words/phrases - facilitation represented by the digital writing but infrequent use "afraid to delete" - strong disagreement over the use of the schemes (great attribution of positive scores but little used in practice) The use of a schema is considered: - unnecessary if you know what to write - useful only for long or complex text - useful only to those who have yet to gain safety
  • 18. (Meta-/)Cognitive functions and related working areas Ideas generating - section 1 on the left To collect notes of various types (text, drawing, pictures, audio/ video) that are placed, one after the other, in a vertical scrolling list (not yet ordered) Planning - Organizing - section 2 on the left In order to put ideas into a diagram (vertical scrolling list) from pre-designed templates chosen by the teacher according to different and appropriate educational reasons Translating - section 1 on the right To compose text according to the scheme that is structured automatically starting from outline Working areas - To support a global visualization of different phases of whole composing process in a single screenshot organized in two columns always visible (with their scrolling sections) - To macht to the habit of entrusting to the mind both the process of ideation (especially conceived in a linear way) and the process of composition (essentially additive) Phase 2 (July-November, 2013)
  • 19. drag &drop tools for reviewing (to include in the right column) - automatic reading / recording their reading - preservation drafts - synchronization - sharing for collaborative correction (teacher and/or peers) - use of corrective/evaluative tags (social tagging) Monitoring as a recursive process always possible starting from a global view Reviewing cycle CDO Compare: listen to the text already written (automatic reading and recording voice) Diagnose: automatic spelling correction and collaborative correction Operate: make changes Phase 2 (July-November, 2013)
  • 20. Conclusions • A first consideration refers to some limitations of the experience in terms of transferability. The overall process takes time and requests some resources (e.g. for the implementation) • However, the enthusiasm that pupils have shown towards the idea of being designers of App encouraged us to pursue this way. • In particular, we want to get some ideas from this experience to develop sustainable mobile scenarios where pupils are not passive consumers of ICTs but active citizens able to master the new digital artefacts of our time.
  • 21. Thank you!  maria.ranieri@unifi.it liana.peria@unifi.it Liana Peria, Teacher and PhD Student in Telematics and Information Society Maria Ranieri: Supervisor