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Humanising elearning using illustrated characters

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A presentation given at the ED-MEDIA 2008 conference.

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Humanising elearning using illustrated characters

  1. 1. 04.07.08 Humanising elearning using illustrated characters <ul><ul><li>Barry Kayton </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Steve Vosloo </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Who we are <ul><li>Barry Kayton @ Bright Sparks </li></ul><ul><li>Steve Vosloo @ Shuttleworth Foundation </li></ul>
  3. 3. Kusasa: “tomorrow” <ul><li>Open-source e-learning initiative to develop analytical thinking skills in learners and more effective teaching practices in teachers </li></ul><ul><li>How? A software programming-based learning environment that is teacher facilitated (as opposed to taught) and partly peer-taught </li></ul><ul><li>Support teaching of curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Grades 4-12 in SA. 6 pilot schools (gr 4) </li></ul><ul><li>2005-2010 – a “work in progress” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why? <ul><li>Chronic shortage of maths and science teachers in SA </li></ul><ul><li>Mathematical, scientific and analytical thinking is not being developed </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom disconnect because of digital amusements </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing access to computer labs </li></ul>
  5. 5. Approach <ul><li>Develop HOTS by engaging learners </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate exploration (Piaget's constructivism) and creation (Papert's constructionism) </li></ul><ul><li>Kusasa: a whole learning system which includes software, curriculum-aligned content, and teacher training materials </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Our purpose is to enrich learners with deeply mathematical and scientific experiences that are wrapped up with enjoyable feelings” </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Software <ul><li>LAMS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>LMS. Leaning activity sequencing and monitoring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Account management, Q&A, noticeboard, multiple choice, forum, survey ... </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Squeak eToys </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual programming/modelling language and environment designed for young children </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Objects with headings, angles, variables, motion, time, speed, acceleration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Papert's constructionist approach: create public artefacts, engaged learning through active, playful construction </li></ul></ul>
  7. 8. Process <ul><li>LAMS holds together: </li></ul><ul><li>Comic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crunch/Reflection </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Class exercise </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crunch/Reflection </li></ul></ul><ul><li>eToys </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crunch/Reflection </li></ul></ul>
  8. 10. Role models <ul><li>Role model some of the targeted learning outcomes – such as analytical thinking or interpersonal life skills </li></ul><ul><li>Role model positive behaviours, thinking styles, attitudes and values – “Cognitive apprenticeship” (Berryman 1991; Coman 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Characters with personalities – not just talking heads! </li></ul>
  9. 11. Why comics? <ul><li>Comics motivate and engage (Hutchinson 1949; Sones 1944; Wax 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Help learners with “low and middle intelligence levels” (Sones 1944) to grasp issues that they grapple with when only presented in text form </li></ul><ul><li>“ In the struggle to engage students of all dispositions” comics can prove to be a formidable tool (Yang 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Create an emotional connection between learners and the characters (Versaci 2001) – “humanise elearning” for compelling role modelling </li></ul>
  10. 12. The facilitator/teacher <ul><li>Facilitates sessions, crunch questions ... </li></ul><ul><li>Guides the characters </li></ul><ul><li>Good teacher model to learners (for some the only role model) </li></ul><ul><li>Good teacher model to teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Non-authoritarian </li></ul>
  11. 14. Four thinking styles Sophie Reads Questions Opinionated Sceptical Farrah Dances Draws Trusts Gullible Jojo Energetic Doer Body Action Tom Logical Mathematical Invents Experiments
  12. 23. Characters as role models of attitudes and values <ul><li>Tom demonstrates the problem of making unwarranted assumptions and the value of breaking assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>Farrah’s story shows the dangers of being gullible and the value of making sensible inferences </li></ul><ul><li>Jojo models what it means to change your point of view </li></ul><ul><li>Sophie demonstrates the power of thinking in terms of questions </li></ul><ul><li>Characters question and support each other , modelling peer-to-peer teaching and learning </li></ul>
  13. 24. Metacognition <ul><li>Key component of HOTS </li></ul><ul><li>“ To be or not to be?” -- Hamlet </li></ul><ul><li>Thought bubbles: thinking about a problem, thinking about the thinking they are applying to that problem </li></ul><ul><li>Visual back-and-forth, internal dialogue </li></ul>
  14. 26. Challenges <ul><li>Illustrated comics are time and resource heavy </li></ul><ul><li>Creative director, writers, illustrators, inkers and colourists </li></ul><ul><li>Can be prohibitively expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult to create genuinely creative stories --> cannot be too formulaic or didactic </li></ul>
  15. 27. A work in progress ... <ul><li>Grade 4, 5 and 6 complete </li></ul><ul><li>Grade 4 under evaluation and broad roll-out </li></ul>
  16. 28. Conclusion <ul><li>How to role-model effective thinking practice to ever larger numbers of learners efficiently and effectively? </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge is to develop attitudes, values and habits that support HOTS </li></ul><ul><li>Kusasa solution: elearning, humanised by means of illustrated characters and stories </li></ul>
  17. 29. Thank you <ul><li>www.kusasa.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.brightsparks.ws </li></ul><ul><li>www.shuttleworthfoundation.org </li></ul>

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