(Perhaps) Our Final Vision
“Probably the most important thing for kids growing up today is the love of embracing change.” John Seely Brown said, and to embrace change you need not to feel
threatened by it, but feel able to manage it. We believe in empowerment as engagement for that!
According to the political biased leksikon.org, empowerment has two variations (our google-translation):
“A liberal variant in which empowerment is all about individuals’ ability to pursue their own goals, but where there are no issues with society’s inequality-generating structures.”
“A social criticism, solidarian variation that focuses on collective awareness and responsiveness in relation to the change of living conditions for underprivileged groups.”
And in an educational context Warschauer, Turbee and Roberts (1996) writes:
“French educator Celestin Freinet, little known in the English-speaking world but influential in Europe and Latin America, linked the empowering potential of social discourse to the issues of technology and networking (Cummins and Sayers, 1990).”
The goal of empowerment is to enable, “to increase” some kind “of strength of an entity or entities”, it “is supporting another person or persons to discover and claim personal power”. (copy pasted from 3 different wikis)
Alas! We can only teach, not decide what the students learn, and thereby decide how they use the empowerment. But we hope as Klafki, that they become autonomous, find it worthwhile to participate and act in solidarity (Klafki, 2000).
Therefore, we believe that both kinds of empowerment can engage the pupils in learning, and it can provide them more democratic learning experience and that there will be more powerful resource in the classroom.
A didactic design suggestion
Diana Laurillard (Laurillard 2012, p 82) says:
“Students need help with motivation to learn because formal learning has distant rewards, except for the intrinsic reward of intellectual curiosity. They need help with how to approach the learning of something that is the product of someone else’s thinking, and teachers do not naturally provide an environment that affords learning of this kind.”
By that understanding, we are going to offer a course, co-designed by the 8. graders, in making instructional videos on various issues concerning the programs and apps used in their school setting by the teachers (i.e. WordMat, Geogebra etc). They better this list of tutorials by iteration we blogged about on April 6.
The productional aim is, that after the course, the students are going to make instructional videos in both danish and their shared language and arrange a youtube-channel for spreading their tools for empowerment.
We support our design idea here with Freinet’s argument as quoted by Warschauer, Turbee and Roberts (1996):
“He urged educators to give youth control over as many audiovisual techniques as possible, including tape recorders, television, radio and movies, in order to achieve profound engagement with their social and physical worlds (Freinet, 1963/1974: p. 32).“
And as James Banks also states:
“A curriculum designed to empower students must be transformative in nature and help students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become social critics who can make reflective decisions and implement their decisions in effective personal, social, political, and economic action. (p. 131)”
reference Urban Education Horn
Therefore- the teaching is likely to be flipped and run as a project.
We see it as education in both collaboration, in media-knowledge, in the programs and apps, in language and civic influence/participation.
If this project is not perceived as empowerment for or by the regular math-teacher, at least it is born in solidarity:
“1. Teachers have too little time to find and evaluate software.
2. They do not have appropriate training and development opportunities.
3. It is too soon – we need decades to learn how to use new technology.
4. Educational institutions are organized around traditional practices. (Cuban 2001)”
(Laurillard, 2012 p 83), which goes very well with our own findings.
For information purposes, the mathematics teacher has not been considered in our field work, nor interviewed. Though we keep her up to date with our field study. Therefore, we recognize that a possible collaboration with the teacher could have given further opportunities or changes to our design.
Core value workshop
We summoned the 8. graders for a core value workshop, where we led them through a process not unlike the one we had in Aarhus back in February, in the beginning of february. We asked them to sit at three tables, both boys and girls at every table. We had an agenda we followed, as described in our blog, asking the children to filter out their core values. We were explicit in telling them to make examples for the values they chose, how can it be seen in their daily lives, actions and habits, that those are their values?
|At the end we told them to evaluate the process, told them they would be helping us in our further study- and work life to find out what was interesting in the process and what was perceived as pointless.|
We did as we did for several reasons:
We wish the students to qualify our work by giving us feedback.
We wish to live by
“The views expressed by children may add relevant perspectives and experience and should be considered in decision-making, policymaking and preparation of laws and/or measures as well as their evaluation”
according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Children §12 and let the students be subjects with voices and not objects to be studied.
We wish to show the students one way of giving and receiving feedback in a constructive way.
Reflections on our fieldwork
We tried to work strictly design’ish, as we understand it:
First we observed until boredom to find patterns and concluded from the observations (9. of March Entesar alone in one school, 9. of March Morten and Mette in another school and 10. of March, Egon, Entesar and Mette in the first school). We have photos, video and written observations from the three sessions.
Beginning to triangulate our data (not argumenting with theory yet) Entesar and Mette then had a focus group interview on the 11. of March with the students from the first school to follow up on our findings.
It was illuminating to ask the students if it was correctly seen, that they had problems with mathematics and they answered no. It turned out, that the math in itself was easy. But the apps they were using were hard to figure out, because their teacher does not know how to always help the students in their need at the exact moment and situation.
1. One design suggestion could be to empower the teacher by teaching her the use of relevant apps.
2. Another design suggestion could be to make a list of resources for the students (or the teacher), a playlist of instructional videos and articles of tutorials.
But our analysis of the collected empirical data from the fieldwork and analysis of focus group interviews has been pointing toward the design concept we have come up with the interpretation from the students. As Müller describes:
“…Participatory design (PD) is a set of theories, practices, and studies related to end users as full participants in activities leading to software and hardware computer products and computer-based activities “
(Müller, 2002) We have followed the steps in participatory design, and specially after the workshop we made with the students, we got more confidence in our design-thinking.
Therefor we came up with yet another design:
3. Why teach the students or the teacher about apps, when we could teach the students to teach the teacher and other pupils about the apps?
With this concept we try to bind it all together:
it is participatory design (Müller, 2002)
it is Klafkis epoca typical problem and his allgemeinbildung (Klafki, 2000)
If we see ourselves as the teachers, it is Freire dialog between student-teacher and teacher-student on shared concern (Freire 1996) regarding Klafkis epoca typical problem.
It is Biestas (2015) content, purpose and relationship
It is Laurillard (2012) telling us to design, test, analyze, re-design, re-test and report and us doing it with the students.
We must say that due to timing reasons we still have not got the opportunity to try out our design concept with the students. Therefore we cannot answer the question fully. But we have some expectations, due to our analyzes from the fieldwork and focus group interviews, the core value workshop and with the understandings we got from Freinet, regarding how to gain empowerment by giving the students the needed control of the techniques ( using the technical devices and digital media programs), to achieve profound engagement with their social and physical worlds. We assume that we have a solid mockup to be build upon.
Biesta, G. (2015). What is Education For? On Good Education, Teacher Judgement, and Educational Professionalism. European Journal Of Education, 50(1). doi:10.1111/ejed.12109
Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin.
Horn, Brian R. (2015): Eight Voices of Empowerment: Student Perspectives in a Restructured Urban Middle School. Urban Education
Klafki, W. (2000). Vedrørende spørgsmålet om et tidsvarende dannelsesbegreb : grundlæggende træk af et nyt alment dannelsesbegreb og dets konsekvenser. Religionslæreren.
Laurillard, Diana (2012): Teaching as a Design Science – Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. NY: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.
Müller, M. (2002): Participatory design: the third space in HCI, The human- computer interaction handbook: fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Mahwah, NJ, 2002
Warschauer, Mark and Turbee,Lonnie and Roberts, Bruce (1996):Computer Learning Networks And Student Empowerment. Elsevier Science Ltd –