Written by Lina Markauskaite
In some information and communication technology (ICT)-related units students learn ICT competences (digital literacy) in isolation from their future workplace practices and needs. In contrast, in some other units that prepare students for practicums, students become passive receivers of large amount of information and “scripts” about how to behave in workplace (policies, ethics, etc.).
Evidence shows that learning to use ICT in isolation from specific problems is ineffective. An effective way to enhance students’ ICT-related capacities is to engage them into authentic projects, such as design and development of ICT-related tools or resources for their own learning or for teaching others or for later their practice. A closely related example comes from a teacher education unit, where groups of preservice teachers work with university academics helping them to design and develop new online courses . Students could be asked to co-create such courses for themselves. Such task, of course, is large and could require longer time (6-12 weeks), but depending on available time, students could be given tasks to create smaller and more specific self-learning resources. For example, students could be given a task to create a resource for learning about a specific topic using social media, such as scoop.it. Such task could be a small and specific or large and broad (e.g. a task asking students to choose, annotate and share 3-5 most important resources on a specific topic could be done within 1-2 weeks asking, but students could be also asked to develop a larger collection of tools over a longer period).
Quite different issue is encountered in courses where students encounter large amounts of information. In such cases, students usually are engaged in passive learning (e.g. reading, note taking, doing quizzes). In contrast, evidence from cognitive sciences suggests  that active, constructive and interactive activities are much more beneficial and “interactive activities are most likely to be better than constructive activities, which in turn might be better than active activities, which are better than being passive” . Tasks that draw on active students’ co-construction of learning resources and tools for their own learning and for their peers could help to address this challenge. Examples of specific pedagogical approaches are “knowledge-creating inquiry” , “knowledge building” , “design as inquiry”; “learning-by-design”  and other participatory co-creation approaches. Such approaches not only help to address the above two issues, but also could help to foster students’ creativity, innovation and agency .
In the context of mobile technology (MT) in workplace learning (WPL), the above issues could be addressed by giving students tasks (including assessments) in which students are asked to design and develop ICT-based resources or tools (projects, applications) that would help them and their peers to enhance their own learning in workplace with mobile technologies.
Such participatory tasks could be designed in various ways.
- Organised & guided: Specific topics, tools, etc could be suggested by a teacher. For example, groups of students could be allocated specific topics related to MT in WPL and asked to create a resource that would be useful for them and their peers using a specific media tool (e.g. How to use mobile technologies ethically in workplace; How to use Linkedin/Facebook in for professional learning). Students could be given various applied tasks (e.g. To design a plan for setting up a new (networked) professional learning community in an organization. To set up a professional learning network that you could use during your practicum with your peers).
- Open: The task given for students could be open ended, such as “Create (or design) an innovative resource or tool that would help you to enhance professional learning in your future workplace using mobile technologies”. In such cases it is better to do the project in stages. Initially, students could be asked to design an initial 1-2 pages proposal. Then, after receiving feedback on their idea, they could proceed to design and development. If students didn’t have similar participatory design tasks before, such tasks could be scaffolded by helping students to structure design and inquiry process. E.g. giving a model of design thinking process, a template for design proposal, etc.
What do you think? What are others examples of such participatory tasks?
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