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Validation Experiment Description

Nettilukio & te@ch.us

Written by Thomas Fischer on donderdag 27 oktober 2011 15:07
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The Links-up at pilot at Nettilukio, an Online Upper Secondary School at the Otava Folk High School in Finland aimed to increase the effectiveness of the initiative by focusing on supporting teachers’ professional development through the introduction of Web 2.0-based tools and pedagogy. Using the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform (an on-line ‘community of practice promoting the use of Web 2.0 in schools) the pilot objectives were to build up an online learning community for teachers; provide motivation and inspiration for teachers using Web 2.0 in classes; transfer basic knowledge to beginners; provide advanced knowledge for experts, and offer communication facilities for members.

The introduction to Nettilukio (Online Upper Secondary School) at the Otava Folk High School was kindly provided from Taru Kekkonen.

 

Overview

Nettilukio offers a comprehensive Finnish upper secondary school study programme online, using a learning platform, virtual classroom technology, wikis and blogs, which is aimed at adults aged 17-75. In exceptional circumstances, younger students are also accepted, for example Finnish students living abroad. The initiative is based on a concept of pure online learning with no obligatory traditional classroom teaching sessions, although it is possible for students to attend classroom sessions in Otava. There are no periods or semesters and the courses are always open. Students can pick courses freely to suit their schedule and can start at any time in a nonstop course subscription system.  All the course materials and social communication tools (e.g. discussions forums) can be found in the learning platform for self-learning and students follow personal learning plans.  The students have access to wikis and the blogs from the learning environment, but these tools are also available to non-school members. Recently, the project has introduced a virtual conference room where students have the option to attend classroom teaching through the web in a synchronized online learning approach.


Figure 1:
The Nettilukio & Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. Validation Experiment

The Links-up pilot aimed to increase the effectiveness of the initiative by focusing on supporting teachers’ professional development through the introduction of Web 2.0-based tools and pedagogy. Using the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform (an on-line ‘community of practice promoting the use of Web 2.0 in schools) the pilot objectives were to build up an online learning community for teachers; provide motivation and inspiration for teachers using Web 2.0 in classes; transfer basic knowledge to beginners; provide advanced knowledge for experts, and offer communication facilities for members.  These objectives were supported by the installation of a Wordpress and Buddypress platform; access to a collection of good practices on using Web 2.0 in schools; a Basic Knowledge database with essential advice, a list of tools and links to resources; an Advanced Knowledge section with links to advanced resources and Webinars, and communication facilities focused on Groups and Forums.

Characteristics of the Pilot Site

Table 1: Nettilukio & Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. - Short Summary

Name

Author/ Institution

Main Target Group

Technologies/
Social Networking

Inclusion/Learning Scenario

Nettilukio & Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien.

OFHS (FI) & ILI (DE)

Pupils of Nettilukio, a comprehensive Finnish upper secondary school study programme offered by the Otava Folk High School (OFHS):

people with negative school history

people living in sparsely populated areas

people working in shifts

parents taking care of their small children at home

entrepreneurs

people living abroad

people with health problems

professional athletes


Hardware:

Computer with Internet connection

Mobile phone, smart phone and/or another digital camera

Software:

Wordpress and Buddypress for online platform

Adobe Connect for Webinars


Teaching content: 

Online radio (Audioboo)

Online maps (Picasa, Google Maps)

Video streaming (Bambuser and YouTube)

Tumblr-blog

Twitter (microblg)

Social bookmarking (Diigo)

Virtual learning environments

Wiki

Implementation of a series of online, offline and hybrid workshops, where Web 2.0 tools where introduced to the teachers and staff working at Nettilukio, a comprehensive Finnish upper secondary school study programme offered by the Otava Folk High School (OFHS)

Using the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform to build up an online learning community for teachers

Provide motivation and inspiration for teachers using Web 2.0 in classes

Giving access to a collection of good practices on using various Web 2.0 in schools

Online courses include discussion space, web materials, tutorial videos, online lectures and learning assignments

Activities include amongst others establishing and broadcasting an online radio, creating individual online maps and learn about video streaming

Learning scenario are learning-by-doing and phenomenon based with strong expert and peer support

The inclusion scenario implies that better qualified teachers using social software will be able to reach the learners at Nettilukio more easily and more effectively and subsequently increase their involvement in the learning experience

 

Otava Folk High School was established 1892. Ever since its task has been to look for and offer new ways of studying and learning, to question the already existing school system and to complete to that. In other words its task is to meet the learning demands that are not otherwise met in the prevailing education system. Online Upper Secondary School (i.e. Nettilukio in Finnish) was established in 1996 bearing this task in mind.

Nettilukio offers a comprehensive Finnish upper secondary school study programme online, using a learning platform, virtual classroom technology, wikis and blogs and other social software applications, which is aimed at adults aged 17-75. In exceptional circumstances, younger students are also accepted, for example Finnish students living abroad. The initiative is based on a concept of pure online learning with no obligatory traditional classroom teaching sessions, although it is possible for students to attend classroom sessions in Otava. There are no periods or semesters and the courses are always open. Students can pick courses freely to suit their schedule and can start at any time in a nonstop course subscription system. All the course materials and social communication tools (e.g. discussions forums) can be found in the learning platform for self-learning and students follow personal learning plans. The students have access to wikis and the blogs from the learning environment, but these tools are also available to non-school members. Recently, the project has introduced a virtual conference room where students have the option to attend classroom teaching through the web in a synchronized online learning approach.

Nettilukio, the Online Upper Secondary School started with and has been following two key ideas ever since: openness and trust. Openness in the sense that the school is open 24/7/12 and in the sense that the learning material has been available and accessible by anyone interested from the very beginning. The school can be reached from any place in the world as the whole programme of upper secondary school can be studied online, from a distance. There are no terms or semesters and the academic year is the whole calendar year. All the courses are ceaselessly available online so that the students can pick any course any time.

In the Online Upper Secondary School the students can choose between three ways to accomplish courses:

  • Non-stop-courses

Each student is free to pick any upper secondary school course in his/her schedule any time he/she wants. The buffet table is always open and the student can choose any dishes he/she favours at his/her own phase (i.e. according to his/her personal learning plan). Studying on this path is quite independent and sometimes lonely, too. It may be pretty quiet at the dinner table as everyone is having his/her dinner at various times. Even if the studying is independent of point of time, the buffet offers no fast food as the learning always takes its time, no matter how flexible the frames.

Web2.0 technologies provide the buffet with facilities via the online learning environment but the studying is not very social or shared. Interaction is limited mainly between student and teacher (skype, chat, e-mail etc.).

  • Collaborative courses

Several times a year, the table is also laid with so called collaborative courses. They begin and end on fixed dates. Booking the table beforehand is necessary and the students had better be there when the chef is available and food is warm. When sitting around the virtual table the students are able to work on issues together and use each others as resources. This is not possible in the buffet. Anyway, also this restaurant is located in a closed learning environment and the door is shut from the rest of the world. Only the students and the teachers have the VIP badges to access the restaurant.

Discussion forums, wikis and virtual conferencing tools are widely used in collaborative courses.

  • Phenomenon based learning

Instead of enrolling in a course in a specific subject such as mathematics, biology or philosophy, the student has a chance to grasp a bigger entity, a real life phenomenon. The phenomena so far studied at Otava are among others hunger and thirst, welfare state, piracy and human being 2.0. The idea is to integrate various subjects in the studying of the phenomenon. The student can choose his/her approach to the phenomenon him/herself, set his/her targets him/herself and thus choose which (upper secondary school) subjects and courses he/she wants to complete.

As the phenomena to be studied are authentic, real life phenomena, it would be quite contradictory to close the studying behind school doors. That is one reason why we have taken the phenomena out in an open and public online environment so that people in various roles and with different interests can attend. There are project managers, pedagogues, experts, media tutors, subject teachers – and students, of course. Lurking is also allowed and anyone interested also from other schools and from outside the school world is welcome. The roles are often mixed and the teacher doesn’t have to be an expert in everything. Expertise can be found also outside the school or – as it often is – among students.

First learners decide what entity they want to grasp. Everyone is allowed to approach the theme from his/her interest. Thus someone might like to find out about the local food culture and traditions, another one about nutrients and health issues. Someone else might be interested in the raw materials needed, where and how they are grown, how sustainable the growing is, if they can be bought in Finland, how sustainable the transportation of them is etc. Experts can be invited to join when their expertise is needed. The chef might not be needed at all or it can be anybody, not necessarily the teacher. As everyone brings his/her own approach and learning to the same table, the result is much more than anyone could have achieved alone or with just the teacher.

The evaluation of the Links-up pilot showed that the chosen approach was able to increase the effectiveness of the initiative by focusing on supporting teachers’ professional development through the introduction of Web 2.0-based tools and pedagogy. Using the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform ( an on-line ‘community of practice promoting the use of Web 2.0 in schools) the pilot objectives were to build up an online learning community for teachers; provide motivation and inspiration for teachers using Web 2.0 in classes; transfer basic knowledge to beginners; provide advanced knowledge for experts, and offer communication facilities for members.  These objectives were supported by the installation of a Wordpress and Buddypress platform; access to a collection of good practices on using various Web 2.0 in schools; a Basic Knowledge database with essential advice, a list of tools and links to resources; an Advanced Knowledge section with links to advanced ressources and Webinars, and communication facilities focused on Groups and Forums.

Figure 5: Nettilukio &  Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ·
Phenomenon

An example of phenomenon based learning and the use of Web 2.0. The work started from one teacher, asking young students to draw pictures about the phenomenon of happiness, which are now displayed online on flickr and offline in the school canteen. Other examples include radio interviews with children about the same phenomenon.·

Answering the three Key Research Questions of Links-up

Does web 2.0 facilitate the social appropriation of technology and digital inclusion?

The workshop ‘Social Media for Teachers’ at Nettilukio was an online course with discussions, web materials, tutorial videos, online lectures and specific learning assignments and attended by six participants (teachers and students). The participants were introduced to a social media services such as Diigo, Twitter, Virtual Learning Environments, Wikis and Blogs. The course was carried out by means of self study materials (available in the learning platform), tutorial videos and online discussions. The course also included a few online lectures in Adobe Connect virtual conferencing room.

The blended workshop on ‘Mobile Learning’ attracted 70 participants, which first formed working groups and got secondly acquainted with the tools and services by using them in concrete applications. Then they practised the use of Audioboo and created an online radio channel. The channel is currently being used by teachers and students of OFHS as well as by teachers and pupils of the elementary school located in the same village. The basics of Bambuser were introduced to the participants inside the classroom. The following day the participants went out to the village to try video-streaming with their mobile devices. The participants also produced a map of the village and the surroundings collaboratively. The map will serve the visitors and new students of the school in the future. The participants went out to take pictures and videos that they first uploaded to Picasa and YouTube and then embedded in the map.

What are the outcomes and impacts associated with the use of Web 2.0 for inclusive learning?

One of the main outcomes of the hybrid learning community was the improvement of the technical alongside with the improvement of pedagogical skills of teachers working for Nettilukio, which includes the improvement of i) basic computer skills as well as ii) general knowledge, but to a less extent iii) knowledge about particular subjects. At the same time teachers highlighted that the experiment helped them to use computers to do more complex things and improved their qualifications. Finally the usage of social software had also an impact on their creative skills. Especially the combination of learning by doing and/or phenomenon based approaches with social software applications seemed to serve the participants well. There were more authentic learning assignments and problems that were solved together in the group of trainees.

Furthermore the communication between all stakeholders improved, students are working together and became content producers, while teachers facilitate the group of learners. In addition social software helped to open the school up the local community e.g. through the involvement of kindergarten pupils, persons of foreign origin and the elderly population.

When looking at the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform itself the majority of respondents highlighted, amongst other aspects that i) the content is well organized; ii) te information appears to be accurate and consistent, iii) the information is easy to understand, iv) user is able to move around within the site with ease, v) adding new content to the site is clear and easy and vi) communicating with other users is easy. With regard to the latter especially the webinars have been mentioned as helpful.

What can be learned from the use of Web 2.0 to support inclusive learning?

Social media is still perceived as contradictious to traditional schooling, therefore the institutional embedding and careful introduction is essential in order to overcome resistance and inertia, especially amongst teachers, but also amongst head teachers and/or the school administration. A similar effect can be observed amongst students, especially when addressing a population of adult learners.

As a second consequence excessive demands (e.g. in terms of required time or amount of content) should be avoided when introducing the usage of Web 2.0 in schools, may they operate purely virtual as Nettilukio or more traditional i.e. classroom based. As the overall assessment revealed:

“There was perhaps too much information during a too short period of time. It might be more effective to take one [social software] tool at a time and reserve more time for it. The next tool could be introduced only after the participants had the time to get familiar with the first tool and use it in practice. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting too shallow knowledge of each tool and they don’t become part of your everyday teaching and working.”

As already mentioned the embedding of technology in concrete learning environments with specific tasks e.g. through project- based or phenomenon based learning as well as learning-by-doing appears appropriate for inclusive learning. In summary Web2.0 technologies have a lot to offer in this kind of learning and studying. Tools such as blogs, wikis, video conferencing and social bookmarking support the teaching and learning process. Nevertheless face-to-face meetings i.e. hybrid or blended offers should not be neglected.

“It is at the same time a question of an attitude and a change of culture than a question of software tools. In the end, the tools have existed in one way or another for already several years now. The teachers are used to being authorities and experts, used to being the ones that have access to the knowledge. The students are used to presenting their work only in finished and completed form as they have traditionally been assessed as such. Anyway, social media is not about completed tasks and shiny papers. It is about hopping on a moving train, taking risks, tolerating uncertainty, tolerating incomplete world, flexibility to change plans while on the road. It is also about trust, respect and sincerity just like any interaction between people always has been. But maybe it is above all about courage to share and publish incomplete ideas for others to grab and refine further.”

More information can be found Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. website at www.teachus.eu and in the public Deliverables of the project.

 

Pilot Site Description Grid

Descriptor

Details

Author/institution:

Taru Kekkonen, Otava Folk High School (OFHS) & Thomas Fischer, Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI)

Name of the pilot

Nettilukio and Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien.

Experiment

  • Using the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform to build up an online learning community for teachers
  • Implementation of a series of online, offline and hybrid workshops, where Web 2.0 tools where introduced to the teachers and the staff of the school
  • Giving access to a collection of learning materials and good practices on using various Web 2.0 in schools
  • Online courses include discussion space, web materials, tutorial videos, online lectures and learning assignments
  • Provide motivation and inspiration for teachers using Web 2.0 in classes

Location of the experiment

Otava Folk High School (OFHS), Finland

Rationale

Better qualified teachers using social software will be able to reach the learners at Nettilukio more easily and more effectively and subsequently increase their involvement in the learning experience

Web 2.0 Technologies

Hardware:

  • Computer with Internet connection
  • Smart or mobile phone and/or another digital camera

Software:

  • Wordpress and Buddypress for online platform
  • Adobe Connect for Webinars

Teaching content:

  • Online radio
  • Online maps
  • Video streaming
  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Social bookmarking
  • Vrtual learning environments (VLEs)
  • Wikis

Target Group(s)

Primary Target Group: teachers and staff working at Nettilukio

Secondary Target Group: Adult and ‘hard-to-reach’ learners studying online at Nettilkio, amongst them people with negative school history, people living in sparsely populated areas, people working in shifts, parents taking care of their small children at home etc.

Organizational arrangements

Using the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform to build up an online learning community for teachers at Nettilukio

Implementation of a series of complementary online, offline and hybrid workshops, where Web 2.0 tools where introduced to the teachers and the staff

Validation

  • Key Informant Interview online with Taru Kekkonen, project coordinator of ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ at Nettilukio and main contact point to the teaching staff
  • Focus Group Discussion and/or Self-Administered Questionnaires (SAQs) with teachers (as learners)
  • External Evaluation of the ‘ Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien. ’ platform



Descriptor

Details

Link to the Links-Up web site

http://www.linksup.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=64:nettilukio

http://www.nettilukio.fi

http://www.teachus.eu

Inclusion Features:

Primary Target Group: Better qualified teachers using social software will be able to reach the learners at Nettilukio more easily and more effectively and subsequently increase their involvement in the learning experience

Secondary Target Group: Enable students and adults who cannot participate in the regular school system (e.g. parents with small children, shift-worker, disabled persons, students living abroad) to gain an upper secondary school diploma

Expected Outcomes:

Better qualified teachers using social software will be able to reach the learners at Nettilukio more easily and more effectively and subsequently increase their involvement in the learning experience in order to gain an official upper secondary school diploma online

Characteristics

Keywords
Country Finland
Website http://www.nettilukio.fi, http://www.teachus.eu

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