I’ve finally posted my EuroPLoP’08 paper on telearn.
One of the most successful activities of the WebLabs project was the Guess my Robot game. This game served as a model for several other activities, and eventually gave rise to a set of design patterns for learning mathematics through construction, communication and collaboration. As often happens, I was too busy with other projects to properly publish the results. I mean, I’ve published a few papers which referred to the game or its descendants, but the patterns themselves have always remained informal creatures.
The first attempt I made at collating these patterns for publication was at EuroPLoP 2008. The feedback I received there are invaluable, and encouraged me to rewrite the paper dramatically for the proceedings. Since then, the patterns have made their way into my thesis and in the process changed again. So there are some things about the proceedings version which I obviously wish I had done differently. But there’s no end to that. It will take some time until my thesis gets processed to publications.
“publish early, publish often”, right? so here it is:
Mor, Y. (forthcoming), Guess my X and other patterns for teaching and learning mathematics, in Till Schümmer & Allan Kelly, ed., ‘Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2008)’ .
Most people see learning mathematics as a demanding, even threatening, endeavour. Consequently, creating technology-enhanced environments and activities for learning mathematics is a challenging domain. It requires a synergism of several dimensions of design knowledge: usability, software design, pedagogical design and subject matter. This paper presents a set of patterns derived from a study on designing collaborative learning activities in mathematics for children aged 10-14, and a set of tools to support them.
Mor, Y. & Noss, R. (2008), ‘Programming as Mathematical Narrative’, International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning (IJCEELL) 18 (2) , 214-233 .
Mor, Y.; Tholander, J. & Holmberg, J. (2006), Designing for cross-cultural web-based knowledge building, in Timothy Koschmann; Daniel D. Suthers & Tak-Wai Chan, ed., ‘The 10th Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) conference (2005)’ , Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Taipei, Taiwan , pp. 450 – 459 .
Mor, Y.; Noss, R.; Hoyles, C.; Kahn, K. & Simpson, G. (2006), ‘Designing to see and share structure in number sequences’, the International Journal for Technology in Mathematics Education 13 (2) , 65-78 .
Matos, J. F.; Mor, Y.; Noss, R. & Santos, M. (2005), Sustaining Interaction in a Mathematical Community of Practice, in ‘Fourth Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME-4)’ .
Judy Robertson has a nice story about a student from her interactive design class, who started the course with grave reservations about the use of Second Life, and added with an achievement award and a rewarding experience. She comments on the recent Guardian article and about other students’ feedback from the course. Judy notes:
I suspect there is a feeling among students that Second Life is sad. They may feel self concious about using it, or worry that they are wasting their time. In fact, after just quickly casting my eye over the module feedback forms there are some comments that the students don’t see how it helps them for employment.
SL may be sad as an social activity environment, but that’s beside the point. The question that should concern teachers and students is how good it is in terms of supporting learning.
The things I find sad are the motivation argument and the vocational one.
Saying “oh, here’s a cool environment / technology / game, maybe if we use it for teaching students won’t be so miserable” assumes that learning cannot be its own reward. I know you never said anything like that, but that is a prevalent rhetoric.
Saying “I can’t see how it will help me get a job” is the flip side of the same coin. It’s students assuming that learning is a form of misery which is aimed at preparing them for a greater form of misery (work).
Perhaps we need to make a stance here: we, as teachers, have a duty of pleasure. We should be committed to enabling our students to enjoy learning and enjoy the work that they will do in the future. We also have a duty to enjoy what we do, because otherwise we have no chance with the other two.