Around the World with…the Learning for Use Pedagogy

Around the World with…the Learning for Use Pedagogy

I enjoyed reading your great subject headers for this forum-they are a way to entice your audience to read your post. Thank you also to GIS newcomers who have taken on the challenge of learning new software over the last ten days! As several of your posts hypothesized, GIS software has technological capacities to assist us in the construction, visualization, and analysis of geographic information. I have read each of your posts and responses. The research on student alternative conceptions, constructivism, learning with the LfU pedagogy, and other pedagogical frameworks we have studied in Module B such as WISE were reported well in your posts to support your ideas about teaching. There were also incorporation of quotations directly from the research by that enriched our discussions of how we might teach math or science as an integrated experience.

LfU as a pedagogical framework was applied across many different subjects and topic areas in your examples of how to teach. For example, what the LfU framework does, is it packages these principles up in a clear, understandable way. (Similar to Newton’s Three Laws! At least for me…) So, the topic that I would like to touch on is one that I have taught for my entire career of 18 years—linear equations. Your posts on LfU were applied to teaching: math, earth science topics such as plate tectonics, social justice, science, teaching with literature, scientific inquiry, biology, engineering, environmental education, forestry, iconic building structures, and mapping the town in which you live. The variety of k-12 topics collectively illustrate how such a transfer of principles, concepts, and technologies can begin to occur across age levels and teaching and learning contexts.

We were treated in this forum to several examples also of how we might use LfU in combination with other digital technologies, such as interactive LfU lessons that used a SMART board, or LfU lessons with Gizmos through the Explore Learning website ( and its math and science topics which would allow students to explore such concepts as Weather and Climate, Tidal Effects, Seasons, and Topographic Maps rather than GIS. An additional example in the same vein as the drawings by Camilla, using LfU and iMovie and an online game, “[students] could create an evolution video on how their world was formed using iMovie or other similar software applications; Activity 2 is a teacher-led discussion on the concepts of red blood cells, antigens, and antibodies using analogies like donuts and sprinkles, animations and videos for visualization purposes, as well as manipulative models using tools like Play-Doh so that different learning styles are touched upon during the activity….Students are then taken to the computer lab where they all have access to the Blood Typing game (2017) presented by that helps students practice blood transfusions on fictitious patients in attempt to save their lives.  Another example, to name a few: Desmos Faces were integrated in an LfU framework for a math lesson: Through an inquiry process, students eventually construct a simple face using horizontal and vertical lines. There is a collaborative component to the pre-made, online activity, as well. As reflected by authors in philosophy and science studies, scientific and mathematical thinking is mediated by interactions among people, and the various models, tools, and artifacts they work and think with (Latour, 1990; Lemke, 1998, 2000). This capacity to envision how a pedagogical framework may be applied to different technologies permits us to release being tethered to one particular tool and shift to overarching designs of the entire learning experience (or TELE). Well done in stretching your designs for learning for use to include an array of digital technologies.

Several posts raised students’ alternative conceptions: “water is always colder than land”, “water is always warmer than land”, “can light can be felt or heat.” It was further noted in your posts that students are not likely to change their understandings in science until they notice contradictions to existing ones and that constructing relationships is a way to breach this divide (DeLaughter, Stein, Stein & Bain, 1998). This “noticing” can occur independently but is much more likely to happen with teacher guidance and the creative design of the learning environment. We hear from Radinsky about what teaching strategies look like in an LfU environment, for example, the teacher can “review shared assumptions, reference from other’s work, combine separate ideas, create multiple shared representations, leverage peers’ language and clarify ideas, and then develop new shared explanations” (Radinsky et al, 2010). There were additional teaching strategies developed to support noticing, dissonance, and enrichment from your posts, for example: we could leverage forestry map overlay from arcGIS to examine how our local forest has changed over type…. My role would entail more the curation of generative data sets that the distribution of facts. Another example of teaching strategies: When working with measurement in math, and specifically with unit conversions in early high school, LfU-based activities can involve students exploring the actual space of the classroom, school, and school yard to look for patterns in relationships between measurements taken using different measurement devices… The teacher can help to build a common record of findings and patterns, working towards conversion rules.  Another example, to name a few, included assessments provided by the teacher where the teacher integrates LfU with varying levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, from knowledge and comprehension, to application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the world around them (Moore, n.d.) and a rubric (see assessments fr. Dana).

Your posts also explored how GIS technology might be used to learn about the local environment, with attention to using math or science to do so. To name just a few: Here in the United Arab Emirates using GIS is a rather new phenomenon. This puts the information into context.  We can then expand and take a look at iconic building in the UAE such as Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the man-made Pal Jumairah and compare their square footage to their homes. Combining place-based learning with GIS tools offers opportunity for indigenous and western learners to gain a deeper understanding of their local world, and intuitively of the world beyond them. Inquiries related to physical environmental changes, population increase or decline of species, migration patterns and weather patterns are all relevant areas of situated learning for both indigenous and western learners. I liked the Google Earth activity of adding paths and polygons and how it could relate to our “Frolicking Friday” adventures. Every Friday we take our learning outside to our local area. Often this is in the form of treks down in the gully beside our school, and walks to our neighbour.

It was important that students’ cognitive processes were evaluated in tandem with the LfU teaching strategies and the cognitive and social affordances of various technologies. Your posts exemplified this analysis of what is happening with the student in these TELE: application and reflection are both critically important to the development of useful knowledge. It was one of the aspects of the WISE projects that I appreciated, there was time for the students to go back and revisit some of the information and reflect on what they had learned. Students need to be able to bridge the gap between the real and digital worlds (Perkins et al, 2010).  It is valuable to teach students how to use GIS when it comes to place-based learning because it gives them a tangible experience that they can relate to. It is important that students establish spatial awareness. Introducing the book in an interdisciplinary science and social justice activity: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: William Kamkwamba. William used his knowledge of science, his imagination and found materials to create a windmill for his town. He harnessed the only natural resource available and used it to better the lives of the villagers. Students could use Google Earth technology to view the African landscape and look for other suitable locations to build wind turbines. They are able to manipulate variables and “see” the outcome. To aid student understanding of basic bridge structures (namely, trusses), a domain specific bridge building simulator can be used to allow students to test and verify their ideas: reading Edelson’s description of the LfU process, I realised that my unit plan could be separated into the three stages discussed above.

These excerpts are just a few of the many richly detailed examples of your thinking about the guided integration of a framework with technology in support of student learning. Way to go all around (the world and the scholarship, I might add).

Best regards, Samia

One comment

  1. Holy smokes, Samia! This is quite the synthesis! I must not have seen it when you posted it. I’m admittedly just found it as I am trying to find/choose a “Meritorious Post”. Thank you for this, Dana 🙂

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