What I really liked about this week’s reading was the direct connection between Edelson’s Learning-for-use technology-supported design framework and the parallel with IB Inquiry based curriculum. Edelson notes that for learning to take place, students need to construct meaning. The constructivist approach to teaching and learning is research based and clearly best practice when it comes to engaging students in the learning process. Edelson continues to note that”Knowledge construction is a goal-directed process that is guided by a combination of conscious and unconscious understanding goals.” This to me is exactly what backwards by design thinking includes, teachers and students need to know what exactly they are working towards. Often students are working towards completing projects where they have a general idea of what they need to do, but the most important part is their unconscious understanding of what needs to be found, explored, and only occurs as they continue through the inquiry cycle. Edelson also points out that “the circumstances in which knowledge is constructed and subsequently used determine its accessibility for future use” and “Knowledge must be constructed in a form that supports use before it can be applied.”
When the 3 steps for learning-for-use are woven into the inquiry cycle, student investment in their search for understanding grows. Students as Edelson state require motivation, knowledge construction, and links to previous knowledge.
Understanding the framework lends itself to the IB model of inquiry based instruction, where students guide their curiosity towards understanding. I would consider using this design framework for my migration unit. Not a typical science or math unit, but I see the value in using the My World GIS when connecting math concepts such as distance, longitude and latitude, and overall geographical understanding when students are exploring the patterns of human migration. When students can explore the patterns, areas, and go further in their search for data and understanding do they then become motivated to find out their missing information. This would be particularly useful when students are working towards their summative assessment and then can explore the specific geographical pathway of their ancestors or major groups of migrants. I found it interesting the My World GIS is also partnering with the University of Illinois to teach American History, and bringing Historical Census Data Alive. As Perkins (2010) states, “A spatially literate workforce and citizenry able to access, manage, visualize, and interpret information, also capable of multidimensional thinking, are vital to advance science and technology and address the world’s complex problems.” Therefore, through this hands-on tool, students are not only motivated to construct knowledge, but they are curious to explore the links to previous knowledge of their family and relatives, making the connection to learning even more meaningful. Perhaps with a personal connection to the hard realities of mass human migration, especially today, will students begin to take meaningful action.
Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385.
Perkins, N., Hazelton, E., Erickson, J., & Allan, W. (2010). Place-based education and geographic information systems: Enhancing the spatial awareness of middle school students in Maine. Journal of Geography, 109(5), 213-218.