Didaktics of media: Didaktical-methodological Design

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goals:

Besides the headline “Didaktical-methodological Design” an additional hint to a book was provided “Schulmeister, Ralf, Hypermedia Learning Systems“. Because of that I investigated a little bit about hyper media learning systems. For example what hyper media learning system means…

Turns out, hyper media is a word creation from hypertext and media. It describes systems where media content is linked to to other media content (in contrast to hypertext, where foot notes, citations and text is linked together). Our professor told us in the last lesson about an experiment she did with hyper media systems. This experiment more or less failed because everyone was taking the content sequentially instead of pseudo-random. So one of the features (highly connected content) of hyper media systems have not been used.

What have I learned:

I wasn’t that far off with the assumption what a hyper media learning system is. Actually we got showed what to consider when designing a hyper media learning system.

There are four basic categories to think about:

  • Didaktical Models
  • Didaktical Elements
  • Methodological Scenarios
  • Methodological Elements

(See how the categories match the title?)

We already saw two of the didaktical models in http://blog.nexusger.de/2015/10/didaktics-of-media-constructionism-vs-behaviorism/ (behaviorism and constructivism) but here we learned two more: Learning cycle and C5. For a Hyper media Learning system one has to choose from one of the models.

Learning Cycle is a three point learning model: Give the pupil a concept on the topic, let them construct their knowledge (from the concept for example, worksheets being used often) and have a dialogue afterwards to reflect on the topic.

C5 on the other hand consists of five points and is more an “advise and moderate” teaching method. The C5 method emphasizes working together: Three of the five ideas of C5 (Creation, Communication, Cooperation, Construction, Collaboration) need team work.

Regarding the didaktical elements of a hyper media learning system four sub-points are to consider:

  • Principle: Should the learning system enable independent learning? Should it be adaptable (so a student can change the environment to his needs) or should it be adaptive (so it fits itself to your needs)? Does it need to be interactive? If so how interactive? Is navigating enough? Or is more complex interaction needed?
  • Learning Content: What content should be presented? How is it structured and ordered? Hierarchical? Mesh? Sequential? Which medium? ->  “There is no best medium for content”
  • Learning Strategy: Which paradigm should be used? Socratic dialogue (“I can’t teach you anything, but can help you find the questions”)? Instructional Paradigm (Small bits of information one after another. Like a tutorial)? Problem-Solving Paradigm (Give the students a problem, let them solve it and process the results)?

The funny thing is, there is no answer to the question how we do this online…

The next point to think is about the methodological scenario which is the format of the system. Should it be an online course without or with sparse interaction, an distance education (Mooc for example) or a teletutoring style (Like a class room but the pupil and teacher are connected via (video)-chat )? Is Blended learning (combine different methods) an option?

The last part to think about when designing a hyper media learning system are the methodological elements. That is:

  • Content: How does the student get the system? Online or via real world medium (CD, DVD, USB Stick)? Can he download it or is it online only?
  • Communication: How is the communication handled? Mail, Forum, Chat? Do the students have to write a journal or give feedback?
  • Convergence: How do the students work together? Is there a Wiki? Or a Blog? Is twitter usable for that? And how does this work if it is a offline course?

I’m not sure If I can design a hyper media learning system myself now, but at least I have an Idea what it takes to create one!

Update 13.11.2015: Updated the “What have I learned” section

Didaktics of media: Learning unit one – Report

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goal of this report is to take and rate a online learning unit. For the first learning unit we should take either a text based or animation based course. I finished two kata on the platform http://codewars.com.

Short synopsis of the unit:

The learning unit C# “Descending order” is a coding kata on the site http://codewars.com.

The goal of coding kata in general is twofold. On the one hand one should be able to practice their chosen programming language on small bite sized puzzles[1] (which are often trivial to standard tasks), on the other hand a kata is a way to track their own improvements over time. The second goal is archived through repetition of the kata and the hopefully improved solution (improved in this case means solved the riddle faster, or with less tries etc.).

The task in this particular kata was to make a function, which can take any non-negative integer argument and return all digits of the argument ordered descending by their respective value. So for example

Reflection on your personal learning experience

My personal learning experience is somewhat mixed. On the one hand I really liked the approach of having small, well defined programming puzzles, which (after finished) then gave me a good feeling about getting something done. On the other hand does codewars.com show you other solutions to the kata from other users and often show you more elegant solutions. I realized at some point that my solution is neither fast, nor elegant. This is encouraging but also can lead to frustration.

Did you achieve the stated learning goals?

Because of the more fuzzy goals of a kata, simply doing one kata does not really improve the experience in a language. The expectation of the codewars makers is more of a repeatedly exercise, which a single take can’t provide. None the less, the solutions presented afterwards showed me a nice way to solve this particular problem.

Did the given time suffice?

The allocated time for the unit had been around 90 minutes. It took me 45 minutes to finish the kata (get it compiling and get all unit tests green). So I did a second kata, which took roughly the same amount of time. (“C# – CompoundArray” – Zip two arrays under certain circumstances).

Comment on the design – what was good, what could be made better?

Because the kata are written by open source contributors, the quality of the design of the kata varies. The “Descending order” had a very clearly stated task but had been accompanied only by a single unit test to start with. With a more elaborate set of tests, the kata could be more concrete.

Positive and negative aspects of the contents of the unit

The coding kata in general and the coding kata at http://codewars.com in special is well suited for programmers, which already know their language. Because of the level and the mediocre tutorial it is in my opinion not suited for beginners. You need to be able to understand the concepts of functions, unit tests and preferably the specialities of your chosen language. Otherwise you won’t be able to grasp the whole task, or can’t solve it.

For fun I tried to solve the Haskell tutorial (which is for all languages the same task “Why does this program not compile?”) and failed, even after looking the syntax up.

Grade the course on a scale of 0-10.

Because I took a coding kata in C#, a language I know well I would give this learning unit an eight out of ten. If the following points would be changed, I would improve my rating:

  • The level of the kata is not good enough defined. I would assume that an eight Kyu (lowest level) kata is something an experienced developer should be able to solve in around ten minutes (really basic tasks). When I skimmed through the list of kata, I found descriptions of katas on fourth Kyu, which sounded relatively easy, whereas I took 45 minutes on a seventh Kyu kata.
  • As already stated the learning unit is in my opinion not suited for beginners. A more extended example or a kind of hint after several tries could help.

Other comments

One additional thing to mention is the open source character of the kata. Whilst the platform codewars.com itself is not open source, the kata are. Everyone can create a kata and propose it. On the platform itself the every kata you took can be rated, which then can be used by the user to filter only for “good” kata. To curate the kata, users can up vote and star the different kata. Also, kata have an issue tracker, where user can post suggestions for improvements.

Not only can a kata be rated, any solution can be rated as well. This enables a participant to compare his own solution not only against a random solution but against the best solution for that kata.

[1] Dave Thomas coined the Term “CodeKata” – http://codekata.com/kata/codekata-how-it-started/

Didaktics of media: Instruction Planning / Target Group Specification

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goals:

Based on the topic of this weeks course and the provided information I assume we will learn how to specify the target group of a learning environment and possibly why it is important to define a target group. Also the planning of an online course seems to be involved. The four decisions to make if one would create a online course are:

  1. Is face-to-face interaction needed?
  2. Which amount supervising is needed?
  3. What amount and type of peer interaction is needed?
  4. How will the course be delivered?

What have I learned:

In the lesson today I learned to structure a learning unit, based on the target group and various other factors. Our group had the task to plan a learning lesson on “Tree” data structure for second semester computing students. We had a task to define the target group (second semester as already written), determine the learning goals and structure the content. Also we had to think about a methodology how we can teach the learning goals to the students. Also we learned about the media usage, specifically on keeping the media local and double check if the media works (specially on new systems).

The second topic of the lesson revolved around distance education. We learned that how distance education is done in more rural areas in the world (by television or radio, and sending sheets via mail)

Didaktics of media: Learning Objectives – Taxonomies

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goals:

The goal of this week lesson was to learn what a learning objectives is and how to define learning goals for your self. I expect to get taught some methods to define the Objectives.

What have I learned:

Learning Objectives are exactly that: The information the teacher/professor want to teach to the student/pupils in that lesson (or on a higher scale in that semester). An learning objective provides the teacher/professor a guideline what to teach as well as to discover what a teacher really is teaching (hidden curriculum). Most of my school life teachers seemed either not to have a learning goal set up or I didn’t recognized it.

Learning objectives can be classified. There exists different taxonomies, of which Bloom’s taxonomy was discussed. This taxonomy consists of four consecutive tiers of learning objectives:

  1. Knowledge: The first tier of learning objectives consists of pure factual objectives. An example was fact: “The war ended 1945”
  2. Comprehension: The second tier is the “understanding” part of an learning goal. To go with our example, the learning goal here would be to understand why the war ended 1945.
  3. Application: In the third tier is the usage of the gained comprehension located. For the example sake: We already understood why the war ended 1945, so we could look at other wars and say why these ended.
  4. “Meta”: The next three categories are not consecutive but depend the first three tiers.
    • Analysis: The learning objective in this category is to break down information and gain insight about the information.
    • Synthesis: In this category the learning goal is to create information with the help of prior knowledge. One could transfer the comprehension of the end of the war to compose reasons why it was started in the first place.
    • Evaluation: In this category the learning goal is to judge the information or possible different information. If we stay with our example, the evaluation learning goal would be to distinguish between different explanations of why the war ended 1945.

Didaktics of media: Constructionism vs. behaviorism

This blog post is one part of the series “learning diary” for a course at my university.

Goals:

As I started the course late (I couldn’t join the first course because of another overlapping exam) I had no goals set for this week.

What have I learned:

We started the course with the explanation for the last lessons course (which again, I missed). We had the task to remember five hand signs without context. The signs had been american Indian hand signs which meant: “Tipi”, “Putting war color on”, “good”, “bad”, “coming together”. We also learned that it is easier to remember something, if we can put it in relation (the difference between only knowing the signs and knowing the meaning of the signs).

The topic of the lesson was Constructionism vs. behaviorism, two different theories of how people learn. Main takeaway for me: I like constructionism more than behaviorism. Obviously you can’t choose which theory is correct/better by gut feeling, but in my idealized world, constructionism is the way to go. Reasons for my choice is the acknowledgement that a learner is an unique individual and every learner is different. Behaviorism on the other hand treats learners more like a mathematical function. Given the correct parameter, the desired result is delivered (impulse reaction schemata).

Besides an experiment which proved to me that behaviorism works on me, I still like constructionism more. Again, that has nothing to do with the effectiveness or correctness of that theory.

In the context of cultural background I also learned that in the USA students swear to uphold the academic standards, which to me as an German seemed odd. Our professor explained it by our (Germans) history: The nationalists let the people swear as well, therefore it is discouraged in modern Germany.

Additionally I learned that I worked with Logo in my secondary school! I have fond memories about the computer course where we would draw signs and pattern with a program I only remembered as Turtle.

I also learned that the famous experiment of Pawlow (ring a bell, dog start to salivate) is an example of behaviorism.

Didaktics of media: Learning Environment – status quo

In this article I provide a glance about my learning environment. This includes my methods (or my behavior) and the tools I use to learn and gather knowledge.

Methods

I don’t have a “real” method for learning. Most of the time I rely on my memory to remember “yeah, I’ve heard/read about that and I have an idea how to find it again”. This works kind of good for me, as I’m living in a highly connected world and have the wisdom of the world at my fingertips. Obviously this is slower that remembering everything by heart and also error prone. Nonetheless I’ll list my methods for learning here, ordered by the amount of time I use for them.

1 – Information consumption

As already written, I rely heavily on information consumption and mentally file some of the information. A good example would be an interesting article I read online (or offline). After reading it, I usually remember one or two key pieces of information and the platform where I read it. That enables me to find that article again, if I need to reread the piece.

2 – Training

The good old training of something is obviously also in my tool belt. A classic example is doing a tutorial (currently the phoenix getting started guide). Read the lesson, do the lesson, understand the lesson, rinse repeat. It’s interesting how big the difference is between reading a tutorial and doing it; the impact of really doing it is huge.

3 – Discussion

I like to discuss. (Some would say I like it too much…). I find it very fruitfully to discuss a given information with someone. Especially if that person has more knowledge on that topic (or in general) than me. In a discussion you can learn a lot about a topic, particularly about personal perception on some topics. “Why did that happen in that open source group”, “Why is this better than that” are some good examples of questions which tend not to be answered on “official” articles. Although you have to take discussions with a grain of salt (because the information is probably influenced by personal bias) I like discussions as method of learning.

4 – Information curation

My information consumption is not only passively managed in my head. I curate some of my information sources as well. The goal of curation of a piece of information is to make it easier to find (more important) for other people. An example would be up-voting of answers (and questions) on stackoverflow.com. With every up (or down)-vote of an answer it is more likely someone else is finding these (in my opinion correct) information more easily.

5 – Reflection

Every once in a while I reflect on information publicly. This is then happens here in my blog. I have no idea of someone is reading these articles but they help me to reflect on information. It does wonders if you have to write in complete sentences. Also it helps to focus what part of my solution really solved something (and what only was an try of mine and fixed nothing).

Tools

I use several tools to gather information. I try here to compile a more or less complete list of tools I work with and what I use it for.

  • Feedly – An online rss reader. Currently I have ~160 rss feed on various topics in my lists, which I try to follow. I curate this list once every other month. I use feedly in my browser as well as my mobile phone.
  • Facebook – Actually some information got to me via Facebook faster (or exclusively even) than my rss reader.
  • Stackoverflow – An website for solving questions. Mostly programming related. Besides getting the answers to questions I have, I curate questions and answers there by up- and down-voting them.
  • My blog – Although way too rare, I write something in this blog. Sometimes I reflect on some information, sometimes I even post solutions to problems, which occurred to me.
  • Evernote – My notebook for everything. If I take a note, I take it in evernote. It’s synced between my devices, convenient to use and free. Also its search is very good. I actually retrieve information from my notebooks!
  • Logging – I also keep tab on the time I use for learning and various other tasks. It’s always nice to see that you spent x hours last week on learning and self improvements.

Didaktics of media: Intro

As part of the course “Didaktics of Media” at the University of Applied Sciences Berlin all participants are oblieged to write a learning diary. The learning diary shall enable the students to discover how we learn best.

As part of the learning diary we also have to write two articles about our learning environment. That is, all tools and behaviours we use to learn. The first article should contain the current situation of our learning environment, the second the situation at the end the course. Hopefully after comparing both articles the students are able to see what worked best for them.

All my posts for this course will reside under the category “Learning Diary