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The Creative Classrooms Lab (CCL) project is developing innovative teaching and learning scenarios involving the use of tablets in and out of school. It validates these in policy experimentations involving 9 Ministries of Education in Europe and 45 classes that are already making use of tablets from different suppliers. Ministries of Education also seek to co-design action research pilots with industry partners that are project Associate Partners. CCL is one of the means to help European Ministries of Education to make proper decisions concerning large scale investments in tablet devices and related teacher training.
In CCL, we have prepared a typical problem solving scenario based on personalized learning approach using Web 2.0 based group work, content creation, and flipped class methods for piloting in Lithuanian CCL schools. Problem solving scenario was implemented by the following steps: (1) Discussing the problem scenario in the groups which promotes communication skills and cooperative learning; (2) Brainstorming ideas to cross the learning boundaries which promote creative learning and knowledge integration; (3) Identifying the learning issues for research which promotes active learning and critical thinking; (4) Research to construct the action plans which promotes new knowledge development; and (5) Reporting the research findings to the groups which promotes peer-to-peer learning to complete the final products.
Personalized learning approach was implemented here by division of learners into distinct groups according to their learning styles. We used learning styles grouping method, namely, Activist, Theorist, Pragmatist, and Reflector: (1) Activists learn by doing; their preferred activities are: brainstorming, problem solving, group discussion, puzzles, competitions, and role-play. (2) Reflectors learn by observing and thinking about what happened; their preferred activities are: paired discussions, self-analysis questionnaires, personality questionnaires, time out, observing activities, feedback from others, coaching, and interviews. (3) Pragmatists need to be able to see how to put the learning into practice in the real world; their preferred activities are: time to think about how to apply learning in reality, case studies, problem solving, and discussion. (4) Theorists like to understand the theory behind the actions; their preferred activities are: models, statistics, stories, quotes, background information, and applying theories.
There are different methods to determine students’ learning styles, e.g. questionnaires, learners’ interviews, analysis of their e-portfolios, data mining etc. In CCL, we have developed online questionnaire and software to automatically establishing students’ learning styles. Its application in Lithuanian CCL schools has shown that there are almost no ‘pure’ Activists, Reflectors, Pragmatists or Theorists in real life – students are mostly “mixtures” of different learning styles. Lithuanian schools involved in the project have identified their students’ (128 persons) learning styles as follows: mostly Activists – 27.5 %, mostly Reflectors – 13.7%, mostly Pragmatists – 29.4 %, and mostly Theorists – 29.4 %.
After that, students’ learning styles were interconnected with suitable learning activities, types of LOs, tools and tablet apps. Learners were divided into distinct groups according to their learning styles before or just after Discussion stage of the problem solving activity. This could guarantee that, in their groups, learners could learn using similar suitable LAs, LOs types, and apps. Learners were divided into groups applying TeamUp grouping tool created in iTEC. Collaboration in groups was based on face-to-face collaboration and Web 2.0 tools. Groups’ internal collaboration activities were applied in Brainstorming, Identifying the research issues, and Research steps, and combined with the other groups in Discussion and Reporting steps of the problem solving LA.
In CCL, we have proposed mobile personalized LA (let us call it LA1) on problem solving in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. Mobile LA created by the Lithuanian CCL lead teacher is named “Why ships don’t sink” and conforms to 10-lessons Lithuanian Physics curriculum topic on the Archimedes’ law. Other teachers’ mobile LA were carried out at Biology, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics subjects lessons are named respectively “Why Materials Change in Nature?”, “How to Help a Friend Choose a New PC?”, “Research on Phenomena with One Variable Properties”, “Why the Clothes Become Dirty?”. In these mobile LA1, students use tablets in all stages of their problem solving activity for grouping, research, collaboration, flipping, content creation, and presenting their research results to peers and teacher. In LA1, students use personalised learning methods, suitable content and apps while working with iOS (iPads) and Android (Samsung tablets) operating systems. There were several outdoor activities implemented in these LA1 such as visiting sea museum, homework etc. On contrary to LA1, we consider LA2 as traditional “one size fits all” activity based on topic explanation in classroom and students’ home works.
On Lithuanian teachers’ opinion, one of the main success factors in CCL was personalization by interconnecting students’ learning styles with suitable activities, tools, LOs, apps and proper sets of learning methods and thus creating personalized learning scenarios for their students.
Article written by: Virginija Birenienne, Scientix Ambassador