13 November 2012

Blooming Orange

Learning Classification Chart using Bloom's Taxonomy
Educational technologies for addressing each level of learning

My latest assignment for the course on New Learning Environments asked me to explore existing educational technologies and how they may apply to Bloom's Taxonomy. I had to choose one tool for each level of learning - which, if you are aware of just how much is out there, is no mean feat! 

I am so new to technology I think I have a grasp only on the tip of the iceberg; keeping up to date with new tools is one of the things I find the hardest. Working full time, leading PL sessions at school whilst completing three online courses (and being a mom and wife and runner) means I have limited time to fully explore every new tool I come across. I am trying to limit myself to experimenting with new tools only once I have applied, used and evaluated one fully. Therefore, whilst there are many possible, perhaps limitless potential tools for each level of learning, I have tried to stick with the ones I am used to; these are tools that I have tried and tested with learners; these are tools that have allowed success and thinking; these are tools that I have chosen based on active research in the classroom.

When I first came across Bloom's Taxonomy, it was explained to me as a ladder suggesting a sequence, one leading to the other. Whilst I do agree that in order to understand, we have to remember; in order to apply we have to understand, etc. I see the learning process as more cyclical, rather than a ladder or step system. I like the idea of the orange, above and highly value the revised Taxonomy over the original, as 'create' is one of the most important parts of learning to me. The hardest part about this assignment was slotting the tools into each level, as I do view the process of learning as cyclical and many of the tools I think can be used across the levels. I tried to base my classifications on a progression that allows for review so that learners can come back to any stage as needed yet build on the prior ones. For example, Mural.ly is an excellent 'storage' tool where things to be remembered can be put and revisited as needed. However, it is also a great tool for understanding, as it is collaborative so can be contributed to and viewed by many learners at once; therefore they have to be able to analyse and evaluate their sources and links and images and those of others in terms of relevanc to topic. Equally, Mural.ly is an excellent tool for creating - the whole process creates an interactive collection of knowledge, learning, understanding etc. Mural.ly could therefore fit in any level - or, looking at it another way, fits in all levels. Remembering becomes creating; creating becomes remembering. Isn't this learning?

I read an article the other day about how exams should be about creation - how we need to stop asking fact recall or multiple choice questions, which show nothing above remembering; how we need to make learners apply their knowledge, evaluate what they have learned and create something with that learning. It made me think about my A-Level English Language exam which I sat, (gulp) 18 years ago! I admit that I used to really look forward to that exam - yes, I am an English geek - but it was unlike any exam I had done before and I found it exciting and interesting and yes, enjoyable. On the Friday, we would be issued with two big booklets of material, each on a different topic. Each would be a collection of articles, images, fiction, non-fiction etc. - two collections of different text types and two different topics. We had the weekend to review and read and assimilate the material. On the Monday we sat our exam. We would have a variety of questions and would choose one, for example create a leaflet advertising the positive effects of..., create a fact sheet for parents on..., write a local newspaper article expressing your views on..., write a speech for your classmates about... Then we would create! Using the material we had in front of us and our knowledge of text types, language, audience and purpose, we would apply our knowledge and understanding, evaluate the material's suitability and create a new product. It was awesome - writing, sticking, gluing, drawing - I loved it! I loved it because it didn't feel like a test - but it was; I had to take everything I had learned and make something of my own. This was 18 years ago. This is what we should be doing now. This is why so much of the learning in my classroom culminates in a showcase of something created by the learners that shows what they have learned through the products they create.

Anyway, I digress. Here is a breakdown of the education technology tools currently available that I have used to great effect in my classroom. But bear in mind the Blooming Orange - learning is a cycle that goes round and round and should never stop.

An interactive pinboard/collage that allows learners to add links, images and ideas for use at a later time for design, sharing, analysing etc.

An excellent tool for collaboration, communication and clarification.
Multiple users and classes mean all members can add comments and share learning and understanding. Rather than sending one email to the teacher and having to wait for a reply, learners can ask each other questions in a forum where all are able to answer to confirm, clarify and consolidate understanding.

Google Drive
Learners use Google Drive to organise work and collaborate. I can share tools easily; provide models and frames to allow for them to apply their knowledge.
Forms can be used to apply criteria to peer and self assess work or collect responses.
Drawings can be used to apply learning in image sorts etc.
Organisational skills are applied in sharing folders and files or keeping things private or public.

Brilliant tool for searching and asking questions. It is THE place I go to find out stuff - but I have to read and I have to analyse because the wealth of material out the would be overwhelming. 
Learners are just getting to grips with this as a learning tool; they need to analyse the validity of the variety of answers that may be provided and come up with an acceptable result of their own. They need to make value judgements on what to read, what to follow up and what to discard. The ability to analyse and discriminate is an essential skill in this explosion of information.

Blogger /
Great place for reflection. Having an audience adds value to their work and I seem to notice my learners writing a lot more than normal. They are also classifying their work with labels, meaning they are thinking about style and purpose and making it easier for them to return to work at a later date.
Review past work work allows them to evaluate their learning and make progress based on past comments.
Commenting on others means they have to evaluate the learning intentions, purpose, audience and language of the posts. They have to critically comment and add suggestions that are constructive, useful and helpful – hopefully informing their own learning.
Linking with outsiders makes this even more authentic through organisations such as Quadblogger.

Allows learners to easily create effective movies from presentations, images, film etc.
Allows easy editing and adding of effects, text etc. to showcase learning.
Even the most challenged ‘creative’ learners are able to create and show a variety of learning easily.