Online cooperation - Didactics
Web methods - guidelines
The platform’s web methods connect groups and enable their online cooperation in their river projects.
- Web methods allow the development of relations between learners in addition to learning content. Students and teachers in various locations can, through the Internet, meet each other, communicate, and to cooperate. Relationships are advanced between individuals in distant locations as well as the local learning group.
- The web methods help learners construct knowledge together.
- Complementing conventional learning, web methods allow students to explore other means of learning. Interacting with students from other parts of Europe exposes the students to different perspectives, ideas, and realities. The web methods are therefore an opportunity to access the world outside the classroom.
- Web methods enrich locally designed curiculum; they do not replace it. They enable students to integrate knowledge from other places into their local context and education.
- Web methods encourage learners to actively design their own learning. Pupils can use the web methods to enhance not only their individual learning but also of society. The methods allow students to engage in active citizenship to inform and interact with their local community with respect to their learning and actions.
- Web methods should be used informed by teachers and learners. Competence in using the methods is not only related to functionality but also conscious use of the methods. The methods should be integrated into the overall objective of the project.
Please note: The web methods provided on the Free your River platform are influenced by constructivist learning methods (Reich, K. 2004). This form of learning and instruction understand learning as a very active process taken on by the learner and takes advantage of a variety of didactic instruments. While constructivism has its disadvantages, this is not the place for a full discourse about constructivism. A few terms and phrases used on the website are explained here.
Knowledge does not exist on its own. A teacher can’t bottle up some knowledge and feed it into the brains of his students. Everyone creates his/her own knowledge through an active learning process.
If everyone creates his/her own knowledge, knowledge cannot be valid for every person and every time.
Construction of knowledge does not occur in a vaccum. We are the inventors of our knowledge but we create this knowledge in the context of our culture and society. That is why we can differentiate three levels of learning:
- Sensual certainty: Our perception and the ways we express our perception are strongly influenced by our culture.
- Level of conventions: Here we are related to one communication community, which is our society.As members of the same society, we have similiar ways of communication and understanding reality and knowledge. So we e.g. can learn our mother language or the traffic regulations.
- Level of discourse: Here we accept that several different communication communities with several viewpoints exist.
Reconstruction is more than simple reproduction of information. It is fitting new information into our current knowledge base and building new knowledge. Reconstruction should be limited in a constructivist form of education.
Deconstruction is the process of questioning and breaking down information and knowledge. The intent is to discover other perspectives or concepts of reality.
Contents and relations: Education and instruction is not only a matter of content; it also includes relations between pupils and between pupils and teachers. In contrast to traditional education, the aim here is to also strengthen these relationships.
Symbolic level / imaginary level / reality: You cannot learn without emotions. Imaginary learning considers desire, visions, emotions, and intuitions. All this will be important for the success of learning (as well as what is regarded as success). At the other hand, the imaginary level is limited in group based education since people do not access to each other’s imaginations.
At the symbolic level, we express information and knowledge through media such as language, data, and images. This level is used for creating knowledge and for distributing information.
A third level is reality. That means all you can gain knowledge through experience, for e.g. in the environment, on the Internet, or in interactions with other peoples). Practical learning by experiencing reality is often very powerful and creates an impression wihich stays with the individual for a longer time.
Observers, participants, and actors: These are roles the pupils can act out. They are participants of communication societies; that means to take the viewpoints. As actors they learn by doing. As observers they watch themselves and others.
Constructivistic learning uses as great a variety of levels, of roles, of viewpoints as possible.
Sometimes in the desrciption of web methods we speak about a tutor or teacher. A tutor/teacher is a person who coordinates the online work.
Normally you - or a colleague from your partner group - will do this job. In the Free your River project, the project team does not work as tutors. If you face challenges, perhaps you can get assistance from colleagues who are used to online cooperation or communicating in foreign languages.