Learning by designing
Contribution to the learning process
The learners explore their creativity by producing a very small multimedia presentation on their object. They also, learn how to create a multimedia presentation.
The method offers a chance to construct knowledge on an object, to apply knowledge learned reconstructively and to "deconstruct" knowledge (this occurs in case of "frictions" between knowledge obtained in lessons and the reality at the river, or in case of comparisons made between own ideas and interpretations with those of the other learners, and also when the "reality" of medially processed scenes is questioned).
To see how this is integrated in the FyR-context, see "Online cooperation in your river project".
- To produce a short multimedia presentation on an environmental theme and in doing so, to investigate, explore, and develop your own views.
- To aquire competency in multimedia work.
Learning by designing does not focus on online cooperation with another students’ group; it focuses on the fruitful use of your Book of the River. That is why the results should be uploaded to the public section of your Book of the River.
Our materials, files, links:
In your Book of the River > Administration, you can find the tools to select which content of your book shall be public and which not. For the method described here, "Our materials, files, links..." should be public.
In addition, depending on your presentation, you will need digital cameras, sound recording equipment , photo processing software, sound processing software,, and presentation software like Microsoft Powerpoint or Open Office Impress.
Expenditure of time for preparation and realization
ideally one week
10 - 30 youth or adults in the same place, e.g. one class with 2-3 tutors.
Cooperation with other groups of learners is possible - see "tips".
Requirements and preparation
Prepare for the activity as described under ‘’Preparation’’ in the Cooperation in your project area (found within the Online Cooperation section).
If possible, the teachers and pupils should decide the focus of their presentation together. The guiding question(s) which they developed at the beginning of the River project should be considered here. The theme should leave sufficient freedom for personal interpretations and make it possible to find local picture material and information.
Digital cameras, software and PC-places should be organized and prepared. It is ideal to have one camera and a PC for every 2-3 participants (one working group). It is also helpful to have means for voice recording (MP3-player plus microphone).
The following may serve as an example:
- Welcome/introduction/explanation of the aim of the task in the plenum
- Using the mind map, the theme is separated into sub topics and those with the greatest student interest are selected for the presentation. Examples of suitable topics are "Fishery in our river - yesterday, today, and tomorrow" or "Floods". If the students already have developed guiding questions for their river project, they can be used instead of the above step.
- Participants are divided into small working groups based common interests
- The groups interpret their theme: which concrete aspects come into mind? What might be a suitable destination/target for the excursion? What might be found there?
- The students are introduced to using cameras, the PC, and photo and sound processing software based on the level of current knowledge. The teacher may need to teach the students how to use the html editor on the FyR platform or other software.
- Excursion: the participants collect photos, conduct interviews etc. and reviews their material.
- Interim check: the groups present their first selection of material to the whole group.
- Each group decides what kind of presentation to create. The Free your River platform offers the following opportunities:
- The students create a presentation with software like Microsoft Powerpoint or Open Office Impress. Here they can integrate text, photos, and sound. The presentation is produced offline and then uploaded to the Book of the River.
- The students make a sound presentation (or a video). The presentation is produced offline and uploaded to the Book of the River (in this case under Our exploration of the River > Video Gallery).
- The students produce a one-page website or arrticle using the platform’s html-editor. The html-editor is a very useful tool; it allows for text editing, formating, and inserting other media files like pictures.
- The presentations are shown and later uploaded onto the platform. (If the students have used the html-editor, the presentation is already online.)
- Final round of feedback and reflection, e.g. with "flashlight".
- The local or regional public is informed about the activity using a suitable form of communication such as a press information, conference, etc. See "action kit" for more ideas.
Experiences / results
The method can be carried out with adults as well as with youngsters. It is well suited to get participants active, it is enjoyable, releases creativity, and allows successful experience due to the creation of the participants’ own website during the process.
The supervision for this activity is strenuous, particularly with large or diverse groups. One supervisor is necessary for every 10-15 participants in order to ensure they receive enough attention and support.
The presentation should be planned to be short. There is insufficient time for a large multimedia project.
One should incorporate several phases of reflection to promote a more thorough "digestion" of the theme and the medial presentation; e.g.:
- Photography: are we presenting a real picture of "the environment" or are we only giving "the picture" of the environment that we have in our own mind?
- Before planning the presentation: what are the different ways of narrating the "concepts of narration" may exist in the context of the theme of exploration in the project?
Feierabend/Klingler (2004) found that (in Germany) youngsters have a great interest in producing media presentations. These authors regard this to be an important reason for youth obtaining the capabilities to work with multimedia and this may be connected with the possibility to deconstruct the "reality" of presentations in the media.
If you have a partner group, you could invite them to visit the presentations and discuss them together in the chatroom.
You may wish to publish your presentation in your Book of the river in the publicly available Log Book. There you have fewer multimedia tools (test it!) but visitors from the public have the opportunity to comment or give feedback. It might be an interesting option for your group, see readers letter box.
This activity can be carried out with different ways, e.g.:
- Reporters: learners as reporters, perhaps also in combination with language lessons.
- APEL proposes a "procedure of interested interference" ("interessierte Einmischung"). Here, the objective of the multimedia project is to reflect critically on a local environmental problem, such as a planned dam project.
- SCHOPHAUS/DIENEL (2003) describes the "citizen exhibition" as a method of resident participation in local environmental politics and in local planning. According to this proposal, a virtual citizen exhibition could be realized as follows: learners interview residents about a specific environmental problem, e.g. a flood or a planned change of the course of a river. The interviews should be prepared very carefully and precisely recorded. The learners also take photographs. The interviews and the photographs are then processed into an internet presentation. In this method, the citizens themselves get a hearing (this opens the learning process to real life) and it uses the "aesthetic and emotional power of pictures and their description" for publicity.
- Land-art: learners as artists. Using suitable materials (mirrors, fabric, marmor spheres/balls, Barbie dolls) "installations" in the open air/nature are produced to interpret the working theme with aesthetic means (cf. Klarner).
Using these methodologies may stimulate students to create not only single web pages but also small web site with sevveral pages and links between them. However, as this requires more complex software not available on the Free your River platform, it is simpler to work with single page webpages.