In this lesson, we shall discuss four types of IT-based projects which can effectively be used in order to engage students in activities of a higher plane of thinking. To be noted is the fact that these projects differ on the specific process and skills employed, also in the ultimate activity or platform used to communicate completed products to others.
It is to be understood that these projects do not address all of the thinking skills shown previously in the Thinking Skills Framework. But these projects represent constructivist projects, containing the key elements of a constructivist approach to instruction, namely:
(a) the teacher creating the learning environment
(b) the teacher giving students the tools and facilities, and
(c) the teacher facilitating learning.
The students themselves who demonstrate higher thinking skills and creativity through such activities searching for information, organizing and synthesizing ideas, creating presentations, and the like.
Now let us see four IT-based projects conducive to develop higher thinking skills and creativity among learners.
I. Resources-based Projects
In these projects, the teacher steps out of the traditional role of being an content expert and information provider, and instead lets the students find their own facts and information. Only when necessary for the active learning process does the teacher step in to supply data or information. The general flow of events in resource-based projects are:
1. The teacher determines the topic for the examination of the class.
2. The teacher presents the problem to the class.
3. The students find information on the problem/questions.
4. Students organize their information in response to the problem/questions.
Relating to finding information, the central principle is to make the students go beyond the textbook and curriculum materials. Students are also encouraged to go to the library, particularly to the modern extension of the modern library, the internet.
The inquiry-based or discovery approach is given importance in resource-based projects. This requires that the students, individually or cooperatively with members of his group, relate gathered information to the ‘real world.’
The process is given more importance than the project product. It doesn’t matter for example if each group comes up with a different answer to the problem. What matters are the varied sources of information, the line of thinking and the ability to agree in defense of their answers.
The table below can provide the difference between the traditional and resources-based learning approach to instruction.
FIGURE 5 – TRADITIONAL & RESOURCE-BASED LEARNING MODELS
Resource-based learning model
Teacher is expert and information provider
Teacher is a guide and facilitator
Textbook is key source of information
Sources are varied
(print, video, internet, etc.)
Food on facts information is packaged, in neat parcels
Focus on learning inquiry/ quest/discovery
The product is the be-all and end-all of learning
Emphasis on process
Assessment is quantitative
Assessment is quantitative and qualitative
II. SIMPLE CREATIONS
Students can also be assigned to create their software materials to supplement the need for relevant and effective materials. Of course, there are available software materials such Creative Writer (by Microsoft) on writing, KidWork Deluxe (by Davidson) on drawing and painting, and MediaWeave (by Humanities software) on multimedia.
In developing software, creativity as an outcome should not be equated with ingenuity or high intelligence. Creating is more consonant with planning, making, assembling, designing, or building. Creativity is said to combine three kind of skills/abilities:
Analyzing – distinguishing similarities and differences, seeing the project as a problem to be solved.
Synthesizing – making spontaneous connections among ideas, their generating interesting or new ideas.
Promoting – selling of new ideas to allow the public to test the ideas themselves.
To develop creativity, the following five key tasks may be recommended:
1. Define the task. Clarify the goal of the completed project to the student.
2. Brainstorm. The students themselves will be allowed to generate their own ideas on the project. Rather than shoot down ideas, the teacher encourages idea exchange.
3. Judge the ideas. The students themselves make an appraisal for or against any idea. Only when students are completely off track should the teacher intervene.
4. Act. The students do their work with the teacher a facilitator.
5. Adopt flexibility. The students should be allowed to shift gears and not follow an action path rigidly.
III. GUIDED HYPERMEDIA PROJECTS
The production of self-made multimedia projects can be approached in two different ways:
1. As an instructive tool, such as in the production by students of a power-point presentation of a selected topic.
2. As a constructivist tool, such as when students do a multimedia presentation (with text, graphs, photos, audio narration, interviews, video clips, etc., to simulate a television news show.
IV. WEB-BASED PROJECTS
Students can be made to create and post webpages on a given topic. But creating webpages, even single page webpages, may be too sophisticated and time consuming for the average student.
It should be said, however, that posting of webpages in the Internet allows the students (now the webpage creator) a wider audience. They can also linked with other related sites in the Internet. But as of now, this creativity project may be to ambitious as a tool in the teaching-learning process.