Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Supporting Teachers in Designing CSCL Activities: A Case Study of Principle-Based Pedagogical Patterns in Networked Second Language Classrooms

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Supporting Teachers in Designing CSCL Activities: A Case Study of Principle-Based Pedagogical Patterns in Networked Second Language Classrooms

Article excerpt

Introduction

Spurred by rapid developments in information and communication technologies (ICT), diverse tools are now being used in a rich variety of ways to support teaching and learning. Goodyear (2005) uses the term networked learning broadly to include e-learning, web-based learning, online learning, and computer-supported learning. He emphasizes that "networked learning is not necessarily distance learning. It may well involve some face-to-face (FTF) interactions, whether or not these are supported by the use of ICT. The important element is connectedness" (2005, p. 83). In authentic classroom settings, teachers can harness such connectivity to increase opportunities for social interaction, as well as provide resources to support learning. The more dynamic and complex networked learning environment requires taking advantages of new opportunities and working with emergent rather than fixed goals (Sawyer, 2004).

Teachers face numerous problems in orchestrating networked classrooms, especially when dealing with complex pedagogies such as collaborative learning (Dimitriadis, 2010). Scripts are a popular means of guiding the design of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) activities and supporting teachers in classroom orchestration by structuring the flow of the collaborative activity (Dillenbourg & Hong, 2008; Dillenbourg & Jermann, 2010). Dimitriadis (2010) attributes pedagogical patterns as a kind of mediating artifacts in a CSCL environment. Pedagogical patterns that are developed from analyzing expert knowledge of the practices of teaching and learning (Pedagogical Pattern Project, n.d.) can provide a more concrete and understandable form of knowledge for teachers instead. They can serve as a powerful way for sharing good practices (Dimitriadis, Goodyear & Retalis, 2009; Fincher, 1999). A growing number of studies have pointed out the potential of the pedagogical pattern approach for teacher professional development (DeBarger, et al, 2010; Law, Laurillard, & Lee, 2011; Prieto, Villagra-Sobrino, & Dimitriadis, 2011).

However, pedagogical patterns that captured good practices in traditional teaching processes cannot be applied directly to CSCL activities in networked classrooms. Traditional pedagogical patterns have fixed goals and comparatively fixed routines. CSCL demands and enables shift the focus of education from learning as knowledge acquisition to learning as building shared meaning, enculturation into social practices and participation in valued activities situated within a community of practice (Roschelle et al., 2011). In such CSCL environments, teachers work with more emergent goal structures and opportunism in knowledge work (Zhang & Scardamalia, 2007). But, exposing teachers to good use of these procedural-based pedagogical patterns without sufficient flexibility and theoretical support may not help them to enact them effectively in more unpredictable authentic classroom practices (Prieto, Villagra-Sobrino, & Dimitriadis, 2011).

Zhang and his colleagues (2007, 2011) propose that pedagogical innovation requires the creative engagement of teachers to continually improve classroom designs and practices based on principle- rather than procedure-based approaches to teaching. However, drawing on our practical experiences, applying abstract principles of teaching and learning to real teaching practices is always a challenge for teachers, especially when they try to adopt new innovative teaching practices (Wen, Looi, & Chen, 2011). To optimize flexibility and accessibility of scripting, we propose the use of principle-based pedagogical patterns. These patterns are distinguished from procedure-based pedagogical patterns which are highly scripted and depend on routine expertise. They are intended to serve as flexible scaffolding for teachers to adopt or adapt in creating learner-centered activities in the classrooms. In this paper, we extract and articulate a set of principle-based pedagogical patterns for networked Second language (L2) learning, categorized and undergirded by Rapid Collaborative Knowledge Improvement (RCKI) principles. …

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