Wikimedia Education Greenhouse/Unit 1 - Module 2

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Collaborating with educators and education systems

Education systems around the world[edit | edit source]

What the best education systems are doing right[edit | edit source]

Let's start module 2 learning about different education systems around the world.You are going to read the article "What the best education systems are doing right" by Amy S. Choi. As you read it, reflect on the following questions:

  • How similar and different are the education systems described from your own?
  • How do cultural beliefs and practices impact education culture in your own country?

Using the Discuss section of this page tell us which country case you found most interesting or record your thoughts in your Course Portfolio.

Ancal84 - CC BY-SA 4.0

Exploring education plans and policies around the world[edit | edit source]

You are going to explore Planipolis, UNESCO's portal of education plans and policies. In this portal you can find country profiles, national education plans, reports, strategy papers, etc. from different countries around the world. Take some time to explore the resources available about your own country. Compare this information with the one available about other countries you are interested in. After you have had a chance to explore the country profiles, reflect on the following:

  • How are the policies and plans on these documents enforced on the field?
  • Can you connect your Wikimedia education projects to the national education policies and plans in your country?

Understanding education systems[edit | edit source]

Think of the education system of your country, or a country you are learning more about. You can use the resources provided or do your own research. Document your answers to the following questions in your Course Portfolio:

  • How would you describe the quality of the education system?
  • What are some strengths/best practices demonstrated?
  • What are the major challenges faced in this context?
  • What are some of the ways those challenges are addressed?

Remember you can also use the Discuss section of this page to share your insights!

Supporting teachers[edit | edit source]

Validating teaching as a profession[edit | edit source]

You are going to watch the video "Validating teaching as a profession" by Zachary Leonard. While watching this video, reflect on the following questions:

  • Do the scenarios that he describes about the teaching profession apply to your context?
  • Do you agree with his recommendations?

Effective Teacher Development: What does the research show?[edit | edit source]

You are going to read Chapter 1 from the book "Professional Learning in the Learning Profession" by Darling-Hammond et al. (2009). As you go through this content, reflect on the following questions:

  • What kind of professional development opportunities do teachers in your country have?
  • How can Wikimedia education projects support teachers' professional development in your country?
  • Would the suggested strategies in the chapter contribute to teacher development in your country?

Quiz: According to Darling-Hammond et al., teachers benefit more from practical hands-on training that addresses specific curriculum content and teaching strategies.

  • True
  • False

Check the Discuss section of this page to see the answers.

Supporting teachers with mobile technology[edit | edit source]

You are going to read a case study from the book "Supporting teachers with mobile technology: Lessons drawn from UNESCO projects in Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Senegal". We recommend the case study about Mexico which starts on page 24 but feel free to focus on either of the countries presented.

As you read the case study of your choosing reflect on the following questions presented below:

  1. What was successful in this project?
  2. What would you have done differently?
  3. What lessons from this project would you bring to your own Wikimedia education projects?
  4. Do you know of similar initiatives in other countries?
  5. Which of the challenges encountered in this case study have you encountered when developing Wikimedia education projects in your own local education context?

As usual, use the Discuss section of this page to share your impressions or record your thoughts in your Course Portfolio.

Curriculum and planning[edit | edit source]

On this section we will reflect on the planning process of teachers and strategies for collaboration. You can find the original source of the content in this section in the Teachers Without Borders section of WikiEducator.[1]

Curriculum[edit | edit source]

How familiar are you with the design and contents of the curriculum in your local education systems? As you go through the reading below, think about the following question: Why is it important to understand the processes of curriculum design when working with local teachers?

The way we understand and theorize about curriculum has altered over the years, and there remains considerable dispute as to meaning. Curriculum has its origins in the running and chariot tracks of ancient Greece. It was, literally, "a course." In Latin "curriculum" was a racing chariot; the word "currere" meant "to run". In our contexts, curriculum can be seen as: "All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school." This gives us some basis to move on, and, for the moment, all we need to do is highlight two of the key features:

  • Learning is planned and guided. (We have to specify in advance what we are seeking to achieve and how we are to go about it.)
  • The definition refers to schooling. (We should recognize that our current appreciation of curriculum theory and practice emerged in the school and in relation to other schooling ideas such as subjects and lessons.)

In what follows, we are going to look at four ways of approaching curriculum theory and practice:

Curriculum as Product Curriculum as Process Curriculum as Praxis (Practice) Curriculum as Context

Curriculum As Product

It used to be that there were certain skills to master and facts to know. Knowledge was seen as something similar to a product that is manufactured. Generally, one starts knowing nothing, is taught, and then uses the gained knowledge, often by transmitting it into action. For the most part, this point of view worked for quite some time, as it organized learning quite neatly. There was a series of steps leading to the product, and curriculum could be designed accordingly. The steps were:

Step 1: Diagnosis of need Step 2: Formulation of objectives Step 3: Selection of content Step 4: Organization of content Step 5: Selection of learning experiences Step 6: Organization of learning experiences Step 7: Determination of what to evaluate, and the ways and means of doing it

Here are some of the problems with the product orientation:

  • Students are generally left out of the picture.
  • The objectives are not clear.
  • Students are not able to solve unanticipated problems that arise.

Curriculum as Process

One way of looking at curriculum theory and practice is to view it as a process. In this sense curriculum is not a physical pre-defined set of resources or facts to be taught and learned, but rather the interaction of teachers, students, and knowledge. In other words, curriculum is what actually happens in the classroom and what people do to prepare and evaluate. What we have in this model are a number of elements in constant interaction. Teachers enter particular situations with an ability to think critically, an understanding of their role and the expectations others have of them, and a proposal for action that sets out essential principles and features of the educational encounter. Guided by these, they encourage conversations between and with people, and out of these conversations may come thinking and action. They continually evaluate the process and the outcomes.

Lawrence Stenhouse (1926-1982) produced one of the best-known explorations of a process model of curriculum theory and practice. He defined curriculum tentatively: "A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice" (Stenhouse, 1975). He suggests that a curriculum is rather like a recipe in cookery. A curriculum, like the recipe for a dish, is first imagined as a possibility, then the subject of experiment. The recipe offered publicly is in a sense a report on the experiment. Similarly, a curriculum should be grounded in practice. It is an attempt to describe the work observed in classrooms. Finally, within limits, a recipe can be varied according to taste, and so can curriculum. Stenhouse shifted the ground a little bit here. He was not saying that curriculum is the process; rather it is the means by which the experience of attempting to put an educational proposal into practice is made available.

Curriculum as Context

Curriculum is a social enterprise. Many educationalists believe that curriculum, as practice, cannot be understood adequately or changed substantially without attention to its setting or context. Curriculum is contextually shaped. Of special significance here are examinations and the social relationships of the school: the nature of the teacher-student relationship, the organization of classes, tracking, and so on. These elements are sometimes known as the hidden curriculum.

The learning associated with the hidden curriculum is most often treated in a negative way. It is learning that is smuggled in and serves the interests of the status quo. The common emphasis in many school systems on regimentation, on time management, and on tracking is sometimes seen as preparing young people for the world of capitalist production. What we need to recognize is that such "hidden" curricula are not all negative and can be potentially liberating: "In so far as they enable students to develop socially valued knowledge and skills ... or to form their own peer groups and subcultures, they may contribute to personal and collective autonomy and to possible critique and challenge of existing norms and institutions" (Cornbleth, 1990).

By paying attention to the social context, we learn about how important the spaces between lessons really are. We can begin to get a better grasp of the impact of structural and socio-cultural processes on teachers and students. Many problems in schools are due to the inability of teachers or school leaders to see the powerful factors behind learning. Economics, social structure, family dynamics, and power struggles all contribute to the learning process.

Curriculum as Praxis

First, the notion of curriculum as praxis holds that practice should not focus exclusively on individuals alone or the group alone, but pays careful attention to the way in which individuals and the group create understandings and practices, as well as meaning. For example, in sessions that seek to explore the experiences of different cultural and racial groups in society, we could be looking to see whether the direction of the work took people beyond a focus on individual attitudes. Are participants confronting the material conditions through which those attitudes are constituted, for example?

Second, we could be looking for a commitment expressed in action to the exploration of educators' values and their practice. Are they, for example, able to say in a coherent way what they think makes for human well-being and link this with their practice? Third, we could expect practitioners committed to praxis to be exploring their practice with their peers. They would be able to say how their actions (with respect to particular interventions) reflected their ideas. In other words, their beliefs and values would be reflected in the work they do.

Quiz: Approaches to curriculum theory and design

Based on the concepts presented in the previous reading, match the following statements with the corresponding approach to curriculum theory and design:

Knowledge is something similar to a product that is manufactured. Curriculum as praxis
A curriculum, like the recipe for a dish, is first imagined as a possibility, then the subject of experiment. Curriculum as context
It's important to pay careful attention to the way in which individuals and the group create understanding and practices. Curriculum as a process
Economics, social structure, family dynamics, and power struggles all contribute to the learning process. Curriculum as product

Check the correct matches in the Discuss section.

Planning with teachers[edit | edit source]

To continue learning more about the planning processes of teachers, you are going to read an excerpt from the article "Understanding How Teachers Plan: Strategies for Successful Instructional Partnerships" by Linda Lachance Wolcott. It is written for an audience of school library media specialist, so some recommendations might feel very specific. As you go through the reading, reflect on the following questions:

  • How can you use these strategies to collaborate with local teachers in Wikimedia education projects?
  • How do you approach collaboration with teachers for Wikimedia education projects?

Think about this and the previous readings in this section. Do you think the strategies suggested apply to your context? If we want to promote the inclusion of Wikimedia projects in the classroom, how will that impact the work teachers already have to do? What arguments and points of connection could we present to teachers to advocate for Wikimedia in education?

Course Portfolio Assignment: Contacting school administrators[edit | edit source]

Subhashish Panigrahi / CC BY-SA

Let's put your knowledge to the test! With all the insights you have gained by working in this module, draft an email to a school administrator from your city/country offering them the opportunity to engage in a Wikimedia education initiative.

  • Explain how Wikimedia projects fit into the national education strategy, and the school curriculum.
  • Using your understanding of the local educational context and how teachers work within it, suggest concrete ways for teachers to learn more about how to use the Wikimedia projects in their classrooms.
  • Make sure you are providing a suggested follow-up activity and your message is clear and well-organized.

Document your work in your Course Portfolio or share your work in the Discuss section of this page as well!

Additional resources and activities[edit | edit source]

  • Interview a teacher! You can use the questions below to get to know better the teachers in your community. Their answers can help you design more localized Wikimedia education projects that respond to their particular strengths and challenges.
  1. What does their typical day look like?
  2. What are the greatest challenges they face in their classroom?
  3. What is their relationship like with school administrators?
  4. How familiar are they with Wikimedia projects?
  5. Would they use Wikimedia projects as learning tools? Why or why not?
  • Review the UNESCO Recommendation on OER draft (available in English and French) and the Wikimedia Foundation comment on the draft. Through a Recommendation, UNESCO formulates principles and norms about a certain subject and invites Member States to take the necessary steps to apply these principles and norms within their respective territories.[2]
    • What would the implementation of this recommendation mean for your education system?
    • How would you take advantage to the changes and policies related to these recommendation to advocate for the value of Wikimedia projects in education?
    • What other commentaries would you provide to the UNESCO draft?

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Curriculum Design - WikiEducator". Retrieved 2020-06-24.
  2. "General introduction to the standard-setting instruments of UNESCO". Retrieved 2020-06-24.

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