Effective teaching occurs when teachers know their students and design for learning consistent with this knowledge. Some of this knowledge is available from the students themselves. In recent years, the changing nature of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and consequently, the lives of youth have heightened the need for teachers to engage students in dialogue about their learning needs. Teachers and students work together to define and construct learning environments that effectively make the most of the benefits of ICT. In an effort to identify these aspects of learning environments with ICT, a Queensland teacher conducted this research in 2013.
This insight was revealed in a recent study conducted in Year 8 mathematics classrooms in a Queensland High School. This study recognized that Year 8 students are very capable of communicating, in particular, their understanding about their learning and their classroom environments. This study chose to give voice to this understanding with regard to the use of ICT in the mathematics classroom. Specifically, reusable learning objects, blogs, and online textbooks were the focus of the study.
The research posits the view of curriculum as inquiry and situates teachers and students at the center of learning. A primary focus included capturing the affective dimensions of learning by encouraging students to tap into their feelings and ideas about going online during maths class.
Students in the early years of secondary school know much about themselves, and their expectations of learning in ICT-based environments. In particular, each knows about learning environments in which learning happens best for him/her. Furthermore, they have insight into how learning happens for friends, others in the class and the class as a unit. Interestingly, the way students explain the need for ICT corresponds to those aspects of the learning environment of importance to teachers.
Seven constructs were generated from the words of the students. These included usefulness, empowerment, sociability, differentiated learning, visual aspects, youth communication, teacher role. In this paper, each construct is described and related to its contribution to learning environments in schools.
The findings in the research inform the contemporary practices that serve to engage students generally and specifically, engage students in learning mathematics. This includes many interesting and provoking anecdotes by students using their own words. The presentation provides an opportunity to consider that which guides students’ choices, reflections about and connections with ICT.
This session is of interest to teachers who are interested in how to use ICT in classroom for effective learning. There is a focus on mathematics, but would be of interest to teachers of all curriculum areas, particularly upper primary, middle schooling.