Friday, January 11, 2013

The design of effective ICT-supported learning activities: Exemplary models, changing requirements, and new possibilities

RRR: Unit 2

The design of effective ICT-supported learning activities: Exemplary models, changing requirements, and new possibilities
Cameron Richards(2005)


In this paper Richard reveals the importance of ICT-supported learning activity. He suggests the need for teachers to move beyond being “transmitters” of skills or information and to be more as “designers” of effective and integrated learning.
Although teachers can not deny the role played by ICT in education and how much they can offer, yet teachers are still using it as “add-on” in classroom. The author addresses the  importance of ICT in promoting the role of language across the curriculum through promotion of learning of generic skills and applied knowledge orientations instead of mere skills or content transmittion.

Three case studies were conducted in order to investigate the role of the effective ICT-supported learning activity. The first two studies explored to what extent designed “activity structures” involving ICT integration provide a context for learning as a transformation in terms of bridging the gaps between learner doing and thinking , between practice and theory and between literacy processes of design and evaluation.

The first study was about webquests and microlessons and their role to provide context for learners to engage with ICT resources. A webquest is an inquiry oriented activity in which information comes from resources on the internet, whereas microlessons are concerned as PowerPoint templates in a form of multimedia activity format.

The second case study focuses on project-based learning for internet communications and multimedia design. Two main projects were designed and discussed. The monster exchanges in which internet communications are used as pretexts for writing , drawing , interacting and sharing files, whilest multimedia project provides a convergent , developmental and often collaborative focus for seeking and transforming information.

The third case study discusses interactive learning with ICT and the quest for generic alternatives to the traditional lesson plan. This model is different from the two previously discussed models because it could be used as a design strategy on its own or as a complement to the use of the other models. An effective learning activity design involves two transformations which are the authentic or imaginary context for the activity. These must lead into curriculum learning involvement through ICT and it should represent a stage of applied learning that emerges directly out of the curriculum focus of the learning activity.
The generic structure of an ICT supported learning activity represents and activity-reflection cycle grounded in contexts of both individual performance and social knowledge.

The author has also noted that ICT-supported learning is influenced by two perspectives; instructional design and social constructivist learning theory. Moreover, a framework contrasting formal lesson-planning and learning activity design was provided in the paper.


The author has based his discussions on three different case studies conducted and of course his main purpose was to link the relevant new theories and models of learning with practice to build upon related learner-centered strategies for integrating ICT resources , and to constitute interdependent functions of learning as information access , communication and applied interactions.


The author framed the first two case studies in separation with the third and claimed that it could be used on its own. What I think that those two case studies provided the base or the ground for the third study because they provided information which was very useful to understanding teachers’ practices when involving such ICT-supported learning activities and their need for generating alternatives adopting  ICT-interactives to updating traditional lesson planning .  


In my point of view , the author has hit the target when pointed out that teachers are using ICT as “add-on” in their classrooms. This is the case in my own context. This is if used, but more often it is not used!! The author has also mentioned that “in the digital age, young learners tend to be more confident and have greater familiarity with everyday literacy aspects and functions by ICTs than older teachers and parents”. This is another tragedy added to the teachers’ portfolio. Therefore, teachers need to move beyond their comfort zone, start seeking ways of challenge by adopting new design strategies using ICT and avoid dominant formal lesson planning. Teachers’ training programs need to put more effort on providing teachers / student teachers with enough training and skills to approach the challenge of ICT integration more as designers not as transmitters of skills or information through add-on use of ICTs in teaching and learning.
Badriya Al Mamari

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