UNIT DESIGN RATIONALE

The design of this unit was created to engage students in an authentic learning sequence to generate global responsibility and awareness of the threats to surrounding habitat of the Great Barrier Reef. With the inclusion of group collaborative activities and the problem based learning, the e-learning design rationale is based on Kearsley & Schneiderman Engagement Theory which emphasises meaningful learning and consistency with constructivist approaches. The theory consists of three main components of Relate-Create-Donate (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

The goal of this unit is for students to relate to the topic “Reef Rescue” and since the Great Barrier Reef is in their very own backyard, this part is relatively easy. The learners must also be engaged in the activity for this theory to be successful. Students will be working in teams as well as collaborate discussion with a FNQ school that have previously completed the project for ideas and suggestions.

The second principle of create centres around creating a purposeful activity which is accurate in the nature of this presentation as the students are creating an awareness campaign for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman in an attempt to become Reef Guardians. As the students are able to choose their own nature of the project – being the actual threat as well as the digital tool for presentation, they will gain a sense of control over their learning (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 1999).

Donate comprises of the third and final principle of the Engagement Theory which associates a third party customer which the project is to be conducted for, in this case the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman in Townsville, who contacts the class via a Voki message with instructions. The Chairman will be emailed links to the completed projects and messaged will be returned to students with assessment results and feedback.

The engagement theory requires a strong ICT focus which is found within this unit. The students collaboratively utilise digital tools such as Skype, wikis, blogs, Google maps, bubbl.us, vokis, glogster, moviemaker, video recording, and website creation in order to interact and gain knowledge. The use of these tools are carefully supervised and scaffolded to ensure learners have the skills and help required to use them confidently. This type of learning is student based and follows the constructivism theory where knowledge is constructed by learners in a social atmosphere, combining previous experience and contributions from all members in a social group (class). The teacher is providing the scaffolding and assisting connecting the ideas of the students. However due to its content, this unit is based on a 21st century learning style of connectivism due to the digital connection to the experts in the field of reef protection and the student centered learning.

In the first week of the Reef Rescue unit, the basis for the unit is gained by receiving a Voki message (from a hypothetical chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) asking the students to provide a presentation and a Skype session with a Year 7 class in a FNQ school which are already a Reef Guardian School who will provide the class with ideas and suggestions for their authentic task. Skype was used for its visual features and would allow the students to see students in a similar classroom environment and hear in year 7 terms the skills and suggestions required to keep the learners engaged. They may also be shown on Skype some of the assessment presentations completed by the FNQ class as an example. Students then research the requirements of becoming reef guardians within their school which includes: School has raised awareness within their school and local community about their Reef Guardian project/activities. The school has shared information about their Reef Guardian projects/activities with the GBRMPA.

As a start to their research they use Google Maps to physically view images of the size and colours of the reef from an aerial view as this sight would be unable to be obtained by any class excursion and would be required to keep in the authentic theme. A See Think Wonder scaffolded Activity is conducted to stimulate curiousity and further engage students, to get the ideas flowing and help with reflection ideas for students blog. The teacher will edit the wiki with a follow up question to extend the task and encourage high order thinking with the use of verbs from Blooms Taxonomy. The class wiki is used throughout the unit for collaborate activities. The ability to be able to view other classmate’s answers and ideas will assist the exchange of ideas and increase creativity and enrich learning. Concept maps using bubbl.us are used as a graphic organiser of the brainstorming / idea sessions of the whole class and when placed on class wikispace, the maps can be easily viewed to allow students to recall ideas and remain on focus and engaged.

A Wordle image is embedded on the class wiki and this may be added on throughout the unit for learners to view and help them with terms or ideas to discuss in their assignments. After the oral presentations in Week 5, the video imaging is posted onto the class wiki for viewing by students to use as a base to further their learning or improve on information for their next presentation assessment. Glogster, Prezi, Website creation, Vimeo and Movie Maker are the main tools which will be highlighted as suggestions to use in the digital presentations. Students will be shown examples and given instructions with a tutorial as well as practice on the use of each tools and will get to choose which tool suits their ideas the best. All of these tools are easy to use and highly visual for the best effect to capture attention and provide valuable information and images. In addition, the class will be expected to reflect weekly in their secure private blogs through The Learning Place where they reflect on their research, share ideas and discuss what they have learned. This blogging will be assessed and encouraged to go into as much detail as possible, it will be a way of keeping on track and will include their goals and how their group is working on tasks.

Class Wiki can be found at :
http://alligatorcreeksevena.wikispaces.com/

References: Kearsley, G & Schneiderman, B 1999 Engagement Theory: A Framework for technology based teaching and learning Viewed: http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm