The sixth session that I am blogging here at SITE 2017 related to K-12 Online and Blended Learning is:
Designing a system to support curriculum design and student learning: understanding by design and flipped classrooms
Presider: Sandra Williamson-Leadley, University of Otago College of Education, New Zealand
While education systems have begun shifting to a learner-centered paradigm, many middle schools in my local area remain in the teacher-centered paradigm. Taiwan’s Ministry of Education recently proposed a key competencies framework, considered a learner-centered movement. Thus, this research project aims to develop an online system to support teachers’ curriculum design and students’ learning with a focus on the learner-centered paradigm of education. Design-based research is conducted through a close collaboration between the researcher and the local teachers to develop and refine the design theory. This paper presents the initial design principles to support (1) teachers’ use of the understanding by design framework (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) (2) students’ self-directed learning by making performance tasks, roadmaps, learning resources (e.g. clips), and formative assessments available (3) collaboration by establishing a performance tasks bank. The initial findings will be presented.
The presenter began with some background on schools – and in particular middle schools – in Taiwan, as well as general background on Wiggins’ and McTighe’s notion of understanding by design or “backwards design” (which was apparently new to this Taiwanese-based faculty member). Essentially, this was a way to transition from a content-oriented model of education to a competency-based model, by leveraging the similarities between understanding by design and the flipped classroom model.
The presenter outlined her research questions, which focused on the design principles and features that impacted teacher pedagogical transition and student outcomes. The results were presented in two slides that were graphical representations of the factors or variables from three different phases of the study – but the balloons on the graphic images were too small to read the text and presenter didn’t really explain the various factors and how they were related.
Generally speaking, teachers needed to be scaffolded through the understanding by design process, and it was helpful for those teachers to create a visual representation of their curriculum design. This visual representation, based on the presenter’s model, allows students to become more self-directed in the approach to their studies.
When the presenter got to the conclusions slide, it appeared that the study – or at least all three of the phases – have yet to be completed – as the presenter discussed some of the anticipated outcomes and impacts of this design study.