SCHOOOOOLS.COM: A SOCIAL AND COLLABORATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR K-6
, A. Aguiar2
1Instituto Superior Politécnico Gaya (PORTUGAL)
2Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (PORTUGAL)
Children and teens today grow up immersed in a myriad of digital devices, thinking and processing information in a radically different way from their predecessors. These kids usually prefer hypermedia information, learning by self-discovery, or by playing, in teams, are good at multitasking, better in digital literacy than in textual literacy, tend to be always connected, enjoy social interaction, diversity and sharing.
As a result of all of this, young “digital natives” need new ways of learning that are more interactive, participative and individualized, capable of supporting the co-creation, collaboration, and sharing of a variety of contents, combining traditional and new digital media.
To be successful, the teaching strategies, the learning contexts, and the learning spaces must accommodate these children’s needs and habits, harmoniously combining technology and pedagogy, as earliest as possible.
With the advent of Web 2.0, the way people collaborate in the creation and sharing of their own contents improved considerably, enabling everyone to be active producers and consumers at the same time, and helping them to self-organize in networks and virtual communities. It is now easy to create collaborative spaces for teachers and students to adopt a partnering pedagogy, more social and informal, but also more personal.
Personal Learning Environments (PLE) combine tools that help learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning contents and process, to communicate with others, allowing a bidirectional flow of information between teachers and students, at a degree not possible before by traditional LMS.
In this work, we present schoooools.com (a.k.a in Portugal as escolinhas.pt), a new collaborative and social learning environment, developed and validated in several schools, following an action-research method.
Schoooools.com is being developed to be a very simple personal learning environment targeted to schools and students from 6 up to 12 years old (K-6). It follows a wiki-way philosophy for the co-creation of contents. It combines the best features of Web 2.0 relevant for schools, simplified and integrated in a single platform: easy-to-use content editors, wikis, blogs, private social networks, image galleries, calendars, private messages, chat, shared files, micro-blogging, integration with traditional LMS (ex: Moodle), integration with contents from publishers or other types of providers. It was designed with three principles in mind: educational, by providing collaborative web spaces to use in classroom, at home, everywhere, for educational purposes; entertainment, by providing appealing spaces and features to use also in leisure time, to learn by playing, chatting; social, by providing an engaging space to promote the communication and socialization within the respective private social networks.
As in real life, students, parents and teachers have different features and responsibilities in the school, but they all may communicate and collaborate between them, with privacy rules similar to the real school and its respective community.
Simply and naturally, the platform promotes a gradual adoption of the best practices on using ICT for educational purposes: in classroom or extracurricular contexts, inside or outside schools.