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Enriching teacher training curricula with MIL components

Appropriate processes for development, trial and introduction of curriculum enrichment materials to educators worldwide

Development of curriculum enrichment materials

The scope of ‘curriculum enrichment materials’ is unclear from the notes of the meeting, as is the extent to which materials supporting the actual teaching of teachers are to be developed.
Materials supporting adoption and development of MIL curricula can be categorized along a continuum supporting education decision-makers, teacher trainers, trainee teachers, in-service teachers and students in the 8-18 age bracket.
Suggestions from the Expert Group included the following:

  • Legal frameworks such as accreditation standards

  • Curriculum and competency frameworks

  • MIL primers and lists of further reading to encourage self-directed learning

  • Comparisons of pedagogical models appropriate to MIL

  • Detailed syllabi including schedules of weekly lectures and teaching activities

  • Model assessment methods

  • Compilations of good practice

  • Success stories indicating the effects of MIL education on student learning outcomes

  • Media for analysis by trainee teachers

  • Model lesson plans for use by teachers (the number of these could be increased by offering prizes for media-based lesson plans that illustrate good practice - thereby raising awareness of MIL among teachers in general and simultaneously providing professional development)

  • Tools to assist teachers in designing activities targeting the expected outcomes of MIL.

  • Media for analysis by students between 8 and 18

To make development of curriculum enrichment materials manageable, it was suggested that examples of an elaborated curriculum addressing those points in children’s development where learning progress is vulnerable to movement between levels of schooling would be particularly useful.
However, the Expert Group acknowledged that:

  • all materials need to take into account the instructional environment and related assessment issues

  • both academic and populist materials are needed to give a holistic overview of MIL

  • whatever is produced in English needs to be linked to supplementary sources in other languages

  • examples of materials known to have a major impact on understanding need to be identified, e.g. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

While the initiative could result in a website giving access to the wealth of resources on information literacy, media literacy and related subjects, developers need to be clear about what people are expected to do with this information. Such resources often focus on media literacy or information literacy but the intention here is to make it easy to emphasise the synergies between the concepts. It might therefore be more appropriate to identify a smaller range of resources and provide templates or checklists that assist citizens and media consumers in evaluating the relevance of these, and resources they identify themselves, to teaching for MIL in their educational context.
A further constraint on development of curriculum materials centres on the nature of learning and teaching activities appropriate to MIL. The Expert Group was agreed that learning about, with and through MIL will require a pedagogical approach that differs from the traditional in many countries – largely centred on the shift from didactic to knowledge co-construction. Further, they were agreed that inquiry and authentic problem-solving are activities that are central to MIL and not only cross the curriculum but integrate subject contents and skills, encouraging transfer.
It follows that materials developed to support the curriculum and the teaching activities implemented in training institutions should exemplify these pedagogies, both for trainee teachers and their students. For example, instructional design needs to be structured so that knowledge construction rather than transmission is encouraged and assessment takes account of a variety of correct answers or problem solutions.
The Expert Group identified other characteristics of appropriate learning activities for trainee teachers including:

  • having direct experience of the communication practices of the students they will later teach

  • inclusion of problem solving and application of MIL principles in real-life situations, including those that emphasise cultural heritage

  • experience of student-centred learning and teaching

  • activities that integrate aspects of the broader teacher training curriculum

  • inclusion of inductive and deductive elements of MIL teaching

  • preparation to participate in a community of practice

  • the use of cognitive apprenticeship by teacher trainers - modelling, scaffolding, coaching and fading

  • explicit attention to MIL, even when integrated in other courses

  • experience of media production as a learning and teaching such that the purpose of understanding how media works is not lost in the excitement of the production

Trial of curriculum materials

Discussions in the third breakout group related to the phase of the initiative during which curriculum enrichment materials for trainee teachers will be trialled.
Education for MIL enhances knowledge construction through provision of a unique perspective on making sense of media messages. It offers opportunities to consolidate and extend the development of competence and knowledge gained in other curriculum areas for both trainee teachers and ultimately their students. The emphasis in this initiative is on ‘value added’, the unique aspects of media and information literacy content areas and competencies. However, given the diversity of educational expectations and preparation across the arenas of implementation, it is important to recognize that institutions in which the MIL curriculum materials are trialled may not have fully implemented the supporting knowledge and competencies.
The crucial challenges underlying provision of advice concerning the trial of an MIL curriculum and associated materials centre on interactions between the characteristics of the:

  • target audiences (trainee teachers),

  • the institutions that provide initial teacher training

  • the regulatory constraints and enablers provided by the education systems within which they will later work

  • the resource base (economic, technological, intellectual and collegial) supporting MIL education in schools,

  • the resources available and easily accessible in the wider community, and

  • the constraints within which education decision-makers operate.

These interactions demand that any ‘solution’ offered be extremely flexible;

  • allowing entire or ‘pick and mix’ implementation of the curriculum elements as dictated by national educational imperatives, down to introductory courses of just a few hours

  • the potential accumulation of evidence of change in teacher trainee learning outcomes and those of their students as a stimulus towards curriculum implementation

  • on-going revision and implementation of additional media and information literacy curriculum elements in response to the dynamics of national educational provision and resourcing.

The resulting curriculum choices would thus celebrate diversity and facilitate co-development of curriculum details at the local level.
In selecting institutions for testing the curriculum and enrichment materials it is suggested that criteria include the following:

  • that the test group includes different cultures and financial resource contexts

  • that freedom of expression is guaranteed and the nation is willing to engage with MIL principles

  • that the institutional organization supports curriculum integration and the pedagogies espoused in the materials

  • that teacher trainers view the initiative favourably and have some prior experience or training themselves (i.e. that participation in the trial is not imposed)

  • that participant teacher trainees in pre-service programmes, as well as trainees who are certified teachers are already part of a community of practice.

Other considerations are the extent to which the whole or only part of the curriculum is to be adopted and, most fundamentally, the basis upon which the trials are to be monitored and assessed. Research currently does not demonstrate how MIL per se changes learning outcomes but evidence of student responses to MIL teaching activities has the potential to overcome teacher resistance. In testing the curriculum, the possibility of gathering and analysing evidence of trainee teachers’ reflections on MIL learning and teaching practice as a course requirement could provide valuable empirical evidence. This would become a resource in informing educational policy and decision makers at the stage of introducing the curriculum and materials worldwide.
Introduction of curriculum materials worldwide

The key purpose of this initiative is to influence the behaviour of stakeholders: educational decision makers, teacher training institutions, school principals, teachers and ultimately secondary school students. This must be kept in view through out the curriculum development process and inform the strategies for dissemination of the curriculum and associated materials.
However, it was noted that expectations for outcomes of MIL education may be positive or negatively perceived by governments. For example, MIL teacher training may support longer term government policies prompted by unrelated pressures in education system, e.g. “No child left behind” in USA. Elsewhere however, the concept of MIL may be scaled down by the level of local education. It was noted that limited financial resources in African countries mean teacher training for competence in ICT is limited, if it exists at all. Indeed, in some African nations there is a shortage of teachers due to the costs of training, resulting in reduced duration of training. Further, differences between the context of training and the context of teaching mean that there is often a lack of transfer of competency to the school setting. Challenges of a different order were identified for countries where MIL and social science are marginalized since competence in English, Maths and Science are seen as economic drivers.
Despite these challenges, the Expert Group were agreed that education for MIL is a shared responsibility, the consequence of which is that partners with whom to collaborate need to be identified. For example, where no separate MIL curriculum can be established, curriculum developers for other subjects are critical partners for the enrichment of their disciplines with MIL perspectives. It may also be necessary to look beyond the education sector to involve media industry professionals as teachers or teaching partners. In addition, it was suggested that MIL in schools, particularly in Africa, is not sufficient to improve the general level of responses to the media and information, and that this initiative should consider implementation in community multi media centres too. However, experience indicates that even when positive partnerships are established (e.g. Centre de liaison de l’enseignement et des moyens d’information (CLEMI)) progress towards changing attitudes and education is slow.
These problems underline the need to develop a clear communication strategy targeting several different audiences when introducing the MIL curriculum and materials worldwide. Practical long term, strategic suggestions include:

  • gain support and momentum for MIL education by aligning its content and outcomes with those of existing UNESCO initiatives (e.g. those in Teacher Education, Curriculum Development Community of Practice, Literacy decade, etc….)

  • work with stakeholders to raise their awareness of the need for MIL and its potential effects on facilitating life long learning

  • work to get MIL included in national constitutional documents

  • focus on evidence-based practice and use the accumulating body of research to inform and influence policy makers, teachers and students

Practical shorter term suggestions include:

  • ensure that curriculum information is packaged to engage teachers, decision makers, families, communities and other audiences

  • produce an 8-12 page booklet (primer) to introduce MIL and its application to current teaching, including the 5Cs: comprehension, critical thinking, creativity, cross cultural awareness and citizenship.

  • start with small steps – focus on pre service, initial teaching and later professional development

  • target those teacher trainees who are already interested (ready to engage) in the first instance – talk to the converted

  • investigate targeting teachers of students at three developmental moments across education span: 5-7, 10-12 and 16-18 years, i.e. at those points where a child has or is about to change school levels

  • build on existing strengths of curricula and teacher training regimes – affirmative action approach.

  • set up incentives such as MIL certificates for clusters of schools, individual schools and teachers that meet certain standards for the inclusion of MIL teaching and learning
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