The use of multi media learning environments in teacher training colleges
Values education and language education as examples.

Paper presented at the ATEE conference
Limerick, Ireland/ August 1998

John Bronkhorst
Project team "Waarden en normen"
Project team "Mile Nederlands"
Overijssel teacher training colleges / National Center for Language Education, University of Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Voice: +31 74 2559100
Fax: +31 74 2559191


2.The Dutch ICT plan in a nutshell
3.Building a multi media learning environment for teacher training.
3.1Theoretical starting points
3.2Research and experience findings
3.3Learning activities
3.4Realizing the environment
4.Values and morals
5.Language education
7.Participants and project teams

1. Introduction.

For more then ten years the implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) has been an important issue in the Dutch educational policy. At all levels of education computers and educational software have been introduced. In May 1997 the Dutch Ministry of Education presented a new "Action plan for ICT" running from 1997 to 2001. It is the first time that special attention is given to teacher education as a crucial factor in the application and dissemination of knowledge and attitudes regarding ICT. Much emphasis is laid on the assumption that the focus shifts from instruction to learning-to-learn. This way of learning takes place lifelong. Schools are changing from a traditional to a more functional organization.
Independent learning becomes more and more important. Of course this has great consequences for the infrastructure of schools. Also the traditional role of the class is in discussion. (Ministry of Education, 1997)

The Dutch Ministry of Education decided to stimulate the construction of integrated multi media learning environments for some parts of the curriculum. Two of these learning environments are presented in this paper: one for moral education and the other for language education. Before describing the projects we will have a closer look at the present Dutch ICT situation. At the end the common aspects and differences of both programs will be discussed. The first preliminary results of dissemination will be presented.

2. The Dutch ICT plan in a nutshell.

During four years (1997 - 2001) the Dutch ICT action plan stimulates independent learning in primary schools by providing them with computers and a local aerea network together with internet access. The computer ratio should be one to ten at the end of the action period. All 1.6 million pupils are involved. Software development will be focused upon mathematics and language education. Each school will have a training offer for the manager, the ICT coordinator and the internal support teacher (for disadvantaged children). Collaboration in pilot projects, together with teacher training colleges and support institutions is strongly stimulated. A national network (Edunet) will be established where hardware and software aspects are organized and presented to all participating schools.

In secondary education the ratio also must become one to ten. Networks and internet access will be provided as well as training for management and teachers. Emphasis will be laid on language education, especially foreign languages. In the second phase of secondary education schools will be transformed to "study homes". Pupils will learn independent as much as possible with the help of ICT and multi media tools.
For primary and secondary education the government starts in 1998 with schools in an advanced position. These schools have to disseminate the results in their region later.
About 1.2% of the primary schools are at the start in such an advanced position and 17% of the secondary schools belong to the early adopters.
In vocational education and adult education all subject aereas are stimulated and also the management of the institutes. The computer ratio here is one to ten.

Teacher training colleges and schools of education are seen as the central axis of development for the future. Therefore students must learn to teach with ICT and also be tought with ICT and multi media for at least 50% of their study time. Spread out over the country six innovation centers for ICT have to be established. A computer-student ratio of one per three students will be realized. Students should be prepared for mutual professional collaboration.
Emerging practices will be stimulated in collaboration with schools (primary and secondary) and other institutions that can contribute to the successful implementation of ICT (universities, research institutions, companies etc.)
Of course the central problem are the teachers for the class. They have to be trained and get ready for a basic certificate of ICT. Young teachers, coming from the new institutions were ICT was a basic element of their program, are expected to stimulate their elder colleagues and provide an example of good practice. At the same time teachers and professors at schools of education and teacher training colleges have to be trained. In the whole operation international collaboration is foreseen as a way to answer the demand for highly qualified teachers and experts at all levels.
ICT is seen as a medium in the learning process. The implementation will evaluate in three phases:

  • substitution phase : technology substitutes the old practice
  • transition phase : new instructional methods begin to evolve e.g. e-mail support in language education
  • transformation phase: completely new instructional situations are available and in use where old techniques become obsolete
New practices will start while old still exists and that means a "care" for the old and a "courage" to start new experiments.
In 1996/1997 the Dutch government started several multi media pilot projects for teacher training colleges. Two of them are described in this paper.

3. Building a multi media learning environment for teacher training.
3.1 Theoretical starting points.

One of the main problems in teacher training is: bridging the gap between theory and practice. In the field of teacher training there is a widespread belief that multi media learning environments could play a positive role in the process of diminishing the gap ((Wood, 1995;Kinzer and Risko, 1996,1997). Kozma(1992) and Salomon(1979) stressed the fact that different media possess different symbol systems, which in turn tap different physical and mental processing capabilities. Easy access to diverse media does not automatically lead to easy integration of the symbol systems. Learners may require help in understanding the information in a given media source and in relating it to previous information.
Unfortunately there is a disagreement among learning theorists centered on two different views on teaching and learning. One view is called direct instruction and is grounded primarily in behaviorist learning theory and the information processing branch of the cognitive learning theories. The other view is mostly referred to as constructivist learning, evolved from other branches of thinking in cognitive learning theory,
The Dutch government emphasizes a need for more constructivistic learning environments. As constructivism "comes in different strengths... from weak to moderate to extreme." (Molenda, 1991) we will describe two main streams. The more classical stream is represented by Jean Piaget. Neo-Piagetian theory leads to an emphasis on environments which support discovery and construction but also to a stress on the importance of collaboration in learning. Peer interaction causes conflicting views and leads to the construction of more elaborated concepts and new levels of understanding.
The learning theory of social constructivism, with Lev Vygotsky as prominent representer, is of growing importance for developers of multi media learning environments (Bereiter & Scardamaglia, 1996) Basic thought in this theory is that people construct their (social) reality by interacting with other people. There is not only one truth, but many of them are possible. Subjectivity is taken as a starting point for learning. The theory leads to a strong emphasis on peer tutoring in development where more knowledgeable members of a learning community both teach and learn by helping the less knowledgeable. Another effect of the theory has been the emphasis on knowledge building in stead of knowledge reproduction

Although there are differences in the field of constructivists each of the following principles are considered characteristic of constructivist purposes and designs:

  • Problem oriented activities.
    Either in a specific content or in an interdisciplinary approach most constructivists focus on this point. The problems are usually more complex then those associated with direct instruction and students need more time and diverse skills to solve them.
  • Visual formats and mental models.
    Instructional activities have to build good "mental models" of problems to be solved. Presenting these problems in visual format is effective (Kinzer et al. 1996). Especially low achieving students with reading difficulties could benefit from visual formats.
  • Rich environments.
    Perkins(1991) calls for "richer learning environments" in contrast to the traditional setting that relies mostly on the teacher, a textbook and prepared materials like worksheets. He points at resources like: information banks (also electronic), symbol pads (computers) to support teachers short term memory, construction kits (like Logo, Lego etc.), task managers (like electronic tutors, wizzards) and phenomenaria (like simulations)
  • Cooperative or collaborative (group) learning.
    Most constructivist approaches emphasize work in groups rather than as individuals to solve problems. Perkins(1991) mentions the role of distributive intelligence. By this he means that the accomplishment of a task is not simply an individual function but the product of individuals and tools, each of which contributes to the achievement of the desired goals. Cooperative learning also seems an ideal environment for students to learn how to share responsibility and work together towards common goals.
  • Learning through exploration.
    Although constructivists differ among themselves about how many assistance and guidance a teacher should offer they all agree about the necessity of learning through discovery. Already in the beginning of the twentieth century the European so called "reform educationalists" like Freinet, Petersen and Montessori stressed the importance of this view. (Bronkhorst, 1994) These movements, especially Freinet, developed a rich amount of didactical techniques useful in constructivistic multi media learning environments dealing with values education and language education. Modern internet tools are a logical extension of existing techniques for them.
  • Authentic assesment methods.
    Constructivists stress more qualitative assesment strategies rather than quantitative ones. Popular assessment methods are portfolio's, with examples of students' work and products they have developed (Bateson, 1994; Young, 1995), narratives written by teachers to describe each student's work habits and areas of strength and weakness, and performance-based assessments in combination with checklists of criteria for judging students' performance (Linn, 1994)
New didactic models like situated cognition, cognitive apprenticeship, anchored instruction and reciprocal teaching were also an effect of constructivism (Wood, 1995). Situated cognition deals with the idea that what one learns is an integral part of the physical and social context within which learning takes place. Teaching has to do with the organization of situations. The problem of inert knowledge can also be solved by dealing with situated cognition. Inert knowledge is knowledge that is only able to be recalled within specific situations but is not used outside of the learned context(Whitehead, 1929)
Cognitive apprenticeship works as the medieval master fellow model. Working together in small groups in the presence of competent masters, pupils acquire the necessary cognitive skills and attitudes. This working takes place in realistic and authentic situations that constitute the competencies to be acquired.
Anchored instruction takes the personal reality in individuals as starting point. Providing individuals with shared common experiences in multi media form can serve as strong "anchors" (Glaser (ed), 1996). Students must be able to construct new relationships between what they already know and new concepts. By doing so they need anchors.
Reciprocal teaching emphasizes the changing of roles between teacher and pupil. Pupils can teach each other and also the teacher how to go on with their tasks and how they learn. Teacher and class are raising questions and together the underlying learning and thinking strategies are explicated for all participants.
It may be clear that traditional tests are no longer able to measure the outcome of these new environments. New forms of testing (authentic testing) are necessary. Most of them try to measure the process of developing new perspectives by interacting with other learners, including the teacher, in a realistic and meaningful situation. Learning environments like CSILE are showing examples of these techniques (Bereiter & Scardamalia,1997) CSILE represents an environment to support kinds of inquiry, information search and discussion that go on in research teams and knowledge building groups of all kinds.
Another approach towards a new way of testing is allowing the student to construct a "masterpiece" that could be shown by using ICT to a lot of critical fellow students and participants in the learning process.

3.2 Research and experience findings.

The most elaborated experiences regarding the use of multimedia cases are from the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CGTV). They report several effects of multimedia use on students' learning and teaching decisions (Kinzer, Risko 1997). Students working with multimedia cases ask more questions and also more higher level questions (Risko et al., 1992). The students also developed a comprehensive view of teaching issues and problems much earlier then students using traditional methods. They were used to assume multiple roles in a discussion and to elaborate on each others' contributions. Students used the cases to guide their teaching in practicum settings (Risko, 1995; Risko, Peter, & McAllister, 1996). Information was retained for a much longer period of time. They also had a remarkable attitude to use multiple sources including seeking support amongst many participants in newsgroups and mailing lists.

In a hypertext situation it is sometimes difficult to take decisions. Weyer (1988) proposed six basic interaction facilities that enables students to follow their cognitive interests in a hypertext situation:
requestpresent the system's interpretation
tell megive the facts but no embellishments
inform meprovide facts plus background and other viewpoints
amuse mefind interesting connections or perspectives
challengemake the learner find or create connections or insights
guide mesuggest pathways but allow browsing
teach meprovide step-by-step-guidance

Hypermedia allow learners to pursue a chain of thought comparable with a life situation. They are not tied to an artificial linear sequence based on someone else's knowledge structure. Students differ in the amount of structure and scaffolding they prefer by going through these hypermedia oriented learning environments. Especially the use of higher-level thinking strategies are difficult for many students (Dunlap,J., Grabinger, S., 1996) Most important factor is that learners must feel comfortable with an approach that holds trial-and-error elements. Scaffolding involves guidance in the forms of hints, questions and materials that lead learners through a process of problem solving.
Students who are not comfortable with making decisions on their own, need time to get used to scaffolding and coaching situations. For them it looks strange that a teacher does not give the right answer immediately.

Harasim(1993) summarized some large-scale surveys from the US looking at the effects of tele-learning:

  • Students experience a range of opinions and ideas beyond those of the teacher and textbook. It enables them to communicate with persons outside the classroom.
  • Students information is expanded beyond the school library and the actual knowledge of the teacher.
  • Thinking skills can be enhanced, especially those needed for inquiry and analysis of multiple forms of information.
Research regarding the use of e-mail by children revealed a lot of remarkable effects (Bronkhorst, Van Graft 1996):
  • children accept each others answers, coming by e-mail, better than those of teachers and experts
  • children could provide information to each other by e-mail very well
  • children didn't ask experts at a distance spontaneously
  • children collaborate easily at a distance. Teachers have more problems at the beginning.
  • Children learn to raise critical questions and react to it
When children were using integrated learning systems Leask (1995) reported:
  • increased confidence and pride at work
  • higher working rates
  • sustained motivation
  • increased reading skills
  • the possibility for students to work at their own pace
Other findings were:
  • e-mail messages tend to be an exchange of stories, messages.
  • most of the e-mails were task oriented and domain specific
  • exchanging personal information is necessary for a good emotional climate in the e-mail correspondence.
(Boersma et al. 1998)

The eldest large scale experiment for the use of telecommunications in primary schools in the Netherlands is located at the Edith Stein teacher training college in Hengelo(o). This institution started in 1993 with a center for telecommunications. More than four hundred primary schools and schools for special education in the Netherlands, some in Germany and Belgium were provided with internet e-mail, groups were formed and many projects and research activities were set up such as the integration of e-mail in language education and social science, the collaboration with a television station, the use of e-mail in a technology project for primary schools, design of webpages, and research amongst children by using internet.

When children started communicating by e-mail they became aware of the different values they had and also the values schools are trying to deal with.

Together with a national T.V. station children reacted on statements by e-mail. In a special program for children on Sunday morning an anthology of reactions was presented at the television. Again other children could react to this broadcasting.
Surprised by these discussion many teachers became aware of the great potential for values education within internet. They had their own discussions about use and misuse of the Internet e-mail groups. Some schools discussed the necessity of an acceptable use policy (A.U.P.) Some rules and values that are acceptable (or not) are formulated. In some cases parents have to sign a kind of contract in which they agree with the policy-rules of the school.
Other schools teached rules of behavior such as: flaming is not allowed by using e-mail.
When someone lashes out rudely during a discussion on the internet, it is commonly referred to as "flaming". Another rule was: always answer the one that reacted to your e-mail. Giving no reaction is very frustrating for the one responding to you and is perceived as flat behavior. It feels like being turned down. A kind of nettiquette (etiquette for net-use) was practiced.

In the beginning a weakening of social control can be observed. It is difficult to bring group pressure to bear on someone who cannot see frowns or disapproval. Communication by computer enhances the sense of personal freedom and individualism by reducing the existential engagement. Later on participants of a group often ask for someone who moderates the group and takes responsibility. The group then gets into discussion about norms and values underlying the communication process.

Educational systems like the international Freinet movement have a long tradition in dealing with language and moral problems in a child centered, constructivistic way. Modern internet tools are a logical extension of existing techniques for them.(Bronkhorst, 1994) They use techniques for communicating and collecting information for more then fifty years. Most of these techniques could be easily adapted to the use of Internet.

3.3 Learning activities.

Students and children can be involved in a lot of learning activities such as:

Information exchange.
This activity can involve many classes without becoming an overwhelming management task for teachers. Projects like these mostly start with a call for participation, well defined goals or questions and a time schedule.
Database creation.
This implicates not only the collecting but also the organization of information. Other students or children can use the information for further study.
Electronic publishing.
Many moral problems result in a paper, newspaper, literary magazine or electronic journal. Other students, children or teachers can react to it or take responsibility in giving marks.
Pooled data analysis.
When data are collected at multiple sites and combined for numeric or pattern analysis, specific learning opportunities are arising.
The most popular type of educational collaboration is by organizing keypals for students/children and have them exchange issues.
Global classrooms.
Two or more classrooms (located anywhere in the world) can study a common topic together during a previously specified time period.
Electronic mentoring.
Specialists from universities, churches, government, business or other relevant sectors of society can serve as electronic mentors for students/children wanting to explore specific topics of study in an interactive format on an ongoing basis. Here students can serve as mentors to other students and to children.

3.4 Realizing the environment.

Both learning environments(values education and language education) are hybrid products: they consist of a CD-ROM with integrated Internet access. At a later stage, when hardware conditions are solid enough to transport video to all schools, the environment could be fully presented by using the WWW facilities.
The CD-ROM consists of:

  • practical situations in which students deal with problems.
  • a database with background information
  • possibilities to create lessons (texts, video, pictures, cartoons and other materials to create one's own lessons.
  • Switches to Internet
The internet component consists of a site with the following options:
  • additional practical training situations in video and narrative form. Also an exchange option for practical ideas and products that can be discussed.
  • background information
  • newsgroups and discussion groups for student teachers, teachers and children from primary schools
  • educational background information, enabling students to create their own lessons.
  • at a later stage: options for video conferencing
  • mailing lists
Students will be able to contribute to a collective database and provide each other with ideas, reflections and materials. Essays will be classified and presented. A community of learners will be created by collaborating with other students. As in the Netherlands the educational system is organized at a religious or ideological basis, specific notion will be given to this aspect.

A special part of the Internet site is reserved for children in primary schools. Special newsgroups, discussion groups and information for them will be provided. Students act together in this section with children and their teachers and sometimes parents. They can have several roles such as:

  • organizing the site (classifying, adding themes etc.)
  • acting as a moderator in discussions (especially in the field of values education)
  • reacting as experts by providing information on request of children; reacting on publications of children
  • providing help by organizing projects in primary schools

In order to foster reflection both learning environments use the technique of embedded discussants. While looking at the video, discussants appear on the screen. They can be asked to give their opinion about what is happening actually. Amongst the discussants are: the teacher of the class, students of a teacher training college, a professor of a teacher training college and children from the class being teached.

4. The learning environment for morals and values.

In the Netherlands there is an ongoing discussion about the pedagogical task of schools, as in most Western countries. This means that attention must be paid to the development of values in general and also the development of specific values is often emphasized. Postmodernism postulates that there are no longer any fixed values. Accepting this point of view could easily lead towards neutralism or relativism.
The Dutch Ministry of Education started a project in 1996 which aims to develop an interactive multi media learning environment for students from schools of education and teacher training colleges. Five teacher training colleges with a different background (protestant, catholic, public) developed a prototype. After a revision more then twenty teacher training colleges are working with it. The educational concept for a second prototype is ready. (Meerveld, 1998). It is the intention of the Dutch Ministry of Education to collaborate after the first year of development with other European countries at this project.

The Dutch project "waarden en normen" intends to develop a multi media learning environment for student teachers, teachers and children. In this learning environment moral education has to be practiced and fostered especially for student-teachers. A projectteam coming from different teacher training colleges (protestant, catholic, public) was formed. The structure of the Dutch educational system is also built upon different religious and ideological streams.
In the first year (1996-1997) the projectteam produced a description of the multi media product and also presented a prototype of it. The second year (1997-1998) the learning environment was constructed disseminated amongst teacher training colleges in the whole country. At the same time collaboration with other European countries was foreseen. In a global society moral problems are no longer national problems, is the opinion ot the Dutch Ministry of Education. Due to changes in the organization of the national ICT plan and changes in funding the European collaboration was delayed in 1998.

The first prototype takes as an example "the bus". Traditional pitfalls in dealing with values education are presented. Respect for other people is the core value of this production. Students can choose their own way through the program.

A group of children is returning to school by bus from a visit to the swimming pool, together with their teacher. There are no seats available. An elder lady enters the bus. Nobody offers her a place to sit and she is very frustrated about this. After sending a letter to the school, in which she reproaches the teacher and her children for bad behavior in the bus the case develops.

The second prototype (to be constructed on CD-ROM) shows a day out of the life of some teachers. Teachers are followed during a whole day and a lot of situations regarding values education are presented: talking with children, discussing with parents, several lessons and the presence of values within it, a meeting with the colleagues, discussions with the family etc.

The website is under reconstruction and will be in full use by september 1998.
As a result of implementation activities a group of training colleges is using the first prototype. In 1998/1999 they will implement it for the first time regularly in their curriculum. A mailing list facility provides them with information and is the basis for exchange.
The use of video-conferencing is optional for the second prototype.
Research has been planned for 1998-1999 with emphasis on the use and effects of the environment and the subject contents.

5. The learning environment for language education.

The National Center for Language Education at the University of Nijmegen aims at improving the teaching and learning of Dutch language arts in elementary schools. By undertaking research and development projects, an attempt is made to discover and document those school conditions that encourage children to become skilled and motivated communicators and readers. Researchers from various disciplines conduct small-scale studies with teachers and students from widely differing socio-economic backgrounds in kindergarten through grade six with a special focus on the first four grades. In order to stimulate the professional development of teachers, collaborative research is undertaken into real classroom practices with the full participation of teachers, educators and counselors. In each of the projects collaboration is undertaken with the interested schools in a given location in the Netherlands.
Amongst the research and development projects are the following domains:
oral communication
vocabulary development
beginning literacy
reading comprehension
early intervention

One of the projects focuses on teacher training colleges. In addition and collaboration with the projects and domains mentioned multi media learning environments are constructed. They enable the students to be trained in the didactics of language in a constructivistic and interactive way. The total sum of products should be a multi medialised learning environment of language education.
The project started in august 1997. After making a description of the product the environment was produced and delivered to the Minister of Education in april 1998. The first prototype deals with the problem of how to motivate children for the process of reading. Two examples are shown on a CD-ROM. Students can choose their own way through the environment.
The Internet site provides additional information and opens a variety of discussion options.
Between april and juni 1998 the first data where gathered among students and teacher trainers. During august and the first half of September a revision will be undertaken. In the second half of September the first product is ready for use in the curricula of the participating teacher training colleges.
Together with participating teachers of the teacher training colleges a database was filled with basic concepts. This was done by using e-mail. For many teachers this was the first time they collaborated with each other by using e-mail. Results were presented and discussed and finally the CD-ROM was delivered.

The construction of the website led to a special arrangement for the use of newsgroups.
At the start of the project we wanted to use products like CSILE, Lotus learning space or similar products. A lot of them are available. A brief try out amongst teacher trainers who where novice in using these tools showed us however that this could be a bridge too far. Now a phased approach is in use:

  • as a first step we use a very simple list. Users only need to fill in their name, their comment and send their mail. This results in an unstructured amount of mail. At a certain point users ask to structure this. Then a second phase is introduced.
  • in the second phase we construct a moderately structured list, starting with the topics of the users
  • in the last phase a sophisticated tool can be chosen (WebCSILE, Lotus Learning Space or other relevant structured programs)
During the Months May and Juni 1998 explorative research was done in order to investigate the first experiences with the learning environment for language education.
Five teacher training colleges, spread out over the country, participated (5% of the total amount of Dutch colleges). Data were obtained by the following procedure:
orientating conversations with teachers and students in order to investigate the beginning situation of the participating colleges;
a questionnaire was filled in by teachers and students;
conversations with the participants in order to go more deeply into the information from the questionnaires;
integration of the obtained data.

Ten language teachers and twenty five students participated. The end of the academic year made it difficult to organize participation of students and teachers.

By constructing the questionnaire we used the "principles" suggested by Koschman(1996):
principle of multiplicity
principle of activeness
principle of accomodation
principle of authenticity
principle of articulation
principle of termlessness
Other questions we derived from the goals of the project, technical use of the product and implementational questions.

The learning environment was used in the second or third year (in the Netherlands the study takes four years). More then 80% of the teachers made additional suggestions for their students. All participating teacher training colleges will integrate the learning environment in their curricula for 1998-1999. Most of the colleges had their students work in pairs. That enabled them to discuss the presented environment.
Most teachers were very positive about the possibility of bridging the gap between theory and practice. They also liked the opportunities for students to reflect and work independent. For a few teachers the environment could be more open and the independence of the student greater.
The video scenes raised many discussion. About half of the participating teachers had remarks on the video scenes. All teachers observed the fact that, in spite of the fact that the scenes were not a perfect model, it raised many discussion amongst students. Teachers were very positive about these discussions. The fact that all students share the same experiences facilitates classical and group discussions.
Most of the teachers liked the presence of a database. This was a product made by themselves in cooperation by using the internet.
All teachers were positive about the user friendliness of the program and the design of the cd-rom. In spite of the fact that the majority of the participants were novices they could work easily with the learning environment. Some colleges had considerable problems with the installation of the environment in networks. The connection with internet also caused troubles at some institutes. Due to this fact the WWW discussion group had a slow start.
More than 80% of the teachers were positive about the support of the product from the side of the center for language education. They did not need more detailed on-site support. One teacher would like to have a detailed manual.

The questionnaire, filled in by students, had the form of a rating scale from 1 (negative) to 5 (very positive).
Students liked the aspect of active learning (average of 3.9) and independent working (4.3). They also appreciated the theoretical framework presented (3.9). The majority of the students had the opinion that the learning environment diminished the gap between theory and practice (3.9). The video movies are very important to them (3.8).
Due to the fact that WWW use at some places was not possible at the beginning students could not always answer the questions regarding this topic. They like to communicate with other students (4.0) and like the possibility of retrieving information from the Internet site(3.4)
Students formulated that presenting new educational or didactic aspects can be done optimal by using learning environments (4.1). This applies also specific to the renewal of reading programs (4.2).
Most of the students prefer working in pairs. That enables them to discuss the topics presented in the learning environment. Most of the students did not need many instruction. A minority preferred more detailed instruction or a brief manual.
Most of the students did not make much use of the database. This in contrast with the teachers.

The first results of the questionnaire show a tendency towards an increased motivation to learn the didactics of language arts with this learning environment. The Internet newsgroup shows the same result. Students are very positive about the possibilities of bridging the gap between theory and practice by using this learning environment.
The majority of the students is able to use the learning environment independent. This is also due to the fact that the user interface is described as very friendly and easy to handle.
In the category embedded discussants the female student is most present, followed by the teacher, the male student, the teacher trainer and the children.
Most of the students so far preferred an increase of reactions of children as embedded discussants. They really loved to hear the opinions and feelings of children immediately after the learning activities. They stated that this gave them very complete feedback on the effects of an educational activity. Many of them mentioned the fact that they were more focused on the reactions of children in classrooms after seeing this learning environment.
The teacher trainer was hardly chosen as an embedded discussant. So far we do not yet have a complete picture of the reasons fore that. The reactions of the classroom teacher were respected. Students found it in general very brave to show yourself to such a lot of people. They praised the fact that their colleague presented herself so vulnerable. Working with embedded discussants is seen as a stimulus to discuss and build your own opinion by most of the students.
The user interface and design are described as very friendly by the students.
Although independent learning is preferred many students state that they would not like to see the whole learning process taken over by multi media learning environments. Human approach by a teacher has to be an important element of the learning situation.

Analysis of the participation in discussion groups for four weeks shows the following results:

Participation in the discussion group.(WWW)
Results after four weeks of use (n=45)

Teacher trainers  21%

Topics in the discussion group.

Technical remarks and questions (about hardware, installation etc.)  8.8%
Remarks regarding the topic (reading motivation)42%
General remarks46.7%

Amongst the general remarks were many emotional elements like:
presenting yourself, compliments, pleasure and amazing.
After the first weeks a tendency towards more topic oriented remarks could be observed

Investing in integrated learning environments for teacher training colleges tends to be a wise decision of the Dutch government. As more research has been done after the effects of the environments on practical training we will be able to have a better answer to the question in what way these multi media learning environments can be useful to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

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Participants and project teams.

Project multi media integrated learning environment for Values and morals:

The participating teacher training colleges responsible for the development are:

Katholieke Pabo Zwolle
Christelijke Hogeschool Windesheim
Rijkshogeschool Ijselland
Gereformeerde Hogeschool Zwolle
Hogeschool Edith Stein/Onderwijscentrum Twente

The project team consists of:

John Bronkhorst
Hans Meerveld
Johan Valstar
Albert Vrolijk

Project address:
Hogeschool Edith Stein
M.A. de Ruyterstraat 3
7556 CW Hengelo(o)
Voice +31 74 2559100
Fax + 31 74 2559191

Project multi media integrated learning environment for Language Education.

Responsible for the development of the learning environment:

National center for Language Education, University of Nijmegen
Thirteen teacher training colleges were involved in constructing the first prototype of the learning environment.

The project team consists of:

John Bronkhorst
Jos Hoffs
Harry Paus

Project address:
Expertisecentrum Nederlands
University of Nijmegen
Postbus 9104
6500 HE Nijmegen
Voice +31 24 3615624
Fax +31 24 3615644

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