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Find here all the comments that were given during the first week of the Virtual Forum on Quality.

Forum on "Quality standards set by communities of knowledge – are they necessarily conservative? "
Week I
Moderator: Dov Winer

Title:    They are not against
Name:  Trigari

Message: Quality standards set by communities of knowledge - are they necessarily conservative?
Quality standards set by communities of knowledge - are they necessarily conservative?
Starting from your first question: "are the expectations from teachers too conflicting and demanding?" I would say that teachers are the target of a lot of demanding expectations - it's true - but that doesn't necessarily create resistance to new technologies and new teaching/learning resources. Teachers are ever more confronted with skilled WEB-surfer pupils, with educational publishers changing their policy and with a huge change in accessing  information in every field. They feel that they have to cope with all these new realities. Thus, - generally speaking - they won't drive back new teaching resources a priori, and that - volentes or nolentes,  just to survive.
What is going on - in my opinion - is a logical process of progressive adjustment, which has hopefully not to be abandoned to a natural course, but managed and assisted:
¨ At a first stage, teachers will only ask for quality products that simply support their 'traditional' class work (full texts of literary works, sets of images, sets of exercises, up-dated statistical data; articles of WEB periodicals, etc. etc.); in the light of Kuhn theory of scientific revolutions, I wouldn't disdain this use, which, managed by good teachers, still solves a lot of teaching/learning problems. I wouldn't be so absolutist in judging quality = novelty tout court. Even accepting the constructivist approach as a very challenging revolution, there are learning processes still effectively regulated by more conservative approaches.
¨ At a second - and/or parallel - stage, I think that teachers will progressively get used to a different approach, capable of making the best of the totally new information organisation on the WEB, provided they have opportunities of changing from 'communities of interest' into 'communities of practice', according to the definitions of these communities in the background paper.
This is - in my opinion - the crucial point:
Teachers will make a contructivist use of new resources (and will understand the quality standards related to this use) when they will master new technologies not only from a technical point of view, but also (and more) from an epistemological point of view. This cannot be innate knowledge, or just learning by doing. It demands a strong national and international initiative for initial and in-service training in the form of scientific analysis, critical thinking, evaluation of the problem as a whole. At the moment - at least at my knowledge - this sort of training is not yet so pervasive as it should be. When I wonder if it's perceived as a priority, I rather feel it is often taken for granted rather than considered from a problem solving point of view.

Provisional conclusion:
quality standards set by communities of teachers will be only conservative (in the sense: applied to as you want revolutionary materials but with no awareness of them being related to a new approach in the construction of the knowledge) until a strong widespread initiative of in-service training will take place, an initiative not mainly focused on computer literacy and technicalities, but rather oriented on cognitive aspects.  At that moment the demand for quality products will take into account also aspects dealing with the specificity of a virtual learning environment and with the specificity of mental processes involved in that learning environment

Marisa Trigari (INDIRE - Italy)

Title:    Re:They are not against
Name:  Dippe

Message: I've been actively involved in ITiS (an IT-pedagogical competence development program for F-12 and adult education in Sweden which involves roughly half of all teachers in our country) at different levels and not least as a teacher educator.

I agree with Marisa that teachers get way too little of training in "scientific analysis, critical thinking, evaluation of the problem". But training is but a small part of the problem.

Teachers rely on their knowledge gained in practicing their profession together with discussing this practice with colleagues. They don’t discuss the pedagogical-theoretical foundations on which their work rest. They don't even have a language for this since the only time they used it were in teacher's education which for most teachers are a very long time ago.

The reason is simple: The lack of practiced pedagogical leadership in our schools.
Tight budgets force principals to focus their energy on administration which leaves very little time for anything else.
How can we even expect teachers to be progressive when resources are extremly sparse combined with a nowadays much tougher social climate for their pupils/students?
The problem is alarming to such an extent that the Swedish government decided to force the municipalities to employ more people (not necessarily teachers) in the schools.

Who discusses in the media what happens in our schools? We know that it is not the teachers anyway. Try to imagine this scenario for any other large group of professionals in our society.
Why? Basically it is the same reason as for the principals. Having 30 or even 35 pupils where sometimes 1/3 or more come from socially very harsh environments is a very challenging job which most of us can’t even imagine. They need support from the school to make a good job but there are no psychologists, nurses or social workers anymore to help the pupils in need. They cost too much and it is the principal, teachers and their pupils who pay the price. The surrounding society doesn’t seem to support them either.

So the teachers try to find strategies to “survive” in their occupation. Critical thinking and reflection are a luxury when you have so many practical matters to take care of and so little time to solve them all. This cannot be changed by more courses for the teachers. There must be time given for the teachers to actively engage in these matters together with a reinforced pedagogical leadership. To make this possible is the big challenge for our politicians.

We pay much attention to web based resources which I think is quite valueable but if we put our work into a larger context, will it make any difference? I hope we can put forth an example which might trigger a broader quality debate and also extend the quality work to other areas which are valuable and useful to our teachers and ultimately make our pupils better prepared for the future.

I should remark that I can only refer to the situation in Sweden but at least major parts of what I wrote can be controlled against research.

Title:             Re:Re:They are not against
Name:           rimon

Message: I fully agree with Dippe. What we expect from teachers is unparalleled in other professions. In  business you have diferent departments to support the business process. In the case of ICT, we should expect that some IT professionals should be in the school, not only supporting operational aspects, but in a constant dialog with teachers: understanding the problems the teacher is facing, and helping the teacher making him aware of the technologies and method available to him to try new approaches in teaching. In the best case, such function is filled by some outside visitor (county, education ministery, etc.). But only a continued dialog of IT professionals and teachers working together and cooperating can lead to the apropriate climate of cooperation.

Title:  Re:They are not against
Name:   riina

Message: I would like to take upon the point of teacher training. The dilemma that I see there is lack of "self reflection". No matter how advanced the pedagogical trends taught to teacher trainees are, without deeper reflective examination of one's beliefs and motives in teaching, the outcome is very narrow.

What I have observed in the teacher training program (the one I passed in Finland) is that trainees usually, when in front of the classroom (yes, notice the conventional setting), they "retrograde" to re-play the same teaching scenario that they had when they were at school, i.e. play the role of the teacher who taught them good 10-15 years earlier.

Evoking point is that many time when talking about teaching these same trainees might give much progressive view of it. But the lack of professional experience in the situation of teaching freezes the new progressive schemes and bring back the old memories.

I had a professor (whom we very much hated at the time, and to whom I give a lot of credit now) who forced us to do "self reflection" exercises. We had to write a journal of our professional thought and usually share it with others to be ripped off. We also had a peer reviewing process going on at our student teaching classes. This meant a hard aftermath of questioning and reasoning, why did you do this?, or why did you make them do it like that?

This helped me to realise that so many things pass unconsciously when in a situation of teaching. A way we ask questions, from whom, make students to participate, resolve a panicking unexpected situation, is usually very biased and related to our automatic mechanisms that we are not aware of.

So in my opinion quality of teaching could be enhanced in exercising more "self reflection" and deeper reflective examination of one's motives in teaching, its innovations and how that could be related to the better learning in any situation. And this not to do only when teacher trainee, but all along the career!

Title:  Is extent of use a measure of quality?
Name:   rimon

Message: I would like to sugest that “extent of use” is a relevant criterion for “quality”. In Management Information Science, it is common practice to consider the voluntary use (as oposed to forced use based on organizational policy – a teller in a bank, for instance) of an Information System as a measure of its success and value. For a teacher considering the use of an educational resource, the number of peers that already used it is a relevant consideration.

Title:  Re:Is extent of use a measure of quality?
Name:   abeckers

Message: There can be various reasons why the use of one is more frequent than the other. Frequent use is not a quality measure for: there is no known good alternative, nobody started to review the current processes,the system is rigid etc. Your example of a teller. What/who is better quality: the teller or the 'cash dispenser' on the outside wall of a bank? Quality defines success as the summit of efficiency , flexibility (can I use the info in different situations),quality (is it clear from all sides without (possible)errors,timeliness (is it there when I need it). Quality is also when at the design all concerns of parties involved have been taken notice off in the final design. The designers should have been able to look even in the future and have it prepared for it. The success of the resource must incapsulate all 4 items. The trouble is, that the communication, the conveyer of information, is subjective. The perception differs from person to person. Does this mean you can only teach hard facts?

Title:           Re:Re:Is extent of use a measure of quality?
Name:          rimon

Message:  In the case of the teller, his use of the inforamtion system is part of his job dexcription, and
he has no choice but using it to perform his job. The use of the kiosk, on the other side is voluntary and if it
is used, it can measure quakity (perceived value/usefulness). I remember hearing an anectode some years
ago that in Germany banks tried to put cash dispensers to facilitate senior citizens to cash their pensions. It
didn't work: they keeped standing in the queue waiting for the human cashiers: after some inquiry, it turned
out that for many of them, the human conversation was more important than the time they spent waiting -
The moral is: if people *voluntarly* use a system (in this case the human teller), when they have an
alternative, it is because it fulfill a need.

Title:  Re:Re:Re:Is extent of use a measure of quality?
Name:   abeckers

Message: Exactly.
Tobe moer precise the service delivered is added value to the demander. I want to stop the discussion about the teller and the cash-dispenser because it would take us too far away.

Would you say the perceived amount of added value is a measure of quality to the receipient? It is hard to taylor information via an electronic medium, but if we would be able to 'supply' the same information on various ways, so that many of the different learning types would embrase it, would this fulfil a need?

I doubt if in near future electronic knowledge conveyers can be that good to substitue part of the need.

Reason for this is that we miss a mindset and the ability to absorb large parts of information via a static screen. (If you have a long text we still want to print it before reading)

Title:  Something about innovation
Name:   rimon

Message: Blaming the teachers for conservationism behavior and as inhibitory to change is a fairly spread argument. On the other hand, we can observe that in a group of schools with the same catching area of teacher population, diferent degrees of innovation can be found. Even in countries like Israel, with a centralized allocation of resources to schools, some are known for their innovative approach, some for their conservativism. The teachers are simillar, the resources allocated the same – so what can explain the diference? One direction could be that the determininge variable leading to innovation could be an organizational one, not an individual of a specific teacher. It would be interesting to found some characteristics common to ENIS schools, in contrast to a random sample of similar shools. In Israel, in a resarch conducted by a former teacher in Shaar Hanegev High School, Ora Oz, she found that some organizational variables could explain the differences in use of ICT in schools. Her work was based on the “absorptive capacity model” by Boynton, Zmud, Jacobs

Title:  Re:Something about innovation
Name:   Fichera

Message: thank you Rimon! you help me to render explicit my uneasiness with quoted sentences of Mr Haas. There is a logical contraddiction between the first issue (quality standards etc..) and the opinion of Mr Haas. Were users-teachers the ones who say at the same time those resources are 'experiences stressing etc…' and who say we don't like to use them? Stressing importance of communities of practice for evaluating innovative educational resources shoud mean stressing the role of an evaluation process which holds together users-reources-activities with those resources. Maybe this is an application of the 'organisational variable' introduced by Rimon. This is I think also the meaning of importance of best practices. Media are invented by scientists as well by users. The radio of Marconi was thought just for S.O.S. messages! We need to see how innovative teachers, and the example of ENIS teachers of course is very interesting, are inventing with their pupils new uses of new resources. annamaria

Title:  Re:Something about innovation
Name:   ton

Message: The current exam culture seems to be another factor that may hinder constructivistic approaches in education at secondary schools (primary education, in NL at least, seems to be more flexible: more indepedent learning, differentiation in content and tasks take place).
Designing (textbook choice is usually also conservative)and coaching independent learning is difficult (new roles, new relations , new skills for all  actors concerned), there is even less experience in assessing the outcomes (Dalton and Montessori-schools excluded).
Finally I hear teachers often say that modern approaches are simply not suitable for less talented students. They would be needing much more structured tasks.

Title:  Are the expectations from teachers too conflicting and demanding?
Name:   riina
Message: This is the first, maybe slightly provocative question, asked by Dov Winer, the moderator of this weeks quality-forum. Well, what do you think...?

Title:  A few thoughts
Name:   Carmen

Message: Hi everyone! The topics of this first part of the workshop are very interesting, very actual, but also very comprehensive. As we all work in education, in different fields, we understand and assume the need for change in the way we learn and teach. I always think that a good teacher is one for whom the highest expectations come from himself, and also is one who adapts creatively the innovation to his own style of teaching, I think the states should do more to support the teachers - and it seems that the things move in this direction: in-service training programs should be continued by peer-to-peer collaborations, by creating communities of learning, best-practice ( such workshops should be generalized at every level, and the teachers themselves can organize them ), strategies and sustainability ( even in their salary ) of teachers, as their continuos development to be recognized and also for not to migrate to industry ( where their special capacities are almost always better evaluated ). Carmen

Title:  my trivial comment of the day
Name:   Legenvre

Message: If I might try an analogy this would be the following: Take a french man (or woman) . Ask him to test drive an automatic car. He will hate it. Go and ask french man (or woman) that has been driving an automatic car for many months (because they live in the states for instance) then you will find some of them that will say that they like it. If you do not know how to swim, you do not feal like jumping in the swimming pool, when you know how to swim then you might actually enjoy it For the situation you mention the questions that needs to be asked could be Do professor have a clear picture of what they want to achieve? Do they feal supported and guided to go toward this vision Do they have this support? Do they clearly see what is in it for them? Do they have some kingd of incentive to go in this direction? Do they have the possibility to experiment in a secured environment? And we could add many question to the list...

Title:  Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   Dov

Message: Dear Legenvre, Your comment is not trivial at all. You suggest that the context of use is the determinant of the readiness to innovate and thus of the norms that will orient quality decisions by teachers. Would you have some suggestions or examples of context leading to innovation and others impending it in the educational system? Regards, Dov Dov Winer

Title:  Re:Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   Legenvre

Message: By context, I understand assumptions To give a bit more of background to my statement, I would refer to the notion of paradigm as it was applied to scientific discoveries. We all tend to see the world with the same lenses, concepts and tools. This is a paradigm. How can we judge the physics of Einstein when we still believe in the one of Newton. It takes a bit of time to surface collective assumptions To move from one paradigm to another, we need early evidence that the old paradigm is no longer true or that it could be re-interpreted, then we need some people to innovate as they want to go beyond the status quo. Some people will recognise those achievements before others , they could be qualified as Early Adopters. Then, a critical mass of Followers can be created. Then the idea becomes obsolete when another paradigm is appearing. This is also known as the life cycle concept when you look at innovation My comments about the environment (resources, incentives, training,...)are expressed with the assumption that some new means of learning have been identified, that some people have used and validated them and that we need to go from the innovation phase to the building of a group of early adopters

Title:  Re:Re:Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   abeckers

Message: Legenvre, I like your view about concepts and tools, early adopters and phases. allow me complete it with my experiences. You assume that some people have used and validated some new means of learning. This is right in a very narrow field of education: computer related courses. There is a simple reason for this: people in this field passed the threshold of computer technology. For people that do not understand progamming languages and related things are not that clear and easy to tackle. (Knowing how the browse through the vast amount of internet resources is almost a science) On the other hand education in electronic form is still to be defined. We already know that a simple 'slide show' combined with multiple choice is not enough to stimulate learning. For learning we use many scenses, talk, listen, hear, creativity and so on. Many groups are trying to give an answer about the 'how'. The workshop we are in now, is an example to test, to see and above all to learn. Writing an answer to your issue is even a form of learning. Knowledge grows the more you exhange views and opinions. Learning stands for willingness to change. Change is linked with quality. It is important when you intend to learn that you do it first time right. I believe to a certain extend that teachers with years of experience daily include best practices in their class. Have you ever had the feeling two classes you gave are exactly the same? I do not think we are in a phase yet, although close, to be called early adopters. Now is the time to do it first time right. Added value for the pupils makes them want to adopt it. In my view this quality in learning: be that good that you rarely need campains (positive or negative) to have these initiatives adopted. The thing that interests me is which models do 'best' teachers use, and how can we use this knowledge to create an electronic support for pupils? I would be curious to see a rough drawing -not techniques- of such a model class.

Title:  Re:Re:Re:Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   Legenvre

Message: Very interesting comments

Do you believe there is a best in class model?

I do not...

I feal we have:

Students with some
-Educational needs,
-Expectations regarding their learning experience,
-previous knowledge,
-existing IT skills,
-desire to learn or not...

Topics that requires different type of training/learning means:
-topics encompassing a lot of tacit knowledge (Basketball skills)
-topics encompassing a lot of explicit knowledge (Basketball rules)
-topics for which it is practical to develop simulations
-topics for wich conversations can be an efficient way of learning

Teachers that master or not IT
Teacher that like using computers and other that do not

and much more parameters to adress before we find the best possible situation that can be found for a specific situation within constraints of time, cost and accessibilaty of content and IT tools...

Title:  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   abeckers
Message: Let my rephrase my issue. I do think that every teacher uses concious or sunconsious a model-framework/structure- that works best for him. If that teacher gives more and more classes the model becomes refind over and over again. At a certain stage the refinement becomes relatively little. He/she came to a 'best' class.

Agreed that there always will be different kind of students, their attitude and perception vary even day by day. Maybe the fundamentals of quality can give a hold.
Quality looks at the total traject that has to be gone through. From idea to design to delivery and having feedback. In quality teams this is known as the Shewhart cycle. The problem that occurs is that in quality there are no prescribtions that tell you  exactly how you should proceed to achieve "zero defects". In our case meaning 100% transmission and receipt of the message in the orriginal form. From the receipient it is known that he tries to link the new information with his set of knowledge and that it becomes kind of subjective the longer time has passed before reproduction. (That is why we ask the pupils in elementary school to repeat and speak al-out what the teacher said)

Quality as I mentioned before is also about repeatability of an action. Being able to reproduce an item with the same outcome as before, means that the system is in control. Back to technology supported class. Do you think the lack of direct contact with the students puts you out of control? Do you think "we" will be able to design a system that attracks students and gives you control? Control like a collaborative effort of content providers e.g. teachers? It would therefore be important that a class will consist of various items that tickels the various sences of the student?

Title:  Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   Vasiliki

Message: Hi everyone!I wish to share with you the experiences I gained from my work with teachers. I noticed that teachers are willing to learn and test new methods, concepts, and tools as long as they are convinced that they might advance their work with the pupils. In order to continue and succeed, even if they have all the necessary tools, they need - appart from being familiar with the medium - to have some support and most importantly incentives. I have to admit that I am a little bit sceptical with the idea of 'early adopters', since I believe that the innovation concerns all the members of the school community and effort should be placed to apply in all (if possible at the beginning) aspects of the daily work at school.In practice, I know that it is not really feasible due to various constraints, but I am more and more convinced that we should work in this direction.

Title:  Re:Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   Legenvre
Message: I give credit to your hopes but the innovation life cycle (entrepreneurs-early adopters-mass use-decline) is something that has been witnessed for all new technology and also organisational innovation. What we might do is to accelerate the pace at which it is adopted.

Title:  Re:my trivial comment of the day
Name:   margit

Message: Hi Legenvre!
Comming back to your example - That is actually the point:

a) a teacher today is more or less forced to test a car (if he likes it or not), but the preassure to be innovative is clearly growing.

b) the choice of cars is too big

c) and there is not really any advice which one you should test first and/or how to handle it

The question is if one can eliminate good from bad through quality criterias....



Title:  Re:Re:my trivial comment of the day

Message: Margit

Sopme checklist exist, I will try to find some references (if I can attach documents somewhere around)

they might be more relevant for adult learning. but this is a starting point anyway.

Nevertheless as I said somewhere else I do not believe in a one best solution or model some are more or less appropriated to different situations, needs and context

Name:   Legenvre



Author: Riina Vuorikari
Web Editor: Riina Vuorikari
Published: Tuesday, 9 Oct 2001
Last changed: Tuesday, 9 Oct 2001