Thursday, November 4, 2010

Post 2 - Film-Making and QT

Besides standing as an excellent example of an Authentic Task based on Project Based Learning, the task of taking a film from concept to fruition fulfills many aspects of the NSW Quality Teaching framework. Quality Teaching aims to develop deep learning and understanding, rather than a shallow surface knowledge. By integrating assessment within an authentic task, students have been encouraged to develop deep knowledge and deep understanding, both facets from the Intellectual Quality dimension of the QT framework. Throughout the task, students have not merely learnt about the use of technologies in the classroom, but have been actively engaged in the creation of a digital artifact. The level of understanding and knowledge I’ve personally developed through actually using the technologies, from Macs to Digital Cameras to Final Cut Pro, far exceeds that which I could have developed through rote learning. Encouraging students to interact with technologies rather than merely learning about them has, at least in my case, fostered the development of a sound understanding and knowledge, and I’m now confident in my ability to use these technologies.

In addition to focusing the development of Intellectual quality, the film making task has also encouraged a Quality Learning Environment, the second dimension to the QT model. As Killen (2007) states, when creating a QLE, teachers should "create learning experiences that are interesting, challenging and realistic, and that give students opportunities to work collaboratively on open-ended tasks" (Killen, 2007, p.25). Considering the comments in my previous posting, it is clear that this task fulfills these requirements. Specifically within the QLE dimension, this task encourages the facets of Learner Self-Regulation and of Learner Choice. Throughout the task, groups were largely expected to direct their own behaviours and attempts to learn. While the teacher remained on hand offer guidance of help with problems, this structure encouraged students to set goals, monitor progress and chose strategies (Zimmerman, 1989 in Killen, 2007, p.29) independently of the teacher. Likewise, the structure of the task allowed and indeed expected learner choice. Working within the framework defined by the teacher, students were given opportunity to not only choose the subject of their film, but to make decisions and solve problems relevant to the design process.

The film making task also well covers the third dimension of the QT model, that of Significance. The task clearly seeks to emphasise the relevance and significance of the project, Killen again, "Students need to be able to see that the things they are learning are relevant to them and significant to their understanding of their world." (Killen, 2007, p.29). Within the Significance dimension, the task is particularly adept at including the student's Background Knowledge, and of emphasising the Connectedness of the task. Allowing such a large amount of student self-direction gave students opportunity to utilise their background knowledge and skills. Within my group, all members used their particular strengths for the advancement of the project. The structure of the task, in allowing students to allocate their own roles, encouraged this use of background knowledge. In addition, the task clearly encouraged connectedness, focusing on building skills and knowledge which students see as real and relevant to life outside of university.

While it is clear that this task is well situated within the confines of Quality Teaching model, it also seeks to engage students through use of digital technologies and through providing an opportunity to challenge and extend their knowledge.

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