M11 - Developing learning communities

Introduction

Why do students enjoy some classes and loathe others? Sometimes it can boil down to the particular disposition of individuals within the class, but alternatively it may be because of the learning environment that has been established. If students feel safe, respected, supported and motivated, they are more likely to engage with the subject being taught and thus succeed in their learning.
This Module addresses the question "What is a quality learning environment?" and provides strategies for how to create one. This includes the introduction of a range of online technologies that may be used to encourage positive interaction and collaboration between students in your units.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • describe attributes of positive learning communities and outline strategies that can be used to create them
  • explain how different technologies can be used to facilitate interaction and collaboration between students.

Module Structure

This module covers the following topics:


Establishing engaging learning environments

The learning environment is the physical and social space in which learning occurs. While this includes what happens in formal class times, in this module we are interested in a wider learning environment. At first sight, it may seem that how students interact without us present is beyond our control. Brook and Oliver (2003) suggest a range of factors to consider when attempting to design and implement engaging learning environments. They identify both presage (prior to implementation) factors: the design of the learning systems, consideration of the learning context, and understanding student needs; and process (during implementation) factors: providing reason and context, enabling and supporting communication, and facilitating learning. These are shown in the context of online learning environments in Table 1 and Table 2 respectively.

Table 1. Presage factors to consider when designing learning environments (Brook & Oliver, 2003)

When teaching mathematics at university, several of the systemmany structural factors will be determined externally by the centralgeneral and departmental university learning and teaching policies and infrastructure.;- Tthe academic level of the unit (first year versus final year), whether the unit is elective or core, and whether the unit is a service unit shouldwill influence the nature of material presented. For instance, a more structured and supportive approach may be appropriate with first year service units, whereas final year mathematics majors may appreciate a higher level of independence and challenge. One of the challenges with larger units is to design an environment where students still feel like they are valued as individuals and not just one of the crowd. Creating opportunities for students to collaborate with peers and tutors may addressminimise any feelings of anonymity and disconnection that are sometimesmay be experienced in larger classes.

Table 2. Process factors to consider when designing a learning environment (Brooks & Oliver, 2003)

When it comes to implementing mathematics units, it is particularly important that students see how the learning activities that are being prescribed relate to the real world - if they feel like they are engaging with others in authentic tasks then they are much more likely to feel positive about the class. Teachers can apply a range of strategies to enable communication between mathematics students during semester, including establishing peer assisted learning networks; providing a schedule of drop-in times for students who would like extra support; establishing open communication channels via email and/or the unit website; and creating online forums so that students can get assistance from their peers. During the initial stages of semester it is important that the unit co-ordinator establishes positive communication protocols, and this may include explicit descriptions of how students should interact with one another, as well as the modelling of positive communication.

Task 11.1 Reflecting on learning environment dimensions

Consider the following questions in light of the mathematics units you teach or will be teaching.

  1. Which of Brooks and Oliver's (2003) factors do you think are the most challenging to implement? Why?
  2. What are some mathematics-specific issues that might arise when attempting to attend to the factors identified by Brooks and Oliver (2003)?
  3. Are there any other factors that you think deserve consideration?

Active and collaborative learning

Providing students with opportunities to work together in class can greatly enhance learning outcomes. It enables students to consider other perspectives or approaches to a problem, to share and critique their own ideas, and to develop important communication skills within the discipline area. We have presented ideas and resources for in-class group work in several of the earlier modules.

One reservation teachers may have relates to the assessment of students when they work in groups. Student concerns about assessment can undermine open and effective interactions in group work. The Self And Peer Assessment Resource Kit (SPARKPLUS), in Module 10, is an online peer- and self-assessment resource kit to facilitate the assessment of an individual’s contribution to a group project or activity (Self and Peer Assessment Resource Kit, n.d.).

In order to establish a positive group environment a teacher may decide to conduct initial peer introduction activities. ‘Icebreaker’ is a term given to activities that are designed to encourage discussion and help people get to know one another in a relaxed, structured and enjoyable way, relieving collective anxieties about participating in a group. Using them in class can set the scene for ongoing interactions. Links on this subject include:

However, icebreakers may have limited learning outcomes associated with them, so they should be used thoughtfully and in moderation; ideally you should think about how you might incorporate learning outcomes into the activities. For example, one suggestion from the resources above is to get groups to work together to come up with five questions that all have the same given answer - so, you could make the answer something mathematical and relevant to your current topic.

‘Active learning’ refers to the behaviours and attitudes associated with self-directed, self-motivated and independent learning. Active learners take the initiative to ask questions, to select appropriate learning and study strategies, and to monitor their own levels of success. In earlier modules, you have also met ideas for introducing active learning activities into lectures and tutorials. Knight describes the interconnection of active engagement and connection to other students:

“Engagement does not simply equate to the amount of involvement in and time on task, important though that is. It extends to learners’ engagement in communities of practice, to their involvement in a variety of networks and to the amount and quality of interchanges with others.” (Knight, 2002, p. 275)

Ideally, you want students to continue to experience the benefits of group interactions, and hence to be active learners, outside timetabled classes. That learning is enhanced through socially supported interactions was one of the Seven principles of learning introduced in Module 1.

Collaborative or peer learning, as the name suggests, involves an environment where students (peers) teach and learn from one another. Peer learning is underpinned by social constructivism. Social constructivism is a branch of learning theory that has its roots in the work of Lev Vygotsky (1978). For Vygotsky, learning results from the interaction and social discourse between facilitators and students and between students themselves. Social constructivist accounts of learning argue that we do not simply accumulate knowledge of the world as if we are stockpiling pre-existing facts, but we actually construct our own unique understandings of the world, constructions that are mediated both by our individual experiences and by the social context in which learning takes place (Schunk, 2008).

In a collaborative learning environment the students themselves become the resource for information and knowledge. They help each other to understand course content by asking and answering each other's questions, providing examples and explaining concepts, solving problems and working together towards the common goal of learning course content.
In setting boundaries for interactions, you should make it clear to students the distinction between collaboration and collusion, particularly if they are expected to submit individual assignments or projects. This may be identified in your university’s academic integrity information.

Task 11.2 Comparison between lecture and collaborative formats

The following table summarises some differences between a traditional lecture setting and a collaborative learning setting. For each of the elements in Table 3, provide an example of your own experiences with collaborative learning or collaborative learning experiences (including online experiences) that you have provided for your students.

Table 3. Comparison between a traditional lecture setting and a collaborative learning setting (Lipsky, 2011)

Lecture format Collaborative format Examples
The lecture relays information to students, who assume a passive role Students communicate with each other and assume an active role  
Learning involves individual, isolated effort Learning involves shared, team effort  
Students primarily listen and take notes, allowing them to exert minimal attention and thought Within a group, students review content and solve problems, requiring them to think critically and to communicate  
Students tend to position themselves among peers who are familiar to them Conducive to heterogeneous groupings; promotes diverse relationships among students  

Post your response to this task to the discussion board . Before you do, check out other participants’ responses, and see if you have a different idea to contribute. Ask other people about their experiences.

Some teachers have successfully applied methods for promoting diverse relationships among students that were completely low-tech: for example, making available an unused space, with plentiful chalk, to third year students, and providing just enough support to see a mathematics student society established.

Some important things to consider when setting up collaborative learning include consideration of how the session will be structured; how a comfortable and trusting learning environment will be created; the setting of expectations of behaviour and interaction; and the incorporation of activities that are meaningful and challenging. Some examples of collaborative activities are solving a set of problems, developing model answers, evaluating each others' solutions, and predicting exam questions.

PeerWise (The University of Auckland, 2011a) supports students in writing their own revision questions and is a fantastic way to create good peer support in classes. The skills gained by designing questions help students manage examinations. This program is well worth a look.

Other examples of activities that support collaborative learning may be found in:

  • Barkley, E.F., P. Cross, & Major, C.H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Boss.
  • Lucas, R. (2007). Creative learning: activities and games that really engage people. San Francisco, CA: Pfieffer.

Peer tutoring – Peer Assisted Study Skills (PASS)

Peer tutoring and related peer learning techniques - such as peer-assisted learning (PAL), peer-assisted study sessions (PASS), or supplemental instruction (SI) - are excellent ways to create learning communities. These programs provide a relaxed environment for peers to interact and collaborate, developing their understandings of the course content and advancing their study skills. In general, PASS consists of senior students assisting more junior colleagues with their learning, and with settling in to university studies. There are several benefits of peer tutoring in university mathematics: to improve the supply and quality of tutors for mathematics subjects (Oates, Paterson, Reilly & Statham, 2005); to improve the learning of those who are doing the peer teaching (Griffin & Griffin, 1998); to prepare students for teaching situations in the workplace (Wood & Smith, 2007); and, more pragmatically, to provide services that are outside the university or department budget. In service teaching, it brings students into contact with students further into the same course, who can describe the relevance of the mathematics of early years to later subjects.

There are several examples of successful peer learning programs. The University of Wollongong has a comprehensive PASS program with training for leaders and co-ordinators (University of Wollongong, n.d.). The University of Pretoria in South Africa runs a successful SI program that is facilitated by senior students; this has been found to be a cost-effective way of delivering support, particularly for disadvantaged students. Bidgood, Saebi and Gay (2010) describe some examples of PAL programs from the UK. All these programs report significant improvement in the results of the participants and considerable personal and professional development for the tutors. Some universities have introduced peer tutoring courses for undergraduate credit. For example, the University of Auckland, New Zealand, has a course called Tutoring in Mathematics (The University of Auckland, 2011b), while Macquarie University has a similar unit, Learning and Teaching in Business (Macquarie University, 2011); such courses prepare students for tutoring in a variety of areas. Students who participate as peer tutors usually receive very positive feedback in student appraisals.

This kind of learning can help create a wider community of learning amongst students in mathematics. By encouraging students to work together and utilise the intellectual resources of their peers, peer learning positions students as independent learners, equipped not only for the challenges of their course but also the wider context of lifelong learning.

Communities of practice

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do who then learn how to do it better because they interact regularly. Three critical elements of communities of practice include:

  • the domain (particular field)
  • the community (interact in order to learn)
  • the practice (developing a shared repertoire of resources).

Activities may include requests for information, seeking experience, sharing assets, combining efforts, discussing developments, documenting ideas, visits, forming knowledge and identifying gaps (see this excellent summary about communities of practice (Wenger, 2006)).

Communities of practice can be very helpful for lecturers as well as students; engaging in the discussion board in this unit may have been such an experience for you. If you are lucky, you may be part of a community of practice of people interested in student-centred learning within your institution. (If not, can you start one?)

One excellent way to implement collaborative learning for academics is ‘peer observation’ of teaching, in which professional educators observe each other’s classes and offer support by discussing the features of the teaching practice. In this model, lecturers learn from other lecturers, in the same way that students can learn from other students. Paterson, Thomas and Taylor (2011) describe a project where a small group of university mathematicians and mathematics educators formed a group to re-examine their lecturing practice, by videoing and then discussing segments of lectures. While peer observation (or ‘critical friendship’) is often used as a resource by beginning teachers, it can be effective at any level: Schuck (2011) talks about using this approach to ‘disrupt’ her assumptions about teaching, and to challenge the complacency that can come with experience. These variations show that peer learning at any level can form the basis of effective professional development in mathematics. This has been described in detail in Module 7.

Online learning communities

Online learning communities are learning communities where interactive technology ‘facilitates’ the community's collaboration. Key benefits include:

  • access to expertise and peers that may not otherwise have been available
  • organisation and facilitation of more effective collaboration
  • the ability to provide collaborative support across time zones, continents via asynchronous mode
  • the ability to provide instantaneous support using synchronous collaborative tools.

There are a range of tools that can be used to set up online learning communities, however the most common in the university context is the Learning Management System.

Learning Management System (LMS)

The provision of online access to unit material can be achieved by a fairly simple web page. However, a learning management system will also allow you to do considerably more, in particular allowing the use of forums to enhance your students' learning experience. A potential downside to reliance on electronic delivery, particularly with large classes and distance learning, is the loss of valuable face-to-face dialogue with students, and the effective use of an online forum can help alleviate this problem (see Webb, Jones, Barker & van Schaik, 2004). Techniques such as these are particularly vital for engaging with students who are unable to attend lectures. This includes distance students of course, but also many non-distance students may need to attend work instead of going to lectures, or they may have unavoidable clashes. Lecture recordings and interaction on forums can compensate to some extent for this.

Universities use a range of learning management systems, but the most common are Blackboard (proprietary) and Moodle (open source). There are many features of LMSs that can be used to improve unit delivery and the learning environment, for instance:

  • Resources and links can be posted for anywhere, anytime access.
  • Forums can allow discussion between students and lecturers, students and students, and give the lecturer the option to send out messages to all students.
  • Announcements and email tools can be useful for disseminating messages to students.
  • Online auto-marked quizzes can be set to provide students with practice as well as automatic feedback about their work.
  • Assignment submission and feedback can be managed through assignment dropboxes and grade-books.
  • Extra tools such as shared whiteboards and chat systems can often be integrated.

The way in which teachers use the tools is as important as (if not more important than) the tools themselves. For instance, to encourage activity in forums, teachers may need to take the initiative to get students involved (perhaps advertise that a special hint on each assignment will be given on the forum). Answering student questions on a forum is likely to help many students with a similar difficulty and also demonstrate the utility of forums to students. Organisation of resources is also important - students should feel as though it is easy to navigate and find the information they require. Teachers should also make regular and timely updates to the LMS to encourage students to access it regularly. It is important that teachers not only become familiar with the functions of their LMS, but also that they reflect upon how to use them most effectively in order to create a positive learning environment.

Task 11.3 Critical analysis of your learning management system

No matter which tools you select, it is important that they are used purposefully to improve learning, teaching, and the overall learning environment. Check out a great article that explores this (Chickering & Ehrmann, 2008). Now consider the following:

  1. Which LMS tools do you currently use in the units you teach (or plan to use in a unit you will be teaching) and how will you use them?
  2. What other features does your LMS offer? Consider how they might be used to enhance learning. If you know that a colleague uses features you haven’t tried, ask them about their experiences.

Alternatives to learning management systems

There are a range of possible alternatives to using an LMS to host your unit. If you feel constrained by the LMS at your university you could consider one of the following options:

All of these tools allow academics to create a community that isn't constrained by the more content-delivery focused structure of most learning management systems.

Caveat: There are a number of non-trivial considerations when using resources that are not housed and supported by your own university. Your university should have guidelines and policies to manage the risks and issues that may arise. If you cannot find these guidelines for your university, consider the issues outlined in LaTrobe University’s guidelines on social software (LaTrobe University, 2011).

Remember also that the round-the-clock nature of online technologies requires you to set reasonable boundaries with your students. The LMS is available 24/7, but you cannot be expected to respond at unreasonably short intervals.

Task 11.4 Reflecting on tools to create learning communities

Select two alternative tools for establishing an online learning environment in mathematics (such as from the list above). Compare and contrast their advantages and disadvantages, providing an indication of the relative importance of the different attributes being considered. Also indicate how the limitations might be overcome.

Enhancing instruction and activity in online learning environments using Web 2.0 tools

A range of powerful, contemporary Web 2.0 tools provide a range of new opportunities for learning and teaching online. Web 2.0 technologies can be defined as those with the following qualities:

  • social software - where multiple users can collaborate with one another and contribute to the authorship of content
  • micro-content - blog posts, text-chats and video clips, rather than monolithic compositions
  • open - these tools and the often massive amounts of user generated content that they create and organise are characterised by being freely available on the web
  • sophisticated interfaces - using the latest technologies (AJAX, XML, RSS, CSS) to create drag-and-drop, semantic, extendable and aesthetically pleasing website designs that can provide notification of changes. (Alexander, 2006).

Web 2.0 tools include blogs, wikis, social bookmarking systems, collaborative authoring tools, and other rich-media tools that enable sharing and creating. Because they are web-based, they can be simply and easily integrated into your online learning environment. They provide a tremendous opportunity to improve the quality of the mathematics learning environment because they enhance sharing, collaboration and concept representation. A range of Web 2.0 technologies are discussed below in terms of how they can be used to facilitate learning and interaction in mathematics classes.

Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking sites such as Delicious (http://delicious.com) and Diigo (http://www.diigo.com) allow communities of practice (students and/or teachers) to save and exchange relevant websites. Not only does storing sites online mean they can be accessed anywhere, anytime irrespective of the computer from which people work, but systems such as Diigo also allow for the creation of groups so that classes or courses can co-construct an information repository relating to a particular mathematical topic. The community aspect of this kind of tool means that students and teachers can find people with common mathematical interests not only in their university but also from around the world.

Wikis

A wiki is essentially a webpage that registered users can edit. Watch this video for an explanation of Wikis in Plain English) (leelefever, 2007a). When people think of wikis they usually think of the hugely popular Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that has been formed by tens of thousands of volunteer contributors from around the world. However Wikipedia is an example of one type of wiki (Mediawiki) used in only one particular way (to create a collaborative knowledge base). There are many other ways that wikis can be used for educational purposes, not only when students are working remotely but also in class.

There are hundreds of wiki tools at educators' disposal (see http://www.wikimatrix.orgto compare the features of over 100 wikis). Most universities already provide wikis for learning and teaching purposes. However if your university cannot offer you a wiki for your unit then many of these are freely available for educational purposes, such as:

Many wiki tools have inbuilt mathematics scripting features (such as LaTeX), and also enable embedding of audio and video. These wikis allow educators to not only organise and to interrelate conceptual information for their students, but more importantly allow students to co-construct knowledge of the subject matter. Here are some examples of wikis used for mathematics:

For those who are particularly interested in the use of wikis in mathematics teaching, a range of educational literature on this topic is provided at the end of this module.

Shared document creation

There are a range of tools that support co-authoring of documents:

  • Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) allows groups of users to access the same file and edit and comment on it in much the same way as they would a Microsoft Word document (and it includes support for mathematical formulas).
  • Google Wave (http://wave.google.com) allows participants to synchronously hold text-chat conversations while they edit documents containing richly formatted text, photos, videos and so on.
  • Web-conferencing systems such as DimDim (http://www.dimdim.com) and WizIQ (http://www.wiziq.com) also facilitate effective collaborative authoring of documents from one user's machine, while enabling other contributors to see and contribute ideas using audio and text-chat. Because web-conferencing tools allow the user's screen to be shared, the native formula processing system of the shared machine can be used; this means that means only one computer need have the required mathematical software. The above tools are open source, but these days many users have their own proprietary systems.

All of these approaches to shared document creation have obvious application for the collaborative authoring of teacher documents and student projects, but also offer a practical means for teachers to provide students with formative feedback and support on their mathematics assignments. The shared document tools are different to wikis in that actual documents (for instance Microsoft Word documents) are produced, rather than web pages.

Blogs

Blogs are an online tool that allow individuals or groups to post information in chronological order (watch this video for an explanation in plain English) (leelefever, 2007b). Blogs are typically known as tools for creating online diaries, but they also have a variety of applications for education. Blogging tools such as:

enable students and teachers alike to publish their experiences and share their reflections. Wordpress enables mathematical formula editing, and the features of several different blogs can be compared at Weblogmatrix (http://www.weblogmatrix.org). Many universities have some form of blogging tool that staff and students can use.

One common use of blogs is to enable students to build an online portfolio - by uploading their projects onto their blog they can build a site that shows evidence of their capabilities in a particular subject or across a variety of areas. Blogs usually allow filtered comments to be attached to posts, which could be used to facilitate student or teacher feedback. A wiki page (for instance) can be used to share blog URLs between class members. The chronological ordering of posts makes blogs particularly suitable for organising reflection and metacognitive thinking. For instance, blogs have been used to create reflective journals for first year mathematics students (Coady & Rylands, 2008); read this article for a more detailed discussion of the study.

While blogs are usually owned by individuals, they can also be used by small groups or even classes to disseminate information and demonstrate learning. A blog is often suitable for students or teachers to demonstrate how they have been approaching a large problem or project over time. Here are some examples:

Microblogging

Microblogging tools such as:

enable real-time communication and tracking of events between large groups of people. Watch this video for a plain English explanation of how tools such as Twitter work (leelefever, 2008). While Twitter in particular has become famous as a tool for celebrities and politicians to reach out to a broad audience, microblogging tools afford real potential for teaching and learning in mathematics. They can be used in class to co-ordinate activity, document an event, or create a live feed for a lecture in progress (be it locally or on the other side of the world). In this way academics can use microblogging to create a back-channel in class so that students can contribute comments, pose questions or suggest ideas without interrupting the flow of the teacher's presentation. Groups can be created so that mathematics students can acquire instant troubleshooting support from their peers.

The recent emergence of more multimedia-oriented microblogging tools such as Coveritlive (http://www.coveritlive.com/) and Plurk (http://www.plurk.com) expands the amount and type of knowledge that can be shared. Twitter is also constantly expanding the extensions and modes of communication it offers. There is a large community of mathematicians that uses microblogging (for instance Twitter), and students may be able to learn a great deal by following the posts of successful mathematicians. For instance, once you are logged onto Twitter, under the Who To Follow tab you might like to search for mathematical tweeters like davidwees or mathematicsprof or republicofmath. You might also choose to follow Austms. One drawback of microblogging tools is that at this stage they generally do not support mathematical notation.

Presentation tools

A range of Web 2.0 presentation tools make it possible to extend beyond the linear and fragmented approach typical of PowerPoint. The zooming canvas approach of Prezi (http://prezi.com) allows for information to be navigated in multiple directions and at a variety of scales. This enables teachers (and students) to restructure information in a way that more accurately represents the relationships between concepts and their relative importance. This can be particularly useful in mathematics for topics that require fine levels of visual scale (e.g. fractals, calculus).

Cooliris (http://www.cooliris.com) provides an open means of easily traversing visual galleries and videos, either on the desktop or on the web. In addition, tools such as Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net), Authorstream (http://www.authorstream.com) and Vcasmo (http://www.vcasmo.com) enable the online distribution and sharing of multimedia presentations between mathematics teachers and students.

Screen recording

Screen-recording tools such as

allow users to record their desktop actions and to add audio commentary. In this way they can demonstrate technology processes to students (for instance, see this Mathematica recording that has been uploaded to Youtube) (WolframResearch, 2008). Screencasting is particularly useful for mathematics, which relies on visual explanations. A stylus of some sorts is often useful to annotate on the screen.

Jing also comes with a free online upload space for simple distribution of recordings (http://www.screencast.com). Screenr (http://screenr.com) enables recordings to be 'tweeted' using Twitter for instant sharing of software processes. This can be invaluable not only to demonstrate to students how to use mathematical software from an instructional point of view, but also to enable troubleshooting support for students.

Many universities support proprietary lecture recording software that can quite often be used in an office environment or off campus. You may be expected to use particular screencasting or lecture recording software, and hopefully you can then expect that you and your students will receive support with technical problems.

Collaborative diagram creation

If students need to share diagrammatic information in real time then there are a range of whiteboarding tools available, for instance:

These tools provide free, synchronous, online whiteboards with text-chat and file-system facilities. Images can be drawn using a mouse, or if greater accuracy is required a stylus can be used. The latter two whiteboard tools also include mathematical formulae, image-upload and voice capabilities. For more structured visual representation (mind mapping) consider the following tools:

  • Bubbl.us (http://bubbl.us).
  • Mindomo (http://www.mindomo.com) allows easy creation, saving and asynchronous sharing of mind maps.
  • Mindmeister (http://www.mindmeister.com).
  • Mind42 (http://www.mind42.com) allows synchronous editing of mind maps, including image-embedding features. Because mind-mapping tools incorporate native support for interrelating knowledge items, they are suitable for tasks involving ontological and metacognitive representation.

Task 11.5 Enhancing interactivity and concept representation using Web 2.0 tools

In this task you will consider how you could use one or more of the categories of tools to enhance the online learning environment for your mathematics class, and create a worksheet that supports students (or your peers) to complete the task in class.

  1. Select one or more of the tools above that interest you and that you feel has potential in terms of creating an innovative mathematics learning activity for your students. Create an account in the tool/s and explore how they operate.
  2. Design a learning activity or strategy for your students using one or more of the tools. Be creative and synergistic.
  3. Create a worksheet that explains the task step by step, including tips and tricks that may help students (or other teachers) to become more proficient users of the technology.
  4. Reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of the tool/s you have explored.

Review and conclusion

The quality of the learning environment is primarily determined by the teacher, both through attendance to presage factors (the design of the learning systems, consideration of the learning context, and understanding student needs) as well as process factors (providing reason and context, enabling and supporting communication, and facilitating learning). As well as classroom activities and peer learning programs, there are a range of online systems that can be used to create a learning community, principally a learning management system. Contemporary Web 2.0 tools offer a range of possibilities for enhancing the creativity and interaction in mathematics subjects. The quality of the learning environment that is established using online technologies depends as much (if not more) on how these tools are used as it does on the quality of the tools themselves.

The next module on evaluating your unit and scholarly practice will provide you with strategies to evaluate the quality of the learning environment that you have created, as well as other aspects of your teaching.



References

Further reading

Wikis

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Updated: 10 Apr 2013
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