Student Centred Learning and ICT

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Part A: Student centred learning and ICT Essay

Information and communication technologies [ICT] are increasingly and intrinsically being developed into everyday activities of modern life in the 21st century, from children’s app-enabled smartphone toys to self-parking vehicles. As these digital technologies become ever more present in Australian society so to have, they become present in the educational setting. There are several driving forces in the move toward an ICT integrated setting in Australian classrooms. The Melbourne Declaration of Education Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA, 2008, p. 13) identifies ICT as being foundational to Australia’s skill economy, validating the obligation that young people require a high level of skill in the use of ICT. ICT is also one of seven general capabilities identified in the Australian curriculum with the intention of being incorporated into classroom lessons across the curriculum to, “offer opportunities to add depth and richness to student learning” (ACARA, n.d.).

Quality resources have the potential to enhance good instruction and strengthen it (Crane, 2012, p. 12), however, the incorporation of digital technologies alone is not effective for student learning (Australian Broadcasting Cooperation, 2012). According to Howell (2012, p. 5) for ICT to be beneficial for student learning, a digital pedagogy is needed by teachers. The Digital Education Advisory Group’s report Beyond the Classroom: A New Digital Education for Young Australians in the 21stidentifies student-centred learning as a necessity to address the challenges and lack of equality of opportunity for many students to achieve syllabus outcomes (Alexander et al., 2013, p. 13). The report identifies ICT as being beneficial to student learning when it is utilised toward an individualised learning method to promote student-centred learning [SCL]. There are many ways that ICT is beneficial towards SCL. This essay will explore four major areas that SCL can benefit from ICT.

First, pedagogically sound ICT assists in SCL via the removal of time and place restrictions. Due to the accessibility of the internet, classroom lessons no longer require all learning to take place inside the physical classroom or within a set time frame. Computers/devices with an internet connection can be accessed at any time. Consequently, lessons can be individualised more readily. A good example of this is known as the flipped classroom where students participate in learning at home via video recorded directed instruction and practiced problem-solving tasks, then bring their acquired knowledge into the classroom to collaborate with peers in problem-based tasks through active participation in learning activities (Bishop & Verleger, 2013, p. 2). Two of the main challenges with this method are limited access to hardware and internet outside of school (Wang 2016, p. 411) as well as student motivation to complete the required study due to lack of interest (Lo & Hew, 2017, p. 10-11). According to Bishop & Verleger (2013, p. 4) the use of ICT alongside a flipped classroom pedagogy allows for difficult subject material to be more accessible and less time constraining than in the traditional classroom setting. The flipped classroom can also benefit disabled students by offering an alternate avenue for SCL with the use of virtual field trips to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible (Board of Regents Meeting, 2005, p. 2). Although, research of learning outcomes based on the flipped classroom are limited, those that have been undertaken to examine the effects of ICT’s potential to expand SCL opportunities in the classroom reveal positive results (Bishop & Verleger, 2013, p. 12). 

Second, ICT helps with SCL using interactive websites. The Virtual Field Trips (Arizona State University, n.d.) software is a good example of a method ICT can help make learning more student-centred. Students can explore and investigate locations on their own terms, they can also share and collaborate their individual discoveries with peers. Interactive websites such as this also offer a plethora of other information students can access (time, temperature & labs), analyse and share with their peers. Virtual field trips [VFT] are also beneficial for differentiation purposes where student interests and disabilities are considered for participation in syllabus content (Board of Regents Meeting, 2005, p. 2). According to Blachowicz & Obrochta (2005, p. 266), VFT’s also assist students in expanding their vocabulary through student-centred play (Blachowicz & Obrochta, 2005, p. 267). Therefore, it is evident that interactive websites have the potential to broaden the limitations of SCL in the classroom.

Third, are the observations by Plowman & Stephen (2005, p. 150) who investigated ICT use in early childcare settings with computers. Their research concluded that ICT encourages SCL through peer collaboration. Although collaboration is possible in a face to face situation, digital collaboration allows learners to collaborate with an extensively more diverse range of collaborators and almost instantaneously. Research by Plowman & Stephen (2005, p. 150) demonstrate how ICT can help encourage SCL when students negotiated turn taking and assisted each other with navigating computer controls successfully without adult intervention. This example is observable SCL involving ICT, however, when considering the diverse range of learners, attaining similar outcomes for all students presents many challenges. For example, some students require clearer instructions than others which demands more one-to-one instruction (Lo & Hew, 2017, p. 11).

What this demonstrates is that peer collaboration with the use of ICT does not necessarily have to be interactive, in other words, a tool for content creation. Non-interactive collaborative ICT use can include the use of jigsaw activities where the ICT is utilised simply as a source to extract information and the SCL takes place through information collation and group discussion (Sing, Wei-Ying, Hyo-Jeong, & Mun, 2011, p. 27-30). This non-interactive approach to ICT assists in SCL through the development of content creation promoting group discussion which is firmly planted in Vygotsky’s (1980, p 85) constructivist social development theory, stating that student-centred learning is beneficial to child development.

Fourth, and perhaps the most sophisticated and challenging form of ICT use that assists in SCL are learning management system’s [LMS]. LMS’s are educational software platforms for both blended learning and online learning, consequently by design, through self-directed and independent learning they become tools of SCL (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 227). One of the main challenges for this kind of interactive software is student engagement and interaction with their educational institutions (Coates, James, & Baldwin, 2005, p. 28). Coates, James & Baldwin (2005, p. 28) outline several concerns they see with LMS including new patterns of engagement, self-identification and, “how LMS influence the practical dynamics of students’ learning”.

In tertiary education online LMS’s are quickly becoming more common place (Coates, James & Baldwin, 2005, p. 19). LMS’s offer many levels of training and support from elaborate interactive web pages to assessment tasks and discussion forums (Coates, James & Baldwin, 2005, p. 21-22). Using LMS such as Sakai (Apereo Foundation, 2014) learning becomes more student-centred due to the independent and collaborative learning platform design. Evidence suggests that using LMS adaptive courses can be incorporated into learning structures that cater for differentiation requirements for all learning needs and ability levels (Graf, 2007, p. i).

In conclusion, there are several driving forces influencing the incorporation of ICT technologies into the education sector. According to (Alexander et al., 2013, p. 13) student-centred learning is necessary to address inequalities in the classroom setting and ICT is beneficial in achieving this. Although there are several challenges identified with ICT incorporation such as the inaccessibility of hardware for some students (Wang, 2016, p. 411), when these challenges are resolved ICT helps make learning more student-centred which according to Vygotsky’s social development theory assists in positive outcomes for childhood development (Vygotsky, 1980, p. 85).

Part B Digital technology resources

  1. Learning outcome/s


The outcomes addressed in this lesson sequence are from the Stage 4 NSW History k-10 Syllabus, The Ancient to the Modern World. Specifically, depth study 4: The Western and Islamic World – 4a The Vikings (Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards [BOSTES], 2012, p. 62). The overarching outcome is, “HT4-3 describes and assesses the motives and actions of past individuals and groups in the context of past societies” (BOSTES, 2012, p. 64). The primary content descriptor is, “The way of life in Viking society (social, cultural, economic and political features) and the roles and relationships of different groups in society (BOSTES, 2012, p. 65).

The initial activity in the lesson sequence is a pre-test identifying students current historical knowledge and skills of the content and outcomes using laptops/iPads and the software Wooclap (Wooclap Education, 2015). During this lesson sequence students will be arranged into small groups to collaborate, brainstorm and create comprehensive mind maps using the software Mindmeister (MeisterLabs, 2006) as a constructivist method for learning. This software will also be used for both peer assessment and formative assessment. During lessons students will be given time to note or paraphrase key points and publish them on their own individual blog using the software Edublogs (Incsub, 2015), students will also read and comment on peer blogs as another constructivist approach to learning. By the end of this lesson sequence students will record and publish a short video on the interactive video software Flipgrid (Microsoft, 2014). As an assessment summation on content and outcome descriptors students will complete an exit ticket/quiz demonstrating their learning.

Students will produce several products to demonstrate their understanding of syllabus outcomes including a blog, collaborative mind map and a published video. Formative assessment is the primary method of assessment which is achieved through pre-testing, blog entries, collaborative mind map, recording and publishing a video, open-ended questioning and an exit ticket/quiz.

The learning theories that underpin this series of lessons are a mixture of objectivist and constructivist. Through directed instruction the teacher will model and direct students learning toward syllabus outcomes. The lessons are underpinned by Tyler’s four step model of instructional design with objectives aligned with activity sequence and assessment (Vrasidas, 2000, p. 3). Through student collaboration, product creation, peer discussion and peer assessment using ICT, learning is undertaken through a social constructivist theory approach which also including aspects of connectivism. Through collaboration with mind mapping, video and peer discussion and assessment students can solve and construct their own interpretations and perspectives on lesson topics. Uribe, Klein & Sullivan (2003, p. 5) identify these constructivist methods as effective in producing positive results for student learning.

  1. Digital Technologies


  1. Mindmeister is a software that allows users to develop and share mind maps individually or collaboratively. The software has several payment plans from free to $18.99 a month (MeisterLabs, 2006). Students will use this software to design and create mind maps both individually and collaboratively. Students will add new information to their mind maps each lesson. For differentiation and outcome accessibility students will be placed in specific groupings as a scaffolding strategy for those with learning difficulties and disabilities. Students will use their mind maps to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of lesson content and achievement of outcomes through the creation of a mind map that will be synthesised via the software’s sharing and multiple user functions. Students will use their information to create a blog post to demonstrate their skills and learning.

Mindmeister can be utilised as a constructionist learning activity where learners develop mental models to generate a representation of their world (Howell, 2012, p. 25). Mindmeister assists students who struggle with face-to-face interactions or studying by distance, acting as a virtual meeting place (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 268). Interactive software such as this can also be embedded with website links and video streaming to allow student learning to be broader in scope and accessible for revision (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 268).

  1. Students will use Edublogs a free software to summarise their thoughts on their learning throughout each lesson and post it to their blog. Student can comment on peers blogs promoting student sharing and collaboration. These blog posts will be the script for a video discussion using Flipgrid (Microsoft, 2014).

Blogs are a genuine constructivist learning tool, they possess several aspects that improve student learning and motivate students to achieve higher standards of work (Richardson, 2006, p. 27). They offer accessibility to a broad and diverse audience for collaboration and analysis from a range of viewers and participants inside and outside of the classroom, an archived history of their own learning (Richardson, 2006, p. 27-28) as well as increasing digital literacy skills and students skills in self-reflection (Miyazoe & Anderson, 2010, p. 187). These benefits to student learning make Edublogs a good resource to make encourage SCL.

Amir, Ismail & Hussin (2011, p. 537) state that, “Blogs provide a platform for students to participate equally in the learning process”. This means that students from all background and disabilities have access to learning due to time accessibility and scope of collaborative potential. Other applications that compliment Blogs for students from diverse backgrounds include text to speech and digital word translators. Roblyer & Doering’s (2013, p. 19) evidence suggests that students who use computers for writing activities demonstrate better outcomes by 0.4 of a standard deviation. Blogs as constructivist learning tools are congruent with Vygotsky’s social learning theory and can be synthesised within a TPACK model as a pedagogical approach to computer supported collaborative learning (Howell, 2012, p. 29).


  1. Flipgrid is a software that allows teachers and students to participate in video discussion promoting self-awareness, collaboration and presentation skills through student-centred learning. The software is free. Students will be using Flip grid to film themselves presenting their summaries of their learning, addressing syllabus outcomes. The teacher will initially create an introductory video to scaffold content, processes and skills. Students are then left to develop their own products individually or collaboratively and publish them on Flipgrid for other students to respond to.

This technology will aid in students achieving syllabus outcomes by giving them an alternative and less formal avenue to demonstrate their learning. Students are also able to collaborate with their peers and produce a more thorough product via a scaffolding approach to learning. According to Howell (2012, p. 161) when students are given access to digital learning tools other than word processing, they can demonstrate a higher level of competency in their digital skill set. Flipgrid is useful for differentiation purposes as it is accessible 24 hours a day and gives students the ability to practice their video prior to publishing which allows room for rehearsal and collaboration toward an end product. Flipgrid is a good start for developing digital literacies as students are required to develop skills as digital content creators.

 Appropriate use of presentation software such as Flipgrid benefits student-centred learning and further fosters the potential for efficient peer assessment and discussion, active learning and critical thinking (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 146). Howell (2012, p. 173) suggests, for students to become proficient in this pursuit that tasks should focus on student-centred learning over teacher-centred. By incorporating the use of the Flipgrid software students can become content creators. Through viewing and analysing peers work students become more motivated to participate in classroom activities (Richardson, 2016, p. 27).

  1. The software Wooclap will be used as a tool for the purpose of formative assessment. It offers several pricing plans from free up to $25 per month. Wooclap will be used as a pre-test to gage students prior knowledge of topic and historical investigation skills. At the conclusion of the lesson sequence student will be tested again to generate data on learning and pinpoint areas for further development.

Students will be seated at their desks on their own devices (iPad, laptop or mobile phone). The quiz will be presented on the Interactive white board with students completing each question together but individually. Once the test is completed students will observe their own individual results and percentages of correct answers to gage further areas of development to achieve outcomes.

Using software such as Wooclap can be used as a formative assessment strategy. It offers instant insight into students current knowledge and skill levels and can assist with lesson differentiation or revision of specific knowledge required to proceed with classroom activities. It is congruent with general capability 4 “Creating with ICT” and achieves the capability area, “generate solutions to challenges and learning area tasks” (Australian Curriculum, n.d.). This assessment strategy can be used at the conclusion of each lesson to gage student involvement and acquisition of knowledge.

Wooclap is a software of, “Integration to foster creative problem solving and metacognition” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 63). It can be used as a self-assessment tool which has the potential to motivate students to achieve greater outcomes which in turn can influence students self-efficacy through self-reported grading which Hattie (2018, para. 2) identifies as the second most important influence on student outcomes over all other influential factors determining academic achievement.


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