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Narrative Culture in a New Context: Constructing Collaborative Culture with ICT in Teacher Education

Slveig Jakobsdttir, PhD

associate professor

urur Jhannsdttir, M. Ed
project manager

Iceland University of Education (KH)

280.000 people Area half the size of Minnesota Native language Icelandic Midway between Greenland and Norway

ICT in education in Iceland

(ICT = information and communications technology)

1992 creation of the Icelandic Educational Network which connected most Icelandic schools to the Internet very early compared to other countries The innovative practices of the early technology adopters were rather slow to spread However, those practices probably influenced government and policy makers 1996 a national policy was created that called for effective use of information and communication technology (ICT) at all levels of schooling.

KH Iceland University of Education

1500 students 2000-2001, now up to 1800 20% increase this fall! (mainly distance learners) B.Ed. program run on-campus and Net-based, the latter program started in 1993 Graduate program: 93% of over 250 graduate students are distance learners Most of the 100+ staff members teach both on campus and at a distance Through the distance education programs e-mail was adopted early at the university by most of the staff

Computer and Internet use: From isolated experiments....

How have we tried to facilitate this change?

That is: Increase use of ICT in teaching and learning at KH Improve use of ICT in teaching and learning at KH
E.g. action research study.....

Study of professional development of teachers and their integration of ICT in education through case studies and interviews. Part of European Union funded project EUN (European Schoolnet): Research by teacher education institution in the UK, Iceland, Italy, and Portugal. Action research model adopted by Icelandic team with goal to make successful experiences more visible and promote ICT within our university through concrete examples and sharing of experiences. Technology used to strenghten teachers capacities, skills and knowledge in how to use ICT in their teaching. Stories, narratives collected on database driven web

Theoretical Background:
Constructing collaborative culture
(Michael Fullan 1999 Change Force. The Sequel)

Collaborative technology
Kock, N. F. (1999). Process Improvement and Organizational Learning: The Role of Collaboration Technologies.: Idea Group Publishing.

Theories on distributed intelligence/cognition

Pea, Roy D. 1993. Practices of distributed intelligence and designs for education. Distributed cognitions. Pshychological and educational considerations

In the spirit of social constructivism

We look at knowledge as a social construction We stress the importance of the context to build a meaningful knowledge We take advantage of the strenght of storytelling in the Icelandic culture We bring in new ideas and new tecnologies but at the same time we respect an old tradition We think that the knowlegde that are constructed within the institution can be especially useful for
1. Those who participate in it 2. Other teachers at KH 3. Icelandic university teachers in general or those being in similar cultural situation

We are constructing a situated knowledge

Using Information technology to construct collaborative knowlegde

The importance of constructing collaborative knowledge and using the most powerful tools available in the culture especially in times when changes are fast Using the tools of ICT to help us gather knowledge otherwise tacit Using ICT to classify and help to analyse the stories Using ICT to present the result on an open web-site The ICT-tools in that way serving the teacers in their own quest for new knowledge

Why narratives ?
The Icelandic culture builds on an old heritage of sagas Norwegian settlers brought with them the Nordic mythology in form of oral stories back in the 9th century Icelanders kept them alive by storytelling until Icelandic writers wrote them down in 12th - 13th century along with the famous Icelandic sagas. We are proud of this heritage and still enjoy good narratives and storytelling.

Sagas of Eirik the red and Leif Eiriksson: Travelled West from Iceland to Vnland via Greenland at the end of the first millennium

Picture from

Story-telling in KH
A narrative culture is also strong within our institution and we enjoy many good story-tellers in social and professional activities. By taking advantage of the strenght of storytelling in the Icelandic culture we tried to meet people were they were on a known and safe ground. We wanted to bring in new ideas and new technologies but at the same time respect an old tradition. New international research on language developement show that Icelanders are strong story-tellers while they are not so good in e.g. writing expository texts or ananlytical texts.

Tale of Palli Silfertail (travelled east from US to Iceland at the end of the second millenium)

The process of our analyses, interpretation and presentation ?

Analysis in EUN context Slveig Presentation on the European Schoolnet / Analysis in KH context urur (M.Ed. Thesis) Presentation:
workshop for teachers in KH An Icelandic conference on ICT 2001 A web-site - Net-teaching scaffolding for the teacher staff at KH

Course tools and conference systems we have been using

Conference systems + web editors (component applications):
From 1998 - Webboard 2000-2001 an increasing use of Webboard along with web-sites (open or closed). Most teachers use the FrontPage editor

Course tools (integrated applications):

1998 Web course in a Box ( + a home made program) 1999-2000 Learning space 2000-2001 Web CT

How did the use of ICT affect the teaching ? The interpretation of the narratives
We were interested to see how the teachers used the affordances of the Internet in their teaching and research One way of interpretation was using this four categories or questions: How are teachers using:
Internets easy access to information and knowledge for themselves and their students ? the possibilties Internet affords to communication and connection making ? Internet as a easy and cheap way to publish their own and their students material ? taking advantage of the Internet as an international medium ?

Access to information
Lilja Jnsdttir, assistant professor, instructional methods:
I look at the Internet as an important addition to other resources which my students can use, both at the primary school level and in the teacher education program. I expect my students to look for information on the Internet as well as in books or in traditional ways.

Access to information
Another teacher stresses the advantages of diversity and multi-vocality on the Internet compared to one dominant voice of the traditional course book which seems to be on its way out. A typical development (?):
Ingvar Sigurgeirsson, professor, curriculum and instruction: When the course book we had used was sold out we decided to give up the use of course books and instead use more diverse resources, handbooks, articles, chapters of books and especially web-materials of different kinds.

The importance of human communication in learning an increased stress on learning to participate in the discourse of the subject ? The lack of discussion tradition in Iceland problematic
Gunnhildur skarsdttir, assistant professor, instructional methods: I thougt that some students were not at all taking active part in the discussion and I would like to control that part better next time, making clearer rules about how to take part in discussion. I would even like to make it part of the course assessment. Some students did only participate in social chat while others really were more professional pointing out and asking for things that matters in academic discussion.

Publishing teaching material on the Internet a good model

Thorunn Blondal, assistant professor, Icelandic and linguistics: I sent in (in LearningSpace) subject for discussion which I expected my students to respond to and discuss; I wrote notes or letters or articles which were part or extention of the reading material; I made them write notes and respond to one another; I published presentations (Powerpoint) and annotations regarding the material; I published a video with a new TV- program that was directly connected to our discussion; I planned a workshop on Icelandic language policy where I dealt out discussion subjects for 6 groups and each group should send an article to which the others could respond and all this was supposed to happen as close to real time as possible.

Publishing teaching material other than texts

Slow evolution The music teacher publishes melodies The biology teacher publishes photos and drawings Some teachers are using PowerPoint with narration

Internet for international communication

Discussions between international groups at fora e.g. European schoolnet To get any participation: have to be moderated to some degree, organised at certain times, certain groups (e.g. graduate students with their teachers)

Banks to share work

Use of database connected webs (e.g. Frontpage Access)/banks to publish: Concept definitions Information about software and experience, software evaluation Information about interesting reading materials (annotated bibliographies and references) Research findings, e.g. qualitative descriptions on Internet use Information and evaluation of childrens literature

Barnung a web on childrens literature urur

Effort is being made to build up a rich educational environment in Icelandic, but is simultaneously intended to provide general information about childrens and young peoples literature for teachers, students and even parents. Site continuously growing by contributions of students and teachers at the University of Education Joint working area where schools and Iceland University of Education will be able to build up a body of knowledge in the field of childrens literature. Url:

Designing learning environment in the spirit of social constructivism

the learning task is to collaboratively construct knowledge hypothesis:
important for students (teachers) to participate in knowledge construction a web with subject-related material will enhance enculturation of students into the field (situated learning theories) and their professional development

important for students (teachers) to choose their own learning paths (differentiation) important to enhance a school-culture on the Internet by stressing meaningful interaction and cooperation ideology of the social constructivism applies well to the Internet See

Spring 2001 The developement continues

Inrerest in publishing students work increases
Motivation for the students Making their work visible outside the university Making schoolwork useful meaningful in social context Giving students the feeling that they participate in social construction of knowledge in their field Students feel they are preparing for their job as schoolteacers by publishing their materials

Publishing students material: examples from history education

students collect primary resources and publish it on the Internet students publish teaching material for primary school students
A new method in history teaching presented in a new creative way on the Internet

Current situation future ?

More teachers gain Internet literacy Have their own home-page Make web-sites for their courses alone or in collaboration with other teacers Use conference systems and course tools in their distance teaching Still need support - technically and coucelling about how to teach in this new environment of the Internet We continue to use ICT to support them on both frontiers hopefully