DESIGN AND ONLINE DELIVERY OF A COASTAL SCIENCE MODULE USING A CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH.
RAMESSUR R.T.1 and SANTALLY M.I.2
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Reduit.2. Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technology, University of Mauritius.e-mail: email@example.com
The ICZM online module is managed on Virtual Campus at the VCILT, University of Mauritius http://vcampus.uom.ac.mu
The ICZM learning model is based on the constructivism theory and the concepts, principles and procedures of Integrated Coastal Zone Management elaborated so as to further knowledge on critical global and regional aspects in the South Western Indian Ocean through networked learning. An overview of the ICZM module
Simulation Software Tool to simulate scenarios in coastal zone management and hands-on experience can be acquired at the Computer Center.
COSMO demonstrates the main steps in the preparation, analysis and evaluation of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) plans..
COSMO calculates various criteria, including long term effects of climate change, reflecting the use of the coastal zone. Simulation of the CZM problems takes place along the waters of Whale Bay.
Engage students in a variety of interesting, challenging, and worthwhile activities.
Help students link new content with their prior knowledge and gain insights into their misconceptions.
Guide students in using appropriate technology to gather, organize and display data.
Selects or designs a variety of worthwhile assessment instruments, some of which involve student self-assessment. Creates learning activities that emphasize collaboration and teamwork. Responding flexibly to students during a lesson, adjusting instruction as needed depending on student progress. Networked Learning
Migrating the module in an online setting helps promote a networked learning and knowledge sharing environment, which is one of the main goals i.e facilitating the understanding of coordination mechanisms and negotiations to be made amongst different stakeholders (developers, fishermen and residents).
The IT Infrastructure on VCampusStudentLogs inStudy GuideElectronic textSoftware e.g COSMOMultimedia toolsCommunication toolsResources Personal WorkspaceTechnical & Pedagogical Support
The web site of the virtual platform is put at the disposal of the students for them to access the study guide and related information about the module.
They also have the possibility to download and use the study guide offline.
There is also a forum that addresses technical issues concerning the module.
The use of forums for asynchronous discussions to foster student- student and student-tutor interactions provide a powerful tool for learner-centred instruction on Virtual Campus.
Students are also assessed for their participation and contribution on online forums. The Media Infrastructure
A number of activities facilitate the learning process after reading each topic including short questions for self assessment and for later use in working the assignments.
Self-assessment questions are also monitored by the system and feedback on students participation and performance is directly available to the tutor as well as to the teacher. The user friendly interactive COSMO-BIO software which can be downloaded for installation on a local workspace is used for a constructivist approach. The Pedagogical Infrastructure
A photo gallery can also be consulted online and is linked to the various topics. The module which is equivalent to 3 credits is assessed on continuous basis. Assessment are made on three topic assignments including an EIA case desk study. The first assignment covers the first two topics and test the ability of students to understand the concepts discussed. The second assignment covers the last four topics. The EIA case desk study is a means of making the student apply the various tools and background knowledge acquired during the course. Pedagogical Infrastructure
Asynchronous Forums The use of online forums in the course proved to be very useful since students actively participated on the forum.
Questions that many students would not ask in class were raised in the forums.
To date about 200 Final year B.Sc. students have followed the ICZM module over 4 semesters during the period 2002-3.
The forums provided a very good collaborative environment for multiple interactions (tutor-students and students-students) unlike traditional classroom settings.
An evaluation criteria was devised based on three aspects of forum participation reading messages, replying and adding value to the messages that obviously had a higher weightage.
CONCLUSIONS The virtual lectures produce student learning that compares favourably with that achieved by traditional teaching methods.
Moreover, Richard et al. (2000) claims that virtual lectures free students to think critically especially those students who have a major tendency to be reflectors.
e-learning need not be seen only as a new medium to deliver distance education contents but needs to be used as a means to bring about a change in the teaching and learning methodology.
The challenge is to create new learning environments providing unique communication patterns, changed limitations to the types of learning activities that are possible and provide a new high quality learning experience.
Our students seem to be conversant with the new learning paradigm proposed to them through networked learning and responded very well taking into account their reflector learning style.
Ongoing/Future ResearchStudents perceptions of the online module through surveys (in progress) In depth study of learners interactions and learning in CSCW (computer-supported Collaborative Work) environments from a learning style perspectives. Students performances difference in traditional classes and web-based learning environments.