Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Questions about thinking tools

Last Friday, 8th Sept 06 I presented at the ALEA conference in Melbourne. It was held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image ACMI at Federation Square. What an awesome venue and a great chance to see what the centre is all about as well as hear some inspiring speakers.
My session was entitled Thinking with Technology and I designed it to showcase some of the ways that I have been using the Intel Thinking Tools at Wedderburn College.
Basically I showed some examples of how the Visual Ranking, Seeing Reason and Showing Evidence tool can be used to display and visualise the thinking that is occurring as students are working through a problem or a challenge.
One of the questions that was raised during the session was interesting and one that I would like to explore a little more.
Basically it was something like, What are the advantages of doing something like this online? Why not just, for example rank things on cards or write them on a white board, why not just draw a concept map, why not record and categorise evidence on pen and paper?

Firstly, I think the bottom line is you firstly think about the outcomes that you want to achieve. If the purpose is to simply rank concepts and to discuss and justify why, then doing it with cards or on a whiteboard would work equally as well as doing it online.
I think the value that is added online is the fact that students can readily see the ranking of other students immediately. The process of reordering, discussing, rethinking and evaluating can be done quickly and responsively.
I think a great advantage to the teacher is that all the tasks can be stored and returned to easily and efficiently as well.
I would like to discuss this more and will do so over the next few days.