Metafora - Learning to learn together: A visual language for social orchestration of educational activities

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Metafora aims to create a Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning system to enable students to learn science and mathematics in an effective and enjoyable way.

The project explores the potential of social learning for science and maths by providing a visual language to support online groups in designing their own learning together. Learners thus share their learning experiences with their peers in a dialogue. The tools and pedagogies being developed link two hitherto largely separate strands of educational technology research:

•    computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) and
•    learning through engagement in domain-specific learning environments.

The original contribution comes not only from the combination of these two traditions of research but also from the recognition that learning to learn (meta-learning) is an essential skill in today's society. The goals is to help learners reflect on learning mathematics and science as a social process and discover the best ways for them to structure their learning and to engage in their learning as individuals and as a community.

The target group are students between 12 and 16 years old.

The specific objectives of the project are:

•    to further our understanding of meta-learning within collaborative communities engaged in science and maths learning;
•    to design a visual language to support students' reflection on their individual and collaborative learning;
•    to implement a platform integrating state-of-the-art argumentation tools with exploratory environments;
•    to develop an adaptive analytic system utilising AI techniques to support students and teachers during the collaboration and learning process;
•    to design new forms of assessment of individual and collaborative learning exploiting the diagnostic system.

Basic information

Country: Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, United Kingdom

Coordinator: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, www.huji.ac.il/huji/eng

Project Acronym:

Target groups: researchers, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers, vocational school students

Topic: Information technology, Maths, Technology

Start year: 2010

End year: 2013

Url: http://www.metafora-project.org

Contact person: Raul Drachman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, drachil (at) netvision.net.il

Metafora builds on the success of previous projects which laid the ground for the Metafora approach: Argunaut (http://www.argunaut.org) provided environments and visualisation tools to support collaborative learning and the learning of transversal skills (creativity, critical thinking and learning to learn), Escalate (http://www.escalate.org.il), ReMath (http://remath.cti.gr) and MiGen (http://www.migen.org ) demonstrated the power of simulations and microworlds to draw learners naturally into the domains of mathematics and science.

The final result should link the most advanced support for collaborative learning with construc¬tionist and exploratory microworlds. Pedagogically, the project aims to develop a deeper understanding of the capabilities of new technology in learning mathematics and science through dialogue on the construction and exploration of meanings.

Instead of being taught knowledge domains as collections of rules and facts, learners will engage with them as fields of dialogue with characteristic positions and arguments in the process of investigating, making changes to and experimenting with microworlds and/or other relevant tools.

Using the Metafora system, students first and foremost learn to learn. They collaboratively address an assignment – the "challenge" – posed by the teacher involving a relatively complex problem. Working in groups of 4 to 6 during a period of 2 to 3 weeks, the students will plan, organise and tackle the challenge by themselves.

The Metafora platform will offer an argumentation and discussion workspace where the students will gather and dis¬cuss their findings and arrive at an agreed solution, using available tools, such as microworlds and other relevant domain-specific tools.

The use of a special visual language will enable the students to collaboratively design their plans and reflect on the planning process and content, while allowing the system to intelligently follow up their activities to produce useful information for them and for their teachers about the learning and solving processes.

 

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