I have a problem. I’m hoping you can solve it by pointing to an existing tool or collection of tools that might solve it. I’m pretty sure there will be prior work in this area (e.g. social bookmark visualisation, the metadata/library crowd, knowledge management, networks, the visualisation and I suppose even data analytics groups, and maybe the connectivist folk), even if it isn’t explicitly connected to teaching.
I’m halfway through my pre-service teacher training as an Information Technology/Mathematics teacher. In a couple of weeks I commence my second period of “Embedded Professional Learning” (EPL) where I spend 3 days a week over 8 weeks in a school helping to teach. After that there is a 6 week internship full-time at school teaching.
I’ve done a bit of teaching at the University level, but teaching at high school is new. Especially teaching mathematics. I feel the need to develop my Technological Pedagogical and Content (TPACK) (new look site it appears), especially given the focus on knowing the set curriculum in the pre-service teacher training. I’ve been doing this via twitter, blogs, the literature, and the web more broadly. But I have a problem. It’s not organised.
So far, as I’ve been teaching lessons I’ve been doing Google searches to gather ideas, bookmarking some of them and combining what I think works into a final lesson, usually in the form of an IWB flipchart or some board notes. (Yes I know this smacks of less than stellar practice, but I’m learning). Much of what I looked at is lost. Much of the really great stuff I see online when I’m not teaching is similarly lost. I can retrieve some of it if I remember about it or if my quick searches of my bookmarks reveal what I’m looking for.
I do wonder if I’m being a typical technologists in searching for a tool to solve my problem, rather than developing the appropriate practices. But I do think that the right tool might make a difference for my practice, but might also enable some improvements in sharing.
What might work?
In my head, I think I need an application that allows me to actively construct, visualise and navigate a network of TPACK (or just knowledge in general). Something that combines a mindmaps, social bookmarking app, tag cloud, various other visualisation tools, and much more that I haven’t clearly thought about yet. Something that allows me to
- Construct some sort of network/mindmap of a curriculum with links to the curriculum documents.
- Use Diigo or other social bookmarking tools and link them to the curriculum (or vice versa).
- Support navigation through and visualisation of the network in a variety of ways.
- Explicitly add, delete and generally rearrange the nodes in a network, including re-using the nodes in another network.
- Easily share different networks with others and support collaborative development of the network between groups.
When I have to sit down and design a lesson on direct proportion (amongst topics in math I currently question the value of, this is near the top of the list) I can go straight to the application and use the network representing the unit of work to find the resources/tags from the National Curriculum on this topic. From there the collection of resources I (and perhaps others) have tagged are visible and I can start reviewing them and constructing my own network around these resources. A network that will eventually become the lesson plan, which can then be made available via the app as well.
As I wrote down that list of requirements and thought about some others I didn’t, I had this weird sense of deja vu. There has to be something out there. What am I missing? Any ideas?