Teachers’ involvement in curriculum design is essential for sustaining the relevance of technology-enhanced learning materials. Customizing—making small adjustments to tailor materials to particular situations and settings—is one design activity in which busy teachers can engage.
Research indicates that customizations based in students’ ideas improve learning outcomes. Matuk’s study examines ways that the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE, wise.berkeley.edu), an open-source curriculum platform used by tens of thousands of teachers and students worldwide, makes student ideas available to inform design decisions. Using classroom video and field note observations, interviews, and teachers’ curriculum artifacts, Matuk and co-authors Marcia Linn and Bat-Sheva Eylon developed four case studies of middle and high school teachers during week-long science inquiry units.
The researchers found several ways teachers customize their materials: devising timely instructional interventions to provide individualized guidance; planning activities and adjusting milestones to align with students’ progress; modifying existing materials to better integrate content into overall curriculum plans; and embedding supports to better address students’ needs.
They also identified three technology features that supported teachers’ customizations: a system that logs student work for teachers’ inspection; tools for tracking student learning and progress; and an authoring environment that supports the re-design of units.
The study is part of an upcoming special issue of Instructional Science on “Teachers as designers of technology-enhanced learning.” Together with other papers in the issue, it builds on the idea that involving teachers in the design of curriculum materials is crucial for their implementation in classrooms, for their sustainability in the long term, and for their positive impact on student learning. The work will also be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Chicago in April 2015.
It is currently available as ‘Online First’ on SpringerLink: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11251-014-9338-1
By Rachel Harrison