Sunday, October 15, 2006

Designing Courses: Learning Areas and Capabilities

I've been playing with models that might clarify the process of designing courses in order to provide for all students under the new Post Year 10 Curriculum Framework for Tasmania. I've also been reading about the current call for a "back to basics" national curriculum and in particular thinking about Alan Reid's proposal's in Rethinking National Curriculum Collaboration - but within a State rather than national context. (School education is the constitutional responsibility of the States in Australia.)

Before the current PY10 Curriculum Framework was developed the structure of the curriculum was hard to conceptualise. In the late 80s and early 90s traditional subjects were loosely grouped into 'learning areas'; new programs to support literacy, numeracy and ICT literacy were developed; new courses emerged and some stayed; student support, health and well-being and career/pathway options evolved; key competencies/capabilities were identified...

However much of this sat outside traditional subjects/leaning areas - conceptually and often in implementation as well - or sometimes uneasily within syllabuses and timetables as attempts were made to "embed them".

Syllabus development most often occurred within subject/learning areas and tended to reinforce existing knowledge structures, ways of learning, teaching and assessment. New courses often failed to gain a foothold if they did not fall neatly into traditional ways of organising knowledge.

The new PY10 Curriculum Framework is based on agreed values and purposes arrived at during a long period of co-construction. We are currently looking at the structures and processes that might inform the provision of courses within the Framework. What range of courses will be available to choose from?

While we now have a State Curriculum Framework individual year 11/12 schools will be responsible for implementation to meet student needs in local contexts. Which courses will schools choose to offer their students? And how will individual classroom teachers interpret these courses?

(NB In this graphic the number of learning areas is arbitrary.)

A key question at the moment is what sits between the values and purposes and the capabilities/literacies? What are the contexts for learning? Can we move away from learning areas? Should we move away from learning areas? Following Reid's suggestion (in the above paper) can we develop courses where students learn for the capabilities through the learning areas - leaving the details of what learning to schools, teachers and students?

Or will existing ways organising knowledge/skills and their associated communities of practice work against providing opportunities to develop all the capabilities required for the 21st century? Will anything really change if traditional learning areas still dominate structures and processes for course/syllabus development.

And where do transdisciplinary approaches fit? How do we move beyond disciplines to engage in the kind of rigorous thinking that is needed to meet today's societal and planetary challenges? Can we construct valued learning experiences/courses that exist in the space between the disciplines and their well developed resources/support structures/dialogues?

Perhaps we need to use other lenses/conceptual frameworks to help us create courses/learning experiences that help students to make meaningful connections beyond subject borders and to "know what they don’t know". Can we generate meaningful content/contexts by asking the big questions? Is an 'integral' lens useful as a conceptual framework?

Perhaps course developers and classroom teachers (hopefully the same people) need to draw on a course development toolbox containing a variety of conceptual lenses... A learning ecology/connectivism framework such as the following by George Siemens that looks at "know where" as well as "know-how" and "know-what" might be one tool.

And how can we establish course developement models/principles that ensure the ongoing currency of courses in today's rapidly changing world?

Labels: , , , , ,


At 5:28 PM, Blogger Wendy Zammit said...

great post Roger.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Heather Banks said...

Roger, you highlight the dichotomy between meeting the expectations of sections of society who value traditional concepts of knowledge and learning with the requirements of a rapidly changing society that needs skills or capabilities that are not dependent on factual recall but applied knowledge and learning. How do you begin to design courses that will ameliorate these tensions? Will appeasing both result in dissatifaction for both and a hybridity that will not create the optimum learning outcomes that either would desire?

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

warhammer gold warhammer money warhammer accounts tibia money tibia gold tibia item runescape accounts buy runescape accounts runescape money runescape gold runescape gp runescape power leveling runescape powerleveling cheap rs2 powerleveling runescape equipment buy rs equipment runescape runes cheap rs2 runes runescape logs cheap rs2 logs runescape items buy runescape items runescape quest point rs2 quest point cheap runescape questpoint runescape gold runescape items runescape power leveling runescape money runescape gold buy runescape gold buy runescape money runescape items runescape accounts runescape gp runescape accounts runescape money runescape power leveling runescape powerleveling tibia gold dofus kamas buy dofus kamas wow power leveling wow powerleveling runescape questpoint rs2 questpoint Warcraft PowerLeveling Warcraft Power Leveling World of Warcraft PowerLeveling World of Warcraft Power Leveling Hellgate money Hellgate gold buy runescape logs buy rs2 items cheap runescape items Hellgate London gold Guild Wars Gold buy Guild Wars Gold runescape items rs2 accounts cheap rs2 equipments lotro gold buy lotro gold buy runescape money buy runescape gold buy runescape runes lotro gold buy lotro gold runescape money runescape gold cheap rs2 powerleveling eve isk eve online isk buy runescape power leveling rs2 power leveling tibia gold tibia item runescape accounts Fiesta Silver Fiesta Gold Scions of Fate Gold Hellgate Palladium Hellgate London Palladium SOF Gold Age Of Conan Gold AOC Gold ArchLord gold tibia money tibia gold runescape accounts runescape gold cheap rs2 powerleveling buy ArchLord gold DDO Plat Dungeons and Dragons Online Plat


Post a Comment

<< Home