Building knowledge is endless, but building a metaphor is not.

As this metaphor comes to a close, I`d like to summarize previous posts and the metaphor itself. I chose to see a teacher as a metaphorical architect primarily because an architect is a planner and not the doer. The final product of construction (built by the students/construction team) would be the meaningful knowledge. The technological tools used…are the technological tools used. This metaphor links closely to the concept of knowledge building (Scardamalia & Bereiter). An architect’s job also requires a great deal of team work, specialists of various types must come together to create a masterpiece. In a classroom, a teacher hopes that their students work cooperatively and build on each other’s strengths in order to create…well a masterpiece. Another similarity between architectural work and teaching is the planning, effort, structure is entails. Classroom management is an art that requires a great deal of the elements mentioned above.

When pushing the metaphor further, I looked into the duality between teacher-centered and student-centered. Architects use technological tools similarly to teachers; for organization,visuals and efficiency among other uses. The student-centered aspect of the metaphor lies in the fact that construction workers are actually making/building the product, the architect only has a hand in the planning. A teacher’s job is to set-up learning opportunities that the students can then excute, build/make meaningful.

And there you have it, a beautiful imperfect metaphor for teaching in a teachnology mediated environment!

 

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Even the sturdiest buildings fall (strengths and weaknesses)

maxresdefaultEven the sturdiest of buildings fall, just as the strongest of metaphors have a weak side. Comparing teaching to architectural work is not a perfectly fitting comparison to make. The weakness of this metaphor I have realized is that it is hard to go in depth about the characteristics of the Web and technologies. I was unable to fully describe the complexity of the Web in this metaphor since the tools of an architect are fairly straight forward and concrete. These tools could represent Web 2.0 technologies, but not the interconnected attribute of the  Web itself (in my opinion). I also wish that this metaphor left more room for the students (construction team) to take charge. But because an architect sets out a plan of construction in advance, it was hard to come up with ways in which the construction team (students) got to decide/shape their own learning.

The metaphor of architectural work, however, does represent the creative process that technologies allow to happen in a classroom. It also does a great job at representing the role of a teacher, which is to make the plan (possibly by using tools previously discussed) and then let the students (construction team) take over. The architect serves somewhat as a guide to the construction team. The metaphor also allows for the construction of knowledge to be huge part of the process which is crucial in my opinion. If the final product (the building) is viewed as the meaningful lessons learned in a classroom, the architectural process resembles that of a class working together towards  meaningful knowledge through cooperative learning.

Although as previously mentioned, the metaphor has its weak side, I did enjoy trying to make it more complex from beginning to end. Overall, it has served a great purpose in helping to determine what the most important elements are in a technology-mediated learning environment.

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The teacher-centered side of this metaphor came quite quickly to me, the student-centered aspect was a bit more difficult. The clarity came to me by re-reading my notes on the Brown article which describes two types of knowledge; explicit and tacit. As an architect, the professional transmits to the construction team `what to do`and in large part, the construction team takes action and enters the realm of tacit knowledge. The system that is required in the establishment and construction of a complex structure requires various experts to work together similar to a learning knowledge-building community (Scardamalia and Bereiter). So this is for the most part, the student-centered aspect of the architectural metaphor; an architect needs other experts (construction worker and such) who are going to take the plan and knowledge of the architect and put it into action. Much like how a teacher plans and transfers knowledge to students who must take the knowledge and use it to practice skills, attribute meaning, and build upon.

Sources:

Brown, J.S. (2002). GROWING UP DIGITAL: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn. Journal of United States Distance Learning Association, 16(20). http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cftde/3001F03/seely.html

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(3), 265-283. http://hrast.pef.uni-lj.si/~joze/podiplomci/prs/clanki03/CSILE_Scardamaila.htm

 

Tools to design, build and create.

Engineer, architect or contractor plans and tools

engineer, architect or contractor plans and tools laid out on a wooden table

The architect is essentially a designer of buildings. A teacher, is a designer of learning environments and learning opportunities. The tools of the architect are not that different from the tools we as teachers use. Many of those tools utilize technology in some way, and many are traditional. Tradition tools that architects use include rulers, paper, pens, pencils, and manuals. However, architects today use a variety of technologies to do their work, in order for their designs to be more visual and realistic. They may use computers, calculators, simulators, smart phones and various types of software used for 3D or computerized design (http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/an-architects-tool-bag/). This types of traditional and technological tools are really not any different from what a teacher could use in his/her classroom.

What technology has done for the architect is make his/her job quicker, more efficient, more visual, and more interactive. The same goes for the teacher, integrating technology appropriately can help a teacher become more organized, more visual, more efficient (therefore quicker), and make planned activities more interactive.

*I’d like to point out that this post focuses on how technology can be used for the good of the teacher or architect, in further posts, I will explore how technology can be applied to suit the needs of the students or construction workers. *

 

The Job of an Architect

I figured that if I am to use the metaphor of architecture, I should get more informed about what this job entails. The very first sentence on this website “https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/architect”  describes being an architect as a “fascinating, tough, inspirational, creative, innovative and future-shaping career”. Now…doesn’t that remind you of a certain other career path? Teaching! This description, to me, is exactly like teaching.  As described in the previous post, I imagine the building/infrastructure being designed/built as knowledge and the tools being used are like technological tools in the classroom. The site also describes how an architect must work along side other professionals (e.g construction professionals, including surveyors and engineers, producing drawings and specifications). This is exactly how teachers need to approach the integration of technology in the classroom. As mentioned in previous class discussions (on Moodle), there are very few of us who are entirely comfortable with technology, therefore it is important to accept help from others who may have more experience with it. There is a long list of responsibilities associated with the job of an architect.So many of those responsibilities relate to teachers who are trying to integrate technology in their classroom. For instance, like teachers, architects must “project manage and help to coordinate the work of contractors”, “carry out regular site visits to check on progress and ensure that the project is running on time”, “resolve problems and issues that arise during construction” to name a few. Now that I have went a bit deeper in terms of architecture as a career, my next post will focus on another aspect of the metaphor!

Becoming an Architect

I decided to continue on with this metaphor because I believe it can take a range of different angles and it will allow me to incorporate many elements. Here are my first few thoughts on this metaphor. I expect the metaphor to become increasingly complex as the days go on and I am able to think about it more deeply and build onto the idea. So if the teacher were an architect, this would demonstrate a more student-centered approach in my opinion because in this light, the teacher would be the planner, not the executor. The architect (teacher) makes plans for the final product, but the construction workers (a.k.a the students are the ones who execute the plan and essentially create the final product. The final product or building would represent the deep and meaningful learning that we hope the children will acquire in the process of construction. And well, although this part of my metaphor I don’t feel is complete right yet, architecture these days is all about various types of technology; 3D simulations, models, graphs, online communication, design software and much more. I would link this to the Scardamalia and Bereiter article which described “computer-supported intentional learning”. This article specifically mentions and discusses knowledge BUILDING, which is essentially what this metaphor represents. It is described as a “collective product” and a progressive process; much like the construction of a majestic piece of architecture.

Sources:

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(3), 265-283. http://hrast.pef.uni-lj.si/~joze/podiplomci/prs/clanki03/CSILE_Scardamaila.htm