New_Scaffolding_in_PBL

This article identifies the best components of scaffolding for students that are working through a project.  As I was reading through the article, I was remembering my discussions with my project partner Aaron Dore.  We were discussing many of these points with regard to student guidance.  We did not want to leave them in a situation where they could wander all over the place or that they don’t even know which way to begin.  Therefore, he and I began to examine ways that we could put components in place that will not only help guide them but also help them develop skills and knowledge that they will use later in the project.

First of all, we will be asking our students to do something that I don’t think any of them have ever done.  They will be required to communicate with other students in other time zones and with very different cultures.  The students will be in Michigan and in Saudi Arabia.  This will be intriguing yet intimidating to students, as there will likely be cultural misconceptions, stereotypes, and prejudice on both sides that could emerge.  So we have specifically put in a component that will promote respect and collaboration among the students.

The tasks that they are asked to do early on will give them an anticipation of what it will be like to collaborate with other students and to complete more challenging tasks with technology tools.  When I ask the students to record a video  introducing themselves, not only are they putting their best foot forward for the cross-cultural connection, but they are also developing skills with web 2.0.  Later tasks will require the students to not only communicate about specific content, but they will also be required to produce a final presentation with web 2.0 skills.

The above article focuses much of its energy on making sure that students do not wander off topic of that they don’t get lost in ambiguity, yet they point out that the students also benefit from a fair amount of creativity and self direction.  They recommend that careful evaluation of steps be reviewed for possible lack of clarity.  For our project, as of now, we have given adequate direction and adequate freedom, but we could benefit from checking the specific steps so the students will know what they are doing each step along the way.  Here is a link to our project:  Trade and Cross-Cultural Collaboration

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