Patterns and Instructional Methods: A Practitioner’s Approach

Patterns and Instructional Methods: A Practitioner’s Approach

Joachim Wedekind (Knowledge Media Research Center, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-144-7.ch004
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Abstract

Looking for these differences helps to identify the advantages of the pattern approach and this chapter intends to show that it is not only old wine in new bottles. Importantly, educational patterns are more practicable and more flexible than instructional methods, and it is necessary to join existing educational patterns (in terms of a pattern language) in order to use them successfully in designing teaching scenarios that can actually be implemented.
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Patterns And Instructional Methods: A Practitioner’S Approach

The use of digital media in higher education is not new. Singular activities of enthusiastic people always date back to the launch of a new technology. In most cases then the media were used as add-ons to traditional forms of teaching, rarely using the full potential of the media. In order to overcome such limitations and to stimulate the integration of technological innovations in Germany several funding schemes in higher education started in the late nineteen in most of the sixteen federal states as well as on the national level (for details see Wedekind et al., 2002). A recent survey however (Haug & Wedekind, 2009) came to the conclusion, that – despite of considerable financial expenses – a widespread and sustainable adoption in German higher education institutions did not happen.

There are various reasons for this unsatisfactory result. They concern the bias of the funding schemes towards efficiency and effectiveness (in contrast to the institutions themselves, which aimed primarily at didactical improvements), as well as the lack of corresponding infrastructural and organizational support. Last but not least it is the sensitivities of the teachers, which are not negligible in any process of reform in higher education. Understandably e-teaching/e-learning is not always top priority on their agenda, as they have to struggle with additional basic necessities, like the Bologna Process or the consequences of global competition in the educational sector (Haug & Wedekind, 2009, p. 34). This leads to the paradox that there are tools and resources available in abundance that could be used for teaching, but are used only occasionally in practice.

We see teaching staff as the most important factor in determining the success of e-learning implementation programs. Teachers are the pacemakers for the dissemination of digital media within learning and teaching. In general, there is a need for supporting these teachers with their curriculum conception and technical realization to promote a successful and sustainable integration of digital media in face-to-face teaching and even more in virtual environments. Therefore it is not surprising that there is a demand for practicable and broad information about using digital media in teaching.

Unfortunately – at least in Germany – there is a scarcity of adequate possibilities to advise, support, and train higher education staff. To supply this need we started the portal e-teaching.org1, which offers comprehensive information on didactical, technological, and organizational aspects of e-learning at universities. It specifically targets university lecturers in German speaking areas, who want to integrate digital media into their teaching, as well as persons responsible for administration, computing or media centers.

Since its launch in 2003, e-teaching.org has become a well-established information resource comprising approximately 1.200 web pages, 50 pdf-files, 120 profiles of tools, 150 examples of good practice, a glossary with about 490 items, 50 podcasts, 40 vodcasts and a blog with more than 2100 postings (as at June 2010). The portal can be flexibly integrated into hybrid formats to support the distinctive needs of various institutions (for a detailed description of the concept and the structure of the portal, see Panke et al., 2004). Beyond doubt an important part of this is the transfer of methodological knowledge in the application of digital media in teaching, which is the requisite know-how to change classic forms of teaching. To ensure a low threshold for the teachers, it is necessary to take up established methods. At first this sounds self-evident, but unfortunately this is a difficult task, as those methods are not easy to identify.

In our project we tried to overcome this shortage in identifying educational patterns. Our description is based on our experiences in the project e-teaching.org. Therefore, the development and the use of educational patterns took place against the background of teaching in higher education. Many references will be to the situation in Germany, not least because of the fact, that teachers in higher education – contrary to their international contacts in research – mostly limit their inquiries to German sources (online and offline).

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