Visualizing Learning Processes Using Didactic Process Maps

Visualizing Learning Processes Using Didactic Process Maps

Beat Döbeli Honegger (University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland, Switzerland) and Michele Notari (Bern University of Teacher Education, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-144-7.ch008
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In order to keep DPM as simple and easy to use as possible an approach following the 80:20-principle (pareto-principle) has been chosen: essential properties of the pattern and the learning processes must be visualizable while unessential and rare used properties have to be left out. They can be communicated literally and negotiated orally. With this principle in mind, the DPM approach distinguishes itself from existing efforts for an exhaustive learning process description language and fits well into the design pattern approach.
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Pedagogical Patterns

Origin and Definition of Patterns

The architect Christopher Alexander was the first to bring up the idea of design patterns (Alexander 1977): “Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.” Alexander’s idea has been picked up by Gamma et al. (1995) who wrote the seminal book 'Design Patterns', containing over twenty design patterns for object oriented programming. Nowadays patterns are used as a widely spread documentation method in the field of information technology, human-computer interaction (Borchers, 2001), pedagogy, computer supported collaborative learning and others. According to Alexander’s ideas, Kohls (2007) pointed out patterns as descriptions of problems and their solutions. Each pattern has to include at least the following elements: name, problem, context, forces and a solution.

Documentation of Learning Processes

Dessus and Schneider (2006) describe the objective of educational modeling languages (EMLs) as follows: EMLs intend to define pedagogical scenarios, exchange learning units, execute a unit in a learning platform and sketch, design, plan and discuss pedagogical scenarios. EMLs reflect a change in emphasis away from using the computer to deliver educational content towards using the computer to facilitate the teaching-learning processes (Rawlings et al., 2002).

Ron Koper, the inventor of EML (which later evolved to IMS-LD), lists the following reasons for notational methods to describe learning environments (Koper, 2000):

  • Collaboration enhances professionalism: “Different experts can work together on educational design and development. [...] This leads to education that is more professionally designed.”

  • Medium-neutrality enhances flexibility in the development phase: “In the development process there is not yet a need to consider the distribution medium, since the notational system is medium neutral.”

  • Technology-neutrality enhances future-proofness: “The notational system makes investments in educational development future-proof, because it is immune to ICT innovations.”

  • Exchange of units enhances reusability: “The notational system makes it possible to exchange units of study or parts of units of study among institutions, within institutions and among suppliers. Reuse of materials and designs are optimally supported by doing so, which greatly increases the efficiency of the development process.”

  • Explicit notation enhances possibilities for quality management: “Explicit notation of the design gives a better handle on quality.”

  • Standardized notation eases research: “The uniform manner of recording provides a research instrument with which the structures and patterns of specific instructional models can be further investigated and related to their effectiveness. Results of the research can be described in the notational system as unambiguous examples.”

According to McAndrew (2005), design patterns are a useful way of sharing experience in the field of educational design:

‘The use of patterns, then, can be seen as a way of bridging between theory, empirical evidence and experience (on the one hand) and the practical problems of design. The intent of pedagogical patterns is to capture the essence of the practice in a compact form that can be easily communicated to those who need the knowledge.’

Pedagogical patterns show effective learning designs, allow knowledge transfer from experienced developers toward newcomers in education, provide solutions that can be applied under different circumstance and function as a communication medium (Alexander, 1977; Bergin et al., 2005; E-LEN, 2005; Hernández-Leo et al., 2004; Jones et al., 1999; McAndrew et al., 2005; Brounce 2005).

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