• Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
  • Metafora showcase
The Project PDF Print E-mail

BACKGROUND AND THE ESSENCE OF METAFORA'S IDEA

The extraordinary success of Web 2.0 social networking technology offers a tantalizing glimpse of how easily people could organize themselves to learn together online in communities. However, in reality the interactions that social networking sites support are almost entirely social exchanges without educational content. Similarly the success of immersive 3D gaming environments with young people shows how learning complex new domains can be fun and engaging, occurring almost naturally as a by product of acting in a simulated environment. Currently, however, this powerful technology for learning mostly supports learning in contexts without any real world relevance. Frequently the learning of skills in games is enhanced not only by the immersive representational media itself but also by individuals joining together in collaborative groups mutually engaged in achieving the ends set within the game through developing communication, strategic thinking and problem solving skills. These kinds of skills are precisely the ones which, in a different context, could greatly help young people to understand scientific and mathematical ideas.

In Metafora, we will develop tools and pedagogies that bring together the most fruitful achievements in two hitherto largely separate strands of educational technology research:

  • computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) and
  • learning through engagement in domain specific learning environments.

The original contribution to science will come not only from the combination of these two traditions of research but also from the recognition that learning how to learn is widely considered as the most important knowledge age skill, vital for equipping workers and citizens with the ability to adapt and thrive in a fast changing environment. Learning to learn is sometimes referred to as ‘meta-learning’. The Metafora project takes its name from the idea of social meta-learning, or supporting collective reflection on and improvement of social learning in forums, hence ‘meta-fora’. In the project we will explore the potential of social learning to learn S&M through providing a visual language to support online groups in designing their own learning together.

 

We intend that using the Metafora system will help learners reflect on learning mathematics and science as a social process and discover the best ways for them to structure their learning and to engage in their learning as individuals and also as a community.

 

We will build on the success of previous projects that members of the team have worked on. On one hand, projects like Argunaut (FP6/IST, 027728 - http://www.argunaut.org) provided environments and visualization tools to support collaborative learning and the learning of general knowledge age skills such as creativity, critical thinking and learning to learn. On the other hand, other European Framework Programme-funded projects like Escalate (FP6/SAS, 020790 - http://www.escalate.org.il), ReMath (FP6/IST, 026751 - http://remath.cti.gr) and MiGen (TLRP-UK ESRC/EPSRC, RES-139-25-0381 - http://www.migen.org ) demonstrated the power of simulations and microworlds to draw learners naturally into new and exciting worlds of mathematics and science by enhancing the generation of mathematical and scientific meanings through exploration and by making connections, understanding mathematical relations and dissociating from concrete cases to make generalizations.

Technically, the Metafora system will be innovative in linking the most advanced supports for collaborative learning with constructionist and exploratory microworlds extended for collaborative online use. Pedagogically, we will develop an understanding of the affordances of new technology to support specific domain learning in mathematics and science through dialogue around the construction and exploration of meanings:

 

In place of being taught knowledge domains as collections of rules and facts, learners will engage with them as fields of dialogue with characteristic positions and arguments in the process of investigating, making changes to and experimenting with microworlds and/or other relevant tools.

 

These contributions to theory will be tested through the development of practical educational activities that will integrate with the mathematics and science curricula in several different countries within Europe.

THE PROJECT'S OBJECTIVES

Metafora project proposes to explore the potential of social learning for S&M by providing a visual language to support online groups in designing their own learning together. To gain deep knowledge of any specific domain learners need to integrate learning experiences with shared reflection through dialogue, in a way that builds conceptual understanding cumulatively.

To this end, the objectives of the project are:

  • to further our understanding of meta-learning within collaborative communities engaged in S&M learning;
  • to design a visual  language to support students’ reflection on their individual and collaborative learning;
  • to implement a platform integrating state-of-the-art argumentation tools with exploratory environments;
  • to develop an adaptive diagnostic system utilizing AI techniques to support students and teachers during the collaboration and learning to learn process;
  • to develop appropriate pedagogies to inform the design of the technical system; and
  • to design new forms of assessment of the individual and collaborating learning exploiting the diagnostic system.

Seven partners from 5 countries compose the consortium. Besides the technical development of the system, in its 3-year life the project will address the underlying pedagogical theory and extensive experimentation in classroom in the partners' countries. Broad dissemination and exploitation-planning actions are foreseen as well.