Step 4: Design Your Activity

Having identified the learning objectives and established a list of the existing resources, you will have what you need to design your activity by answering the following two questions:

  • What work mode to chose?

  • What pedagogical approach to chose?

What work mode to chose?

Although there is not always enough computers for all the students in your classroom, team work is not always an appropriate solution.  Individual work, collaborative and collective modes are all potential solutions. Moreover, if students are working in teams, there should be a real collaboration that is different from taking turns to control the mouse. To deal with this issue, ask yourself the following question: “Are students able to accomplish this task alone?” If your answer yes, there is good chance that the students would not “collaborate". In this case, either you make the activity an individual task, or you add constraints that make the students feel they need others. To make students work in a collaborative way, you need to teach them how to. Collaborative work is above all sharing strategies and expertise, not the keyboard and the mouse.

The individual mode - Tasks that lend themselves more to individual work are generally tasks that students are familiar with and with which they do not need others to get there. Here are some examples:

  • Drawing

  • Keyboard exercises

  • Exercises that require manipulation of the mouse

  • E-mailing

The collaborative mode - Tasks that lend themselves more to collaborative work are generally new tasks or/and a set of problem-solving tasks. Here are some tasks that are more amenable to collaborative work:

  • The transcript of a text into a word processor (often a student writes faster when a colleague dictates the text).

  • Searching the Internet (two students will use the better use the search strategies for better results).

  • Problem-solving games

  • Educational chat

  • Exploration of new software

  • Exploration of new task

The collective mode - The collective mode is much more interesting if the classroom is equipped with a multimedia projector. Here are some tasks that are taught more efficiently in a collective mode:

  • Shaping new ideas and showing complex examples.

  • Working collectively with another class.

  • Inventing a story.

  • Participating as a group, in a conference or through an electronic discussion group.

  • Making a storm of ideas with another class. 

What pedagogical approach to chose?

Whether you selected the individual, the collaborative or the collective mode, you have to choose a pedagogical approach to put into action the learning activity. You can use different approaches such as:

The workshop: A workshop is a learning or knowledge consolidation activity that takes place independently and that allows students’ to move at their own pace. The nature of the workshops varies depending on your goals that may affect the reading of a text, the performance of a concept, the creation of a work, experimentation, observation of phenomena, the exploration of a technological tool, etc. The workshop approach is used either inserted in a phased approach (from simple to more complex) or is part of an overall project. Whatever the context, you must first have an overview of the goals you aim to give concrete meaning to through the workshops. Thereafter, you plan workshops targeting a specific task for everyone. Before you start the workshop, you have to present to your students its purpose and clear guidelines to achieve the tasks related to it. A programming table will be a very useful tool that allows you to schedule periods of workshops over a week. Similarly, a grid, monitoring the workshops completed by each student will be required to give you an overview of the progress of each student.

The lecture: The lecture is to be preferred when presenting new software for students, using new features or a new procedure. The lecture format will help you limit the number of questions when students will be in action. To be effective, the presentation should be short (about 10-15 minutes) and student participation should be encouraged in order to maintain their level of attention and concentration.

Modeling: Modeling consists of making clear your thought processes (cognitive and metacognitive strategies) and to enable students to understand how, as someone more experienced with technology, you get to solve a problem or accomplish a task. You could create a poster using software tools to students and say out loud all the questions and thoughts that go through your head. To be meaningful, modeling must be done spontaneously, that is to say it indicates thinking in the form of monologue. Modeling is not a dialogue with the students.

The mini-clinic: The mini-clinic focuses on teaching or reviewing a specific topic and is usually directed to a small group of students at a time. You can plan a mini-clinic to make an update on some of the difficulties demonstrated by students (save a file, use email, etc.) or to train experts in various applications (word processing, email, etc.). It's up to you to decide whether the participation in a mini-clinic is mandatory or voluntary. In principle, you should announce a mini-clinic by specifying the topic and the time, especially when students enrol voluntarily.

Scaffolding: Scaffolding is a guided approach of cognitive learning support leading to independent practice. You can guide the thinking process of students by asking questions about the strategies put in place and asking him to clarify his thinking. Gradually, you must require the student to do this alone or, at least, they will have only access to their personal notes. Therefore, the support offered to students should be withdrawn gradually to make them as independent as possible by giving more responsibilities and confronting them with new challenges. Therefore, the student will gain confidence and a sense of competence.

The conference: The conference is a privileged moment of exchange between peers or students and you. The aim of the conference is to enable students to express their views and help each other. Conferences can include either the planning, the production or the evaluation of an activity or a project. These moments allow you to better understand your students, their level of thinking, their strengths and weaknesses.

Step 5: Design the classroom layout