We offer over twenty years of curriculum development (program and individual courses) in health, aboriginal and education related topics. Our director, June Kaminski is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Education, Curriculum and Pedagogy Studies at the University of British Columbia with an emphasis on e-learning, learning object development, multimedia and game development for education, and continuing education/professional development courses.
We can work with you in a number of different ways. We have worked with teams virtually from all over the globe. Whether you need to develop in-class curriculum, online curriculum, a hybrid blend of both, or if you need short continuing education or professional development courses or training programs, we can help meet your needs.
Designing a web-based course, or adding web content to a traditional course, is much more than placing lecture notes on the Internet. Instructors must discover new ways to engage learners and encourage them to be active in the course activities. For many, this is a major change from the way they were taught and trained to teach. In order to be successful as an on-line instructor, faculty need to have some understanding of pedagogy as it relates to distance instruction. Some best pedagogical practices that are specific to distance learning are induction, building of learning communities, construction of support networks for students and faculty, and the development of adequate security practices. We will help you to attend to all of these practices while designing your course with the utmost care.
We can design and write courses for your clients, your employees, your professional organization, your higher education institution, or for the general public. The particular learning levels of your target student population can easily be addressed - whether you need a course written in easy to follow, layman language or one that uses a sophisticated graduate level academic voice. We can provide the content, illustration, media augmentation, and accreditation-quality content for short CEU courses right through to full program development.
We will also help you to design courses (either online or paper based) to reflect the most current pedagogical practices, including constructivism, problem-based learning, cognitive apprenticeship, situated cognition, and the integration of technology. Whether you need in class content or online development, we can meet your curriculum development and/or consultant needs.
One of the most important educational theories to arise in the andragogic and pedagogic literature is constructivism. Developed by educational giants such as Dewey, Piaget, and Bruner, constructivism offers a progressive, student-centered philosophy for on-line course construction. Five basic themes pervade the diversity of theories expressing constructivism. These themes are:
Knowledge is not a fixed object, it is constructed by an individual through her or his own experience of that object. The constructivist approach to learning emphasizes authentic, challenging projects that include students, teachers and experts in the learning community. Its goal is to create learning communities that are more closely related to the collaborative practice of the real world.
Although critical pedagogy has evolved over several decades, it continues to be shockingly congruent in the 21st century. Now, more than ever, it is extremely important that students learn how to discern and analyze the social, political, cultural, and hegemonic forces that shape our globalized world. Students are preparing for knowledge based professions where critical awareness is extremely important, and will serve them well as they engage in socially conscious work-based practice.
Critical pedagogy has been defined in different ways. According to Henry Giroux's definition, "[Critical] pedagogy . . . signals how questions of audience, voice, power, and evaluation actively work to construct particular relations between teachers and students, institutions and society, and classrooms and communities. . . . Pedagogy in the critical sense illuminates the relationship among knowledge, authority, and power" (1994, p.30). Keliner (2000) defined it as, "Critical pedagogy considers how education can provide individuals with the tools to better themselves and strengthen democracy, to create a more egalitarian and just society, and thus to deploy education in a process of progressive social change." Freire identifed the notion of "conscientization," or the coming to critical consciousness as a central tenet of the critical pedagogy process. We can create curriculum that clearly exhibits critical pedagogy tenets, content, and assignments.
The Ecopedagogy movement is an outgrowth of developments in critical pedagogy, a body of educational ideas and practices influenced by the philosopher and educational theorist, Paulo Freire. Following Freire, ecopedagogy's mission is to develop a robust appreciation for the collective potentials of being human and to foster social justice throughout the world, but it does so as part of a future-oriented, ecological political vision that radically opposes the globalization of ideologies such as neoliberalism and imperialism, on the one hand, and which attempts to foment forms of critical ecoliteracy, on the other. Ecopedagogy recognizes that sustainability is not being realized because, in large part, it represents the antithesis to the political, economic, and cultural status quo of the powerful forces now fueling the growth of a globalized mono-society of militarism and transnational capitalist development agendas. We are able to create curriculum that strongly express the ecopedagogical philosophy.
The ways of knowing, learning, and teaching inherent to the traditional methods of informal and formal aboriginal education are profound and important in this 21st Century. Not only for First Nations peoples, but for all of the Earth's citizens. It is important that all Aboriginal peoples have access to education and health planning that is shaped by their own ancestral ways. This should occur both in Aboriginal governed schools and social systems, but also within mainstream education and the rest of society. This is their right. both humanistically and legally. A precedence has been set by various national governments to respect the Aboriginal way of living, socialization, and education. Teachers, educational planners, professionals and others working with First Nations education, health and social spheres all need to become cognizant and develop expertise in how to properly plan initatives for Aboriginal people.
Consultation and contract services are available for First Nations pedagogy and curriculum development, including course and program planning and creation, workshop development, preparation of teacher and faculty professional development materials, cultural safety materials, and in Aboriginal self-governed educational planning and initiatives for classroom or online delivery.
Another student-centered style of teaching, problem based learning (PBL) or anchored instruction is a second contextualized approach to education that is particularly suited to the virtual environment. This style of teaching poses a problem to be solved rather than content to be mastered. This can be particularly useful in teaching disciplines that require critical, multidimensional thought such as when holistically assessing clients in nursing and medicine. This form of learning situates the problem in the context of meaning. For instance, nursing problems are situated in the nursing practice context (hospital, community, clinic or tele-health setting). A law student would tackle problems situated in the legal and social systems. And so on.
The goals of PBL include:
This approach combines both active and reflective learning as students engage in the problem-solving process and then reflect on their own perceptions and choices. As well, self-directed learning objectives of PBL are particularly important because PBL may facilitate development of lifelong learning strategies necessary to stay current in the face of rapid technological advances.
Cognitive apprenticeship is an instructional process where teachers provide and support students with scaffolds as the students develop cognitive strategies. Wilson and Cole (1994) described the core characteristics of cognitive apprenticeships model including heuristic content, situated learning, modeling, coaching, articulation, reflection, exploration, and order in increasing complexity. Cognitive apprenticeship creates a culture that permits peers to learn through their interactions, to build stories about common experiences, and to share the knowledge building experiences with others. Collaborative discussion occurs which is important for student learning because it activates prior knowledge which facilitates the processing of new information. CA is designed to help students in acquiring cognitive and meta-cognitive knowledge by means of observation and guided practice (Collins, Brown & Newman, 1989).
The Teaching Tele-apprenticeships model is an example that is based on the theory of cognitive apprenticeship, developed by The College of Education at the University of Illinois. It extends the face-to-face apprenticeships used in the traditional teacher education program by being conducted in electronic network collaborative learning environments. The goal is to link teacher education to practice teaching. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to evaluate the learning.
Situated cognition is a paradigm of learning that emphasizes apprenticeship, coaching, collaboration, multiple practice, articulation of learning skills, stories, and technology (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). "Community of practice," a concept emerging from situated cognition, emphasizes sharing and doing, in essence, constructing meaning within a social unit (Roschelle, 1995). Situated learning occurs when students work on authentic tasks that take place in real-world settings (Winn, 1993). However, the very difference between a meta-cognition approach of learning and situated belief of learning is that situated learning is usually unintentional rather than purposeful.
Learning is a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs, that contrasts with most classroom learning which is abstract and out of context (Lave,1991). Education can apply the two basic principles of situated cognition into classroom practice by a) presenting content within an authentic context, and b) encouraging social interaction and collaboration. It is believed that rich contexts can reflect the students' interpretation of the real world and improve their knowledge transfer to different situations. Collaboration can lead to articulation of strategies that can then be discussed, which, in turn, can enhance generalizing grounded in the students' situated understanding.
The learning theory of self directed or self regulated learning coupled with the process of metacognition is another important practice. Both are critical tenets of andragogic learning. Meracognition is basically knowledge about one's own cognition and level of learning and experience. Adult learners usually are aware when they know certain facts and understand particular processes. Learners are active agents who construct and reconstruct their knowledge and abilities.
To cultivate this type of learning, authentic, meaningful learning activities that are relevant to real-world situations are needed: this is critical to help students become independent and life-long learners.
Instructional Design is the systematic process of translating general principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; as well as the implementation and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.
Various models are applied to instructional design, ranging from behaviorism to constructivism. These common elements are defining objectives, determining content (and the sequence and structure of the content), determining the instructional strategies and methods for presenting the material, and developing the curriculum. Most models include evaluation and feedback at some stage in the process. The major discrepancy in the numerous models is in the method or approach to design. Instructional Systems Design methodology, in various forms, basically takes the ADDIE approach, that is Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.
Instructional design is an important part of on-line course development, but it is not as important as the inclusion of student-centered learning theory. Both processes need to be combined in order to create courses that really facilitate learning and understanding. Whether you need integration of technology into inclass content, completely online curriculum development, informatics training or integration, or social media enhancement - we can meet your needs in a professional and timely manner.
Interaction is a key concept in virtual learning – it is not enough to simply provide interactive activities though: the trick is to design activities that provide MEANINGFUL interaction that actually support learning, dialogue, and reflection. As communication and creative technologies continually become more sophisticated and user-friendly, on-line course developers and teachers have a number of tools that they can apply to promote meaningful and interesting interactive experiences.
Evaluation of adult learning in any environment, whether in the classroom, the practice area, or on-line offers opportunities for creativity and higher-level thinking. The on-line or virtual learning arena can be an interesting milieu for both learning and assessment, that challenges the course designer and teacher to consider inventive, creative, interactive, as well as self-directed modes of assessment. Course Management Software (CMS) capabilities that can help teachers to set up quizzes, forums, journals, lessons, assignments, SCORM (learning objects), multimedia uploads, glossaries, wikis, workshops, blogs, databases, as well as more well-known means such as worksheets, papers, projects, web quests, portfolios, rubrics, self assessment and such. If students are taking the course as a group, various group activities, peer evaluations, and projects can be facilitated within the CMS software. We can help you to set your course or program up properly, the way YOU want it to be, to best serve YOUR students.
Giroux, H. A. (1994). Disturbing pleasures: Learning Popular Culture. New York: Routledge.
Keesing-Styles, L. (2003). The relationship between crtical pedagogy and assessment in teacher education. Radical Pedagogy,5 (1). http://radicalpedagogy.icaap.org/content/issue5_1/03_keesing-styles.html
Kellner, D. Multiple Literacies and Critical Pedagogies. In Revolutionary Pedagogies - Cultural Politics, Instituting Education, and the Discourse of Theory. Peter Pericles Trifonas, Editor. New York: Routledge.