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Browsing by Subject "verkko-opiskeluympäristö"

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  • Jussila, Terttu (2012)
    In my master's thesis I have studied the characteristics of pedagogically well-designed web-based learning environment, where the contents are presented according to the principles of biology didactics. I have created a website called Virtuaalimetsä (Virtual Forest). Virtuaalimetsä is a web-based learning environment of Finnish forests for the pupils of classes 5 and 6 in primary school. Virtuaalimetsä is made to support both teaching and learning of biology. It offers lots of information and a variety of tools to develop thinking skills. The information of Virtuaalimetsä has its basis in biological research, but the academic nature of this information has been modified to be understandable to children. In this modification the didactics of biology and natural sciences has had a great role. The contents of Virtuaalimetsä fulfill the requirements of National Core Curriculum for Basic Education. With the information from research of blended learning Virtuaalimetsä website has become an effective learning environment. In planning and creating Virtuaalimetsä I had four objectives: 1. Objectives concerning blended learning: to create a good web-based learning environment 2. Objectives concerning learning materials: to increase learners' knowledge and develop their thinking skills, and to create proper tools to achieve this 3. Objectives concerning teaching: to support traditional teaching with a meaningful web-based learning environment 4. Objectives concerning environmental education: to awake a sense of environmental responsibility especially in relation to forests. To achieve these objectives I have studied research about blended learning and didactics of biology. Characteristics of a good web-based learning environment appears to be a proper pedagogical goal, clear research-based information, tools to develop thinking skills, information structuring and intense contemplation, as also logical and pedagogically operational website with good navigation tools. As the leading rules of teaching biology can be mentioned emphasizing the wholeness of nature, system thinking, proper use of concepts, holistic examination of ecological phenomena, using children's previous ideas as a basis for learning and developing observation skills. Virtuaalimetsä has six parts: Metsäkartta (Forest Map), Metsäpolku (Forest Path), Metsäsanasto (Forest Vocabulary), Testaa taitosi (Test your skills), Metsän kasvit (Forest Plants) and Opettajalle (For teacher). This division has been made consistently with the learning tools, and most parts offer a specific way to enhance learning. Virtuaalimetsä is further divided into sub-parts according to different themes: Metsä elinympäristönä (Forest as a habitat), Metsätyypit (Forest types), Metsän kerrokset (Forest layers) and Metsäluonnon monimuotoisuus (Biodiversity in forests). Forest Map concentrates on mind maps and concept maps. These help children to create ideas of wholes and concepts. Concept maps enhance active and meaningful learning and develop learners' meta-cognitive skills. Forest Path has the biological information of Virtuaalimetsä. The information is so presented that learners can get a good picture of forest nature as a whole and as a systemic structure. Information is presented at a concrete level, and new information is continuously connected to the context of forest. Thus the information is kept together, and no single detail is left detached. Many biological concepts are presented, and they help to compose a meaningful image of forests and of the nature of biological phenomena. In Virtuaalimetsä forest environment also gives a familiar ground to examine matter cycle, energy flow and population dynamics. These phenomena represent different kinds of interaction patterns and causal structures in nature, and that is why they improve development of biological thinking and understanding. To awake environmentally responsible attitudes Virtuaalimetsä offers a great deal of necessary information to contemplate environmental problems. Test you skills is a place for exercises. Exercises help in repetition, they give a possibility to test skills and most importantly they activate learned information. Many of the exercises are describing, comparing and classifying exercises, which help to understand the concepts. Exercises that involve explaining help to organize and analyze information. Forest Plants -part has a link to Helsinki University's Pinkka -learning environment. In Pinkka there is a section made especially for Virtuaalimetsä with 30 forest plant species. Plant identification has its own part in Virtuaalimetsä, because knowledge about species has a crucial role in understanding nature and ecosystems. In Forest vocabulary all the concepts presented in Virtuaalimetsä are explained in alphabetical order. In For teachers the idea of Virtuaalimetsä is explained in nutshell. There are also tips for teachers of how to use Virtuaalimetsä in teaching, and how to use information and cognitive tools for example in teamwork, whole class discussions or outside the classroom. The structure of Virtuaalimetsä website has been made into a logical and easily navigated whole by dividing the site according to the different cognitive tools and forest themes. Links are clearly presented, and studying is guided by explaining the contents of each part in advance and by giving tips of how to move in the site. There are also left many possibilities for learners to plan their own course of study. Multiple presentations are present: the information is presented both as pictures and text, and to minimize cognitive load all the information of one subject is presented on the same page.