Iida Harvala, Pihla Pohjankyrö, Emmi Rajala & Tea Tarvainen
The teaching experiment was done for the course “Teacher as a researcher of one’s job”. The goal of the course was to design, implement and develop a virtual teaching session. We wanted to try and develop a new kind of virtual and applied teaching method as well as strengthen our pedagogical skills. In addition, we were able to familiarize ourself with various opportunities that distance learning has to offer, and at the same time we were able to develop ourselves while operating outside our comfort zones.
The teaching experiment was carried out in a middle school in Helsinki for three different groups of 8th graders in March 2022. The duration of a teaching session was 60 minutes and the lessons were held during one week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The lessons were held remotely: students were at their own classroom with their own teacher. We, the teachers, were projected on the screen in the classroom. Students and the classroom were projected to us through the teachers’ computer. Communication happened over Teams. The students were encouraged to come and ask us for help over the computer if they needed it.
Our topic was nutrition. The lesson was built on the basis that the students had already worked with the topic earlier; the aim of our lesson was to repeat and deepen the topic. Additional goals for the teaching experiment were to develop listening and conversational skills, to consider time usage, and to utilize information and communication technology in learning. We built the lesson around a YouTube video we had filmed. Our “What I eat in a day” YouTube video featured YouTubers Mirkku and Pirkku. The video consisted of clips of the youtuber’s meals throughout the day. After each clip, students carried out tasks related to the clip in groups. They answered questions using Google Forms. Links to these forms were placed on the Flinga platform, where students were instructed to go in the beginning of the lesson.
Concepts of learning behind our teaching experiment
Constructivist and socioconstructivist concepts of learning formed the basis of our teaching. In constructivism, learning is considered as an active processing of knowledge, where learning is related to action. The learner interprets new information through their previous knowledge and expectations. Learning is always situation-dependent and a result of interaction. (Tynjälä, 1999, p. 37–38.) In socioconstructivism, important things, such as asking for and receiving help, are learned together. Information is not born out of nowhere and it’s not created alone, but shaped together with others, based on existing information. (Jyrhämä, Hellström, Uusikylä & Kansanen, 2016.)
The Finnish national core curriculum (POPS, 2014, p. 17) is also based on the concept of learning, where student is an active agent, who learns to set goals and strives for problem solving independently and in interaction with others. Learning is both about doing things together and alone as well as planning, thinking, researching, and evaluating these processes. The students are instructed to integrate what they have learned with what they have learned in the past, allowing them to learn new things and to deepen their understanding of what they have learned. Learning of knowledge and skill requires long-term practice and it is cumulative. (POPS, 2014, p. 17.) We wanted to teach with positive pedagogy by praising and encouraging students. A communal, positive culture and social relationships support the inclusion, learning and well-being of children and young people (Kumpulainen, Mikkola, Rajala, Hilppö & Lipponen, 2014, p. 228).
Development of teaching experiment based on feedback
Teaching was developed based on reflection and feedback from students and teachers. After the first lesson, we changed Flinga’s editing features so that students could not edit the view. The students had added their own comments to the Flinga wall and removed links from it while the editing rights were enabled. We also edited Flinga so that links can be opened only after watching the video, because the teachers had told us that some of the students had already opened the links and started the assignments while watching the video. Before the first lesson, we assumed that the time might run out. To our surprise, we realized that 60 minutes was just enough time to process the subject. We even had time to complete the homework assignment during the lesson. This increased the interaction with the students, as they had to present their answers to us in front of the camera.
One area of development was also to make the Kahoot quiz more difficult and to come up with additional questions. The students had pointed out in the feedback that the quiz was too easy, which we had also thought about earlier. In addition, we received feedback from teachers that it is important for the beginning of the lesson to be clear. This way students will better focus on the teachers and the teaching through Teams.
The changes made after the first teaching clarified and improved the teaching. After the second lesson, we got feedback from the teachers to show the answers related to the YouTube video. Answers were added to every question on the PowerPoint slides. This resulted in students to focus better on reviewing of answers. After the third lesson, we received feedback about stuttering audio in the videos. Some parts were not properly audible. At that moment, we could not impact the audio quality, but that’s something to consider when designing a virtual lesson.
The teachers found our lessons a refreshing variation. We also received positive feedback from students stating that the lesson had been fun and that they learned something new during the lesson. In our opinion, this development of the teaching experiment was successful, and we are satisfied with the implementation of the development work.
Jyrhämä, R., Hellström, M., Uusikylä, K. & Kansanen, P. (2016). Opettajan didaktiikka. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus.
Kumpulainen, K., Mikkola, A., Rajala, A., Hilppö, J. & Lipponen, L. (2014). Positiivisen pedagogiikan jäljillä. Teoksessa L. Uusitalo (toim.) Positiivisen psykologian voima. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus. 224–242.
Opetushallitus. (2014). Perusopetuksen opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2014. Määräykset ja ohjeet: 96. Helsinki: Next Print.
Tynjälä, P. (1999). Oppiminen tiedon rakentamisena – Konstruktivistisen oppimiskäsityksen perusteita. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä.