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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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The Le@rning Federation digital content and the pre-service education sector

Olivia Clarke

The Le@rning Federation (TLF) has recently developed a web-based digital content repository for staff and students in pre-service education faculties in Australia and New Zealand. The content repository, which is freely available to licensed tertiary institutions, provides access to more than 6,000 interactive learning objects and digitised photos, maps, film clips, posters, digitised artworks, sound files of speeches, songs and interviews, and documents – all either built or licensed by TLF. The pre-service sector now can access the same digital content that is freely available to all government, independent and Catholic schools in Australia and New Zealand.

The new function-rich repository provides opportunities for pre-service staff and students to access, view and understand the scope of the digital content available, to critique it in relation to the pedagogical opportunities it offers, and to develop curriculum activities which integrate the content into learning and assessment tasks within a comprehensive range of subject domains. This nation-wide access to  digital curriculum materials will assist pre-service educators in meeting the new challenges and demands of the ‘digital revolution’ in schools, identified by the new Australian Government as a major priority.

 

 

TLF Homepage

 

TLF learning objects are interactive multimedia curriculum resources with in-built learning design. They focus on the concepts and skills taught in a range of subject areas in Australian and New Zealand schools and are designed to support student learning in the P12 years. Currently there are 2,100 learning objects discoverable in the repository.

In addition to learning objects, more than 4,000 single items can be found in the repository, sourced and licensed from institutions such as the National Archives of Australia, the National Library, the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian Film Commission and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. Each of these digital resources comes with helpful educational value notes that describe and contextualise the resource for the user.

The current figure of 6,200 items is expected to double by mid-2009. Thus, the repository is becoming a significant ‘one-stop shop’ for educators with its rich and diverse digital educational resources, difficult to source and access in any other way.

 

 

TLF Search

 

 
Features of the TLF digital repository include:

  • sophisticated ‘Google-like’ search, browse and filter tools, which reflect the needs and interests of Australian and New Zealand education users (see above for an example);
  • search results viewable on timelines and Google maps (see below);
  • the capability to build folders of favourite items;
  • the capability to develop curriculum activities that integrate selected digital content with learning tasks;
  • the option of delivering these ‘learning pathways’, with links to the content, direct to students via PIN access;
  • the option of producing a PDF learning path in print, which provides the student with a record of engagement with the selected content;
  • the ability to rate and comment on the value of individual learning objects. It is hoped that this Web 2.0 feature will lead to an increased understanding of the pedagogical value of digital content in authentic teaching and learning contexts.

 

TLF Map Interface

 

 

 
Enabling pre-service tertiary institutions access to the content repository has been a great success since the offer was made. As of March 2008, all education faculties in Australia are either licensed or are in the process of becoming licensed users of The Le@rning Federation content, and 400 faculty members and 2,000 students are now registered users of the repository.

Some faculties have begun to design coursework for pre-service teachers which requires them to critique learning objects according to the underpinning principles of the relevant discipline. Others require students to design teaching and learning activities that integrate digital content. Others again require their students during practicums to closely observe the extent to which digital content, and ICTs more broadly, are embedded in the schooling experience.

The successful implementation of TLF learning objects in teacher education is illustrated in a paper by Dr Sara Booth, lecturer in English/literacy curriculum in the Bachelor of Teaching program, University of Tasmania. TLF material has been used within Dr Booth's course and in the assessment tasks set for its pre-service teachers. The learning objects were used to help student teachers explore, analyse and prepare multimodal texts. The student teachers were also shown how learning objects can be used to differentiate activities for the class based on different students’ needs.

A real challenge for pre-service educators is to help future teachers successfully harness new technologies and tools in the service of quality teaching and learning.  If schooling is to be aligned with the modern digital, connected world, new technologies such as interactive whiteboards, learning objects, digital multimedia, Web 2.0 tools, wireless hardware and mobile phones will need to be included alongside established print, video, audio and broadcast media and common software applications like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

By providing the tertiary education sector with access to quality multimodal curriculum resources and tools via the TLF digital repository, newly trained teachers can be equipped with a greater understanding of how to create challenging learning tasks for their digital age students.

Access to view some of the features of the TLF digital repository is available at http://econtent.thelearningfederation.edu.au. Please be aware that full access is available only to licensed users.

If you would like any further information about the ways in which The Le@rning Federation is supporting the pre-service education sector, please contact Dr Olivia Clarke, Teacher Services unit: olivia.clarke@thelearningfederation.edu.au.

KLA

Subject Headings

Educational innovations
Technology
Internet