Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Teacher perceptions regarding the organization of learning space in technology-supported classrooms. A pilot study with Italian school teachers Dott.ssa Livia Petti, PhD [email protected] Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Introduction • A growing number of Italian schools have launched digitalization projects, integrating new technologies into their classrooms • The logistical choices regarding how to lay out technology are a critical element of discourse about the organization of classroom space; however, due to time constraints, this aspect is often overlooked by teachers and principals undertaking the digitalization process • The typical Italian classroom is characterized by static positioning: desks, chairs and teacher’s desk maintain fixed positions during most of the lessons and are often arranged in traditional rows, with at most paired seating. -> Aim: to investigate what kinds of setting had been adopted, whether there was a link between the settings and the teaching methods used and how the teachers themselves perceived the role of setting in the learning process Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Methodology • Qualitative research methods, specifically semi-structured teacher interviews (Anderson, 1990). All teachers have technology in their classroom (Interactive Whiteboard and/or tablet and/or netbook ...) and they use it every day in their teaching. • 15 teachers = 5 primary, 5 middle and 5 secondary • Interviews were conducted with the following objectives: a. photographing the technological setting of some Italian classes of different types and year groups; b. understanding the link between setting and type of didactic methods adopted; c. investigating the teachers perception of the impact that the setting can have on the teaching process. Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Interview results • High number of students. Elementary Schools: 24 pupils Middle Schools: 26 students Secondary Schools: 26 students (average 24 in high schools and 28 in technical and professional). • Technology present in all classes is the Interactive Whiteboard (connected to a computer for teacher's use); only 3 classes of 15 have a one-to-one computing structure, where each student has a computer. These classes are the winners of the ministerial application “Classes 2.0” (2 teachers primary and one secondary school) which awarded a sum to invest in technology tools. • 11 teachers of 15 changed classroom places of their pupils during the year. Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Classroom setting structure 1. front setting with desks arranged in rows - paired setting or single desk setting. (9 teachers of 15 interviewed). For reason of space, safety and a large number of pupils. It is also possible to view both Interactive Whiteboard and Chalkboard; 2. mobile setting (4 teachers of 15 interviewed). Changing the layout of the desks according to the educational activities proposed; 3. horseshoe-shaped setting (2 teachers out of 15 interviewed). No high number of students – no more than 24 - and student interaction and the daily exchange of communication in the classroom. In our sample, this is detected only in primary school classes. Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca A typical lesson using technology 1. Traditional lesson with support of technology (mainly Interactive Whiteboard). This category includes all activities that use technology to support traditional lessons in the classroom such as: use of power point presentation to support of lessons, use of images and/or watching movies to introduce a topic that can or may not be followed by a brainstorming session ending with debriefing activities. 2. Traditional lesson with technology "web 2.0" to support. Some teachers have reported using web 2.0 platforms in support, such as Wordpress or Wikispaces not only as a repository for both materials produced in class at the disposal of the pupil, but also useful as a container to collect the work of pupils (such as book reviews). 3. "Extended" classroom. Teachers have carried out work in collaboration with other classes where the Interactive Whiteboard served as a communication tool . 4. Work in small groups/pairs. Power Point presentations on a particular topic, Webquest and in one case, the realization of a small e-book of philosophy using a wiki system. Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Setting for learning Giving an assessment on a scale of 1 to 6, for teachers in our sample, the setting of the classroom effects on average 4.5 on the students learning process. The result is placed in the middle, tending upwards, but without overdoing it. The importance of a relational level and "containment" "setting is important about relational level" and yet "can facilitate (or not) the students' attention" Link between setting and didactic method. as well as arrange the desks to the islands does not necessarily mean adopting a collaborative teaching, since what is required is that the design of the space goes hand in hand with the teaching methods used, so it is difficult to work in a small group setting if everything is ready to accept a teaching of frontal type. Livia Petti Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione «R.Massa» Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Conclusions • the large class sizes in Italian schools (in our sample the average was 25); • small classrooms often equipped with over-sized desks; • the difficulties with colleagues often encountered by teachers in proposing changes to established ideas; • waste of time and noise related to flexible modification of classroom layout. a single optimal setting, suitable for all occasions, does not exist. The layout should therefore be modified from time to time in line with the type of teaching method to be implemented. The environment should be as physically geared towards flexibility as possible each new technology introduced must be accompanied by reflection on the overall setting as well as on the didactic methods and processes to be implemented. The entire teaching staff and not only the most highly motivated teachers should contribute to developing the optimum solution, taking into account the benefits and drawbacks of each of the available options.