Metaphors for Teaching and Learning

Understanding Learning, Teaching and Bildung through metaphors – a collaborative wikibooks project

The project „Understanding Learning, Teaching and Bildung through metaphors – a collaborative wikibooks project“ focuses on developing professional and media based skills for students of educational studies via mutually generating a wikibook. The project also pursues to distribute a productive contribution to an open and participatory culture. The students cooperatively design metaphors to demonstrate their understanding of Bildung and other educational terms which later on are critically discussed in their pedagogy course. By designing animations of these metaphors in cooperation with Nelson Gonzalves (ESE Videu, Portugal) and students of “Artes Plasticas e Multimedia”, we also achieve international and interdisciplinary exchange between students.

Metaphors as an approach to beliefs of Learning and Teaching

Designing these metaphors enables the students to reflect on their beliefs of scholarly processes and their future actions as a teacher. Additionally it offers the opportunity for others to comment and criticize these beliefs. This provides the possibility (a) to follow up on the students’ personal preferences (as in their beliefs) and (b) to broach the issue of different beliefs regarding the normality of scholarly actions.

The two following aspects explain why students should intensively deal with their beliefs: (1) The students’ beliefs act as a filter. They only notice certain aspects of a course which they believe to be relevant for their future role as a teacher. Reflecting on one’s personal beliefs demonstrates the difference of what students are convinced to be the reason to a teacher’s education in contrast to the beliefs of professionals. (2) The student’s beliefs are very unlikely to change during their studies, says Sigrid Blömeke who researches empirical evidence on the topic. Concepts which make personal experience a main topic are more promising than those which discuss the beliefs of others.

According to the theory of learning through experience, working with metaphors provides students with the possibility to reflect their beliefs. A central statement of this theory proclaims that in order to understand and explain abstract terms like Bildung, one draws on experiences from different areas. The metaphor “Teaching and Learning is like gardening” is a perfect example of such a belief. By exchanging the metaphors which are then animated by students from Portugal, the future teachers can discover their metaphors’ different interpretations and concretions. The belief of an old male gardener working in a greenhouse is different to that of a young woman doing urban gardening.

Designing wikibooks in a participatory culture

With the phrase „from reception to participation“ Ulf-Daniel Ehlers describes the perspective within the discourse of e-learning 2.0. The learners as active initiators of their own learning process who can be co-creators of knowledge and must be involved with learning and teaching arrangements. By collaboratively working on a book in the context of an open wiki-community, we attain this general principle. This also creates the possibility of overcoming plain consumption of content and enables students to create and discuss ideas.

Creating texts and animations available to the public establishes the chance to exceed limits of exclusivity in courses and seminars. The informal sphere of wiki communities demonstrates to the students that everyone is able to discuss topics of educational science. Using wikibooks.org offers the opportunity to read, comment and revise the students’ work by not only to their professors but to everyone who is interested.

Working with wikibooks opens up the possibility to experience new ways of communication and cooperation, digital realities and productive action in modern society. According to the expert commission of the BMBF’s report regarding media education, the examination of platforms like wikibooks provides the chance to acquire valuable skills. These abilities are developed in the fields of production and service within (virtual) societies and participating in their preservation and distribution. They also help to gain skills in producing, designing and using different multimedia tools to express oneself and communicate.

Commencing: March 2015

Direction: Franco Rau & Nelson Goncalves

E-tutor: Sophie Schaper