It is our contention that digital technology has the potential to enhance existing and promote new forms of classroom dialogue, provide a visualisation of ‘interthinking’ and prompt/direct participation in collaborative activities. Developed by the University of Oslo, Talkwall is a free and open web-based micro-blogging tool specially designed (unlike some other micro-blog platforms) for sharing information and developing knowledge in the classroom. Using Talkwall, an individual (e.g. a teacher) formulates a question or a challenge before participants (e.g. students) – individually or in groups – post messages to a shared ‘wall’ (e.g. large screen or projector).
This session has two aims:
1) To present details of research, undertaken by the University of Oslo and University of Cambridge, that considers how the Talkwall micro-blogging tool affects interactions in ‘dialogic classrooms’.
2) To offer participants a practical introduction to Talkwall.
Underpinned by a Vygotskian sociocultural framework, which views learning as a social process mediated by tools, emerging findings from research in Norwegian (n=5) and UK (n=2) secondary schools will be reported. This research investigates how educational uses of micro-blogging affect interactions and dialogue in classrooms, and considers the ways in which dialogue and micro-blogging contributions are combined. Using a design-based approach with educators working as co-researchers, approximately 400 learners were involved in the first phase of the research. Data collection included quantitative (e.g. metadata, measurement of group collaboration/critical thinking, social network/semantic analysis) and qualitative (e.g. field observations, interviews, focus groups) approaches.
Accessing Talkwall using their own mobile/computing devices, and drawing on materials developed to support practitioners and students, participants will also interactively explore how the software expands the ‘dialogic space’ for learning (as it provides an interface to make thinking visible); encourages instant visualisation and comparison of ideas (as contributions can be interactively arranged and organised); enables learners to share, evaluate and develop knowledge together (in a manner that promotes active participation and inclusion).
The session will conclude with a discussion, supported by Talkwall, that considers potential applications of the technology in alternative educational settings.
Howe, C., & Abedin, M. (2013). Classroom dialogue: A systematic review across four decades of research. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43(3), 325-356.
Alexander, R. (2012). Improving oracy and classroom talk in English schools. DfE Seminar.
Lawrence, J. F., et al. (2015). Word Generation Randomized Trial Discussion Mediates the Impact of Program Treatment on Academic Word Learning. AERJ, 52(4), 750-786.