Hyperlink and Virtual Field Worker: a powerful tool for exploratory and expressive learning
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning: Publication 2004
Paul Brown, Jon Nichol and Kate Watson
telephone: 01392 264834
School of Education and Life Long Learning,
University of Exeter, England, EX1 2LU
The contextualisation of ICT in the curriculum, paying full attention to the cultural
ambience in which teaching and learning occurs, is
at the centre of the effective educational use
of new technologies in both the home and classroom.
The introduction and assimilation of ICT within the existing teaching and learning ‘cultures’ of a
school and its community of pupils, parents and teachers
is a highly complex and ‘messy’
process. Central is the pedagogic expert knowledge of the teachers involved and how ICT maps
on to both their existing pedagogic expert knowledge
their ‘folk’ pedagogy
and a range of
institutional constraints and deman
ds that may either hinder or facilitate innovation. Fundamental
to ICT in the curriculum is the often implicit correlation between applied professional and
academic knowledge, the teacher’s ‘expert’ model, and its relation to the learner’s knowledge
the ‘novice’ or ‘student’ model. In this case the novices can be other
teachers as well as pupils! As such, the changing state of the learner’s knowledge is socially
constructed, situated as it is within the school context. This paper examin
es the creation and use
of a hyperlink programme, Virtual Field Worker, for both children and teachers to use both as
exploratory and expressive learners within a school environment. Children use the VFW in to
investigate aspects of their locality. They th
en use the data collected to create a virtual field work
centre. We have deliberately used the universally available hyperlink facility in Microsoft Word to
replicate key features of Knowledge Based Systems in the creation and exploration of declarative
mantic networks. The paper also focuses on the professional development of the teacher
involved as an outcome of an in
service course and a subsequent government scholarship for
teachers that led to the development of Virtual Field Worker.
ive apprenticeship, expert and novice models, expressive and exploratory
learning, hyperlink, mental modelling, situated learning, user modelling, virtual field worker,
service outcome, continuing professional development
This paper falls into six sect
2 The ICT background
3 Virtual Field Worker and the modelling of expert knowledge
4 Virtual Field Worker: structure and functions
A curriculum development and research site
6 Findings and discussion: VFW and teachers’ profess
The contextualisation of ICT in the curriculum, paying full attention to the cultural ambience in
which teaching and learning occurs, is at the centre of the effective educational use of new
technologies. The introduction
and assimilation of ICT within the existing teaching and learning
‘cultures’ of a school and its community of pupils, parents and teachers is a highly complex and
‘messy’ process. Central is the pedagogic expert knowledge of the teachers involved and how
CT maps on to both their existing pedagogic expert knowledge
their ‘folk’ pedagogy
range of institutional constraints and demands that may either hinder or facilitate innovation
(John, 2002). Central to ICT is the often implicit correlation betw
een applied professional and
academic knowledge, the ‘expert’ model, and its relation to the learner’s knowledge and
the ‘student’ model. The changing state of the learner’s knowledge is socially
constructed, situated within the school cont
ext (Chaiklin & Lave, 1997; Lave, 1998; Clancey,
1997, 1988; Lave & Wenger, 1991).
This paper examines the creation and use of Virtual Field Worker (VFW), a programme
initially created in Microsoft Word using the hyperlink facility for children to use bot
exploratory and expressive learners within a school environment. Children used the VFW in to
investigate aspects of their locality, using the software for exploratory learning. They then used
the data collected to create a virtual fieldwork centre, us
ing the software expressively to process
and consolidate their learning. We deliberately used the hyperlink facility in Microsoft’s Word to
replicate key features of Knowledge Based Systems in the creation and exploration of declarative
To explore a site created using Virtual Field Worker, go to
, where you can find a Virtual Field Worker site created by a small
village primary school in Devon, England. The s
chool used a British government Best Practice
Research Scholarship (BPRS) for teachers to produce a CD
ROM base on the Virtual Field
Worker approach to celebrate the Queen of England’s Golden Jubilee, 1952
Virtual Field Worker arose from the conflue
nce of a number of complimentary interests and
an enthusiastic, motivated and knowledgeable user of ICT for teaching and learning in a
primary school [Paul Brown]
an expert on the theory and practice of history education who had had a twenty yea
interest in the application of cutting edge ICT to education [Jon Nichol]
a colleague with considerable expertise in ICT in the context of training both student
teachers and experienced teachers to develop the use of ICT in the school teaching
m [Kate Watson]
We worked together during a five
service course for schoolteachers that Jon Nichol ran for
an English Local Education Authority in 1999
2000. After the course Paul was awarded a Best
Practice Research Scholarship, a government grant
for teachers to enable them to do school
based research. Paul used his BPRS to develop the Virtual Field Worker within the context of his
own school. The Virtual Field Worker incorporated a decade of school
based ICT development.
Crucial is Virtual Field
Worker’s use of an ICT tool within a word processor that is universally
available from Microsoft
it requires no dedicated package that has to be downloaded or
purchased. All the authoring tools needed are available within the generic software provided wi
the computers used in English schools. Teachers and pupils are familiar with the software and
can be encouraged to explore the use of specific tools within it, such as the hyperlink facility.
2 The ICT background
Virtual Field Worker is grounded in two
decades of ICT curriculum development and research that
began in 1982 with experimentation in teaching
ic] to children.
to help them engage in historical enquiries: they were developing the
syntactic or procedur
al knowledge of the discipline
its skills, procedures, protocols and
concepts. The hypothesis underpinning this use of
was that it would drive pupils to select,
organise and analyse data in a logical way
thus deepening their understanding of a t
with children proved difficult because of the problems that pupils had in learning the
programming language before using it. So, from 1985 onwards we removed this barrier to
learning by embedding
’s features into user
tural language interfaces.
The interfaces resulted in a set of Knowledge Based Tools (KBTs) written in
. Each KBT was a content free shell
as such, they worked in
the same way as a word
processor. The K
BTs provided frameworks for teachers and pupils both
to express their understanding of topics, and, as learners, to explore them using the skeleton that
the programme provided.
[Man In The Street Interface] was a natural language front
was an adventure game shell and
was a data
tool for analysing place names. Our two main shells for use across the curriculum were
s main use was for procedural programming
it enabled us to a
pply the tree
structure of procedural programs to problem solving, expert knowledge/systems, games,
simulations and classification.
was most effective for declarative programming: the
linking of the nodes in a semantic network. We used
for all kinds of investigations,
concept maps and information networks. A typical
programme was Greendie, a
detective investigation, see figure 1. The programme was used in 1999 to introduce Paul to a
hyperlinked exploratory programme.
92 we used
extensively on in
service courses for teachers and in
our curriculum research and development work in school for the 7
18 age range. Some sixty
teachers and students used
to create programmes in the follow
Archaeology, Biology, Careers, Classical Studies, English, Engineering, Geography, History,
Mathematics, PSHE, Physics, Politics, Social Studies, Special Educational Needs, Design &
Technology and Topic Work
Figure 1. Greendie’s declarative database
hyperlinked words in each node’s text links
it to other nodes
Applications fell into a number of categories:
inhabitants of Vicarage
Saturday night weather
Adventure Games, Classification, Concepts, Detective/Journalistic Investigations, Expert
owledge/Expert Systems, Games, Historical Enquires, Information Handling, Simulations,
Stories, Story Lines, Tutorial Systems
The abandonment of PROLOG Knowledge Based Tools
In the early 1990s, with the emergence of the PC and the British Government’s prom
the use of these machines in schools, we were forced to abandon our
development work. The work reflected Skilbeck’s barriers to innovation model, i.e. to succeed
there was a series of hurdles that could be faced in any order, fail
ure at any one of which would
vitiate the innovation. Unfortunately within British schools our Knowledge Based Tools fell at the
first hurdle to innovation they encountered, the absence of computers able to run our software.
However, we continued to apply
the underlying ideas, enshrined in Papert’s seminal and
inspirational book on
, to our work (1980). Papert’s key idea was that the
computer was an enabling tool that mapped on to the cognitive processes of children. As such,
in mainstream developmental psychology, specifically Piaget’s
findings, although his ideas on the computer as a supporting cognitive tool mirrored Vygtoskian
analysis of the role of language. The approach of using ICT as a learning toolkit inf
1996 development of Site Explorer, a software application for exploring historical sites, using a
British government grant. Site Explorer enabled the teacher to load into the program a photo
users could then explore the site at will. Unfort
unately copyright problems meant that Site
Explorer was never made universally available: while the government’s ICT agency waxed lyrical
over Site Explorer, it claimed it was powerless to act. The thinking behind Site Explorer re
emerged in the developmen
t of the Virtual Field Worker.
Renaissance of Knowledge Based Tools: 1996
The incorporation of the hyperlink facility into Microsoft Word provided the breakthrough that
we had been looking for in terms of applying the power of Knowledge Based Tools to
and learning. Microsoft provided a powerful device within a universally available word processing
package that would enable us to use the features of ICT tools such as Keynotes, Linx and Site
Explorer. We realised that the hyperlink tool could be
used to replicate the essential features of
Keynotes, Linx and Site Explorer. Accordingly, we experimented with hyperlink from 1998 and
introduced it into our ICT courses from 1999 (Watson et al, 2000
A key aspect of our courses
was to present history a
s an investigative, problem solving discipline. Here we adopted the stance
of R.G. Collingwood, a philosopher whose book
The Idea of History
(1949) provided the
epistemological foundations for the major reform of history teaching in the United Kingdom. In
Idea of History Collingwood demonstrates the basic idea of History as an investigative, problem
solving discipline, arguing that it shares many of the features of detective work, To illustrate his
ideas Collingwood presented a murder mystery, an invest
igation of the death of John Doe. The
course that Paul Brown enrolled on in 1999 begins with the Collingwood investigation in both hard
copy and electronic form, Greendie, see
[we gave John Doe a
pseudonym, John Green]. The course demonstrated the structure of Greendie and the teachers
enacted and mentally modelled what it involves, spending some time in exploratory use of the
software. We also trained course members in the us
e of hyperlink, the essential tool used to
produce the electronic version of Greendie. The final element in our training is implementation,
reflection and review
Paul applied the concept of historical investigation in a hyperlinked format
to his own teac
hing context. In so doing, Paul developed the ideas that resulted in the Virtual
Field Worker, working closely with his own pupils.
Virtual Field Worker and the modelling of expert knowledge
Virtual Field Worker sits at the intersection of student knowledg
e and expert pedagogic
knowledge. The sophistication of Expert Pedagogic Knowledge has been a focus of educational
research since Shulman’s seminal papers of 1986
87 (Grossman et al, 1988; Shulman, 1986a,
1986b, 1987). At Exeter in the early 1990s the Lev
erhulme Primary Project explored the issue of
teachers’ knowledge bases in the context of Initial Teacher Training courses. The result was an
elaborated model of Expert Pedagogic Knowledge (Turner
Bisset, 2001). In creating Virtual Field
Worker Paul drew u
pon all twelve of the knowledge bases that contribute towards Expert
Pedagogic Knowledge (Figure 2).
The expert model of teaching and learning that underpins the Virtual Field Worker had to map
on to the novice knowledge of the students involved
ils and teachers. Student
knowledge has two dimensions: the syntactic and the substantive. Syntactic knowledge
encompasses the novice’s skills, understanding of processes involved and the protocols for
carrying them out: i.e. how to undertake a local study
from its inception to resolution. Substantive
knowledge was the applied knowledge of the topics that they were investigating.
Accordingly the expert pedagogic model underpinning Virtual Field Worker has an awareness
of the user’s novice knowledge. The VF
W had to be accessible to both teachers and pupils who
wanted to create and explore their own Virtual Field Work centres. In creating Virtual Field Worker
Paul wanted to provide an iconic interface that pupils would find easy to use. This related to
ic features, like maps and diagrams; iconic elements such as photographs and pictures as
well as text
see section 4 for details. Virtual Field Worker is based upon exploring a map of a
Paul immediately became aware of the problems that this might
cause the user:
However, I hit a snag when trying to do my front page (the home page). I had chosen to
use a map of the village from which to launch the investigations. Microsoft Word would not let
me place hidden labels on the map. To have placed all
the hyperlinked labels on the map
visibly would have obscured the map. So, with the help of my son, we began to construct a
map in the way I wanted it using
this meant that the labels were
hidden from sight until the cursor move
d over one]
Knowledge Bases of the Expert
Expert Pedagogic Knowledge
Detailed knowledge of the role that ICT could play
in teaching local studies across a range of
Syntactic subject knowledge
Assimilation of the skills, processes, protocols
and syntactic concepts of both ICT and the
subjects that Local Studies embraced.
Beliefs about the subject
A strong commitment to the role that ICT could
play in learning and the value of Local Studies in
children’s learning ‘
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en’s thinking develops.
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familiar with Microsoft’s Word processing
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Figure 2. Expert Teacher Knowledge Bases and Virtual Field Worker
User modelling involved making sure that the user could not get lost
in the database: the user
would have to be able to return to either of the Virtual Field Worker site’s two starting points
map and the index.
…it is sensible to have a direct link back to the map and the index from each page for the
sake of the user
exploring the pages. Otherwise s/he gets lost.
The expert pedagogic model of the VFW also mapped on to the school’s archive of previous
One of the more satisfying aspects of the project is that it has given me an opportunity to
findings of a project undertaken by a Year 5 class of mine in 1992. The children
sought to find out about the histories of the men whose names are on the village war
memorial. Much information and photographs were gathered, but until now there has not
en any satisfactory place for its storage for use by other pupils. A link from the War
Memorial page takes one straight to it.
Crucially, Virtual Field Worker is open ended, i.e. it can be altered and extended at will. In a
real sense it is a living arch
ive. As such, it may be used in both an exploratory and an expressive
way as a flexible and adaptable ICT
based learning resource.
4 Virtual Field Worker: structure and functions
Paul’s expert pedagogic knowledge was reflected in the VFW’s architecture tha
t consists of:
A the user interface,
B navigation features
C four layers of data, like the layers of a cake. The nodes in each layer are linked
both to each other and also have links to the layers above or below.
A The user interface
As noted in the las
t section, it was vital to make the interface as user friendly as possible, i.e.
to map on to a novice level of expertise. To make the pages easily editable by other members of
staff and children Paul chose to use the ubiquitous Microsoft Word for the prep
aratory work. Once
work had been authored and checked, it could be saved as html files for uploading onto a web
site. Using the map involves moving the cursor over it: hotspots are then signalled by a label that
emerges with the name of the feature the fe
ature, for example, the parish church. Hidden labels
can be created in Microsoft Word, although there are problems when this facility is saved in html
files for access via an Internet browser.
There are approximately 75 places and themes directly linked
from the map. Some are
almost blank, awaiting contributions, while others, like the Clock School page already have
information on them.
The Map and the Index.
The entry point for the VFW is the map. Linked to the map are key
features: an ind
ex, a navigation symbol and a user guide.
In the top left hand corner of the page are
. A click on one of
these will allow a visit to the place that can be seen in that direction. In this way a virtual tour of
can be taken. All files provide a direct link back to the Map and the Index, and to the
previous file via the back button. The Map and the Index do not link directly to all other files.
were created linking to places and themes. The map was the
home page. As the
cursor is dragged over the map names of the places appear. Click on these and a place page will
appear. For example a linked from the spot marked by the arrow on the map will link to The Clock
In the text there is an under
lined word e.g. “
”. A click on this will open a page about
the activities of children from my class at their cub camp. Many of the pages also have further
links like this, which will open further pages.
A click on a hotspot placed on a pictu
re, such as the church tower, will open a page
showing a close up view of the clock.
Some aspects of village life are not place
specific, for example, wildlife.
Consequently, to the south and east of the map thematic hotspots were creat
ed covering such
titles as weather, soil, plants, wildlife and history. The wildlife hotspot leads to a page which leads
to three further menus; birds, mammals and mini
beasts. In addition, within the text, there are
links to other pages in the text.
Four Layers of data
The Field Worker Explorer is organised in four layers consisting of nodes
links run between
nodes in a layer and to nodes in other layers. See Figures 3a and 3b.
Layer One: The Map and the Index
In the Field Worker Explorer the main entry point is the map. At a later stage PauI added an
index for ease of navigation.
Layer Two: The Broad Categories
Each heading is linked from both the
map and the index. These included such categories as
History, Wildlife, and Geography. They were inserted because some aspects of a village cannot
be easily associated with a single building.
Layer Three: Individual Files
Accessible from the Broad Categ
ories files, but some, notably sites of buildings featured on the
map, are accessible directly from the map.
Layer Four: Sub
These are files that are only accessible through the Individual Files.
The Broad Category is Churches. This w
ould link to individual files, one of which is the Parish
Church. The Parish Church file then links to sub
files, including one about Inside the Church.
Virtual Field Worker is a cross
curricular tool. Starting from a local large
scale map, pupils
nvestigate the area around their school. Their fieldwork involves geographical, historical,
religious and scientific investigations, see Figures 4 & 5. Virtual Field Worker enables them to
present their findings in an easily accessible form either as a web
site or on a CD ROM.
A curriculum development and research site
Virtual Field worker was developed at the school where Paul is a teacher, in
Buckinghamshire, England. The work was funded using a British Government Best Practice
2002. The BPRS released Paul for sufficient time to re
himself with hyperlink. Hyperlink had been an element in his five day in
service course on
Literacy, History and Information and Communications Technology in 1999
2000, see above.
e school caters for pupils are of mixed gender across the ability range. The school children live
in surrounding villages and suburban areas and in the local town. The pupils engaged in
developing Virtual Field Worker were a class of 30 Year 3 and Year 4 p
upils aged from 7
old. The research was carried out in the summer term of 2002. The information entered into the
Virtual Field Worker includes a collage of photographs of the village, both past and present, a
collection of local studies resources
and pupils’ previous fieldwork.
Figure 4. Curriculum Areas
Virtual Field Worker
& a Pupil Information Network for his bedroom
First World War
Second World War
Water and streams
Graphs and charts
Paul’s Action Research aims
to learn how
to use ICT via ICT and Vi
rtual Field Worker as a tool to develop pupil
to develop a school resource for investigation in Local Studies.
to provide a medium by which the collection of Local Studies material can be stored,
made accessible and can be added to.
the use of Local Studies as a bridge to pupil learning and knowledge
across the curriculum
These translated into
his professional development research questions
Can I use hyperlink as an element in ICT provision?
Can I use hyperlink to develop a school
resource for Local Studies?
Can I provide a medium by which the collection of Local Studies material can be stored,
made accessible and added to?
Can I encourage Local Studies, via the Virtual Field Worker, to be a cross curricular tool?
In terms of
can pupils use Virtual Field Worker as a medium to develop and express their
understanding of local studies topics
The question of pupil’s learning outcomes will be addressed in a subsequent paper
a has yet to be analysed. The research aims and questions mapped on to Paul’s
vision of what Virtual Field Worker could do:
This was the beginning of a project to construct linked web pages through which the
children could explore their own village. As t
he children began to explore their surroundings I
was aiming that they would spin off to explore related themes, for example as they looked at
the local petrol station, they would notice that one of the buildings on the site is called The
Forge. This coul
d lead to an exploration of the history of petrol stations, back to blacksmiths
and then on to find out what a blacksmith did. This in turn could link on to a discovery of the
trades to be found on a village up to Edwardian times. Likewise, if the childr
en recorded the
weather around the village, links to the science of weather as well as the climatic conditions of
other regions and nations.
The possible links are endless. Therefore it was my aim for this project to be an evolving
one, built largely by
the pupils of the school and added to in subsequent years. Therefore it
has to be simple enough for others to add to without my intervention.
The research methodology
was that of Paul as an action researcher, with Jon Nichol and
Kate Watson in participan
t researcher roles. Pual used the following data collection methods:
recording all lesson plans and resources;
recording the lessons taught, in such a manner that others could follow them.
producing Virtual Field Worker as a depository of pupil learning
outcomes in the
form of data entered into the Virtual Field Worker site
keeping a reflective diary
writing formative reports at key points in the research process
Paul had been trained in the Action Research methodology on both the five
acy and ICT course and as an element in the Best Practice Research Scholarship programme
(Nichol with Dean, 1997; Somekh, 1997) JN and KW through their involvement with both the five
service course and the Best Practice Research scholarship were par
ticipant researchers: as
such they were able to gather data from Paul’s coursework, from visiting the school on two
separate occasions during the development of Virtual Field Worker and a constant dialogue via
email and telephone in their supervisory role.
An Ordering Of In
Service Training Outcomes
knowledge and skills
The Harland & Kinder research into government f
unded long CPD courses [GEST] showed
that the greater the number of these outcomes that are present, the more effective is the CPD.
For long term impact, the 1
order outcomes are
. Without them the impact of
CPD is short
term and transitory.
service training outcomes
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development in teachers’ self
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e or negative)
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practical, resourced strategies and ideas for the
physical resources including time and materials
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being briefed or aware/knowing about background
curriculum and management
perceptual or conceptual shifts from previous
assumptions about content and delivery i
n a particular
Figure 6 Taxonomy of in
service training outcomes
6 Findings and discussion: VFW and teachers’ professional development
The creation of Virtual Field Worker reflected the factors that Harland & Kinder identified as
nvolved in successful in
service (Harland & Kinder, 1997). Harland & Kinder produced a
three tier typology, figure 6
the top tier being crucial for any in
service to have a lasting impact.
The more elements that are in an in
service programme, the more
likely is the in
Harland & Kinder argued that 1
order elements are crucial if in
service is to have a long term
impact. They were central to Paul’s creation of the Virtual Field Worker. The issue of
whole Best Practice Research Scholarship process
as Paul noted:
I had to learn the following ICT routes to achieve all objectives:
To learn how to hyperlink in Microsoft Word.
To learn how to create hotspots on a map.
To organise files in a manageable
To understand the protocol of web pages and their links.
To understand the formatting of pictures in Microsoft Word.
To learn how to network a suite of computers together.
To plan ICT lessons for children in the building of hyperlinked documents.
To teach children how to build hyperlinked documents.
To teach children how to understand a networked filing system.
To create databases from children’s research.
To explore those databases.
In the process I also covered the following ICT skills:
tion of drop
down menu forms.
The use of a variety of digital cameras.
The installation and use of scanners.
Learning how to use PowerPoint in order to display the work to other teachers
Exploring other ways in which hyperlinking can be used as
values and beliefs
, was equally important: Paul repo
rted on its
a belief that knowledge and learning can never be satisfactorily
compartmentalised. Areas of knowledge usually
overlap more than one academic subject.
Life is much more integrated than a ten subject curriculum would suggest. Therefore, I
wished to show some of this integration in my work.
a belief that to grasp an understanding of the world, we all nee
d to understand
home first. Over the years I have taken many children on field trips, often to fulfil the need to
contrast another locality in the UK with our own local area. What has become apparent is
how little children know about their own area. Thi
s is due, maybe, too much car travel and
too little walking. It is impossible for a child to be able to compare adequately another locality
with his home area unless he is familiar with the essential ingredients of his home community.
need to be taught to look and understand what they see in their own
a belief that there is so much to see on our doorstep that can be used for
learning that is too often neglected. Because the schools I have taught in are within thirty
miles of London, many of the trips orientate towards that city. Much time is spent on a coach
in traffic that could much more profitably be spent out and about the local area. A trip to see
the River Thames as part of a study of rivers and streams is go
od, but not if it means a
neglect of a study of the local streams, which are much more accessible. Much more time can
be given to a local visit and revisits can easily be arranged, if desirable. One local feature,
like a stream, can lead into a far wider
study. For example, a study of a local stream can yield
an insight into the natural drainage of the area, the route to the sea it takes, with all the
settlements it passes through, as well as a look at the speed of water flow, the flora and fauna
ies on a stream, and in addition, the reliance of human settlement on the stream. In
the Thames Basin area, in which I live, the River Thames is a part of a much wider picture.
Therefore, in the same way, a local study can lead on to a much wider study o
f almost all
areas of knowledge.’
All three of the Harland & Kinder second order elements are reflected in both the
development of Virtual Field Worker and the continuing programme of work. Paul is
, he has a personal,
and is fully aware of mapping VFW on to the
of his school, its community, and the wider educational context.
The issue of
specific school system
is crucial. Paul is clear that his Virtual Field Worker site met
these demands. The development of Virtual Field Worker entailed a continuous dialogue between
Paul’s expert pedagogic knowledge that matched
and the ‘novice’
ge of the pupils. Paul had a clear vision of what was possible, but he had to map this on
to the existing substantive and syntactic knowledge of the pupils
their substantive knowledge of
the topics being entered into Virtual Field Worker and their syntac
tic skills, procedural concepts,
procedures and protocols. Paul’s report of his school’s project gives a detailed account of the
context of the pupil learning as part of their overall curricular provision. The report is posted on the
. The teaching covered the following lessons and topics:
Introducing pupils to, and training them to use, hyperlink.
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睡w⁴ r敡t攠en湦潲m慴ao渠n慰 ⁴ 敩r睮e摲潯msⰠI湤⁴ e渠
愠vir瑵tl visit⁴ ⁴ 攠ec
Once the pupils had learnt how to set up hyperlinks, the project focused:
… on the children gaining the skills and understanding to make the links between the
pages. Therefore, the emphasis was not on original writing
. Consequently, we used the
information contained on the web
site of Birds of Britain. The children had to make HTML
files and add a hyperlink back to the Birds page.
Paul’s evaluation of the pupil’s learning indicated that he had met the
terms of both the government’s targets in its statutory ICT National Curriculum and wider concerns.
The pupils, with teacher support, had been introduced to and learnt how to:
use a questionnaire regarding their home;
wn menu documents to record their findings;
use a database with given fields;
use hyperlinking in documents;
make the material available on a school intranet;
prepare material for disseminating to the school community through an assembly
and to the parents
through an open evening.
Paul has subsequently received a follow
up award to disseminate Virtual Field Worker. The
grant reflects the
involved, not only is he extending the work at his own
school, but he is also disseminating i
t to other schools within the Local Education Authority. He
has already worked with a second school creating a Virtual Field Worker Site. Virtual Field Worker
was also used at a Devon primary school to create an exploratory learning resource on CD
elebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee, 1952
The final level of Harland & Kinder outcomes permeated the project, Paul had a range of
t he could use, and he was fully
and was made
possibilities. Thus in developing the VFW Paul’s professional development maps closely on to all
the elements that Harland & Kinder identified.
The next, and crucial step is to s
ee if the lessons from the Buckinghamshire case
study of the
development of Virtual Field Worker can be transferred to other schools. The aims of the Paul’s
application for a further grant to develop VFW stated:
I want to see the work continue to incorpor
ate the cross
curricular links I think it
I want to see teachers who are not ICT experts make use of the scheme and add
their own part to it.
I want to see other pupils in the school use the scheme for investigation and edit it
I want t
o involve a whole community in the project.
I wish to transfer the concept to other schools.
I want to develop the idea of using hyperlink as a tool for teaching thinking skills.
I want to see if it is possible to turn my Virtual Field Worker into a model
that can be
easily replicated. This would involve discussion with either a software manufacturer
or a computer programmer to see how it could be done.
Jon Nichol and Kate Watson look forward to following the next phase of Paul’s action
research and will
be reporting on further stages of his work in due course.
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