Friday, August 13, 2010

IFLA Report: Wholebrain learning of information literacy

Ann-Louise de Boer presented a paper which she has coauthored with Pieter du Toit and Theo Bothma (all from University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa), Multidisciplinary collaboration: A necessity for curriculum innovation. The full paper is at She discribed a project which aims to develop material and teaching and learning approaches as a basis for teaching information literacy (for a module taught to all first year students, 8000 a year!). The guiding principle is "whole brain learning", based on the idea that there are four quadrants to the brain and that people tend to favour one type of approach e.g. a logical approach, or a more emotional approach. They propose that since there are all types of learner, the teaching needs to engage with all four types of approach.
The project is part educational development, part research (e.g. action research by the teachers, investigation into the multidisciplinary approach) and part curriculum development. There is a lot of discussion and reflection within the team, and the team members come from different disciplines. The presentation includes the "whole brain" diagram and profiles of two different lectures/teaching styles.
This is interesting from the sheer scale of the teaching challenge (I was involved in a teaching as part of a cross-discilinary team to a class of 500 students, and that was challenging enough, though a wonderful development experience), and I think it is significant that they are spending this time on developing the pedagogic approach, and that they are doing it in such a participative way. When team teaching, it can be too easy to slip into just talking about dividing up the content (you do this , I do that) rather than spending time discussing what the overall approach is to learning and teaching in a class (the "how and why", which can transform the "what" you teach).
The photo is of a power socket, that rare thing that you mostly hunt for in vain at a big conference venue. This specimen was found hiding at the side of the coffee room.

No comments: