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    ‘How Can I Use Digital Technologies to Facilitate Cooperative Learning in my Classroom?’ A Self-Study Action Research Project Undertaken During a Global Pandemic

    Gallagher, Niamh (2021) ‘How Can I Use Digital Technologies to Facilitate Cooperative Learning in my Classroom?’ A Self-Study Action Research Project Undertaken During a Global Pandemic. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    In the 2020-21 academic year, school closures and social distancing requirements had a profound impact on the way in which children learned and teachers taught. This self-study action research project explores how I attempted to address the constraints of a new, restrictive learning environment with an intervention that used digital technologies to facilitate cooperative learning in my 6th class classroom. Using an array of digital tools including BookCreator, Stop Motion Studio and the full range of apps available on GSuite for Education, the 27 children in my class were asked to work in cooperative groups to complete an open-ended task; one in which they created a character from the future and detailed that character’s success in overcoming the challenges of living through a global pandemic. Schools were closed for the first half of the intervention, while my pregnancy meant that I was forced to facilitate the second half from home. Consequently, the use of digital technologies was inextricably linked with the restrictions of the pandemic, and with all of their accompanying frustrations. Conscious that the intervention could not be examined separately to the context in which it took place, I focused not only on the affordances of digital tools to facilitate the cooperative learning process, but on the significance of the nature of the task and on the impact that the Covid-19 restrictions had on that same process. Qualitative data was gathered from the written and oral reflections of my students and a group of four critical friends, as well as from my own observations and reflective journal. An analysis of this data led me to conclude that digital technologies could be used to facilitate cooperative learning by supporting dialogue between group members and by offering a sense of autonomy to students. The motivation that dialogue and autonomy could generate proved especially important in the context of online learning and the socially distant classroom. The negative emotions fuelled by the restrictions of the pandemic were not, however, always counterbalanced by the affordances of digital tools or by the open-ended nature of the task; and children's motivation often suffered due to a perceived lack of autonomy over various elements of the project. These results have implications for my future practice and, indeed, for policy; suggesting that greater flexibility needs to feature in the classroom and curriculum alike. Importantly, my findings will allow me to live more closely to my values of student voice and autonomy. As I encourage children to express themselves with the aid of digital tools, I will continuously adjust my practice so as to promote a sense of autonomy; and successfully reap the long-proven benefits of cooperative learning.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: Digital Technologies; Cooperative Learning; Classroom; Self-Study Action Research Project; Global Pandemic; Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 15161
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2021 13:58
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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