NPDL Communication

Unpacking Communication in the Classroom

Use this excerpt from the 21CLD, Australian Implementation Toolkit with your staff to discuss what collaboration looks like in the classroom.

Coherent communication - The links between language and thinking are significant; each develops the other. When learners are able to listen, read, write, record, and interact to express, exchange, explore and develop ideas with others, not only do they learn important communication skills, their thinking, comprehension and understanding is deepened.
Does this learning activity require coherent communication?
Yes No

Learners host a webinar where they present on a different topics about their city to peers in their sister city and then answer follow up questions. The questions asked then form the basis for a revision/augmentation of their original presentation.

Learners write an extended proof to demonstrate the solution to a geometry problem.

Learners write a letter to the editor in response to a recent news article of their choice.

Learners participate in a webinar where they listen to presentations by peers from their sister-city. They have no opportunity to ask questions and there is no follow up activity around the understandings gained.

Learners solve geometry problem, but do not write any proof.

Learners post a one-sentence comment in response to a recent news article of their choice
Communication for a particular audience - Skilful communication requires learners to be able to communicate effectively with a range of audiences for a range of purposes in a wide variety of contexts. When learners design and plan their communication for a particular audience the learning is authentic because they apprentice to real life and work in the world: becoming writers, filmmakers, journalists, news presenters and so on adds purpose and meaning that results in deeper and richer learning for all.
Are learners required to design their communication for a particular audience?
Yes No

Secondary school learners create a video tutorial for year 6 learners to explain the concept of Pythagoras. When asked, most year 6 learners can briefly explain the theory back. The audience has generally understood the concept, which suggests that the video communication was appropriately designed for them.

In learning about the lives of local elderly citizens in a retirement home, learners work in partnerships to orally interview them, capture photos and images from their lives, and use a narrative to create a ‘This is you life’ Big Book for each person. These are then presented to them at a special afternoon tea organised and led by learners. The development of large print books here was appropriate because many elderly citizens had failing eyesight and no access to online technology. The content of the book was tailored to what was most relevant to them: their own lives.

Secondary school learners create a video tutorial for year 6 learners to explain the concept of Pythagoras. When asked, most year 6 learners can NOT briefly explain the theory back. This suggests that the video communication was not appropriately designed to the needs of these learners.

In learning about the need for good facilities for elderly citizens, learners go to a retirement home and work in partnerships to orally interview residents to create a ‘Life in a Retirement Home’ video that is then uploaded online into a shared space for viewing. This communication was not designed with any particular audience in mind. It may be useful for an unknown audience for whom retirement facilities are relevant; it is not relevant to the elderly citizens interviewed since they are already there!
Substantive, multi-modal communication - Communication is multi-modal when it includes the use of more than one type of communication mode or tool to produce a coherent message. For example, learners might create a presentation that integrates video and text , or embed a photograph into a blog post. The communication is considered multi-modal only if the elements work together to produce a stronger message than one element alone. Multi-modal communication, by its very nature, requires more substantive thinking than using only one mode or tool, as learners must consider and select appropriate tools and weave the elements together to create an integrated whole.
Is this substantive multi-modal communication?
Yes No

Learners write lab reports about their science lab on density of matter, including narrative text and visual evidence of what they saw in their experiment (such as drawings or screen shots of real time data displays). The learning activity requires multiple modes of media that work together for a more complete description of the experimental outcomes.

Young learners use the design technology process to make a new toy, and decide to create a television advertisement for it. They view a wide range of TV ads to analyse the persuasive marketing techniques used, and choose a strategy that is appropriate for their toy. Analysis of TV advertising techniques before deciding on an appropriate marketing strategy enriches learners’ thinking and decision-making.

Learners write lab reports about their science lab on density of matter, including only narrative text. The learning activity requires use of only one communication mode.

Young learners use the design-technology process to make a new toy, and create a television advertisement for it. The communication is multi-modal; the content of the TV advertisement does not necessarily require substantive thinking.
Use of the learning process to improve communication - What occurs during the process of learning – the interactions, processes, communication modes, language and skills used – are key to monitoring, assessing and explicitly developing learners’ communication skills. Do learners reflect on and use the process of their learning to increase meta-cognitive thought to monitor, manage and improve their own development and thinking?
Do learners use the process of their learning to improve their communication?
Yes No
Learners video themselves solving a mathematical problem, verbally explaining the steps they used and their reasoning. They use this and assessment criteria to reflect with their teacher (or learning partner) on their mathematical language, process and reasoning, and what they need to do to improve. Learners video themselves solving a mathematical problem, verbally explaining the steps they used and their reasoning. The teacher uses this to assess learner’s work and to suggest areas for improvement.

Excerpt from 21CLD, Australian Implementation Toolkit, Microsoft, 2013

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