In search of tools for effective content analysis and representation of knowledge systems, instructional designers usually use concept or mental maps. These solutions have a great visual impact, are user friendly and can be easily read, but have some disadvantages. They are greatly influenced by their creator and poorly oriented to formalization of knowledge systems and construction of ontologies. They describe relationships, but fail in representing the hierarchical structure of concepts or instructional objectives, that are listed in a different file. In this paper we describe the OrBITal Map, a new model of map that goes beyond these limits. Its structure draws inspiration from planetary systems: the main concept (nucleus or “Sun”) is in the centre and its related concepts (planets) orbit it at different distances. Each concept can be the centre of other secondary systems and then be surrounded by other satellites on different orbits. On each orbit a logical operator makes the relationship between concepts explicit and the “spatial route” is set through instructional objectives. This orbital structure is much more effective than the traditional maps in the way it can: 1) standardize the representation of knowledge systems; 2) show additional information, like “distance” between concepts, position and dimension (weight) in the overall system; 3) create a single macro-design output, that gathers contents and instructional objectives together; 4) optimize the instructional design process. In order to practically show these characteristics, we describe how we used this map to design and deliver an Education Technology course for the University of Verona (Italy).
The difficulties that children have in thinking about time concepts may result from the complexity of time as a concept, but also reflect the idiosyncrasies of particular calendar systems. Previous investigation into children's acquisition of time concepts has shown that Chinese children outperform English children in using the days of the month (DOW) and the months of the year (MOY) - a result explained by the fact that Chinese encodes the DOW and the MOY using a numerical system (Monday is "weekday one," January is "month one," etc.), while English uses arbitrary names. These studies claim that the use of number terms facilitates the early mastery of time concepts. However, their results could be alternatively attributed to cultural and educational factors that differ between the two language groups. Korean, as a "hybrid" language that has both numerical and arbitrary time words, serves as a perfect candidate in testing if numerical transparency of time words truly affects children's acquisition of time concepts. The Korean MOY system is like Chinese in being numerical, but Korean's DOW system is like English in being arbitrary. Fifty Korean children between the ages of three and seven participated in the experiment. Each child first was shown a set of 7 and 12 picture cards, describing cartoon characters' weekly/annual activities. They were then asked questions with five levels of complexity to assess what level of mastery they had attained in comprehending and using time terms. Results show that Korean children have better performance in MOY test than in DOW test for each age group. A repeated measures ANOVA, with Age as a categorical within-subject factor and Test-type as a between-subject factor, showed a main effect of Test-type, F(1,45) = 9.656, p < 0.001, confirming the observation that Korean children generally scored higher in the MOY test.
The current trend of teaching in the Czech Republic tends to implement language tutorials, which, among other things, provides schools which use it a pleasing image of modern educational facilities. In the Czech language lessons the latest educational programs are being used, and investments in computer labs moved the students to the computer screen, where the training is based on dichotomous exercises – pupils only click on a single trained letter or word. During our educational research of study results in Czech orthography at primary schools which was initiated and designed in a partnership with primary schools in the Czech Republic, pupils from the experimental groups (taught by Czech language tutorials) were significantly worse in the classically written tests and dictations, having no choice of dichotomous option and forced to write whole sentences, than pupils from control groups (taught without tutorials). The empirical data obtained from the evaluation tests were examined via Statistica 10 to verify or falsify our hypotheses. The researchers showed that the dichotomous exercises in language tutorials are due to the focus on isolated words an inappropriate tool for teaching orthography and, therefore, they should not be used as the sole means of e-learning technology in mother tongue teaching. Given the above results we decided to find out in which parts of Czech orthography were study results the worst and the best. Findings of this experimental research show that in some parts of Czech orthography pupils could use dichotomous tests without worsening their study results in the classically written texts.
Martina Skalkova, Masaryk University, Czech Republic