Students Co-Authoring Learning Aids as a Tutoring Method

Organisation  Josefs-Gesellschaft e.V. Vocational School
Target Group Vocational education establishments with or without inclusion, special-needs schools.

This method is the result of the search for a contemporary form of teaching that is able to provide a structured and sustainable accumulation of knowledge in students with and without disabilities. The challenge faced by many special-needs schools, and in particular schools practicing inclusion, is how to enable students with different learning abilities (cognitive/physiological deficits) to work together on a particular topic in a way that enables them to achieve the same contextual learning result. To this end, co-authoring by students as a teaching method focuses on the following goals: 

  • to compensate for individual weaknesses 
  • to enable a cooperative and self-regulated form of tuition 
  • to be output and expertise oriented 
  • to create multifaceted learning aids that are adapted to suit the students' learning abilities 

Co-authoring by students takes place whenever students create a product that may be, but not necessarily has to be, used as a teaching or learning aid. The product should possess a distinctive learning value for the authors and promote a dialogue as part of the feedback process. 

At our school, we practise this method utilizing iPads and iMovie software (for writing, dictating, filming, cutting, and selecting photos). The method works as follows: the tutor selects a particular approach for her/his chosen lesson (problem identification, discussion, demonstration, excursion, film, work assignment etc.) and the students (teams/groups) use the initial phase of preparation/brainstorming to identify potential means of finding a solution. Once a solution process has been selected, the methodology follows a standardised 3-step process: 

  1. Creating a structured, factual script for solving a problem / completing a task 
  2. Creating video tutorials 
  3. Reflection and evaluation of activities involved in the entire learning process. Following on from the above, all kinds of learning aids can be created from a selection of images and sequences, tailored to the students' needs (iBook, handouts, learning apps, tests, index cards, games, operating guidelines, etc.).

As a consequence, the students are making a contribution to the development of these learning aids and therefore are acting as coauthors. Disability specific issues:

1. Activity - Script Writing: Analysing the work process, creation of structures, write-up in table format 

Disability compensation: Multimodal - information gathering, e.g. mind mapping, text extraction by dictation function or OCR text recognition, via on-screen or external keyboard 

2. Activity - Video Tutorial: Filming, editing, adding text, zooming, etc. ... 

Disability compensation: Explaining the work stages in sign language, audio description  and if required, subtitling. As a rule the face of the participant is not on screen (advantageous with autism). Strict film/text coherence is advantageous for cognitive impairment or dyslexia and editing is done directly on the iPad (advantageous for eye-hand coordination impairments), text input via dictation function, no audio language (speech impairment, dialect, "shyness").

3. Activity - Reflection: Analysing, assessing, searching for alternatives 

Disability compensation: Evaluation can be carried out visually, auditorily, or hermeneutically in heterogeneous groups. The documentation serves as a memory aid and helps with the identification and development of alternative activities for motor or cognitive deficits. 

4. Activity - Learning Aids: Adding images and selecting sequences, creating documents or digital media 

Disability compensation: Multimedia methods that are adapted to the perception channels can be developed for all forms of disability. This learning strategy is focused on expertise and output orientation and especially supports the structured action and self-study expertise of the student. The emphasis is no longer solely concentrated on the educational goals and content defined by the teacher. It also enables cooperation with apprenticing companies during the development of tutorials and thus promotes a sustainable long-term collaboration. A positive side-effect is that the school receives free image and video rights for a vast range of learning aids. In the long term, this compensates for the high initial cost of the tablet PCs. 

Partners BBS BBW der JG-Gruppe, Neuwied Heimbach-Weis (Germany) vocational training.
Staff and 
Tablet PC, editing programme (i.e. iMovie), real work assignments / learning topics.
Duration 4-6 lessons, depending on the size of the topic.
Budget Depending on the size of class and the required tablet PCs: from € 600 to € 5,000.
Contact /more information  Christian Wiemer:
Norbert Schröder:

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