"This is the best job you can have!"
The words are Teresa Cerratto Parkman’s, associate professor in Human computer interaction, when she talks about her research on learning, writing and language. She sees great potential in the new technologies in terms of learning. But for her part, it is not the technology itself that is the main thing - but what you make of it based on needs and desired results.
Teresa (Tessy) Cerratto Pargman was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she received her undergraduate education in psychology. Then she went to France on the one-year scholarship at the master level, followed by graduate studies in cognitive psychology at the Paris VIII University. Love brought her to Sweden in 2000 - first to a post as a research assistant at KTH and then a lectureship at DSV where she is now an associate professor.
The process of writing
Her dissertation, "Collaborative networked activities: An instrumental approach to collaborative writing" form the basis for part of her research. Teresa is interested both in the cognitive, cultural and social aspects in the writing process.
“I have a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and am interested in how technology mediates learning and the writing process. I have always been interested in languages - I speak actually four (Spanish, French, English and Swedish). And I think the writing process is complex, fascinating and so cool,” she explains.
There are many possible aspects to focus on when you are interested in the writing process; there are the cognitive, social, linguistic, rhetorical and emotional aspects. Then there are also functional, structural, instrumental, "developmental" aspects and other aspects to consider. You can study the writing process in various ways, for example with cognitive methods, ethnographic methods, case studies, socio-cognitive studies.
“I am interested in writing as a "socio-cognitive" activity and have studied writing from a sociocultural perspective Mostly I have focused on the role of technology when writing argued texts, how a certain software changes the way we write - i.e. how to plan, produce and revise a text, and how the way we write - that is our policies, procedures - affects the software we use,” says Tessy
In her thesis Tessy studied "collaborative writing" - that is where you write a joint text in a group project. She has analyzed how the communication between the authors and how the joint text been organized and produced when writers at a distance write with "a collaborative writing editor" such as Google docs.
“There are different ways to organize a collaborative writing process. We need an organization to interact with each other. The question is how collaborative writing is organized when you use software such as Google Docs. What I have found is that such a process - as opposed to writing a text face to face - requires that you carefully plan how the group should write the text and not just what the group should write about,” Tessy explains.
The group needs to consider how to deal with both the social aspects and the conceptual aspects of a joint text. If the group manages to agree on the distribution of power, roles, tasks and can create effective rules everybody respects, then mediated collaborative writing will perform well. An example of effective collaborative writing is WIKIPEDIA. Wikipedia has both a flexible technology platform and well-established procedures by which to write texts together. Wikipedia has more than 3.8 million articles in excess of 200 languages. More than 1,000 new items are added every day. Wikipedia is an example of how socio-technical systems can work: technology is important, but the planning of how the group will use the technology to write common texts is essential.
Tools for Learning
An important aspect of her research is to develop tools that challenge learning. For example, Teresa helped to develop language software for the learning of Swedish as a second language. Most important for the researchers was to develop an environment with different types of tools that enable users to examine their language texts, but also to think, to reason about language writing by visualizing different classes of words, spelling, tense, congruence, word order, prepositions. The idea is not to focus on the tools that fix the errors, but to develop tools that challenge the user, the learner, to consider the language and not just produce it.
“In a learning context, technology is helping us to think, to reflect on how to cooperate, how to write texts. Technology should challenge the learner - technology itself will not facilitate learning,” Tessy explains.
Currently Tessy is working in a project "Places" that started in January 2013 that deals with mobile technology integration in elementary school. She is studying how it works and does not work, what is required of teachers and of the school and what it means for learning.
“There are so many myths about technology - very often it is perceived as something positive and modern, as the next one solution, "a cure" for all the problems that our education system has, says. But I do not see the technology in TEL * area as a solution for learning but as a mirror of our practices on teaching and learning. Technology captures our knowledge; savoir-faire and savoir-être in a rational way that I think are interesting to study,” Tessy tells.
Tessy wants to describe how our well-established teachers and practitioners are changing and how we are going to look at and define learning in the future, despite or because of the technology that we develop.
Mobile technology makes it easy for pupils to go outside and collect material documenting and learning about a phenomenon on location in direct contact with it. Three different DSV projects, MULLE, mVisible 1 and mVisible 2 have closely studied how mobile technology can link the outdoor and indoor activities for learning. Mulle dealt with math and the surface concept and mVisible 1 and 2 with natural science and different species of trees and plants. The pedagogy is changing and technology gives pupils a more active role.
“This can involve students who are looking for information that explains what they see and understand, and what they do not understand. The teacher is less active outdoors, but has a crucial role in the planning of the outdoor tasks. This is a more personalized learning. It becomes a kind of research - an inquiry-based learning,” Tessy says.
When asked if you learn more with mobile technology is Tessy very firm - this is the wrong question. You learn differently and you learn other things. Above all, it's much more motivating. In the project PLACES (purposeful learning across collaborative educational spaces) Tessy has, together with colleagues from Linnaeus University and researchers from DSV IDEAL, studied differences in learning with innovative mobile technologies and how schools, education, views on learning and technology changes. An important part of the project is to study the concrete obstacles, problems that the school, teachers, students when mobile technology is introduced into the classroom.
“These are exciting times for schools. There are investments in the training of teachers, but the efforts in schools are quite local. Thus what we know about ICT in schools is very heterogeneous, fragmented, and is difficult to generalize. I would like to see an informed debate on learning in school, when you know that students often find their information on the Internet in a form of unstructured learning - without direct connection to school subject,” Tessy argues.
Tessy works directly in schools with teachers. It is not a question of ready-made solutions - but to design according the needs of teachers. When you work with teachers, you design not only the look of the software should, but also how the software should be introduced, take place in school in an existing teaching practice.
Learning in Higher Education
The digital technology provides unprecedented opportunities to in teaching also at a higher level with new ways to teach and to new groups of students. Tessy is very interested in the developments taking place in the case of open courses or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), as it is called.
“It is indeed a challenge - imagine being able to teach 10,000 students at a time. We know very little about what some are already calling the next revolution in learning,” Tessy underlines.
Tessy with Elli Eisanhauer is responsible for the series of seminars Future of learning in higher education presenting and discussing new tools and learning platforms.
“This is the university's role in the future about how MOOC affect teachers' role and what students actually learn,” Tessy emphasizes.
It's no coincidence that Tessy became scientists. Even as a child, she wants to explore the world, was very curious and asked a lot of questions, so she is very happy with his career
“This is the best job you can have - I read, write and reflect. And I like also student contacts,” Tessy concludes.
Married to Daniel Pargman, professor at KTH. -,
Two children, 10 and 6 years
Read a lot - many biographies. J.M. Coetzee is a favorite among the literary authors.
Co-owner of Eco village Änggärdet - an experiment with crops, beekeeping and sheep farming.
August 21, 2013
Source: DSV Research