Hidden curriculum of teacher training in LeMill

Last week in Brussels, while giving a talk about free/libre/open source educational resources and LeMill, I realised that the role these initiative play in a teacher training have not been discussed that much. So, I’ll try to do it here now.

LeMill is a teacher community. Jukka, one of the LeMill developers, just said some days ago that LeMill is a Facebook for teachers. This is partly true.

We are not trying to “replicate” Facebook – but there are similarities. In LeMill teachers can keep in touch and find other teachers who are interested in same topics they are interested in. Teachers can create groups and start projects. However, in the case of LeMill there is very clear reason why teachers are gathering together in LeMill. Teachers are in LeMill to create open and free educational resources – together.

Why the collaboration around learning resources is important for teachers?

To be honest, we havea “hidden curriculum” in LeMill.

We want to develop teacher’s competences. The hidden curriculum is closely related to our pedagogical thinking, that emphasises social constructivism.

The point of providing LeMill for teachers – and promoting collaborative creation of open education resources on it – is that it will show how powerful learning experience collaborative learning can be. This will have an effect on teachers teaching practice in their classrooms. We hope that while working in LeMill teachers will see the benefits of collaborative learning and co-creation of knowledge artefacts and because of this they will implement similar kind of practices with their pupils, too.

We believe that the final benefiter of LeMill are the pupils of LeMill teachers. Actually, who else could it be?

To make it simple, the teachers who are active in LeMill are and will be good teachers. They are active teachers; interested in the topics they are teaching, they see the value of collaborative learning, and finally are able to support their pupils to have the same qualities.

I was thinking if I would be a pupil in school today … well maybe I’ll try to present this as an imaginary dialogue between my schoolteacher, Ms. Virtanen and me.

I will play here the role of 12-year-old pupil having a chat with a great imaginary teacher, Ms Virtanen (I use to have some good teachers):

Teemu (12 year-old pupil in a Grade 6): Ms Virtanen, have you heard about LeMill.net?

Ms Virtanen: No Teemu, please tell me about it?

Teemu: Hmm… well …I am not exactly sure what it is, but I think it’s a bit like Wikipedia – the encyclopaedia online. Do you know Wikipedia?

Ms Virtanen: Of course I know Wikipedia. Thank you for reminding me about it. I must talk with all of you about it and especially how to use it in your study work.

Teemu: Cool. I really like Wikipedia.

Ms Virtanen: Yes – but Teemu, when using it one must be very critical and check the original references, too. I will talk about this with the whole class next week. But, didn’t you talk about something else… how was it called?

Teemu: LeMill.net. Yes – I just found from this LeMill site very good exercises for studying Swedish. They have audio clips I was listening, and then there was a questioner to check if I understood everything in the audio. The audio clip was an interview of one mangaka. I think the interview was made by the Swedish radio. It was very interesting.

Ms Virtanen: Teemu, may I ask you what is a “mangaka”?

Teemu: Mangaka? Sorry, mangaka is a manga artist. Mangas are these Japanese comic books.

Ms Virtanen: Right, thank you, Teemu. Could you borrow me some mangas? I would love to know more about them.

Teemu: Yes- I have one in my bag… I may put it on your desk.

Ms Virtanen: Thank you, but hey, we keep on getting on a sidetracks with the conversation. You were telling me about this website, LeMill, right?

Teemu: Yes, so I was using some materials I found from LeMill – just for fun. But I also used another material from LeMill as a reference when we were doing the project on wetlands last month. I hope I did add references to the project report I gave you last week – Did I?

Ms Virtanen: Yes you did. And I actually checked the page you were pointing to, but didn’t have a closer look of the site – was the site called LeMill?

Teemu: Yes – that was the site.

Ms Virtanen: Right. I also checked that the wetland content you where using in your project report was made by one teacher in another school – so the reference was just fine, no problem.

Teemu: Huh – Thank you. 🙂

Ms Virtanen: Thank you Teemu for telling me about LeMill. I will have a look of it. Maybe in future we can all use the content found from there.

Teemu: Cool. I think I am very lucky to have a teacher who knows about all these Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, blogs, LeMill and other things.

Ms Virtanen: Teemu, actually I do not know about them too much, but I am willing to learn. 🙂

Teemu: Yes, I think that LeMill is a kind of teacher community where teachers are talking about teaching and things like that.

Ms Virtanen: Really? That sounds really interesting. I am a member of Facebook. I have there some old friends from the teacher college, but to be honest, we do not talk very much about our work – we just keep on poking each other.

Teemu: Poking is fun.

Ms Virtanen: It is, but thank you for the LeMill hint. It sounds like an interesting site. I will call all my old friends from the teacher college to join it. Maybe we can work out something in there.

Teemu: Maybe I will join your group. 🙂 I may also tell all your teacher friends what kind of teacher you are.

Ms Virtanen: Please, do – I am sure you are responsible and will tell everybody how great teacher I am. 🙂

Teemu: …but you really are…

Ms Virtanen: Thank you, Teemu. Hey, by the way, could you help a bit Konsta who seems to have some challenges with the chemistry project he is working on?

Teemu: ok hmm.. I guess I must to?

Ms Virtanen: Yes you must. Anyway it was nice to chat with you, Teemu.

See you again in Skype another day.

I asked my 12-year-old nephew to read this and asked him what he thinks about it. He said that it sound like something he could talk with his teacher. Then he was saying: “so the idea is that you as a student are presenting this site, LeMill, for your teacher because it is so great site. Right?” Yes. He promised to have a look of the site and tell his teachers if it is good. So it goes.

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