Students design technology-supported learning scenarios

The research project fe|male wanted to inspire girls and boys for new technologies: fe|male explored Web 2.0 technologies under the gender aspect and identifies opportunities for their deployment on the basis of the competencies and needs of the students.

New media have increasingly been adopted in education, which is evident from the sharp increase of scientific attention given to this area. It is also established that interactive and playful components foster the learning process. The professional deployment of innovative, technology-supported learning scenarios lags behind this development. Furthermore, the varying approaches of girls and boys towards new technologies have found little consideration in the pedagogical environment.

The research project fe|male was devoted to this theme: fe|male placed Web2.0 technologies in education in the centre of the research focus. These technologies were analyzed under the aspect of gender and also in relationship to their didactical deployment within the framework of a gender-sensitive academic education. A key aspect of the project was that the lived-in world of the youths was the point of departure. Popular internet activities such as the social interaction through the networks MySpace, Twitter, SchülerVZ or Flickr, but also the production of content within a community served as potential starting points for the development of future technology-supported learning scenarios in schools.

Equal opportunity through the backdoor

Based on the internet usage habits of students, “fe|male” pursued three goals: to explore and to develop educational programs with a focus on gender aspects and to hereby contribute that girls also become interested in technical applications, while taking into account their skills, competencies, and content preferences. This was based on the assumption that Web 2.0 technologies, which comprise the core ideas of the web, namely user-friendliness, standardization, participation, and re-utilization will increasingly gain importance and might be referred to as the “passage point” of the technology-gender-discourse. “The recent impulses emanating from Web 2.0 might contain the potential to ‘genderize’ the until now male-oriented technology design,” stated project director Dr. Sabine Zauchner, Danube University Krems.

Shaping research

Secondly, in accordance with the guidelines of “Sparkling Science”, students were integrated into the entire research process from the start. Based on young people’s media-centred lived-in world, Web 2.0 applications were analyzed in terms of their feasible deployment in teaching. The selection of the offerings was based on the expressed interest of the participating students of the partner schools and was established during the initial project phase by means of workshops. In a second phase, the applications were implemented within the project works at the various partner schools and were evaluated in a formative fashion by the participating students and teachers. The evaluation focused on didactical and gender-specific aspects relating to the expedient deployment in education.

Utilizing research and fostering interest in technology

Not only the active incorporation of girls and boys in this research project, but also the ability of the students to exploit the insights and to share the acquired knowledge was the third focus of fe|male. Selected and interested students of the respective project teams were empowered to pass on the jointly developed insight in regard to the didactical and gender-sensible teaching and learning scenario within their own educational context and also to other participating institutions of higher education by means of presentations and seminars.

This project has been completed.