Improvisation as sign making activity? – a case study on didactic design in teacher education

Øystein Kvinge, Ph.d candidate

This research project seeks to explore and understand the conditions for improvisational activities in teacher education when digital artefacts (ie. Power Point, Prezi, YouTube) are deployed by the teacher educator to structure and present the content of a lesson.

The perspectives of Designs for learning (Selander & Kress, 2010) will be applied as a framework for interpreting the didactic design and sign making activities of the educational settings subject to analysis. The project is a multiple case study and will explore four teacher educators’ practices in different subjects within a set time frame. Findings will be discussed in view of the perspectives of the learner, teacher and curricular enactment.

The main research question is: How does improvisation manifest itself in the multimodal interplay between teacher educator, student teachers and artefacts in initial teacher education?

 Activities in the academic year 2013/14

 My scholarship at HSH commenced in January 2014 and much time was spent at the beginning on writing a proper project description for the application for admission to the Doctoral programme at the University of Bergen, Faculty of psychology. My main supervisor is Prof. Kari Smith (UiB) and my co-supervisor is Prof. Magne Espeland (HSH).

I joined the Grieg Research School in interdisciplinary music studies and gave a presentation of the project at the seminar entitled“Communication in music, arts, therapy and education practices”in Stavanger in March. I received constructive feedback from my main opponent and others, feedback which is being further explored in an essay which I am writing. The essay is due to be submitted on May 15th and will earn 2 credential points.

A review text based on topics of this PhD project is written for the IMTE editorial committee. Not much literature appears to be available which deals with improvisation from the perspective of multimodal theory. However, there is some, such as the article “Orchestrating with interactive whiteboard” (Littleton, Twiner, Gillen, Kleine Staarman, & Mercer, 2007) which explores how the affordances of modes are utilised in educational settings where IWB is used for representation of content and for facilitating interaction with pupils. The article “Preparing to teach with ICT: subject knowledge, Didaktik and Improvisation” (Loveless, 2007) shares with the IMTE project the perspectives of Schulman on the nature of teacher professional knowledge (L. S. Shulman, 1987). The author speaks of the combined challenges of merging subject knowledge, classroom strategies and pedagogical reasoning and additional challenges imposed by the application of ICT.

In collaboration with Sissel Høisæter at the Norwegian department, I have visited the Norsk 2 course and presented a lecture based on my master thesis “Musical learning in Cyberspace – a case study on user generated jazz piano tutorials on YouTube.” The purpose was to introduce multimodal analysis to the students by using as examples a selection of 5 user generated video tutorials on jazz piano improvisation. The students of the Norsk 2 course will be participating on my Pilot project on May 6th by preparing individual multimodal presentations of the text “Norsk sakprosa i fem punkter” by Georg Johannessen. The assignment asks the students to select 5 passages from the text, and to give each passage a representation by utilising semiotic resources available, such as oral and gestural expressions and the modes afforded by presentation software of their choice. A text based on the experiences of the pilot project will be submitted to the IMTE project by May 15th.

I have accepted a place on the course “MODE Summer School: Multimodal Methods for Analysing Communication with Digital Technologies” at Centre for Multimodal Studies, University of London, department of education. The course takes place between 16-20th June this year. My motivation for participating is to develop the methodological part of the project and to read up on recent relevant literature which will be submitted by MODE.