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Foto på Dennis Augustsson

Dennis Augustsson

The overall core of the curricula today includes several more general learning objectives that every teacher must relate to and fulfil in their teaching. This can include entrepreneurship, creativity, digitization and media production. In addition, the curriculum has more subject-specific fact-specific goals. Tensions and problems can easily arise between these two perspectives and difficulties in covering all perspectives when formulating the teaching.

Former art teacher

As a former art teacher with a special interest and experience in media and film production, Dennis Augustsson is well-aware of these problems, especially regarding the way media production is treated in upper-secondary school. Augustsson recently received his doctorate at University West in teaching and learning focusing on work integrated learning.

- Problems are caused by the general descriptions in course syllabuses and policy documents about, such things as the use of media production in instruction. You have a sense that your knowledge is insufficient, and for that reason I wanted to look at ways of supporting the continuing professional development of teachers and also explore how knowledge is developed in a new form of learning process, says Dennis Augustsson.

Dennis provides an example of the problem:
- Take a biology teacher who assigns students work involving documenting a science experiment with video. The students have many hours to study the subject itself, but the video production often is regarded as a technical issue, when it really is about much more, such as narrative technique and narrative structure. Things that unfortunately are rarely talked about or even less learned or practised.

A design profession

Consequently, he thought about ways of facilitating this learning by viewing the teaching profession as a design profession where students design their own teaching sessions. Are there theories connected with design that were applicable and that could facilitate this process?

- In my research I have investigated whether one can use a form of design theory that is participatory in combination with activity theory to help come up with ideas and ways to solve these tensions. This way of working with teachers benefits their development in the teaching profession.

Worked with both Sweden and the U.S.

In his study he has worked with Öckerö Seglande Gymnasieskola, an upper-secondary sailing school, and a marine biology school in the U.S., where teachers and researchers jointly created a didactic design in which students investigated, collaborated, and presented knowledge with video production. Augustsson specifically studied both participatory design (PD) and Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and how these theories can be combined. PD is a design strategy that actively seeks to involve all stakeholders in the design process to ensure that the results meet their needs and are useful. It focuses on processes and procedures for design. CHAT is a theory that regards learning as a social process situated in a cultural and historical context. It describes and analyses development of people and organisations as an activity system in which tensions and conflicts arise within and among various activities.

- The study shows that activity theory can help bridge topics and areas where there is conflict, and through the PD design model, the participants themselves own the process. This is a good combination where those needing the solutions analyse their activities themselves, plus they acquire a tool to come up with new ideas.

Six design principles

Based on the results of the studies and previous research, Augustsson has formulated six tentative design principles for what he calls expansive design for teachers working on collaborations with media production that transcends boundaries.

- These design principles could be used in professional development projects for teachers, but they can also be tried in larger collaborations among teacher education, research, and the teaching profession as work integrated learning for all fields. That would be exciting to examine in more depth in the future.

Dennis Augustsson,, mobile phone +46 (0)73 0739767

To the thesis: Expansive design for teachers: An activity theoretical approach to design and work integrated learning