The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the Humanities and Social Sciences has the potential to enhance teaching and student learning enables educational stakeholders’ to access resources and information in order to facilitate new and productive learning experiences. Reynolds (2012) asserts that ICT provides valuable resources for knowledge and understanding that support new pedagogical strategies which enable collaborative, interactive and multimedia approaches. The Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014a) acknowledges the significance of students developing ICT capability in being able to create, adapt and use digital technology effectively and safely in a knowledge-based economy. Importantly, identifying ICT as a key general capability recognises that digital technology has the capacity to transform and empower students in the way they think and learn (ACARA, 2014a).
There are a number of useful sources such as Web 2.0 technologies, software, websites and on-line resources that can assist in the effective planning and teaching in Humanities and Social Sciences (Johnson and Gilbert, 2014). The use of mind-mapping software when teaching History can enhance student learning by providing them with an efficient visual tool to represent their planning and information. Initial thoughts can be identified, development of understanding can be assessed and concluding reflections documented regarding what the students have learned. Johnson and Gilbert (2014) assert that mind mapping software can assist in assessing student knowledge before, during and upon completion of a learning unit. Brady and Kennedy (2009) describe the benefits of mind maps in providing teachers with information on how students understand new concepts, enabling the teacher to scaffold future learning.
In using mind-mapping software, for example; Inspiration 9 (Inspiration Inc. Software, 2014) to support historical teaching and learning, a topic is selected from the relevant year level of the Australian Curriculum: History document. This becomes the central focus of the mind map. The historical knowledge, understandings and skills required to effectively investigate the topic may be included in developing a foundation for student inquiry. For example, I have chosen to focus on the Year 4 subject of stories of the First Fleet (ACARA, 2014b). Within this topic, initial ideas and thoughts can be organised and mapped out (refer Example A) exploring the purpose for the First Fleet, the people and range of crimes punishable by transportation, and the treatment of prisoners at the time (ACARA, 2014b). Furthermore, the historical skills that facilitate higher order thinking and critical analysis may be added that support inquiry learning, for example; posing a range of questions about the past such as Why did the First Fleet travel to Australia? and What was the journey like? Students may wish to create a timeline of events and note relevant historical terms. Videos, hyperlinks and images may be inserted that provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in historical learning.
In conclusion, the use of mind mapping software encourages students to design, plan, organise and demonstrate their conceptual understanding by being able to present their thoughts, ideas and sourced information in new and relevant ways (Marsh, 2005). Students are able to evaluate, review and update their presentations as the development of historical understandings, knowledge and skills occurs (Johnson & Gilbert, 2005). Hence, a mind map becomes the foundation upon which students begin to identify, analyse and locate resources in investigating the story of the First Fleet and the significance of its arrival (ACARA, 2014b).
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014a), The Australian Curriculum: General capabilities. Information & communication technology (ICT) capability. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/introduction
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014b). The Australian Curriculum: History: Foundation to year 10. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/humanitiesandsocialsciences/history/Curriculum/F-10#level4
Brady, L. & Kennedy, K. (2009) Celebrating student achievement: Assessment and reporting (3rd ed.) Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson
Information and Communications Technology. [Image 1]. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.enviroinfo2014.org/
Information and Communications Technology. [Image 2]. (2014). Retrieved from http://connect.onefpa.org/Home/
Inspiration Software Inc. (2014). Inspiration 9. Downloaded from http://www.inspiration.com/Inspiration
Johnson, N. & Gilbert, R. (2014). Using information and communication technologies. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 156-174). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.
Marsh, C. (2005). Studies of society and environment (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press