An online Biology course: a teaching-learning experiment
We have been experimenting with an online course in «teaching Biology» for students of the Primary Education Degree course1 for about two years. This learning activity was created for students who work or live far from Milan and cannot regularly attend the University. Lessons are based on the participant's personal experience of the relationship with living organisms such as plants, animals, etc. This is the basis for the professional training of primary school teachers who will teach
... ill teach science-related subjects to children. Students who cannot attend lessons have to work very hard to carry out practical activities in Biology-related contents. During this Distance-Learning course they are helped to follow it and, finally, to produce materials that will be evaluated during the examination. Students can discuss their learning with peers, with teacher and with tutor using a forum cafè, and they have five thematic forums to carry out reflections, to ask for explanations, etc. These interactions constitute the real advantage of this type of teaching-learning mode, which encourages collaborative learning and the sharing of experiences and of acquired knowledge. The role of the teacher goes beyond the traditional view: first, it consists of planning activities; this is followed by monitoring interactions, in correcting Biology contents, in suggesting further studies, etc., while students are performing their tasks. The site is still in an experimental phase. At present, only a few students can participate, but three or four editions of the online course are provided during a year.