BE COOL!: a Digital Learning Environment to Challenge and Socially Include Gifted Learners Paper
Tessa H. S. Eysink
Author(s): Tessa H. S. Eysink, (University of Twente, The Netherlands), Alieke M. Van Dijk, (University of Twente, The Netherlands), Ton De Jong, (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
Gifted children in regular education are generally not given enough opportunity to develop their talents. Many teachers indicate that they experience problems in challenging their gifted children enough. ICT provides us with opportunities to help teachers on this. An example is the BE COOL! learning environment. BE COOL! is a Dutch acronym for Stimulating Excellence by Cooperative Inquiry and Design-based Learning. The aim of this learning environment is to provide cognitive challenges for gifted children in regular education in such a way that they are socially being included in their own class. The environment is based on educational practices that have proven to be effective: inquiry learning, design-based learning, collaboration with gifted peers, cooperation with non-gifted classmates, and differentiation in content, task, and process.
In BE COOL!, small groups of gifted and non-gifted children work on a socio-technical problem. In order to stimulate individual accountability and social interdependence, each child is made responsible for a part of the problem and the problem can only be solved if the children work together. Information about the different parts is acquired by inquiry learning. In this stage, children of the same cognitive level work together. So, gifted children work together and non-gifted children work together. In this way, all children are cognitively challenged at the level suited for them. After having acquired enough knowledge, all children return to their original group and share their expertise in order to design an effective solution for the stated problem.
In the presentation, the underlying theoretical ideas will be presented and we will show how they are implemented in our digital learning environment. In addition, we will discuss the experiences of teachers as well as children who worked with the learning environment.