Patterns

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The concept

A pattern is a common way of doing something. For example, here’s a pattern for making a Vegemite sandwich:

  • Get two pieces of bread.
  • Spread butter on one side of each of the pieces of bread.
  • Spread Vegemite on one side of one piece of bread. Vary amount to taste.
  • Put the pieces of bread together.

(Excuse me, I’m off to get a snack… Back now.)

Patterns are Very Important Things. If you’re an author, be sure to read about patterns and learning. Do it. Now. I’ll wait.

The pattern content type

A pattern is a content type. It has these fields:

  • Title (name)
  • Machine name – to insert a pattern summary into content.
  • Situation – when the pattern applies, e.g., you want a Vegemite sandwich.
  • Action – what to do in that situation.
  • Explanation – commentary on the pattern, if needed.
  • Attached files.

Each pattern is created as a separate page. Each one is a separate data object. You create patterns through the control panel.

How students encounter patterns

Students typically encounter patterns in two ways:

  • Explanation: Patterns are introduced in course pages. The patterns are explained.
  • Application: Students use patterns in exercises. They choose patterns from a pattern catalog.

Explanation in course pages

First, a pattern is explained to students, as a normal part of reading Cycourse content. For example: “Now, we want to do task such-and-so. We have a pattern for that…” The text explains the pattern, why it makes sense, and maybe uses big ideas to justify it. There might be a demo of the pattern in use.

Some patterns need a lot of explanation. Some need little. It depends on the pattern.

We want to encourage students to think about patterns as resources in their mental toolkit. So, after the discussion, a pattern summary is shown in a standard format:

Pattern summary

This pattern doesn’t need much explanation, so there’s not much text afore it. More complex patterns might need a lot of explanation afore the summary.

Clicking on the “More…” link shows the full pattern in all its glory:

Full pattern

Here’s the course page again:

Pattern summary

Authors don’t type the pattern summary directly into the page. Recall that patterns are separate data objects, each with its own page. Here’s how the author adds the summary:

Inserting a pattern summary

Each pattern summary can be inserted as many times as needed. If the author changes the pattern (e.g., changes the condition), all of its inserted summaries will change, no matter how many times they appear.

So, this is the students’ first encounter with the pattern. It is explained as much as needed, then shown in a standard format.

Applying patterns: the pattern catalog

Patterns are meant to be used. Students will have exercises that require them to, for example, make Vegemite sandwiches. (They should bring enough for everyone in the class, and two for the instructor.)

Rather than forcing students to hunt through the Cycourse for patterns they might use for a particular exercise, Cyco gives them a pattern catalog, that is, a list of all of the patterns in the Cycourse. When they are working on an exercise, students can use the pattern catalog to find appropriate patterns quickly.

The Tools menu has a link to the catalog:

Tools menu

Click it, and a list of patterns appears:

Patterns

Click the pattern name, and see the full page for that pattern:

Pattern

Summary

A pattern is a useful way of doing things. Patterns are key elements in skill learning and performance.

In Cyco, there is a pattern content type. Each pattern has its own page.

Students see patterns in two ways. First, they are explained in course pages. Second, there’s a pattern catalog listing all of the patterns in a course. The list makes it easier to find patterns that are useful for exercises.

Editors: 
kieran

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