M-Learning

As I mentioned at the end of my previous blog post technology is evolving at such a rate; with new platforms both mobile and fixed appearing and these platforms offering different challenges to educational content delivery.  Mobile learning or M-Learning is basically education delivered via a mobile device, such as a smart phone or mobile tablet.

Julie Brink Director of eLearning at viaLearning discusses Mobile learning in her article “M-Learning: The Future of Training Technology.”  Brink (2011) explains that there are three types of m-learning:

Formal which involves organised learning, where students are notified or contacted by technology such as SMS messaging, in order to establish confirmation of their understanding or involvement within the educational scenario.  E-learning courseware viewed via a mobile device is also considered to be m-learning.  Informal learning involves trying to engage students in interactions, encouraging two-way communication in order to establish user feedback.  Social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs are considered as mediums of informal learning.  Last but not least is Self-directed Learning, this features the taking control of their own learning direction, students can choose their own content, references and courseware, this could involve media-based content such as podcasts or videos.

Brink draws attention to another advantage or possibility for m-learning:

“Another m-learning trend is location-based learning.  Location based learning is taking advantage of a learner’s physical location and her GPS enabled device to provide teaching “in the moment,” or on-demand. For example, a salesperson can receive valuable information on a city she’s never visited while entering the office building of a potential client” Brink (2011)

This is something that interest me as I have already worked upon both geolocation based information delivery and static location based delivery, see the projects below:

Look at me

HHV

Static Information kiosks have become common place in today’s world, kiosk designers must consider location, content and context when planning their designs, for example a kiosk in a room full of portraits at an art gallery may offer information that the user can then use when looking at the portraits within the room.  A mobile version of the same application used on a Smartphone could also be used in an art gallery where the information would be extremely useful or it could be used in a car park where it would not be quite as valuable, but by using geoloaction technology that information could be tailored specifically towards different art galleries in different towns or even countries.

Brink (2011)believes for m-learning to be effective, it should to be “short, accessible, and relevant.”  She says:

“Text should be short and concise.  This is not the place to expand on the theory of relativity.  Course length should not exceed five to 10 minutes, at most.  Think about it: Would you want to spend 30 minutes staring at your smart-phone, trying to learn, while crammed like a sardine on the subway during rush hour? “

M-Learning is a definite possibility for my project, it would provide me with some interesting options for both content and interactivity.

Brink, J. (2011) M-Learning: The Future of Training Technology T+D; Vol. 65, Issue 2, p27-29

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Generation Z

So far I have looked at learning theories to try and understand the needs of the user, and although more research is required I am starting to understand that people have differing needs when it comes to learning and there are different ways in which you can try to accommodate these needs. But is the delivery of education material via computer based media different to the delivery of education using more traditional methods? And do we need to deliver education using computers and other digital devices?

Caroline Geck, a bibliographic instruction librarian at Kean University Library, Union, NJ, wrote an article in which she identifies a generation of people that she calls Generation Z, Geck defines this generation as youths born in or after the year 1990, although this is not a universally recognised expression for this section of society, her naming of this group is based upon the Encarta World English Dictionary’s definition of Generation Y which is defined as people born in or after 1980.  Geck argues that the children she has labelled as Generation Z were born into a time period that is fundamentally a more advanced technological world than the previous Generation Y.  It is Geck’s belief that the Generation Z birth years correlate to the early stages of the World Wide Web.

Geck ,C (2006), http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/397034/the_generation_z_connection_teaching_information_literacy_to_the_newest

This association between the generation and the rise of digital technology has also been made by others; Marc Prensky describes the generational change in his 2001 paper Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, he explains that “A really big discontinuity has taken place!” This discontinuity is the rapid emergence of digital technology, he talks about how this generation is the first to have grown up under the influence of the new technology and how it has become integral to their lives, he say’s:

“It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize. “

Prensky (2001) then goes on to provide his own terminology to describe this generation:

“What should we call these “new” students of today? Some refer to them as the N-[for Net]-gen or D-[for digital]-gen. But the most useful designation I have found for them is Digital Natives.”

Another term used for this generation is described by Author Don Tapscott in his book “Growing Up Digital” he calls them “The Net Generation” In his follow up book “Grown Up Digital” Tapscott explains why the influence has set this generation apart from its predecessors

“. . . the most significant change affecting youth is the rise of the computer, the Internet, and other digital technologies. This is why I call the people who have grown up during this time the Net Generation, the first generation to be bathed in bits” Tapscott (2009 p 17).

Geck (2006) also describes this generational distinction by asking the question “Why is this generation so special in today’s world?” and the answer is

“they are the most electronically connected generation in history”

Geck talks about this generation of humanity who are the first to be born into a digital world, and how technology has surrounded them from infancy.   She tells us that technology is common place to generation Z by saying:

“ these young people know no other reality than their Internet-based world, they are likely to have heightened technical expectations, attitudes, and beliefs.”

The identification of this generation’s familiarity with the new technology shows a change from the previous generation, an evolution of sorts and to meet the educational needs of these new students an evolution of teaching media may be necessary to hold the students interest.  To keep education relevant to the surrounding world, digital technology should not replace traditional methods completely but it should enhance the learning environment for today’s students but there are still many questions; Is the delivery of educational material via computer based media different to the delivery of education using more traditional methods?  Should it be different?  Is it currently being designed and delivered differently?  How can we make it more efficient and make the best use of the medium’s possibilities?

The challenge is to provide a learning environment that is relevant to Generation Z, their learning environment needs to take into consideration both the educational content and individual learning styles while also providing access to a wide range of media.

In the journal ‘World Academy of Science, Engineering & Technology’, Apostolia and Jenny Pange (2011) look at the correlation between E-learning and teaching theories, in their article ‘Is E-learning Based On Learning Theories? A Literature Review’, they believe that E-learning does not correlate to teaching theories:

“E-learning aims to build knowledge and skills in order to enhance the quality of learning. Research has shown that the majority of the e-learning solutions lack in pedagogical background” Pange & Pange (2011)

They also highlight the diversity of E-learning solutions available but they also draw attention to the deficiencies of the:

  • teaching strategies and content delivery,
  • time and pace management,
  • interface design,
  • preservation of learners’ focus.

Although these are all relevant to the application I intend to produce, for the purpose of this blog post I will just be looking at their views on teaching strategies and content delivery and I will return to the other points at a later date.

The authors explain the way technology can support differing educational content, text, graphics, audio and video, but the technology  is not the going to be effective without the correct educational structure, they say:

“Yet, the fundamental problem for the quality and effectiveness of the educational procedure is the structure of the teaching and not the mean of delivery [10]. Any technology is pedagogically neutral [6]” Pange & Pange (2011)

According to Pange and Pange the delivery of education material via computer based media is different to the delivery of education using more traditional methods?  It is different because of its neutral pedagogy.

This provides weight to my theory that, to improve my own designs and make them more effective, an understanding of teaching/learning theory would be a great asset.  In fact Pange and Pange (2011) go on to say this

“All educational systems should be designed to promote knowledge. For that reason, even before the design and implementation of any educational solution, designers should be aware of the LTs and the way learners learn.”

They also discuss how currently developers just reproduce existing textbooks in on-line environments, but this is not appropriate for the educational process to be effective they go on to explain their reasoning for this belief:

“Traditional textbooks are not always suitable in e-learning settings where tutor and learners are physically separated. As previously mentioned, the educational content should be accurate, concise, thorough and well designed so as to be suitable for quality and effective online learning. The structure of the material should go from simple to more complicated concepts, from known to unknown situations, from theory to practice. “Pange & Pange (2011)

But here is the problem; there are many learning theories but which one is appropriate for e-learning?

“Many LTs exist, but none is especially formulated in order to support e-learning environments. With the continuous research on this area, new LTs are emerging, but still the most common approach is the combination of more than on” Pange & Pange (2011)

This article suggests that the delivery of education material via computer based media in the field of E-learning needs to be different to the delivery of education using more traditional methods and in order to make it more efficient it needs to be delivered using teaching theories, but there is currently no defined theory that is appropriate to the platform but with further research a combination of theories could be the way forward.  It seems that Caroline Geck’s Generation Z are a generation that the world is not currently prepared for, a generation who’s needs cause problems that we don’t yet have solutions to.  The main problem with the current situation is that we are reacting to a situation and by the time we find suitable solutions the situation may have changed or further evolved.  Could we be facing a period of time where we can’t effectively support the educational needs of learners?  With technology developing at such a rate what will be the next effect?  I am looking at E-learning in this blog post ‘The Digital Generation’ but I have not yet covered how this may effect information kiosks or mobile devices?  I hope to answer these questions and more in my future blog posts, please feel free to follow my progress.

Geck, C. 19th February 2006,The Generation Z Connection: Teaching Information Literacy to the Newest Net Generation, [online] Available at: http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/397034/the_generation_z_connection_teaching_information_literacy_to_the_newest  [accessed October 2011)

Healing, G. & Jones, C. Net generation students: agency and choice and the new technologies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning; Oct2010, Vol. 26 Issue 5, p344-356, 13p [online] Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=53710621&site=ehost-live  [accessed October2011]

Pange, A & Pange, J. (2011) Is E-learning Based On Learning Theories? A Literature Review, World Academy of Science, Engineering & Technology, Vol. 80, p62-66, 5p [online] Available at:

http://www.waset.org/journals/waset/v80/v80-13.pdf  [accessed October 2011)

Prensky M. (2009) H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. Innovate Journal of Online Education Volume 5, Issue 3. [online] Available at: http://www.innovateonline.info/  (accessed October 2011).

Prensky M. (2001b) Digital natives, digital immigrants part II: do they really think differently? On the Horizon Vol 9,Issue 6, pp 1–6.

Tapscott D. (1998) Growing up Digital: the Rise of the Net Generation, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Tapscott D. (2009) Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Week 3

Today’s MA session was a blogging master class delivered by award winning blogger Dave Windass, if you wish to visit Dave’s blog the link is below:

http://davewindass.singlespan.com/

Hopefully as a result of Dave’s talk my blog will be infinitely more interesting, if not blame Dave.

Dave did point me in the direction of something that is very relevant to my MA studies, a news story that I missed today about archaeologists in Scotland finding the UK mainland’s first fully intact Viking boat burial site, here are 3 links to stories covering the historic find.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15366336

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/8837138/Viking-buried-in-a-ship-found-in-Scottish-Highlands.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/19/viking-burial-ship-found-scotland?newsfeed=true

If you like that type of thing I came across another interesting article on Viking ships found over the last 12 years, see below:

http://www.vikingrune.com/2009/03/viking-ships-last-12-years/

something visual

I felt the need today to do something visual, so I mood boarded Viking helmets and weapons and Viking longboats see below:

My research so far has indicated to me that there is no evidence that Viking helmets were horned, this conflicts with popular culture, see below:

I have then produced some simple vector pictures, see below:

Viking helmets by Phillip Shakseby 01

Viking helmets by Phillip Shakseby 02

Viking long ships by Phillip Shakseby 01

Viking long ships by Phillip Shakseby 02

Viking long ships by Phillip Shakseby

Here is an interesting web article about the only Viking helmet that has been found

http://www.vikingrune.com/2009/01/viking-helmet/

How do Kolb’s Learning styles fit into E-learning?

How do Kolb’s Learning styles (Kolb 1984) fit into E-learning?  I don’t know the answer yet but as part of my research I came across a journal article entitled “Implementing Kolb’s Learning Styles into

Online Distance Education”, the purpose of this article is described below:

“The purpose of this article is to investigate the application of Kolb’s (1984) theory of Experiential

Learning to online distance education.  Specifically, there are three main objectives: (1) present Kolb’s Learning Style research and Experiential Learning theory and justify its use in online education, (2) provide a critical evaluation of learning style research in online learning environments, and (3) demonstrate how to consider student learning styles in online distance education via a fictitious online distance education course in educational psychology(Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

The article examines Kolb’s Learning styles (Kolb 1984) but then goes on to look at the four learning environments that support the different learning styles as described by Kolb (1984).

The learning environments they describe are the:

  • affective
  • symbolic
  • perceptual
  • behavioural

The descriptions of each learning environment are featured below:

Affective learning environment

“The affective learning environment emphasizes concrete experiences so that students actually experience what it might be like to be a professional in a given field of study.

Affective learning tasks include activities such as practical exercises, simulations, or field experiences. Information is usually peer oriented and delivered informally. The instructor is considered as a role model and an exemplar for the particular field of study. Activities are non competitive, and feedback should not be comparative but personalized to the individual student’s goals and needs (Kolb, 1984).” (Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

Symbolic learning environment

“The symbolic learning environment is one in which learners are involved in trying to solve problems for which there is usually a right answer or a best solution. Information is abstract and usually presented in readings, data, pictures, and lecture formats. Characteristic activities may include lecture, homework, and theory readings. The instructor is acknowledged as the expert, enforcer of rules, regulator of time, and taskmaster. This instructional format is typically didactic with a top-down, hierarchical class structure (Kolb, 1984).” (Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

Perceptual learning environment

“According to Kolb and Fry (1975), the perceptual learning environment is one in which the main goal is to identify and understand relationships among concepts. Unlike activities in the symbolic environment, the perceptual environment emphasizes the process of problem solving rather than coming up with the best solution. Learners are required to collect relevant information for researching questions and are expected to attack a problem situation through different perspectives (own opinion, expert opinion and literature) by listening, observing, writing, discussing and personal pondering. In this environment, the teacher’s role is to act as a facilitator of the learning process, to be non-evaluative, and to act as mirror by reflecting back student observations and comments. Learning processes may include reflective exercises such as keeping journals, writing reflective essays, or engaging in dialogue with other students. Such practices are incorporated into each class session, which emphasizes the importance of reflection on learning.” (Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

Behavioural learning

“Finally, the behavioural learning environment emphasizes actively applying knowledge or skills to a practical problem. Although correct answers for activities are not necessary for success in this environment, activities should be structured so that learners gain intrinsic rewards and values. The teacher acts as a coach or guide but only when the student initiates or solicits help. Small group work, interactive projects that apply theory to real-world settings, and peer feedback are prime examples of student activities in this environment. Measurement is in the form of “how well something worked, feasibility, sellability, client acceptance, cost, testing results, [and] aesthetic quality” (Kolb, 1984. p. 199).” (Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

In their summary Richmond and Cummings state:

“to accommodate all types of learning styles, the online course designer should consider how to incorporate each learning environment suggested by Kolb and Fry (1975).” (Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

This is an important conclusion that can be applied to my work but it is also rather obvious to me that people will find it easier to learn if the delivery of learning is tailored towards their individual cognitive needs.

Richmond and Cummings continue their article by looking at the impact of learning styles on course content, they  point out the lack of research into the relevance of learning styles on internet based courses in comparison to the amount of research on traditional media based teaching.

They do however highlight a study by Simpson and Du (2004) in which the pair investigated the association between learning styles and self-reported enjoyment in students enrolled in online classes.

This research found a link between the students learning styles and their perceptions of class enjoyment; students with the converging learning style enjoyed the classes the most, followed by those with diverging, accommodating, and assimilating learning styles.  Richmond and Cummings use this investigations finding to summarise that there is a case that supports the consideration of learning styles in online course design, this is also an important finding for my research as it confirms to me that there is a need for the consideration of learning styles within the design process when producing e-learning.

The article then focuses on applying their conclusions to an e-learning environment, the approach they use involves the assessment of student learning styles using  the Learning Style Inventory (LSI), developed by Kolb (1976).  They then indicate that an instructor may want to offer content based upon the learning style of the largest group, from my personal point of view I feel I should point out that I can see the logic in providing to the majority but It is not an approach that I would pursue as I think everyone should be considered if possible.

Richmond and Cummings go on to describe specific course activities and methods of delivering course content that is appropriate for each of the four learning environments, see table below:

In their conclusion Richmond and Cummings acknowledge the difficulty faced by online instructors in considering individual needs, as online instructors usually lack the physical interaction with their students, this is a problem that myself and other designers face as well.  In design we try to consider the needs of the user, in this case the student but it can be hard if you don’t understand the user’s needs and frustrations, which is why designers spend a lot of time in preparation, researching, testing, evaluating and refining their designs, it is in essence the reason that I am reviewing this article.  The reason I am researching learning theory and the reason I am undertaking my MA is that I want to understand more about the needs of the people who will ultimately use my designs, in order to provide them with better quality, more effective designs.

Richmond and Cummings have provided me with some useful information and some good ideas to take my research forward and for that I must thank them, to finish this blog post I would like to leave you with the final part of Richmond and Cummings conclusion

“We believe that such thoughtful course design and implementation will not only improve the quality of online course delivery but also will enhance student learning.” (Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. 2005)

 

Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. (2005). Implementing Kolb’s learning styles into online

distance education. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 45-54

Kolb, D. A. (1976). Learning-Style Inventory, Boston, MA: McBer and Company.

Kolb, D. A. (1981). Experiential learning theory and the learning style inventory: A reply to Freedman and Stumpf. Academy of Management Review, 6(2), 289-296.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Kolb, D. A., & Fry, R. E. (1975). Toward an applied theory of experiential learning, In C. Cooper, (Ed), Theories of group processes. London: Wiley Press.

Simpson, C., & Du, Y. (2004). Effects of learning styles and class participation on students’ enjoyment level in distributed learning environments. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 45(2), 123-136.

Week 2

Today was the second session of my course, we had a library induction in which they provided us with details of the various online information you can access as a Hull College student. I will no doubt be posting information and images that I have gathered from these resources over the duration of this course. We then had a talk given by Mark Terry, Mark is lecturer at Hull School of Art & Design who has recently completed a MA and he was sharing his experience with us.

Preparation

As part of my preparation for this course I have done some initial planning and research, I followed my usual process of mind mapping and mood boarding.  My approach is just to write down ideas words that come to mind relating to the other words and ideas on the page, this can produce some odd strands but it is also unrestrictive which can help you get to places you may have otherwise missed.  See my mind maps and mood boards below:

Interactive Learning Enviroments Mind Map

Interactive Learning Enviroments Mind Map

Learning Theory Mood Board

Learning Theory Mood Board

Interactive Learning Mood board

Interactive Learning Mood board

The Vikings Mind Map

The Vikings Mind Map

Vikings Mood Board

Vikings Mood Board

I have also started looking at learning theories and I am starting to wonder whether I may have bitten off more than I can chew with the ambition of trying to understand how people learn?  One thing I have realised is that I am not going to find a one size fits all solution.  In my initial research I have found that there are many differing ideas and theories about how people learn, these theories include Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Transformative and Neuroeducation.  Each of these theories has differing rationale for explaining how we learn but the truth could quite possibly be that they are all right, different people are conditioned in different ways through different circumstance and thus a case could be made that we learn in the way that suits us as individuals dependent on our social, philosophical, psychological and anthropological experiences.
I can see this rabbit hole that I am about to enter getting deeper and deeper if I cannot establish a clear route for the focus of my project.
I have also been looking at Kolbs descriptive model of the adult learning process see below:

This suggests that there are four stages of learning, as seen in the model above and it seems to offer a way to understand individual different learning styles, whilst also offering a description of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all.

Kolb explains that different people naturally favour a specific different learning style and various factors can influence a person’s preferred style.  Peoples preferred style of learning is the result of two pairs of variables, which Kolb presents as lines of axis, each with ‘conflicting’ modes at either end see below:

Kolb is suggesting that when we approach a new learning situation, we decide to either do or watch, and at the same time we decide whether to either think or feel, this is because we cannot do both at the same time.

As a result of these two decisions our learning style can be defined, when challenged with a task do, do we prefer to watch others attempt the task and reflect upon their experience (‘reflective observation’ – ‘watching’) or do we jump straight in and have a go (‘active experimentation’ – ‘doing’)

At the same time we emotionally process the experience into something meaningful by our choice of reflection upon the task, either by thinking & analyzing ‘abstract conceptualization’ – ‘thinking’) or feeling(‘concrete experience’ – ‘feeling’).

Through these two choices combined a preferred learning style can be established, see the diagram below:

Here are brief descriptions of the four Kolb learning styles taken from the website below:

http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm

  • Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) – These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. They are best at viewing concrete situations from several different viewpoints.  Kolb called this style ‘Diverging’ because these people perform better in situations that require ideas-generation, for example, brainstorming.  People with a Diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information.  They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts.  People with the Diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.
  • Assimilating (watching and thinking – AC/RO) – The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach.  Ideas and concepts are more important than people.  These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity.  They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format.  People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts.  People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value.  These learning style of people are important for effectiveness in information and science careers.  In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
  • Converging (doing and thinking – AC/AE) – People with a Converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues.  They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects.  People with a Converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories.  They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems.  People with a Converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues.  A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities.  People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.
  • Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE) – The Accommodating learning style is ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition rather than logic.  These people use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach.  They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans.  They commonly act on ‘gut’ instinct rather than logical analysis.  People with an Accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis.  This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative.  People with an Accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks.  They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective.

Once a preferred learning style has been established there is the potential to design a learning programme or experience that is orientated towards an individual or groups particular learning style.  People may still need differing stimulus and experiences in different situations to that of their preferred learning style, so it is important to offer different types of educational stimulation.

I now feel I have a better understanding of this popular learning theory but I realise it is but one theory and I will be looking at other theories in the near future.  I also need to see if I can put this theory in the context of e-learning.

Here are two websites I found useful in understanding this theory:

http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm

http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm