Showing posts with label educational methodology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label educational methodology. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Running race between open learning and formal higher education


As the discussion on the future of higher education keeps on going, it is interesting to see how the presidents of colleges look upon these changes, particularly when looking at how top management looks at the pro's and con's of online learning.

The Pew Research Center just published a 29-page document on the digital revolution and higher education, where they look at the difference in valuating online learning between presidents of both for-profit, private and public colleges/universities and the public at l. The document is a result of a survey conducted in spring 2011. One is a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 two-year and four-year private, public, and for-profit colleges and universities. The report is quite interesting, as it clearly shows the difference of appreciation of online learning.

While going through the report I could not but wonder why online learning still is not embraced by the larger public. This resistance seems to me to have parallels in the adoption of technology. Just look back at the discussions that started when the television started to enter the mainstream shops, or when the CD's started to rise in interest, let alone the first personal computers... But on the upside, one can see that an increasing number of college/university presidents is embracing online learning and is increasingly offering online learning at their institute.

But what did surprise me was that although mobile devices are all around us, and we use it in many cases for contextualized, informal learning, most of the educational institutes don't yet have a clear guideline for these new learning devices. Which immediately suggests to me that the content resources will probably also not be designed taken into consideration mobile learning affordances. Or web-based affordances at that. For although courses are mentioned in the report, the quality of these online courses, and whether these courses are designed following online contemporary needs (peer interaction, scaffolding, designed for reconfiguration depending on the device which accesses the content...) is unclear.

Nice report though.

Here is a summary of the key findings (taken from the report):

The Value of Online Learning. The public and college presidents differ over the educational value of online courses. Only 29% of the public says online courses offer an equal value compared with courses taken in a classroom. Half (51%) of the college presidents surveyed say online courses provide the same value.

The Prevalence of Online Courses. More than three-quarters of college presidents (77%) report that their institutions now offer online courses. These courses are more prevalent in some sectors of higher education than in others. While 89% of four-year public colleges and universities offer online classes, just 60% of four-year private schools offer them.

Online Students. Roughly one-in-four college graduates (23%) report that they have taken a class online. However, the share doubles to 46% among those who have graduated in the past ten years. Among all adults who have taken a class online, 39% say the format’s educational value is equal to that of a course taken in a classroom.

The Future of Online Learning. College presidents predict substantial growth in online learning: 15% say most of their current undergraduate students have taken a class online, and 50% predict that 10 years from now most of their students will take classes online.

Digital Textbooks.Nearly two-thirds of college presidents (62%) anticipate that 10 years from now, more than half of the textbooks used by their undergraduate students will be entirely digital.

The Internet and Plagiarism. Most college presidents (55%) say that plagiarism in students’ papers has increased over the past 10 years. Among those who have seen an increase in plagiarism, 89% say computers and the internet have played a major role.

Do Laptops and Smartphones Belong in the Classroom? More than half of recent college graduates (57%) say when they were in college they used a laptop, smartphone or tablet computer in class at least sometime. Most colleges and universities do not have institutional guidelines in place for the use of these devices in class. Some 41% of college presidents say students are allowed to use laptops or other portable devices during class; at 56% of colleges and universities it is up to the individual instructors. Only 2% of presidents say the use of these devices is prohibited.

College Presidents and Technology. The leaders of the nation’s colleges and universities are a tech-savvy group. Nearly nine-in-ten (87%) use a smartphone daily, 83% use a desktop computer and 65% use a laptop. And they are ahead of the curve on some of the newer digital technologies: Fully half (49%) use a tablet computer such as an iPad at least occasionally, and 42% use an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook.

College Presidents and Social Networking. Roughly one-third of college presidents (32%) report that they use Facebook weekly or more often; 18% say they use Twitter at least occasionally.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Free #Edupunk DIY #book on #learning and how to get credentials while exploring the internet


For all of us wanting to increase our knowledge and get certified along the way, Anya Kamenetz has made it a bit simpler to build our own learning path. There is a free downloadable EduPunk guide to get cracking with your own learning and increase your knowledge. The guide has some really great pointers on how to design your learning path step-by-step and following your own interests.

Anya Kamenetz is known as the author of DIY U:Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education and Generation Debt: How our future was sold out for student loans, bad jobs, noBenefits, and tax cuts for rich geezers - and how to Fight Back.
In the free EduPunks' guide to obtain DIY credentials, you will find great online resources to really dive into certification, job information, and jargon that comes with academic or professional certification by using the internet quite excessively.

I like that idea of getting your shoulders behind your own education and moving towards your own interests (even if it demands for you to get a degree - oh dear!). No rest for the wicked!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Join the open and free course on mobile learning: #MobiMOOC


Mobile learning (mLearning) is all the rage at the moment, but how do you get started and how do you maximize the mLearning plans you have? Simple, follow this free online course facilitated by 7 mobile experts and turn your mLearning knowledge into a practical project. Interested? Join the online google group, the course wiki and enter the mLearning conversation with other peers.

Grab your mobile and optimize its use
The MobiMOOC course will run for 6 weeks (2 April – 14 May). The target group for this course is … anyone interested in mLearning. Although the course is open to all, it is useful if you have some experience with social media. If you have a mobile phone or device, than grab it or go and buy one, it will make your learning much more authentic.

The MobiMOOC course will start with an introduction to mLearning, getting everyone comfortable with some of its key features, and gradually moving into the more complex technical, project planning and philosophical topics. The course will feature mLearning examples from the academic, corporate and non-profit world, and look at both simple and on the edge projects from both the North and South, as the South has been an inspiration for mLearning.

The MOOC format
MobiMOOC is a fully online course, which follows the MOOC (Massive, Open, Online Course) format. This format uses a lot of social media to enable all the participants and the facilitators to stay connected, build a network, exchange experiences. As the course is focusing on mobile learning, it is called MobiMOOC. As much of a MOOC is about exchanging notes with peers, and constructing knowledge collaboratively, so responsibility of the learning is with you, the participants and as such you need to self-regulate your learning. To optimize your learning it is important to plan your learning actions. However, we are all in this together! You can be sure that with the mLearning expert facilitators of the course and your peers, you will get your hands on great resources, inspiring discussions and all of our minds will be challenged and inspired.
If you do not like e-mails, you can also add the discussion threads to a RSS feed.

The main course sites are accessible for a lot of mobile devices (e.g. google groups for discussing which uses e-mails, twitter, facebook…).

Interested? The when and where
The course will be running: from 2nd April 2011 until 14 May 2011. Every week focuses on a new topic.

Join the MobiMOOC google group (this will be the primary site for discussions) in order to get into the course and be kept up-to-date. You need to sign in with a google account. Important: once you have joined the MobiMOOC google-group, make sure you choose how you want to be kept up to date: recommended choices either an abridged e-mail (= you get a summary of the new activities each day) or digest e-mail (you get all the new messages bundled into one single mail per day). Google groups works like a listserv, so you can reply to a message send from the group via your e-mail, the google group mail: mobimooc (at) googlegroups (dot) com . After joining the group, please add a bit of information about yourself via the profile of your google group account, that way we all get to know one another a bit better.
Check out the course wiki (still a work in process, but already loaded with information)
http://mobimooc.wikispaces.com/

Get connected to the MobiMOOC twitter and Facebook account.
Facebook account: some informal learning or chatting
http://facebook.com/mobimooc
Twitter: mobiMOOC: tweetering thoughts and ideas and for speedy connections (hashtag #mobiMOOC)
http://twitter.com/mobiMOOC

Topics and facilitators?
Week 1: Saturday 2 April – 8 April 2011: Introduction to mLearning;
Facilitator: Inge ‘Ignatia’ de Waard

Week 2: Saturday 9 April – 15 April 2011: Planning an mLearning project;
Facilitator: Judy Brown

Week 3: Saturday 16 April – 22 April 2011: Mobile for development (m4D);
Facilitators: Niall Winters and Yishay Mor

Week 4: Saturday 23 – 29 April 2011: Leading edge innovations in mLearning;
Facilitator: David Metcalf

Week 5: Saturday 30 – 6 May 2011: Interaction between mobile learning and a mobile connected society;
Facilitator: John Traxler

Week 6: Saturday 7 – 13 May 2011: mLearning in k12;
Facilitator: Andy Black

So if you are interested, keep your agenda (a bit) free from 2 April - 14 May 2011 and join us.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Does blended learning increase student results? Yes, a case from the Tilburg University

During the innovation day at the university of Ghent, one of the speakers got my attention. Bob van den Brand from the Uni of Tilburg spoke about his experience in increasing student success thanks to blended instruction that was researched at the university of Tilburg.

The Uni of Tilburg (netherlands) had a challenge: big aula's who were populated with learners that were sometimes interested and showed attention, but most of the times the aula's were populated with a vast amount of bored learners. So Bob started looking for solutions that could get students interested again, and... if possible increase their grades while implementing the new techniques. And... it worked, after embedding web-lectures, web-excercises and video's into his lectures, an additional 15% of the students passed their exams.

His topic: accounting (no wonder students fall asleep! *joking, sorry nephew of mine*)
They tried out several strategies and looked at the results
First strategy: record everything and stream it.... it was okay, but this does not change the actual learning problems students can have.
Second strategy: only deliver movies from MAX 10 minutes, this had a positive effect.
Third strategy: he wanted to capture the attention of the students by using examples outside of the course, providing them to the students for individual or peer learning, and then focusing on questions and problems during the face-to-face sessions. And this strategy got 15% more students succeeding the exam.

Some hints he gives:
He is a firm believer in variation! Only with true variation (not simple details that change, but complete rethinking a concept angle).
The learning blocks need to be short as possible (which is liked by the students).
Give the students an extra if they create something: the students also had the possibility of getting bonus points/grades if they provided examples themselves (original examples).

Students could also access the exams afterwards, and look at them, which created an extra learning moment.

He suggests to start with small bitesize content: short, efficient and with a variety.
His format was a variety of online delivered content and actions, his blended approach:
web-lectures
web-tutorials
web-tests
web-consulting
live streaming

All of these five different stages got students more actively involved in the courses.

As an example of being creative and use variety, he mentioned that he did a bit on accounting while using Manchester United as the company to analyse.

Web-lectures e.g.:
All the movies were to the point (no polite intro's), integrated in LMS, with slides or relevant graphs.
In some web-lectures, the teacher wrote (digital pen) on the documents, to increase actual learning/teaching feeling.

web-consulting sessions: freely knitted with the other content. These sessions are meant to get questions and synchronous discussions going.

As a result of this research, he got an award in excellence in innovative learning award.

Tried to find some lecture content, but could not find it.

Monday, 10 January 2011

#LAK11 a free and open #elearning course on #statistics starts today, join!


The open learning platform SCoPe is starting a Massive Online Course (MOOC) on Learning & Knowledge Analytics 2011 – LAK11 – is an open course that will be offered from January 10 – February 20, 2011. LAK11 serves as an introduction to the growing field of analytics in teaching, learning, training, development, and organizational knowledge.

LAK11 will address the following topics:

Week 1 (Jan 10-16): Introduction to Learning and Knowledge Analytics
Week 2 (Jan 17-23): Rise of “Big Data” and Data Scientists
Week 3 (Jan 24-30): Semantic Web, Linked Data, & Intelligent Curriculum
Week 4 (Jan 31-Feb 6): Visualization: Tools for, and examples of, Analytics
Week 5 (Feb 7-13): Organizational implementation
Week 6 (Feb 14-20): What’s next for Learning & Knowledge Analytics?

There is no fee to participate. The course will include synchronous (Elluminate) and asynchronous (blogs, moodle) interaction.

This course will be facilitated by George Siemens, Jon Dron, Dave Cormier, Tanya Elias, and Sylvia Currie.

To get started:
Please join this group: https://groups.google.com/group/LAK11/. Once the course begins, daily emails of course activity, readings, and other highlights will be sent to this group.
Course Tag: LAK11 (for tagging resources in delicious/diigo, Twitter hashtag (#lak11), and tagging blog posts)

The course syllabus and reading list will be posted in early January, 2011.

We will be using Moodle for course discussions. However, feel free to blog or participate in any forum you prefer. If you intend to blog, please send me (gsiemens (at) gmail.com) a link to your blog so I can include it in our aggregated blog list. Blogs, Moodle posts, tags, and related resources will be aggregated in the LAK11 Netvibes page.

I am in!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

#dl10 The benefits of using voting boxes for increased learning

Some months ago, we - at ITM - started to use voting boxes (or clickers, or some call them audience response systems). The impact of using these boxes got many teachers and trainers interested, so now we are beginning to use them for all sorts of applications.

Below you can find a ppt on the benefits of using voting boxes. This presentation is given at the Devlearn conference in San Francisco, during the mobile learning jam sessions.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Big Question: 5 strategies to keep up with all the latest technologies


In the Big Question launched by Tony Karrer this month, he wonders how do we keep up? Posting a great central sub-question: isn't this an ever-expanding universe of tech goodies? Will we be forced to chase hot tools and social platforms to stay competitive? How the heck are we supposed to stay up to speed on all the latest stuff and be successful using it personally and professionally?

This is a question I pose myself every week. The amount of technological advances that are launched is staggering and numbing at times. It is sometimes numbing, because I feel stupid and behind when following all these new apps and innovations. And taking all these new innovations into account, how can I successfully implement them for learning purposes? The more extreme these innovations seem, the more I feel out of touch with it, and the more estranged I become.

To reduce this uneasy feeling, I use 5 strategies to keep up:

Strategy 1: true innovation through collaboration and trust
The last new development that blew my mind was a lens equipped with nanotechnology that enabled augmented reality. Just imagine that you put in a lens and you can immediately see the information you need to make full use of the knowledge you have or want to obtain? Within a near future relevant data can be superimposed on the visual perception of the person wearing the lens. This has great potential for surgeons, engineers, ... but also for students, for educators as this takes learning, and specifically authentic learning to a complete new level (without too much of an intrusion). This technology will allow professionals to have the latest updated information on e.g. their patient, or the surgery they are performing, or the history of a place you are standing in, or the evolution of a certain aspect of architecture...

Now on a completely different scale: while writing this I realized I just got a new technology out as well thanks to a wonderful team (the iphone, android - and by now multiple phones - to Moodle project). So sometimes, even simple, ordinary educational people such as me can add their two cents to new developments? This made me wonder on what it was that enabled the innovation. I wrote about the little steps we took to get to an educational innovation earlier, but the most important one was: collaboration and trust.

There is no longer - was there ever? - one person making an amazing innovation. Nowadays there is always a complete team behind an innovation, and most of the time it is an multidisciplinary team. To keep up with innovations that might have educational potential, I connect to people I trust and admire. So, one of my key keeping up strategies is to construct my own trusted knowledge team, assembled from different disciplines.

Strategy 2: follow just a couple of tech-zines:
Now this latest one always brings me back to earth and feeds my creativity. Afrigadget recycles, finds amazing solutions for priority needs, and gets the mind going. For instance this wonderful African robot made from spare parts of television sets (that is something more than lego’s mindstorm).

Technology is not all about miniaturization (like nanotechnology), it is about using what is there and improving to fit the needs of your setting or goal.


Strategy 3: keep the focus on my own educational challenges
Keeping a broad perspective is good, but for deepening my knowledge on certain innovations, I need to filter what is out there. Picking up what might solve an educational problem I encounter or focusing on what I can use and what might be helpful for future problems (it is always good to be proactive in any professional branch), helps me to overcome possible educational challenges.

Strategy 4: tuning out, allow my brain some time alone
Another important one is simply tuning out. Let all the information that I absorbed become structured in my head and simply wait for it to be processed. This might sound strange, but I feel that my mind knows better than me at times. It knows how to arrange all the information and turn it into something useful. But it only does this when I let it have its ‘playtime’. During that time I chop wood, rearrange my garage, dig holes in my garden… do all sorts of things that do not include using my professional thinking mind/brain. I trust my brain to come up with great ideas, I know it feels very happy when it can do so.

Strategy 5: reflect, write and share
And last but not least: feeding it all back to you! There is no network to get anything from, unless you give. And let’s face it: giving simply feels good also. Reflecting on newly obtained knowledge, and writing about it gives structure to all the new ideas. It might also safe others time in finding solutions for their challenges, or others can help fine tune it.

So in short how do I keep up?
  1. Getting and giving to a network of people that I trust and are knowledgeable;
  2. Staying on top through tech-zines;
  3. Balance my curiosity for new innovations, with my focus on new educational needs that need to be tackled.
  4. Tuning out from time to time.
  5. Sharing the new found knowledge.

By the way @TonyKarrer, I will be heading your way in June, attending the mLearncon2010 in San Diego from 15 - 17 June 2010.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Do you know of other changes in education for students?


Education is changing and all of us feel the results of that change. We are amidst the change as educators, but how does this affect the student/learner?

After reading the book ‘Disrupting Class – how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns” by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson, I had the urge to start putting the changes on a piece of paper. As soon as I committed the ideas to paper, more ideas bubbled up.

Although I came up with a more or less lengthy list, I hope you can add some of your ideas of change in education. The list I could put together leading to the Walhalla of education we are aiming for.

In the meanwhile I am now listing changes for parents and teachers as well... will be posting those soon.

(thought after publishing this post ... wondering what the tables will look like on my mobile.... )

(Cartoon by Nick D Kim, nearingzero.net.)


Yesteryear – a passive more read than write world

My educational Walhalla: the content production era

The student / learner

The student went to school on fixed times.

The learner fits education within her/his schedule or interest.

Lunch and breaks were given during which you better NOT learned (nerd and geek were bad names in those days).

You learn even when others do not, because you know that learning is fantastic.

Only very precise labeled books, papers, manuscripts were mandatory course material and as a student you just needed to go through them;

You gather your content, in doing so learning to be critical in filtering obtainable content.

As a student, you had little chance to explore the world and dive into any content yourself (exceptions aside).

The Web is your oyster… or chocolate cookie jar, where you can satisfy your knowledge hunger with delight.

Assignments and exams were mandatory if you wanted to pass anything formal.

Any type of assignment/test/task is very closely linked to real life cases and situations.

School was part of a life cycle: birth, school, work, death.

Learning is life.

You, as a student were isolated to your close (regional) classmates.

Anyone who has access to internet (even with limited frequency) can be your classmate or learning colleague. The world is your neighbor.

Group work was limited and did not go beyond class-room or at the most own school boundaries.

Group work can be very multicultural and diverse both in approach and in peers.

Your part of the world was enough; other continents were exotic and different.

The world is getting to be more of the same, no matter where you live (war zones not included, hopefully they will disappear).

No fiddling, no doodling, no talking… for most of the time. Paying attention = similar to physical and mental lethargy.

You do whatever is needed to get your mind working (I curse, yell and walk around stamping my feet if my brain cannot grasp something – this part does not resemble Walhalla)

If you scored above average on your assignments, you would get a diploma. Strangely enough this never meant that you were prepared for working life. It was more an indication that you could do what needed to be done to obtain a diploma in the prevailing learning system.

What you learn, is either a useful foundation for or the actual content you will use in your professional or personal life.

Higher education would mainly be followed in your own region.

Go to whatever educational institution you like, why not join the University of South Africa (the longest operating University in Distance Education)

The focus is on extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation rules!

Material was not taken into account different learner skills and/or needs

Even the least mainstream learner can find what is needed for his/her own knowledge benefit in a way that is accessible to them.

Teacher centered

Learner-centered

Learning is linear

Learning is connected

Learning is receiving

Learning is retrieving, analyzing and producing.

Learning is whatever the group gets, you will be measured to the performance of the group, not to your absorption of the content.

Learning is what YOU need.

If you learn slower or quicker then the average processing time of your student group, that will be that, there is no alternative way to get more or less time to absorb the content in.

You absorb content at your pace (slow or quick).


Let me know if you can think of any other changes that can be added or if you made a list of any of these changes as well.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

parrallel session #eden09 thursday morning that I attended

"The use of a peer-assessment and a reflection report to measure collaborating learning efoorts an interdisciplinary project for studetns of the faculty of teacher training, the faculty of social work and welfare studies, and athe faculty of health care" by Kristof Uvijn, Hogeschool Gent, Belgium.
A nice person with glasses, a black shirt.
Problems: would they use it to promote the learning process, or only for evaluation purposes?
They have a midterm evaluation to get the students more at ease with the technology.
they used it at 150 students from 10 different courses (teacher, logopedist, nurses, ergotherapists, ...)
The students are not face-to-face, but only see themselves 5 times throughout the year. The students are all in their last year before finishing, so the better students.

Want to hear/see more, look at this vodcast (just uploaded the movie, so it might not be accessible yet, depending on the youtube upload capacity, but you can see it later for sure):




"Online Learning: variations in Groups of parcitipants and tools" by Miri Shonfeld, Ilana Ronen, Kibbutzim College of Educatin Technology and Art, Israël (ah, art already in the title!)
(this presentation wanted to go immediately into the wiki, but the connection did not allow it)
Students with learner dissabilities (Inge, try to get her contact details to be able to see it)
Blended learning with the classic face-to-face meetings at beginning and end an two virtual field trips.

The question for the students: construct a science teaching unit.
They use a synchronous teaching platform similar to Elluminate and also asynchronous possibilities.
The course resulted in learning outcomes that were amazingly better results for disabled students. So an analysis was made:
students with disabilities participate more in an online course than in a f2f-course.
These students also evaluated the course much more highly than the others.
The final grades were also higher than the others (the others included the 'excellent students'.

why: because disabled students had to learn on their own anyway, they were better at time management (they do not have to wait for pick-ups, or other time consuming actions).
online courses allow them more flexibility which is motivating for them.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Join the free CIDER session on Wednesday 6 May, entitled: Re-Thinking E-Learning Research


All of us eLearning researchers and teachers are invited to the next presentation of free CIDER sessions. The next session features a presentation and discussion with Dr. Norm Friesen, Canada Research Chair in E-Learning Practices at Thompson Rivers University.

Title: Re-Thinking E-Learning Research

In education, novel practices, applications, and forms - from bulletin boards to Webcasts, and from online educational games to open educational resources - have been proliferating rapidly. However, research of these changing forms and practices has gravitated towards the methods and philosophical frameworks used to investigate and design earlier instructional technologies and practices: Technical progress is seen as single-handedly "impacting" education, human action is understood as fundamentally rational and rule-bound, and phenomena like education and communication are understood according to strictly functional models.

In this talk, Dr. Friesen will describe how these understandings have been contradicted by unpredictable developments in technology and practice, and by changes in the theory underpinning research itself. Referring to his 2009 book, "Re-Thinking E-Learning Research: Foundations, Methods and Practices", he will outline ways in which research in distance education and e-learning can be re-thought, to catch up to new theoretical, technical and empirical developments.

When: Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 11am-12pm MDT (Edmonton)
to get your local time, look at the worldclock time converter here.

Where: Online via Elluminate at:
https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?password=M.8B71B60F2931D029AC3837DC06B70D

Pre-Configuration:
Please make sure your Mac or PC is equipped with a microphone and speakers, so that we can use the Voice over IP functionality built into the web conferencing software. Please note that it is extremely important that you get your system set up prior to the start of the event. Information on installing the necessary software and configuring your PC is available at http://www.elluminate.com/support/ in the "First Time Users" section.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Why mobile learning is on the rise and benefits diverse populations


In January 2009 Carly Shuler (a fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center) came out with a fabulous paper on the benefits of mobile learning entitled: pockets of potential - Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning.
Although the document focuses on mobile learning for children, you can easily deduct the benefits for all learner groups. Carly Shuler recently graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation and Education, where she studied how new media and emerging technologies can be used to effectively educate children.

The document is 56 pages so you can read it easily on trolley or bus.
Some of the issues talked about are known to most of us:

1. Encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning Mobile devices allow students to gather, access, and process information outside the classroom. They can encourage learning in a real-world context, and help bridge school, afterschool, and home environments.

2. Reach underserved children Because of their relatively low cost and accessibility in low-income communities, handheld devices can help advance digital equity, reaching and inspiring populations “at the edges” — children from economically disadvantaged communities and those from developing countries.

3. Improve 21st-century social interactions Mobile technologies have the power to promote and foster collaboration and communication, which are deemed essential for 21st-century success.

4. Fit with learning environments Mobile devices can help overcome many of the challenges associated with larger technologies, as they fi t more naturally within various learning environments.

5. Enable a personalized learning experience Not all children are alike; instruction should be adaptable to individual and diverse learners. There are signifi cant opportunities for genuinely supporting differentiated, autonomous, and individualized learning through mobile devices.

But what I found very interesting and useful was the section with the Goals for Mobile Learning. In this section she touches a point on 'Understand mobile learning as a unique element of education reform' which is VERY important in our current educational environment. In many schools mobile devices are banned, and as such young learners do not get the necessary responsibility to enable them to work with this new tool that offers immediate contact to knowledge and content. She dives deeper into this topic in the paragraph 'Engage the public and policymakers in defining the potential of mobile devices for learning'.

If you are into mobile learning or you think about adding mobile learning into your learning environment, this gives a good overview of the issues that are currently being discussed worldwide and the advantages it offers. It also offers great resources.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Blogphilosophy rethinking educational methodologies: is constructivism indeed a solution for all regions?


The last couple of weeks I have been following a module of a Master in Distance Education at Athabasca University. This particular module focuses on the International issues that arise while developing distance education for different regions around the globe. It is moderated by Barbara Spronk, who seems to have traveled the world to such an extend that she does qualify as a global citizen indeed.

So I have been learning a lot lately, but consequently blogposted less. I had to come to terms with what I would post, when to find time and if anyone might be interested. Then I remembered some of you who have been motivating me to write on eLearning as soon as it interests me and this topic I find indeed interesting:
is the constructivist methodology - that is so fiercely promoted by distance education as it is seen as more student-centered - indeed a good methodology to use throughout the world?

I feel very in favor of the constructivist learning approach (Jean Piaget has written about it, picture in post) and I have been writing about it on some occasions. But due to the course I am following now, I am beginning to doubt if this methodology is indeed fit for all regions, I think not.

When developing DE for low income countries, I had the tendency of looking at social media possibilities as well (if the technology could be used) and to look for a more student-centered approach.
But if you go into a region - as an advisor or a tutor - and you promote any kind of DE methodology, inevitably it becomes not that particular communities plan, but someone else’s plan or strategy. As such DE could be perceived as pervasive in some cultures.

It might not be without meaning that DE and the methodologies allocated with it as being ‘successful methodologies’ are linked to DE was build in a region (lets say Northern countries), by those people that have followed education in that region and as such DE (the first DE) has the mark of that region on it. If I were to make an invention for myself, I bet it would provide to the needs and thinking of my community, but my invention might not necessarily be exportable to other communities. A person is build in her/his community and from that framework creativity and ideas emerge. To me the same thing is true for educational methodologies.

Let's look at some Asian countries were teacher-centered learning is more commonly accepted than student-centered learning. What do you do in such region if you are asked to be a provider? Do you go in and push the 'constructivist is good for DE'-agenda, or do you let others come up with a methodology they feel is better for them, although that methodology might not be 'ideal' in your experience as a DE advisor/teacher?

So my opinion is changing from a constructivist promoter to a belief that if DE is formed, constructed and implemented by tutors or knowledge persons within a community, DE can be more indigenous and better fitting the needs and believes of that community.

Does anybody have thoughts on this or experiences?