Youth eLearning

EdNA’s The Communicator email newsletter reports on a review about eLearning for youth:

An extensive review of literature and information relating to the
application of e-learning for youth within the context of vocational
education and training (VET) has been released by the 2005 Australian
Flexible Learning Framework (2005 Framework). The environmental scan
research paper was undertaken, on behalf of the 2005 Framework’s
E-learning for Target Learner Groups – Youth Project, to guide a number
of innovative youth e-learning trials which are commencing this month.
Based upon a comprehensive scan of several hundred documents, the paper
draws upon 34 research reports, projects and reviews which contain
concepts and examples highly relevant to the application of e-learning
to youth. The paper is successful in its aim of providing a summary of
the key discussions on the features of young learners and their
relationship to technology and e-learning.

Australian Flexible Learning Framework News, 13 July 2005

The report, E-learning for Target Learner Groups – Youth, is available as PDF. It’s just 24 pages but appears to have some useful summaries of key material. I may write more when I’ve had time to read it.

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Are the basics of instructional design changing?

Stephen Downes answers “Yes!” in a piece that builds on his earlier post where he asked “Is online learning a distinct paradigm?” The core of his argument is about the nature of knowledge and related theories of learning. He takes apart the behaviourist and constructivist ends of the familiar spectrum. These few paragraphs provide some sampling of his line of argument:

When I see people use a phrase like ‘construct meaning’, it is, to me, quite literally meaningless. Meaningless not merely because no process of construction occurs (the acquisition of memory, etc., is an associative process, a natural function of the brain, rather than an intentional process), but because meaning is quite literally not something that can be constructed at all, no more than (say) we can construct ‘distance’ or ‘school spirit’. The meaning, quite literally, does not exist in the mind; saying that we are ‘constructing’ meaning is to (illicitly) appeal to a folk psychological theory of mind, whether we intend to or not.

Two major sets of affordances offered in online learning are not found in traditional learning. First, online, communication occurs not through a channel, but through a network. And second, communication flows not merely through a passive medium but through a computational environment. Online learning embodies these affordances, and that they constitute a part of what is meant by online learning; this is what I demonstrated with reference to my 1998 paper.

In the earlier theory, there is a direct causal connection between states of affairs in the communicating entities; it is, therefore, a causal theory. But in the latter theory, there is no direct causal connection; it is what would be called (in the parlance of the new theory) an emergentist theory (that is, it is based on emergence, not causality).

The theory of distributed representation has a profound implication for pedagogy, as it suggests that learning (and teaching, such as it is) is not a process of communication, but rather, a process of immersion. Put loosely, it suggests the idea of teaching not by telling or even demonstrating but rather through the creation (or identification) of an environment into which a learner may be immersed.

It’s not difficult to see connections to other recent material from Downes, the Jay Cross material on Workflow Learning and the growing interest in mLearning. I’ll need time to digest this and its implications for our regular teaching.

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Workflow Learning

Jay Cross has posted a link to a Breeze presentation of a conference session about A Workflow Learning Pattern Language. It’s 34 minutes worth checking out. His essential message is about the convergence of work and learning but he talks about a variety of ideas including augmented learners, the imbalance between high costs for formal learning and high value of informal learning, the different balance required for novices and experts, and poor transfer for formal training to performance.

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iStory Creator

Steve Brooks at edugadget writes about iPod Stories – iStory Creator:

iPodSoft is a site where you can find some interesting software for your desktop that will make your iPod much more than a music player. One application I am trying out is iStory Creator, a free piece of software. iStory Creator lets you create stories and quizzes and then put them onto your iPod.

Apparently the software prepares text that can be loaded into the iPod notes feature complete with internal links that support navigation by other than linear progression. Links can be to audio content which would make it possible to provide for directed navigation around a collection of audio snippets.

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Accommodating PDA displays

Derek Morrison at Auricle extends on some previous comments about Filling up experiences at the online filling station:

Now I’m still someone who reckons that the average web page is best viewed at a minimum of 1024×768 resolution … which isn’t an unreasonable expectation for someone with even a modest desktop or laptop nowadays. But my recent adoption of a PDA has rattled the bars of my cage a little. Suddenly design elements which seemed so ‘essential’ from my desktop/laptop centric view of the world are in danger of being downgraded to ‘desirable’ or maybe even the lower category ‘nice’.

He describes his first attempts at providing an alternative stylesheet suitable for use on a PDA. The stylesheet is accessible and the page can be switched to give a sense of the changes.

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Wired News: No Wrong Answer: Click It

Found in Wired News, this piece, No Wrong Answer: Click It, about the growing use of instant response devices in class. It includes this:

Many colleges already use technology that allows teachers and students to interact more easily outside the classroom. For example, professors can now post lecture notes, quizzes and reading lists online. Several companies market software, such as Blackboard and Web CT, that provide ready-made course web pages and other course management tools.

Mazur envisions students someday using their laptops, cell phones or other internet-ready devices for more interactivity than clickers offer. At least one company, Option Technologies Interactive, based in Orlando, Florida, markets software that allows any student with a handheld wireless device or laptop to log onto a website and answer questions, just as they would with a clicker.

How practical might it be to link in the mobile phones that so many students carry? Intensive use would probably carry a prohibitive cost but occasional use might be easier than having to provide students with an additional gizmo.

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Podcasting

Peter Ford writes about Podcasting in the TES:

Podcasting was covered in the Times Educational Supplement yesterday. It is the ice-breaking article that will be followed by more in-depth analysis as schools begin to use the technology. Here is a link to a useful overview of podcasting and its potential in education by RECAP Ltd.

Whether via iPod or another MP3 player, including mobile phones or computers, podcasting seems to be a rapidly expanding tool that could have potential as part of an mLearning strategy. Radio National is running a podcasting trial with selected programs over the next month.

(Via The Ford News.)

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Podcasting

Peter Ford writes about Podcasting in the TES:

Podcasting was covered in the Times Educational Supplement yesterday. It is the ice-breaking article that will be followed by more in-depth analysis as schools begin to use the technology. Here is a link to a useful overview of podcasting and its potential in education by RECAP Ltd.

Whether via iPod or another MP3 player, including mobile phones or computers, podcasting seems to be a rapidly expanding tool that could have potential as part of an mLearning strategy. Radio National is running a podcasting trial with selected programs over the next month.

(Via The Ford News.)

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Mobile Learning

George Siemens shares some thoughts about Mobile Learning:

He points to various sources including an article, Enabling Mobile Learning, in the current issue of Educause Review, a piece in which Bill Gates is reported to claim the mobile phone will beat the iPod, a Wired News article about Cellphedia, and a UK Learning and Skills Development Agency report on Mobile technologies and learning.

His next two postings highlight resources about The Future of News and Formalizing Informal Learning. Both have some bearing on how and where learning occurs.

There is clearly a lot happening in the mLearning space. Is it time to jump on the bandwagon?

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mLearnopedia

mLearnopedia: Your Mobile Learning Resource was an interesting find given my suddenly increased interest in mLearning. The Introduction comments:

Handheld computers have several unique form factors that suggest further intriguing educational opportunities. Klopfer, Squire, Holland, and Jenkins (2002) describe five properties of handheld computers that produce unique educational affordances:

Portability – can take the computer to different sites and move around within a location
Social Interactivity – can exchange data and collaborate with other people face to face
Context Sensitivity – can gather data unique to the current location, environment, and time, including both real and simulated data
Connectivity – can connect handhelds to data collection devices, other handhelds, and to a common network that creates a true shared environment
Individuality – can provide unique scaffolding that is customized to the individual’s path of investigation.

mLearnopedia.com is an attempt to bring together the leading resources in the area of mobile learning so that we can better learn from one another.

So far I’ve done little more than bookmark the site. I’ll need to find some time to explore it in more depth soon.

(Via eLearnopedia.)

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