Monday, February 23, 2015

The Best Possible Collaborations in the M-Learning Space

I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about the way in which new needs and technologies are impacting the way education and training are prepared, delivered, and administered. All the advantages of m-learning come to the forefront: on-demand, ubiquitous (esp with wifi), and practical. There are also new advantages as well, which have to do with the way in which multimedia and social networks make collaboration and the use of multiple types of content possible.

As a result, there are some significant changes in the way in which materials are developed and deployed, and there are also differences in expectations of the learners / users.

The high-definition, high production value end of the instructional materials spectrum. Materials for m-learning can also be collaborative and created by learners.
Changes in Development / Deployment: Because the technology changes quickly and because instructional materials emerge quickly, it's very important to have a quick-to-market platform which incorporates existing multimedia and resources.

Here are a few considerations:
    * The LMS will be a shell from which content is accessed
    *  It may be desirable to develop programs that do not use an LMS, but instead, utilize a bundle of products, such as Google materials
    *  Assessment can be done via a lite version of an LMS or via collaborative archiving (GDrive, Dropbox, etc.)
    *  Social media can be used for communicating with group members and making them aware of resources (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), but not for confidential elements
    *  Instructional materials will be available in a "just in time" manner, and not necessarily developed months or years in advance
    *  Courses respond to changing needs (regulations, new technologies, new job opportunities) and so are often in flux

Implications for Credit Evaluation:
    * It may be necessary to evaluate the *type* of materials, and be comfortable with the fact that a textbook will not be the only materials
    *  The educational institution would simply provide representative samples

Increased Focus on Collaboration:  Collaboration is important and with new technologies students have more flexibility than ever to learn from and with each other.  This changes the nature of tasks and assignments, and also the way in with learning takes place.

Here are a few considerations:
    * Increased number of games and gamification that should be situated and purposeful (ties to learning objectives) not random or simply amusing
    * More interactive uses of shared texts, images, maps, and videos that are produced by students and posted in social media (youtube, instagram, etc.)
    * More need for informal communication done quite quickly (via Twitter, Google Hangouts, WhatApp, Skype, FaceTime, etc.)
    *  May not be possible to evaluate the nature of the collaborative processes -- but important to provide guidelines
    *  Will be important to have examples of products / projects to be completed by students
    *  Rubrics may seem a bit subjective, and so the process itself should be important and students need to reflect on their learning journey, and focus on meta-cognition
    *  Experiential learning / prior knowledge are easily incorporated in collaborations

Implications for Credit Evaluation:
    *  Rubrics should take into consideration the process as well as the final product
    *  Incorporate meta-cognitive strategies for instruction and evaluation
    *  Games / gamification should focus on situated learning that can build on prior knowledge

Changes in Assessment / Evaluation:  M-Learning makes assessment via gamification, interactive quizzes, and collaboration very convenient.

Here are some considerations:
    * Gamification should be easy to implement and change in order to maintain maximum situatedness
    * Portfolios can include multimedia, with clear tie-ins to learning objectives
    *  Rubrics need to be clear and also to incorporate a learning journal to reflect on metacognition
    *  The process of collaboration itself should be a part of the assessment, and can be done by means of a learning journal
    *  Interactive quizzes should be of the appropriate difficulty
    *  Quizzes should work easily on all devices
    *  Collaborative efforts (portfolios, projects, etc.) need to be clearly situated in the learning setting / goals, and appropriate scaffolding needs to have been developed
    *  Collaborative efforts need to clearly tie to learning objectives
    *  Allow students to build on prior knowledge and experience when possible, and form collaborations so that they can incorporate experiential learning

Implications for credit evaluation:
    *  Need to be clearly tied to learning objectives
    *  Higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy often represented in collaborations
    *  Interactive quizzes can be effective for the lower level Bloom's taxonomy elements (identification, etc.)
    * Institutions need to provide a backup / contingency assessments in case of massive technology fail   

Final Thoughts
It is hard to predict the future, except to know that there will be changes, and the demand for new information, skills, and education will continue to be strong. There seems to be an increasing sense of urgency, and those institutions that are nimble and can provide knowledge transfer and skills building in a quick, effective, easy-to-implement and easy-to-complete manner will be the most successful of education / training providers. Entrepreneurship will always be rewarded, especially for those entrepreneurs are particularly adept at recognizing, assessing, and taking advantage of opportunities.

susan smith nash with fresh coconut taking a break from designing an online course
Susan Smith Nash eating fresh coconut, thinking about training and education that includes collaboration and can be accessed via smartphone, laptop, tablet, or regular computer, and which does not require much bandwidth.

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