Take the perspective of a learner and spend some time using:
- one resource from Khan Academy’s YouTube videos
- one resource from ElearningExamples e-learning games
- the iEthiCS simulation.
- What elements of these do you think are appealing to different learners?
- What learners, if any, would they be inappropriate for and why?
- How do each of these resources differ from that of the resources we’re using in ocTEL? Do they promote social learning, re-use of their materials, or open access?
- What ways can you see to improve the effectiveness or potential reach of these resources? Effectiveness can be considered as allowing students to work at their own pace and review areas they need to, providing a richer learning experience by expanding the range of expertise which students will confront, or providing a range of materials in different media formats to suit students’ different learning preferences.
OK. so I have looked at a single resource from each of the above sites.
I have written about some of the advantages of the gamification of learning in an non-educational game like Minecraft here. However, the examples above are games and resources that are specifically designed to be educational.
I think that in the case of Khan academy, the appeal is the simplicity of the resource. Each video does not try to do too much. It deals with each subject as a single entity and does not try to link together other resources. It acts as a good go-to-place for people to access a solution to a simple problem. The appeal from a learners perspective is that I can sit in my class and get confused and when I get home, I can log in to Khan academy and watch a simple video on the bit I didn’t get in class over and over again until I DO get it. This way I can anchor my learning in deep knowledge through repetition and reinforcement in the safety of my own home without feeling stupid.
I think these videos could appeal to all kinds of learners at all levels. The concept of breaking down a complex problem into smaller manageable steps is not new. We don’t try to complete our degree courses in one single sitting. They are broken down in to modules, semesters, sessions and seminars. It can suit many learners to further break down the concepts to manageable chunks for reinforcement.
These resources are no replacement for experiential learning however. You cannot learn how to ‘de-scale a fish’ from a Khan Academy video for example as you have no knowledge or understanding of the texture of the fish, how slippery it is, how much pressure to apply for example. You need to have physical experiences to actually learn the subtleties of many different subjects.
eLearningExamples e-Learning Games
This site has a variety of different e-Learning games to play that create engagement in the subject through play. It is difficult to ascertain the level that some of these resources are aimed at. There is a real danger that you use one of these resources at too higher level and you risk disengaging the learner or perhaps not challenging the learner enough at the academic level. Games are fun, but if you are not learning anything, what is the purpose of the game? I would suggest that they games I played on this site did not ‘teach’ me. I enjoyed playing them as a gamer, but I quickly found that the level was too low and therefore I switched off. I think these resources hook is the enjoyment factor. They rely on continual engagement through the satisfaction of completing a game.
This differs from the Khan academy where the repetition comes from my own self-motivation to learn. There is no testing of the learning in Khan Academy as such. You have to rely on your own assessment of the knowledge to decide when you have learned. In the eLearningGames example, the success of the learning is measured by the achievement of points, levels or goals. This is a very simple form of assessment but it can be effective.
This tool is a simple turn based decision making tool that uses videos to illustrate the points and outcomes of your decisions. With each video, you have a range of choices to make. Depending on your choice, you get a different set of choices/video at the next screen. This is quite thought provoking as the video adds impact to the outcome of your decision. It seems like your decisions are actually affecting the outcome of this person’s life and you have to try to remember that they are only actors and that it is a video, not a real situation.
Simulations can have real world impact as the effect of the learning can really anchor your knowledge and understanding. However, they are never any substitute for the experience. They can help you to gain understanding in the build up to the actual event however so in that way can be invaluable.
Difference from OCTEL resources.
Octel resources encourage more discussion and collaboration. All three of these resources above are aimed at individual use, rather than group usage. Although any resource can be used in a group learning scenario, these tools are designed to support an individual, working at home. There is more of an element of discussion about the simulation/scenario tool.
The octel resources encourage more reflection, writing and linking up with others through different communication channels rather than acting in isolation. However, that said, unless someone responds to MY blog or replies to MY tweets, I am not communicating much with other people. Personally I have only followed a few extra people on Twitter since joining ocTEL and i have not subscribed to anyone else’s blogs. I simply have too much to read/follow/learn already and I don’t want to add to my workload. SO for me ocTEL is all about dipping in and dipping out of communications rather than following a single or multiple streams of information.
Improvements to these resources to change their impact or reach
I think that each tool has the potential to be lined to more. By adding embed codes, or link me pins each tool could be added to other peoples blogs, twitter streams or facebook much more easily. That way the resources could reach a wider audience. Khan Academy already has an app, a website and a dedicated youTube channel so it is easy to follow. But then Khan Academy has a depth of resources that the others do not have. Therefore the app approach becomes more relevant to their needs. Khan Academy is probably the most mature of the resources in this respect as it is well collated and has structure, pace and self-managing tools.
It is hard to say how to improve the other two tools as one is a collection of resources but without the single approach to learning, a mashup of educational games without much structure, and the other is a one-trick simulation tool, designed to do only one thing, which I feel it probably does quite well.
They can all be accessed on my tablet, and as long as they comply to web standards for video and animation (HTML 5) and do not use flash, I am happy…
Over all, this was an interesting exercise in looking at resources, and it makes me more convinced to use OER material that comes from big players like APple, Khan Academy or Microsoft rather than small mashed collections fo resources that have no consistency and are difficult to navigate round.