Enhancing the flexibility of distance education through mobile learning
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Presentation at theThe European Consortium for the learning Organisation, ECLO – 15th International conference...

Presentation at theThe European Consortium for the learning Organisation, ECLO – 15th International conference
‘Never Stop Asking – The Age of Life Long Learning’, Budapest, May 15th-16th 2008

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  • 1. Enhancing the flexibility of distance education through mobile learning The European Consortium for the learning Organisation, ECLO – 15 th International conference ‘ Never Stop Asking – The Age of Life Long Learning’, Budapest, May 15 th -16 th 2008 Aleksander Dye & Torstein Rekkedal NKI Distance Education/Norwegian School of Information Technology Norway
  • 2. M-learning for PDAs: Overview
    • Builds on 4 EU-projects from 2001-2008
    • From e-learning to m-learning (2000-2003)
    • Mobile learning – the next generation of learning (2003-2005)
    • Incorporating mobile learning into mainstream education (2005-2007)
    • The role of mobile learning in European education (2006-2008)
  • 3. The Context – NKI Distance education
    • NKI Internet College – online distance education:
      • Online distance education since 1987 (100,000 enrolments)
      • One of Europe’s larges providers of online distance education
      • Wide variety of courses from secondary to master level
      • Over 450 courses online
      • 9000 online students in over 35 countries
      • Free starting time and individual progressions schedules
  • 4. SESAM Scalable Educational System for Administration and management
    • In-house evolutionary developed LMS for online distance education
    • including universal accessibility and mobile learning
  • 5. Important aims of the m-learning projects
    • Extend distribution of learning materials and communication to lighter equipment
    • Increase the flexibility of distance education
    • Refining the environment to meet the needs to the ‘mobile learner’
    • Increase the level of ‘universal accessibility’
  • 6. Flexibility in distance education
    • Models of teaching and learning
    • Distance Education:
      • Individualised Flexible Teaching
    • or
      • Teaching in ’The Extended Classroom’
  • 7. NKI basic philosophies concerning distance learning
    • Student autonomy and flexibility
      • “ NKI Distance Education aims to offer distance education solutions that make the students attain their learning objectives through optimum individual flexibility where the students shall represent resources for each other without being dependent on each other.”
    • Views of knowledge and learning
      • The result of learning is a change in the student’s perceptions
      • Learning is a qualitative change in understanding
      • Learning is an active process
      • Learning is a socially supported individual process
    • Social software
      • Student presentations
      • Student lists with information
      • Software solutions for inviting and accepting partners and establish connections
  • 8. Designing and trying out the Environment for Mobile Learners - First project
    • Studying online and offline
    • Technical solution:
      • Technology: Content and communication:
      • Pocket PC/PDA Learning content to be downloaded
      • Mobile phone Online access to forums for reading/writing
      • Portable keyboard E-mail communication with attachments
  • 9. Students’ and tutor’s use of technology when mobile - first project
    • When mobile the students must be able to:
    • Study the course materials
    • Make notes
    • Write assignments
    • Access Forum to read
    • Access Forum to submit contributions
    • Send e-mail to fellow students
    • Receive e-mail from fellow students
    • Submit assignments by e-mail including attachments
    • Receive assignments corrected and commented on by the tutor
  • 10. Results and conclusions - first project
    • The participant’s study situation
    • Students and tutors working with the course at home, at the office and on travel
    • Increasing/restore flexibility
    • Main advantage of mobile learning according to students
    • Downloading and synchronizing learning content
    • Technology: Broadband, LAN, modem, ISDN and mobile – few problems
    • Reading and studying on the PDA:
    • E-book version preferred before HTML
    • Contribution to Forum via PDA and mobile phone:
    • Direct access to Forum, preprepared message, fast connection
    • Assignment for submission via mobile technology:
    • Few problems, acceptable costs
    • Institutional challenges:
    • Systems development to cater for both mobile and not mobile learners
  • 11. Designing and Testing an Always – Online Environment for Mobile Learners – 2 nd project
      • Basic assumptions for developments
      • Continue research on m-learning with PDA
      • Develop generic solutions independent on user-end devices
      • Cost-effectiveness - Same course for mobile and not-mobile students
      • Online access to course materials - “Always online environment”
      • Graphical materials and multi-media should be included
      • Trying out the environment for ‘the assumed reality of future mobile learners’ who are always online via wireless networks at affordable and acceptable costs
  • 12. First year developments – 2 nd project
      • Development of first year in additional version
      • Texts and graphics specifically developed for small screens
      • Text perfectly adapted to the screen of the PDA
      • Multi-media elements readable but not satisfactory
    Screenshots from the PDA of multi-media multiple-choice question and “drag and drop” assignment. Screenshots from PC from of PDA version.
  • 13. Second year: Developing the mLMS
      • Aspects of an always-online solution that would possibly increase the quality of the services for mobile learners:
      • High bandwidth gives fast downloading of course content and use of audio, video and advanced graphics
      • Independence of synchronization with desktop PC
      • Access to resources on the Internet at all times
      • Easy access to e-mail at all times
      • Possibilities for online assessment and assignments
      • Options for easier co-operation with fellow students
      • Possibilities for synchronous communication, chat and IP telephony
      • ADSL or free access to WLAN give control over costs
  • 14. mLMS - System requirements
      • Overall framework needs
        • Support mobile and traditional clients OK
        • Present content device dependent OK
        • Comfortable learning environment OK
      • Course content
        • Store course content OK
        • Easy navigation OK
        • Zoom function for illustrations/pictures OK
  • 15. mLMS - System requirements
      • Access to courseware
        • Access to resources OK
        • Access to course planning tools
        • Possibility for submitting assignments OK-
        • Possibility for tutors to comment and return assignments OK-
        • Access to class list and personal information OK
        • Possibilities for multiple choice and other types of exercises OK
        • Text to speech possibilities OK
        • Support text, graphics, audio and video OK-
        • Provide immediate feedback on exercises OK
        • Searchable course content OK-
  • 16. mLMS - System requirements
      • Communication
        • Online synchronous communication - chat etc. OK
        • Online asynchronous communication - e-mail OK
        • SMS service between tutors and students
        • MMS service
        • SMS from the system for reminders and information etc.
        • Access for writing and reading in course forums OK
        • Access to lists with tutor and student information OK
        • Message board OK
        • Announcements OK
  • 17. mLMS - System requirements
      • Administration of users
        • Not a part of the end user system for the mobile student or tutor
        • Possibility to register for exams
        • Access to student records OK
        • Student tracking OK
      • Other
        • Possibilities for enrolling
        • Export features for offline course access
        • Changing personal settings and information OK
        • Access to FAQ OK
        • Access to contact information OK
        • Access to general study information - exams handbooks, regulations etc. OK
        • Access to sitemap OK
        • Area for uploading and storing personal files
        • Possibilities for printing from the device OK-
        • Access to technical support services OK
  • 18. Example: Course forum Screen shot from the discussions forum using an ordinary browser Screen shot from the discussions forum on the PDA
  • 19. Trial and testing
      • The following features were tested
        • Logging in and navigation on the NKI Internet College personal page
        • Navigating in the course
        • Reading text materials
        • Submissions of assignments
        • Multi-media ( Sound, Video, Multiple-choice questions, Drag and drop exercises, Graphics , Synthetic speech, Talking pages)
        • Reading in the course Forum
        • Writing messages to the Forum
        • Synchronous communication (chat and IP telephony)
  • 20. Conclusions after 2 nd project
      • Research on mobile learning in connection with the two EU Leonardo projects has resulted in better solutions for serving distance online learners in general
      • Cost efficiency considerations do not allow for developing parallel versions of courses
      • Courses must be developed, presented and distributed in ways that allow both mobile and not mobile learners to participate in the same course
      • Course materials can be accessed both by standard and mobile technology with acceptable quality of all content elements
      • Interaction with course content and multi-media materials and communication with tutors and fellow students function adequately both through standard and mobile technology
      • There are difficulties in presenting graphical materials on small screens
      • Test students found equipment easy to use – test persons with technical background less enthusiastic
      • Mobile learning increases access and flexibility and possibilities for cooperation
  • 21.
    • SMS message containing practical information on ‘how-to’ log on to the NKI Internet College with
    • username, password, etc. sent to new students whom we for some reason were not able to
    • reach by e-mail, including a link to the course called ‘Learning to learn’ (introductory course in all
    • online programmes) describing how to study and what to expect as an online student at NKI.
    • This was designed and developed as a lightweight WAP version of the original course.
    • SMS message to get in touch with students who were registered with invalid e-mail
    • addresses
    • SMS message for reminding students to register for exams
    • SMS message to students having lost their password for logging on
    • SMS message informing that assignments had been commented on by the teacher
    • SMS message on exam results
    • SMS messages from students to order prospectus
    • One tutor sent SMS welcome message to students whose e-mail welcome generated
    • error message
    SMS services tried out in the project
  • 22. Results and conclusions – SMS services
    • In the project the SMS message system was handled manually
    • The system seemed to function well, e.g. concerning students with invalid e-mail addresses, resulted in 70 percent of the students who received the SMS messages corrected their e-mail address
    • SMS services involve some extra costs - these costs may seem marginal relative to the increased level of service
    • There are numerous possibilities for the use of SMS/MMS services that could be suitable for supporting online distance learners
    • Advanced support systems for following up both students and tutors have been developed and should be integrated into the mobile learning context
  • 23. The role of mobile learning in European education – 4 th project
    • Survey on status and trends of mobile learning internationally and in Europe
    • Continued developments of mobile learning services in the NKI LMS and distance learning systems – developments hindered by changing the technological platform of SESAM
    • Survey on NKI online students access to mobile technology and attitudes towards use of mobile phones in their studies
  • 24. Results from the student survey
    • Technology and access
  • 25. Results from the student survey
    • Views on SMS Services
  • 26. Results from the student survey
    • Using the mobile phone in online study
  • 27. Mobile learning at NKI – discussions and conclusions
    • Developments and research on mobile learning have resulted in betters solutions for NKI online learners in general
    • Cost efficiency considerations do not allow for developing parallel versions of courses
    • M-learning solutions must allow both mobile and not mobile learners to participate and enrol in the same course
    • M-learning solutions must allow course materials to be assessed both by standard and mobile technology with acceptable quality of all content elements
    • Interaction with course content and multi-media materials and communication with tutors and fellow students must function adequately both through standard and mobile technology
  • 28. Mobile learning – discussions and conclusions
    • It is still a question of what the ‘ideal’ device and solution for mobile learning really is. Probably is the answer a result of the learner’s individual preferences. That is why NKI has found it extremely important to experiment with different solutions that have inspired developments towards finding course design and systems solutions that may serve the needs of the learner independent of the technology used by the students.
    • A main aim in the mobile learning projects has been to extend and enhance (or restore) the flexibility of distance education, that to some extent took a step backwards when converting from paper based to online learning, which created a situation where students largely were required to study at a place (and at a time) where a computer with access to the Internet was available. The research on mobile learning and developing new services to students on the move have been an important step in the right direction.
  • 29. Thank you!
    • NKI Internet College: http://nettskolen.nki.no/
    • Torstein Rekkedal home page: http://home.nettskolen.nki.no/~torstein/
    • Aleksander Dye home page: http://www.dye.no/