‘More’ theory is needed to guide the design, delivery, and implementation of e-learning. Research in almost every domain of management (e.g., leadership, motivation, organizational development) relies on theories that are modified, appended, and supported over years of observation and study.
These theories are then used to make practical predictions about organizations and workplace environments, to explain various employee behaviors, and to create the workplace conditions necessary for maximizing performance. In the e-learning literature, we are aware of no theory that has been of major influence in the design, delivery, and implementation of e-learning systems. Historically e-learning was intended to develop knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes, cognitive and learning science (complemented by instructional design, educational, human factors, and industrial and organizational psychology research) which would have been the guiding force behind the design and development of e-learning systems. But whenever, it comes to making use of a wide array of general/ubiquitous technologies into existing/prospective e-learning systems. The focus would fall more on the technology and hence running the risk of getting blinded by the amazement it projects. And in cases where technology becomes core of any learning mechanism, harder it becomes to know what is controlling what, what is connected to what, where information is flowing, how it is being used, what is broken, what is the pedagogy, what is its impact and more questions may rise. Hence it becomes quintessential for researchers to devise design principles and control structures for holistically looking at the design and development of e-learning systems.
Through my research at University of Sheffield, UK I am working on developing an architecture for a Personalized Learning Environment (PLE) powered by ubiquitous technologies and that are underpinned by systemic design principles. This proposed architecture is called as ‘EduÆTorium’.
‘‘EduÆTorium’ tries to encompass different elements into the design principle to create a PLE that could enable learners by supporting them via various ubiquitous technologies to use, to create, to share, to learn, to socialize, to collaborate giving learners more autonomy over their own learning process. Such design principles would bring together different learning theories like active learning, collaborative learning, experiential learning. Through such engagements learners would be able to develop their own competencies, learn to problem solve, think critically, work in teams etc an overall competency development enabled by different technologies in an interactive and constructive environment to focus on different dimensions of one’s own personality along with learning new things at Universities, which is not possible now with existing e-learning systems.
E-Learning systems using the principles of ‘EduÆTorium’ could support students by giving them a wide choice of tools depending upon their cognitive needs to enhance their learning process. Such tools when looked at altruistically has the potential to support not only students today who are burdened with increasing fees, developing competencies for hunting jobs in this difficult economic climate, but also those youths who are unable to participate in existing learning process due to their disabilities such learners with the help of Ubiquitous technologies, could enable them to connect with the world which was not possible until a decade ago
Within my research, ‘EduÆTorium’ aims to achieve,
Understanding of 21st Century Skillsets: To establish as a baseline that educators, learners, students, and parents must be well versed in the 21st century skills that students need to acquire to be successful. Teachers should be able to make relevant and useful choices about when and how to teach them, and whether or not students/learners are making progress toward their personal demonstration of accomplishment. Rethinking ‘what’ we teach must come before we can rethink ‘how’ we teach.
Affective Curriculum: To offer an innovative vision of what the learning environment should be by applying what we know about how people learn and adapting the best pedagogy to meet the needs of this generation of learners. Students should be engaged in relevant and contextual problem-based and project-based learning designed to apply 21st century skills and that is provided using a multi-disciplinary approach. Curriculum should apply to students’ current and future lives and leverage the power of Web 2.0 and other ubiquitous technologies.
Informative Assessment: To identify the types and systems of assessments schools need to develop to fully capture the varied dimensions of 21st century learning as well as the independent role students need to take on in monitoring and adjusting their own learning. Assessments used in the classroom should increase relevant feedback to students, teachers, parents, and decision-makers and should be designed to continuously improve student learning and inform the learning environment.
Initiate a Culture of Innovation and Creativity: To acknowledge the fuel that drives today’s global economy and, in turn, its importance in both student learning and the University environment. As a result, Universities should create a culture that supports and reinforces innovation for student learning and leverages the creativity and ingenuity of every adult and student in their environment to solve their unique problems. Additionally, the teaching and learning environment should generate the continuous development of those skills.
Develop Social and Emotional Connections with Students: To give appropriate recognition to the personal, professional, and familial relationships that determine the health, growth, and cognitive development of a child within the family, University, and community. Specifically, each student should have a clear and purposeful connection to the social environment in University, with at least one adult who is purposefully in tune with the student’s learning preferences, learning interests, and social connections.
Provide Ubiquitous Access to Technology: To underscore the essential role technology plays in 21st century life and work and, consequently, the role that it must play in learning. Students and educators need 24 by 7 access to information, resources, and technologies that engage and empower them to do background research, information and resource gathering, and data analysis, to publish with multiple media types to wide and varied audiences, to communicate with peers and experts, and to gain experience and expertise in collaborative work.