One thing that has been on my mind a lot recently has been the personalization for students of my current eLearning project. It is a pilot project looking to transform a circa 2005 Information Literacy static website into an engaging resource for use on mobile devices.
At first we wanted to engage through the use of mobile learning features. Tools like the camera and audio microphone and various apps that could document their learning of information literacy or social learning apps that students could utilize to engage with the student community were quickly pounced upon and ideas generated. But these transformative ideas couldn’t be realized and these supplementary tools were quickly thrown by the wayside as soon as we understood that our resource was going to be more of an autonomous eLearning resource. So how could we personalize the resource for our users?
As shown here, we’re using Scenario Based Learning to engage students in the information literacy awareness raising and skill building process (see examples here). Students can navigate their own journey within the resource and can make personal choices. Because I designed the learning paths, I know that ultimately they are lead down specific paths in order to learn but there is the appearance!
We recognize that our population of students in the UAE don’t like to read. I don’t have anything but anecdotal evidence but this, for me, is true. As a major departure from the original text heavy website, we wanted to produce learning objects that would be media based and allow for various learning styles. Firstly there will be a large amount of spoken text so this may help auditory learners. There is physical interaction with the resource on the iPad so this may help visual-spatial and kinesthetic learners. There will be the option to turn on subtitles for all spoken text so this may help visual-linguistic learners.
In this image, you can see the audio, the subtitles and the timeline matching the subtitles text to the audio file.
With our subject matter expert, we wrote a script that tried to target the learner using the second person. We felt this would be more engaging as it actively tries to involve the students in the process of the scenario. We were unable to achieve complete personalization through including a social media profile and using first person speech but hopefully there is a sense of inclusion with our script and scenario.
The UAE has strict gender separation rules. Most of the resource can be gender neutral as a guide is talking directly to the user with gender neutral language, but there is one section of the pilot resource where a student gets advice from a friend. In this section, the user inputs their gender and either gets the male or female friend accordingly.
An important element to the project and to our working within the Center for Educational Innovation is the process of Arabization. We are looking to integrate and incorporate aspects of the Arabic language and Arab/Islamic/Emirati culture to improve the learning process. Our backgrounds are based on Islamic design and the game involves desert driving (see images below). Another aspect is the use of a gender appropriate friend and stories that users will relate to (see image above).