Tag Archives: tablet

The Design of meLearning



Recently I have been musing about the concept of meLearning: the amalgam of mLearning and eLearning to be a personalized experience with tablets. In this context of an Information Literacy resource, the concept is harder to put into practice.



meLearning is meant to have the student at heart with “the best” (or most approrpirate for the design) aspects of mLearning and eLearning used in the resource to “design the learning for me (the student)”. We had hoped to make the learning interactive through social learning pedagogy that includes other students and the person responsible for maintaining and facilitating the resource. However, it is likely that there won’t be anyone and the resource will instead take on more characteristics of autonomous learning of a typical eLearning resource. Still, we are able to present the illusion of personalization and interaction through the use of scenarios. Another area is learning preferences. The resource is mainly spoken text with optional subtitles and media is supplementary to this. Students who prefer to listen, read, watch and/or interact will have strong preferences for how they want to use the resource. This is good but we are missing out on interpersonal learning preference. All in all, this is ok but for now, the concept of meLearning will not be more developed.


Ubiquitous Learning

When considering a resource for tablets, I looked at the nature of ubiquitous learning that is often a part of using mobile devices. I wrote down that our resource needs to be available on and offline for students convenience. This way, they could access on the way to and from campus or while connected. This would involve planning ahead and downloading the specific module but it is a possibility. Our users, students, should also be able to access specific information and skills of information literacy. It would be important for students to be able to get this information within a short timeframe but while being engaged in the process. Bringing the conversation on this to a close, ideally the resource would become integrated into research and academia at our university in terms of teachers and learners. Just like BlackBoard is the LMS, the information literacy resource could be the tool that everyone uses for teaching and learning, remedial work, or a self-access resource.


Screen Real Estate

There is not as much real estate on the tablet screen for an eLearning resource. When designing our UX  persona outlining typical students (male and female here in the UAE!), we knew to picture them with a tablet in their hand. This made us focus even more so on reducing users’ extraneous cognitive load. We are “hiding” unessential back or sidestory information in buttons, which (hopefully) results in a cleaner look and a substantial space for media. This has helped us eliminate the “text” and include as audio with optional subtitles and the choice buttons reveal the scenario choices, something that cleans up the screen on entry and allows students to listen and then process this before moving on with the choices.


Chunking Content and How Students are Learning

Our SME has worked on projects before and is doing a good job in outlining content in quite good sized chunks for learning. But what we need to know more about is how students will interact with that chunk. I can’t wait to get to the alpha prototype of our pilot module where students will be able to go through the scenario. I want to film them and their interactions. I want to know what else they need in order to learn the content. It may be chunked appropriately but do students need paper and a pen too? What about a note taking feature in the resource? What about some social interaction to talk with others about the concepts? What about some form of feedback on skills? We are only just starting down this path…

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mLearn2013: Notes and Thoughts

Having just attended the 12th Annual Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning, or #mLearn2013, It is a good time to write up some notes on three areas that got me thinking. 

Apps vs. HTML5

There was some discussion around the future of apps and whether they are meeting our educational needs. There was a suggestion by a few techies that Html5 based apps would better suit us and there are some merits. Apps need to be designed and written for specific Tablets and their operating systems but Html5 works within web browsers on any device. It seems that this would level the playing field and create more equality. No matter the device, students in a BYOD learning environment could complete the work as their classmates. Another clear advantage is when at the institutional or departmental level in terms of deployment. Apps need a marketplace store from which to download and currently it works off a pull system (but soon to change, probably to a centralized push system). HTML5 is distributed through the open web and allows for less restricted access.

A Tablet for EDUCATION

Several comments revolved around the current crop of tablets are designed for business and profits. What would we as educators want in a tablet designed specifically for teaching and learning for all contexts from cities to rural villages?

  • Alternative power charging capabilities and sources with a longer battery life.
  • Multiple user accounts allowed with transfer of data and apps (small fee only?) between accounts possible. 
  • Open source to create dynamic teaching and learning opportunities quickly
  • Durability in terms of both hardware and software

Device Agnostic Design

When talking about technology in education, a specifically mobile learning, the planning and design of teaching and learning should be device agnostic. That is to say that teaching and learning pedagogy should be planned out and technology serve as a tool to support it. Whilst I myself am an Apple Distinguished Educator and work solely with iPads in my university, I always ensure pedagogy based on evidence underpins the design and then if the iPad adds to it, great! Tablets usually do but in other BYOD environments, device agnosticism is particularly important. This may not pan out for specific content or skills within highly specific disciplines but for the most part, we can all research, communicate, collaborate and create using a multitude of ways. 

What are your thoughts on apps, Html5, a tablet build for us and device agnosticism? Tweet me @digitalemerge

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