The Science of Ubiquitous Learning
The Science of Ubiquitous Learning (UL) is in the genre of Cognitive Science (CS), which basically touches on the philosophy, concept, theory, purpose, methodology and finally the outcome of ubiquitous learning.
The gambit of learning is so vast and perplexing and it becomes more intriguing when it further interfaced with teaching or pedagogy. It will be more challenging when learning needs to happen at any place, besides anyhow and anytime or ubiquitously.
Contextually, this paper attempts to explore the general scenario of cognitive science in Malaysia schools and specifically will relate it to the Ubiquitous Learning (UL) prospect and environment.
The attributes of Ubiquitous Learning (UL) covers the aspects of teaching methodology or pedagogy by teachers, learning skills and learning styles of students and the enabling or mediating role of educational technology to maximise the transformation process of education to be effective and efficient, primarily it’s Accessibility, Equity and Quality (AEQ) dimensions.
This paper attempts to assess a few current teaching, learning and evaluation systems primarily the on-line package developed by national level formal learning providers. The assessment would be in the context of Ubiquitous Learning (UL). The concluding remarks will focus on the visionary challenges and opportunities of Ubiquitous Learning (UL).
Life-long education is one of the universal critical ultimate attributes of the information society. The unprecedented scale of usage of technology in teaching, learning and educational management will continue to be the dominant force in transforming the education scenario in Malaysia. This is due to the rapid technological change and the fast-growing body of knowledge.
Teaching undoubtedly is the core of education, be it formal, informal or non-formal. Its role becomes more critical when learning specifically learning outcome is integrated into the teaching-learning model. Though teaching and learning are inseparable and learning is the expected sequential outcome of teaching, more often than not the former does not necessarily produce learning or the intended learning outcome.
Despite countless innovation, however, those initiatives still need further improvement while other new initiatives continuously emerged as the education scenario has dramatically changed its landscape. It is envisaged that educational technology is the prime enabler or facilitator to realize such realistic aspiration of transforming education.
Historically, the learning mode was teacher-driven. Overtime the conventional teaching model which is heavily teacher-based has several glaring limitations. When all the teaching and learning variables are at its optimal level, the synergistic quality learning outcome will be more possible and sustainable.
Finally, not only learning but teaching and even school-based management or decentralizing education can also be the new order of the day.
Undoubtedly, teaching, learning and even institutional management need to be highly dependent on mobile devices with the emergence of innovativeness and creativity. Coupled with effectiveness and efficiency, logically only with those imperatives the three ideal education indicators or goals comprising Accessibility, Equity and Quality can be possibly realized.
We begin our discourse by reflecting on several simple terminologies of learning and its derivatives relative to Ubiquitous Learning (UL). Subsequently, we look into the many facets of UL and finally relate all the expressed views to the current and future aspiration, development and challenges of Malaysian education.
2. Learning theory
Several specific learning theories have been formulated over time such as pedagogical learning for children and young learners, adults learning theory or andragogy and synergogy, mastering learning and learning by doing or experiential and cooperative learning, not forgetting terms such as classical and operant conditioning.
Such a decision becomes more vital if learning is designed to be everywhere as learning skills is one of the prerequisites for successful ubiquitous learning.
The axiology of values of UL is far fetched as ‘no child left behind’ when quality learning can take place even for the most remote and disadvantaged school. The epistemology or meaning of UL IS derived from the common learning term ‘learning is a life-long process’ and one can learn or master anything when the teaching and learning methods are right. The rationale or logic for initiating and enhancing the use of UL is unquestionable as the learning process and methodology for every child is not similar and is so contextual and unique.
The multiple intelligent thinking by Howard Gardner and adult learning theory by Knowles can also be associated with UL. All should be related to the concept of technological convergence and connecting.
The change of the learning environment has become ubiquitous or is made available everywhere every time and anyhow.
The integrated aspiration to achieve Accessibility, Equity and Quality in education remains an on-going challenge and opportunities.
It is just beyond the purpose of formal learning and public examination. The terminal outcome of UL is the Learning or Knowledgeable Society.
The autonomy empowered to the teacher is also the forerunner of school-based management when UL is the critical mass. The concept ‘lets managers manage’ is therefore pertinent and the ready availability of a variety of technological devices which are available anywhere to support learning.
Fourthly the element of learning at own pace, with remedial and enrichment activities are embedded in UL. Fifthly UL needs to be incorporated with modularized and mastery learning skills. Finally, the element of adult learning to complement pedagogy is critical to assure life-long learning vision is realized. The attributes can be enumerated as follows:-
Technology in education is the usage of the systematic manner of action or doing a task in education such as teaching, learning and institutional management such as researching before a certain action is taken or before a problem is solved. Besides the element of systematic, it is also integrated or systematic. The two aspects involved are media (hardware and software) and method (systematic way of executing a task).
In the context of UL, both media and method are prerequisites. The amount and types of learning media such as a physical book, or e-book and computer for learning critical for UL. The methods of learning in UL context need to be those that are facilitating learning on a large scale of time, place, objectives and outcomes.
In other word, the role of learning media and method or pedagogy in UL is critical. Both have a great influence on UL and thus both having a leading role in UL. In Conventional Learning (CL) the role of the teacher is dominant and supreme.
Conversely in UL the role of educational media has upstaged the role of teachers as the sole giver of knowledge. In UL the role of the teacher is more as a facilitator or ‘not a sage on the stage, but a guide by the side’.
A teacher who is also a human medium and non-human media such as television, books, computer and radio are partners in teaching and learning. They are inseparable and in a mutual supporting position. Both are indispensable to produce quality teaching, learning and learning outcomes.
In teaching the first conventional medium is the teacher. He is mobile meaning that he or she can teach anywhere where there are students. Now with modern transportation facilities, teachers are mobile at a greater distance and with a high degree of speed.
Teachers are becoming more mobile, Versatile and flexible to deliver their teaching service. Such mobility, versatility, flexibility and ubiquity in teaching are further enhanced with the availability of educational or instructional mobile media primarily computers and its paraphernalia.
The transmission of educational, teaching and learning information is becoming much faster and the sharing of such information is also making the performance of learning much higher than before. Thus, it is not only teachers that make the difference, but also educational and instructional technologies which have a big role to play in enhancing the teaching and learning performances.
The delivery systems are the central piece of UL. The prepared instructional design often basically synonymous to a module of teaching and learning can either be sent physically (hard copy) and digitally. Both are enabling the teaching and learning sessions to be easier, faster, cheaper and even more effective and efficient.
Effective means that the intended learning objectives and outcomes are achieved and efficient relates to its cost and time which are minimal.
The current scenario or learning is incredibly different from the old days. The online distance learning or e-learning has replaced or being combined with conventional learning which is face to face learning.
The on-line or e-learning if delivered alone is virtual learning while a mixed-mode of learning is the combination of on-line and the contact or face to face learning. Evidently, with the collaboration of the traditional instructional medium who is the teacher and the modern educational technologies, teaching and learning can be anywhere and anyhow.
Thus, learning, in particular, can be accessible to all. Besides accessibility (A), it can be made equitable (E) and achieve the highest degree of quality (Q).
These three elements of education mentioned above are exceptionally critical for Malaysia. We have achieved as high as 95% Accessibility indicating that almost all school going students can get places in school which is almost comparable to developed nations. Even before education in Malaysia is made compulsory by law, this achievement of attendance has been realized since the early 90s.
The E and Q education factors are yet to be upgraded to be at par with what has been achieved in several developed nations like Japan, Korea, Finland, Norway and New Zealand. It is envisaged that with the application of technology in education the remaining vision can be realized.
UL is integral with the A, E and Q. Accessibility to learning is a sine qua non to Equity. When every child in school gets the same teaching treatment in any place and time it may be, then the element of E is fulfilled which also must prevail everywhere.
The strategic action following such dream is undoubtedly is by supplying adequate teaching and learning resources such as teacher, instructional materials and physical infrastructure enhanced by quality institutional management. Only with such investment, the vision to achieve a world-class education quality can be achieved. The present transformation effort to review the present Malaysia education system is a strategic move toward this direction.
In the context of UL, both media and method are prerequisites. Three amount and types of learning media such as a physical book, or e-book and computer for learning are critical for UL. The methods or learning in UL context need to be those that are facilitating learning on a large scale of time, place, objectives and outcomes.
In another world, the role or learning media and method or pedagogy in UL is critical. Both have a great influence on UL and thus both having a leading role in UL. In Conventional Learning (CL) the role of the teacher is dominant and supreme and often perceived that ‘teacher knows all’. Conversely in UL the role of educational media or mediated learning has upstaged the role of the teacher as the sole custodian and disseminator of knowledge.
In UL the role of the teacher is more as a facilitator or ‘not a sage on the stage, but a guide by the side’ Both teacher who is also a human medium and non-human media such as television, books, computer and radio are strategic partners in teaching and learning. They are inseparable and in a mutual supporting position. Both are indispensable to produce quality teaching, learning and learning outcomes.
Dr Hazrita Abdul Rahim
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