Abstract

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).

 

Introduction
Education is forever dynamic and has radically been transformed particularly with the introduction of major policies and blueprint such as Democratization of Education Quality Education for All, No Child Left Behind.
 
For Malaysia the 2006-2010 Master Blueprint Education Development (Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pendidikan (PIPPM) and current underway are the Strategic Plan 2013-2015 and the Education Development Plan 2015-2025 are testimonies that educational development in Malaysia is a vibrant on-going endeavour.

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.

 

1. Learning
It is the act of acquiring knowledge (cognitive domain), skills (psychomotor domain), attitudes and values (affective domain) The tool, process and technique of learning are three core of management of learning involving planning, organizing, leading and control. The teacher imparts the three elements of learning to learners or student generally in the classroom or anywhere outside the classroom at any time anyhow.
 
In the context of UL the planning, organizing, leading and controlling functions are seen to be more meticulous, systematic and systemic.
 
Ubiquitous Learning (UL) is said to be being everywhere, especially at the same time or omnipresent. Its ubiquity is the ability to everywhere at once. Other attributes are omnipresent and adaptive. Often UL is synonymous with e-learning or mobile learning. The learning environment can be accessed at various content and context or situation.
 
Finally, an education paradigm made possible by the omnipresence of digital media, supporting new modes of knowledge creation, communication and access. With the new media learning, it empowers practically anyone to produce and disseminate knowledge, enabling learning and even teaching can happen at any time and any place. Accessibility or information and knowledge are so readily at hand.
 

2. Learning theory

It is the general idea about learning which often agreed among the professional educators that learning begins from known to the unknown and from the simple to the complex.
 

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.

3. Types of Learning
Learning can take place formally or informally. Learning can also be repeated or relearned, unlearned and new learning. All types of learning ideally culminate at the life-long learning stage.
 
4. Learning Styles or Learning Preferences
There are several learning preference or styles as the learning process for all individuals can be similar to difference. Basically learning styles are audio, visual, audio-visual and kinesthetic. Student can learn better by hearing as an audio learner or can learn better by seeing or as a visual learner, or learn better when they can hear and see or audio-visual learner and finally can learn better if given the chance to perform the learning activity. The last is called a kinesthetic learner. Realistically student has a few dominant learning styles rather than a single one. 

5. Learning Skills
Within the body of knowledge of learning, learning skills are the centrepiece. In Malaysia, the Curriculum Development Centre (Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum) had decided that for Secondary School Curriculum or Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) in 1990 that there are 19 study or learning skills that should be mastered by secondary school student event in the current context of KSSR and KSSM.
 

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.

6. Philosophy of UL
The belief about Ubiquitous Learning (UL) is fundamentally based on the four general tenets of philosophy namely metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and logic, it is being believed that some aspects of UL are easily observable and measurable such as the amount of time for learning. The knowledge learnt and the skills acquired by students. However, effective learning outcomes are not easily discernable.
 

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.

 

7. Concept of UL
Concepts are general ideas or knowledge about certain things. In UL there are concepts such as learning, teaching, democratization, opportunity, possibility, open-ended and ubiquity.
 
8. Theory of UL
The basic learning theory is learning from concrete to abstract, simple to difficult and from the known to the unknown. The same general features of learning theory are also relevant in UL although the latter is specific. Theories developed by Piaget, Pavlov, Skinner, and adult learning theory developed by Knowles and others are relevant considerations in the context of UL.
 

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.

9. Model of UL
Model is a mental and operational construct of the process of any initiative of effort. It depicts the developmental sequence. In the context of UL, it begins with teacher-based teaching and learning. Subsequently, the gradual application of teacher’s teaching aid such as educational radio, television and electronic textbook became ubiquitous. It began with non-wired or human contact and now it is wireless.
 
Today, the Ministry of Education Malaysia has embarked on more bold initiatives to include virtual learning through several projects such as Bestari Ed. What is imperative is to create appropriate learning opportunities which are open for all when the environment of learning has dramatically changed.
The change of the learning environment has become ubiquitous or is made available everywhere every time and anyhow. 
10. Rationale and Purpose of UL
The absolute purpose of UL is to enhance, to democratize and to implement the ideal of learning. The aim the provide quality education for all is, in fact, a non-negotiable matter for all human being not just the school children.Adults after leaving the formal education era must get involved in career and life- long learning to remain as a functional organizational man. UL is seen to be the highest degree of idealism in learning. The need to address pertinent issues such as learning difficulties, learning skills, learning technology, reducing risk, improving grades, increasing school effectiveness, learning motivation is still not been addressed effectively.

The integrated aspiration to achieve Accessibility, Equity and Quality in education remains an on-going challenge and opportunities.

 

11. Methodology of UL
The means to deliver UL is so diversified to enable to teach multiple student capabilities. Such diversified delivery system is paramount to meet different learning styles. It is the unique nature of UL that enables it to perform well in different teaching and learning environment.
 
12. Learning Outcomes of UL
The expected learning outcome of UL is much more than those when learning is confined by time, place, activities and evaluation or examination. The time-span for learning is unlimited from as the saying goes ‘cradle to the grave’.
 

It is just beyond the purpose of formal learning and public examination. The terminal outcome of UL is the Learning or Knowledgeable Society.

13. Prerequisites for Effective UL
School-based management referring to least external controls is the first perquisites for effective UL. Effective UL need to be planned and executed by the classroom teachers as teaching and learning are so contextual.
 

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.

14. Attributes of UL
The main attributes of features of UL are flexibility to enable learning to take place anywhere or everywhere. Secondly, it has to be relevant or suitable for all types of learner background and styles. Thirdly individualized, cooperative or collaborative and modular learning systems collectively are the prevailing delivery mechanisms.
 

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:-

  • Accessibility
  • Immediacy
  • Interactivity
  • Proactivity
  • Situational
  • Adaptability

 

15. Role of Educational Technology in UL
Educational technology can be viewed as hardware or gadgets, the software that feed the hardware, systematic, systemic thinking and methodology. Both of them are being used in the process of teaching, learning and institutional management thus collectively they are called educational technology.
 

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.