E-learning applied to Virtual Museums

An application of e-learning which is becoming more and more popular is the concept of a virtual museum. Museums are places in which we can all learn and also appreciate artifacts of nature or of mankind. However, sometimes museums are considered to be old-fashioned or boring, especially to children and teenagers.

A virtual museum can be visited online, and some also allow a 3D walkthrough. What’s nice about them is that one would be combining the educative nature of museums, with the interactive/fun nature of technology. I believe this might be a way to encourage children and teenagers to learn from museums and exhibitions…

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Why do people choose to learn online?

E-learning programs and online courses target students of all kinds and at all levels. Have you ever thought of why students may choose an online course rather than a classroom based course?

In my opinion common reasons why students may opt to take one or more online learning courses are:

Schedule conflicts – The time the course is offered or location it is being delivered may present conflicts with other important activities the person is following.

Availability – Course not offered at a physical educational institution locally. Course may also be full with no places left.

Homebound – Student may be homebound due to illness, problems with mobility, specific disabilities etc.

Cost – Online courses tend to be cheaper than the “normal” physically delivered courses since the provider can cut of various costs such as those related to use of premises.

Speed of delivery – Online courses often allow the student to choose the speed of learning, that is, the student has a say in deciding how long to go through the course and when to finish.

Customisation – The student can choose what to learn, in that he/she may skip parts already familiar and use the time to research on areas found to be more challenging in the course.

Can you think of anything else?

‘Robot’ computer to mark English essays

The owner of one of England’s three major exam boards is to introduce artificial intelligence-based automated marking of English exam essays in the UK from next month.
Pearson, the American-based parent company of Edexcel (known as London Exams in Malta), is to use computers to “read” and assess essays for international English tests in a move that has fuelled speculation.
All three exam boards are now investing heavily in e-assessment but none has yet perfected a form of marking essays using computers – or “robots” – that it is willing to use in mainstream exams. Academics and leaders in the teaching profession said that using machines to mark papers would create a “disaster waiting to happen”.
Computers have been programmed to scan the papers, recognise the possible right responses and tot up the marks. Pearson claims this will be more accurate than human marking.
Although we live in a ‘technological’ society, I believe that technology can never replace human jobs in certain areas. In my opinion, this is one of them and I am very skeptic about the whole idea that computers can mark essays, where a number of multiple answers can be given in response to the same question. Keeping all this in mind, one has to ask the question, “How can a computer interpret profound human thought and judge if it is right or wrong?”

Universal Learning Design: Empowering the Next Generation

Quite an interesting video which makes you think about the good use technology can serve in the classroom. Students with identified learning disabilities, students with unidentified learning disabilities and normal students can all benefit equally from such technology. Students who would otherwise have dropped out from the Course can be saved. Do you have experiences similar to the ones in the video which you can share?

Personal Learning Environments – the future of e-learning?

The idea of a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) recognises that learning is continuing and seeks to provide tools to support that learning. It also recognises the role of the individual in organising their own learning. Moreover, the pressures for a PLE are based on the idea that learning will take place in different contexts and situations and will not be provided by a single learning provider. Linked to this is an increasing recognition of the importance of informal learning.

In terms of educational technology, there has been little attention paid to informal learning. It is remarkable that formal learning technology and applications have only really been made available to those enrolled on an educational programme or to those working for larger enterprises.

Many institutions are experimenting with the use of blogs and other social software tools in a more restricted environment as part of the curriculum. One interesting issue is the extent to which ‘communities’ continue after the end of a particular course. This also raises questions about what responsibilities institutions and teachers or moderators have for supporting such learning, outside course times.

PLEs provide learners with their own spaces under their own control to develop and share their ideas. Moreover, PLEs can provide a more holistic learning environments, bringing together sources and contexts for learning hitherto separate. Students learn how to take responsibility for their own learning. Critically, PLEs can bridge the walled gardens of the educational institutions with the worlds outside. In so doing learners can develop the judgments and skills or literacy necessary for using new technologies in a rapidly changing society.

Reference:
Attwell, G. (2007). Personal Learning Environments-the future of eLearning?. E-Learning Papers. vol. 2

Second Life and E-Learning

Second Life is a virtual 3D community created in 2003. When the user becomes a member, he/she becomes a new resident and is given a new identity by using a name and a virtual avatar to represent himself in this virtual community.

Second Life’s virtual world also includes sound/visual environments such as wind and rain, audible conversations, built-in chats and instant messaging. Residents buy property, start businesses, game with other residents, create objects, join clubs, attend classes, or just hang out.

Second Life can also be used as a platform for an e-learning environment. The good thing about Second Life is that, unlike most of the other e-Learning environments, it brings the student into conditions which are very close to real-life situations. It is well suited for direct interaction and working in a specific virtual environment. All of this can be done by programming the avatar to act like a real person and interact with other avatars (other members). This is a good example of immersion into worlds which can extend someone’s perception of reality, and project it into this virtual reality.

The video below shows some examples of how Second Life can be used to provide training simulations. You can find other useful links within the same page.

Quiz Games in Lectures

In this post I would like to discuss the positive impact that, I believe, quiz-oriented games can have in our lectures. When I was younger what I liked to play the most were not the usual games that others used to play, such as the sims or black and white…

I really used to enjoy The Weakest Link for example (which is the PC game inspired by a show on BBC).  I also really liked Family Feud, which is also a quiz game.

I have been thinking that such games can be educational for our students and at the same time fun to play. It would be nice if there existed a quiz pack which schools could buy. Ideally this would consist of a set of buzzers (that would be fun..) and what’s most important is that the software would allow the teacher to input his/her own questions, and possibly even shuffle them.

I know Moodle has a quiz feature but it is not so fun…