Unit 6: Virtual Learning Environments
I see amazing potential when it comes to 3D virtual environments, a potential that has not been reached yet, but probably will be within the next five years or so. I love that these virtual worlds allow people to practice real world skills without the fear of making a grave mistake. The greatest positive aspect of these worlds is how engaging they are. Wankel and Hinrichs (2011) concluded that when a person is immersed in a 3D environment, they become emotionally involved and experience heightened learning since they are taking an active role. Freitas (2006) discusses the many facets of 3D environments that affect a learner’s motivation: they need the right amount of challenge, highly realistic graphics, control over the environment, and many opportunities for discovery. If these facets are present in a virtual world, I can see how they would be highly effective for teaching and learning.
On the other hand, because they are so engaging, there is the risk of distraction, and in some cases, these environments become an obsession. Wankel and Hinrichs (2011) acknowledge the potential risks associated with 3D worlds: a shift in priorities, e-security, and exposure to mature comments and content. Since these virtual spaces offer not only educational pursuits, but also social ones, there is a good chance students will veer off during what are supposed to be solely academic pursuits.
This unit’s learning challenge was to immerse myself in a virtual environment and try to discover opportunities for teaching and learning. I was not a fan of Second Life before I even created my avatar because of the female characters’ way too inappropriate dress. In addition, many avatars approached me to try to make conversation, some not relenting when I did not reply. Although I was able to see Machu Picchu in 3D, I would not recommend Second Life for the classroom. It is too risky at this point in time.
One question I had during this unit was: What educational uses could my classmates envision for technologies like the Hololens (see video under Helpful Resources below)? I pictured geography teachers using it to show city grids and shrink and enlarge them during learning. My peers mentioned virtual field trips as one of the most exciting possibilities.
Unit 7: Mobile Learning Environments
Although there are many concepts that play into effective mobile learning environments, there are two that are more important than the others: Ease of Use and Perceived Enjoyment. If users can easily figure out how to use mobile learning technologies, they will be more likely to interact with them (Stanaityte et al., 2013). Also, users need to find joy in the m-learning environment to make them want to keep learning. Stanaityte et al. (2013) assert, “…the enjoyment and fun that can be associated with m-learning activities, together with perceived mobility, were the factors with the highest impact on students’ intentions towards mobile learning usage” (p. 60). These two concepts are the ones I most often see either get students totally excited about mobile learning, or if they are lacking, turn students away from mobile learning.
Wang and Shen (2012) discuss Mayer’s theory of multimedia message design, and the principles directly contribute to Ease of Use and Perceived Enjoyment. Designers can make instruction more coherent by eliminating unnecessary content (Wang & Shen, 2012). As a designer, you also want to keep devices in mind so that content is easy to read and interact with from any device (Legault, 2015). Some ways to make the mobile learning environment more enjoyable are making quizzes short, using clear graphics, and incorporating sound, video, and games.
This unit’s learning challenge was to use a mobile learning tool to create a learning activity. I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of using easygenerator.com. I created a lesson on making the perfect pot of coffee, and it turned out pretty effective. In the future, I would add more images and maybe some sound to foster more engagement.
One question I had during this unit was: How do you make mobile learning more enjoyable for students? I know that I add images, sounds, video, and games. My peers mentioned these items as well.
Freitas, S. (2006). Learning in immersive worlds: A review of game-based learning. JISC. Retrieved from https://post.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/courses/EDU625.901013080932/Documents/Unit%206%20Resources/LearningInImersiveWorlds_v3%203.pdf.
Legault, N. (2015). Best practices for designing mobile learning like a pro. Retrieved from https://community.articulate.com/articles/design-mobile-learning-like-a-pro-best-practices-for-mlearning.
Stanaityte, J., Washington, N., Wankel, L. A., & Blessinger, P. (2013). Increasing student engagement and retention using mobile applications: Smartphones, Skype and texting technologies. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group Publishing.
Wang, M., & Shen, R. (2012). Message design for mobile learning: Learning theories, human cognition and design principles. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 43(4), 561-575. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01214.x.
Wankel, C., & Hinrichs, R. J. (2011). Transforming virtual world learning. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Book Serials and Monographs.
This video gives a great overview of mobile learning principles: