Saturday, 14 June 2014

#ocTEL2014 - Week 3 - Materials & Platforms for Learning Technology

This week's TEL One activity is to
Take the perspective of a learner and spend some time using:
  • one resource from Khan Academy’s YouTube videos
  • one resource from ElearningExamples e-learning games
  • the iEthiCS simulation.
  • What elements of these do you think are appealing to different learners?
  • What learners, if any, would they be inappropriate for and why?
  • How do each of these resources differ from that of the resources we’re using in ocTEL? Do they promote social learning, re-use of their materials, or open access?
  • What ways can you see to improve the effectiveness or potential reach of these resources? 
I looked at "Origins of algebra" and "Introduction to variables" videos on Khan Academy. 

Khan Academy Logo from
To me, they seem to present material using a coherent story with attractive visual aids. However, beware that this can be a very biased view given the sample I have used is not at all representative of the thousands of videos also I am familiar with both topics.

I think this type of videos will be appealing to younger generation (say below 25) and would be good for introductory materials. From my experience in our FutureLearn course "Begin Programming:build your first mobile game", which attracted over 48 thousand entrants over two runs, many elderly participants preferred reading materials to videos. However, I am unable to back this up with evidence from post-course surveys as we have not got the demographic details captured in them. Nevertheless, during course discussions over and over again we saw that elderly participants (mostly leisure learners) many of whom were the Open University alumni preferred reading materials to videos. 

* One good thing about these videos are they give you a "quick view" to the topic, serving a similar purpose like Wikipedia. However, does this encourage deep learning I don't know.

* These are stand alone resources - OERs. So there is no way to interact and ask questions. Well in a way you can use the comments. 

* But as the Khan academy founder said in his TED talk, you can pause, replay and listen multiple time which is good for learners who may be struggling to grasp the subject matter or the language. 

These pros/cons have been already discussed in the ocTEL forum by Teresa MacKinnon @warwicklanguage 's articulative post.

With my developing country research experience, one major problem with this type of resources is that they require large data volume downloads. During my PhD research I got to know that in Sri Lanka, the internet access centres set up by the government's Distance Education Modernization Project had blocked access to YouTube website because of bandwidth issues (You can read more about my findings in my blog "Using non-Personal Computers for eLearning" or the research paper "Using non-Personal Computers for eLearning: Sri Lankan Experience" published in the Journal of Education and Training Studies). 
The resource being offered in video format reduces its reach to many learners who do not have good internet connectivity. I suppose one way to increase the reach for this resource could be to provide it in various formats: transcripts with illustrations;audio download and video.

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