Swords and sorcery: a structural gamification framework for higher education using role-playing game elements

RLT Journal - 03/10/19

Students attend the first sessions of your units and then disappear, some of them forever, and some of them have no clue what is going on or they work for other units’ assessments. When it comes to providing them with formative assessment, it is not always well received as it is perceived as extra work. The purpose of this article is to define a gamification framework based on structural gamification that focuses on that weak part of your cohorts that do not engage as much, and it does that in a great way, as it embeds video game rules and role-playing into the curriculum. This is achieved through implementing game elements to the entire second-year cohort (N = 34) of computer game development students, in the unit ‘Engineering Software Systems’. The goal is to motivate and engage the at-risk students of the cohort with lower activity, attendance and involvement in the unit.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Living under occupation: Palestinian teachers’ experiences and their digital responses

RLT Journal - 27/09/19

Unlike most neighbouring countries in the world, teachers in the occupied territories of Palestine face extraordinary conditions and challenges. These are due to the continued Israeli occupation. This article reports on a large-scale survey of Palestinian teachers. It explores the impact of the occupation on the professional lives of the teachers around Nablus, and indirectly on their students and communities, and on their digital responses. Follow-up focus groups explore their feelings, experiences and reactions, providing greater insights into this complex and troubling situation. The article underpins further work on appropriate digital literacy. It does however also provide an insight into the challenges to rigorous fieldwork outside the mainstream of the developed North and specifically in a region of conflict and occupation.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Affordances of music composing software for learning mathematics at primary schools

RLT Journal - 06/09/19

Music composing is associated with various positive learning outcomes, but in several countries, such as Finland, it is not part of the primary school music curriculum. There are several issues as to why music composing is not taught at schools, such as beliefs that composing requires extensive knowledge of music theory, lack of teachers’ confidence, lack of evidence on the method’s effectiveness and difficulty of assessment. Composing software has the potential of solving some of these issues, as they are connected to mathematics via music theory and technology, and with practical opportunities arising from adopting phenomenon-based learning at schools, the affordances of music composing technologies for learning mathematics are investigated in this study. For this purpose, 57 music composing software were categorised and reviewed. Our analysis identified eight types of music visualisations and five types of note input methods. The music visualisations were compared to the mathematics content in the Finnish primary school curriculum and the note input methods were evaluated based on their relationship to the music visualisations. The coordinate grid-based piano roll was the most common visualisation and the tracker visualisation had the most affordances for learning primary school math. Music composing software were found to have affordances for teaching mathematical concepts, notations and basic calculus skills, among others. Composing methods involving direct interaction with visualisations support the experiential learning of music theory, and consequently, the learning of mathematics. Based on the findings of this study, we concluded that music composing is a promising activity through which mathematics and music theory can be learned at primary schools.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Digital divide: addressing Internet skills. Educational implications in the validation of a scale

RLT Journal - 23/08/19

Recent studies indicate that Internet skills have a positive impact on academic achievement. This article presents a national study that seeks to validate an Internet skills scale that was already tested in other EU countries (the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) to understand the competence level of the population as a whole as well as across population sectors. The scale questionnaire was completed by a sample of the Italian population stratified by gender, age and geographical area. The result is globally consistent at the empirical level as well as at the cross-national level. All the five scales showed excellent internal consistency.

Categories: ALT, Publication

The impact of innovative learning environments on social competences of youth

RLT Journal - 14/08/19

The exponential development of learning environments supported by information and communication technology (ICT), coupled with new insights from the fields of cognitive and neuroscience and artificial intelligence (AI), is a huge challenge for both the educational system and youths and their social competences. This article defines the impact of an effective use of contemporary education technologies on young people’s engagement and their interest in collaborating with their peers and teachers on the level of interpersonal relationships. It investigates the teachers’ and parents’ perspective on youth and their cooperation when using ICT in the pedagogical process. The study confirms that innovative didactic approaches to teaching, supported by ICT, exert a positive influence on the collaboration between students, as well as between students and their teachers, and that youths, teachers and parents are all equally aware of that. Parents and teachers have a unified position in support of the idea that an effective use of ICT makes a positive contribution to collaboration between students, and thereby directly affects an increase in their social competences. ICT is becoming one of the important variables that affect the development of young people’s social competences. The 2-year study was conducted in the framework of a national project.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Supporting seamless learners: exploring patterns of multiple device use in an open and distance learning context

RLT Journal - 13/08/19

Educators need to be aware of not just what their students are learning, but how and why as well. This study investigates how Open and Distance Learning (ODL) students make use of multiple devices for learning, particularly how students use their devices together. This study is situated in the context of ‘seamless learning’, where ODL students learn at different times, in different locations and with the use of different technologies. Understanding the needs and learning practices of students can help to improve the design of learning experiences and support offered to students. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews at two ODL universities, one in Spain and one in South Africa. The results show that while students mainly use one digital device at a time, they sometimes make use of two or more devices together. This usage can be characterised as sequential (moving from one device to another) or simultaneous (using two or more devices together at a time). This article describes the study patterns associated with sequential and simultaneous use of multiple devices, facilitated by the use of different devices and synchronisation tools. A continuum of seamless learners is proposed that can be used to help identify levels of support required by ODL students.

Categories: ALT, Publication

The Community of Inquiry framework as learning design model: a case study in postgraduate online education

RLT Journal - 18/07/19

Interaction within online educational environments has long been advocated as conducive to learning, whether interaction between the learner and their teacher, the learner and online resources or the learner and their peers. The relationship among these three types of interaction is also receiving increasing attention, with the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework providing a method of interpreting this relationship in terms of the interplay of teaching presence, cognitive presence and social presence. This case study investigates the use of the CoI framework as a learning design model, showing how it was used to address specific issues in a postgraduate online module. Specifically, the framework informed decisions to strongly link together interaction with the video content, activity on discussion boards and release of new learning materials. Using discussion board posts and video analytics as the primary evidence of learner engagement, the findings show how learner activity significantly increased in both ‘social’ contexts and ‘cognitive’ contexts. More importantly, analysis also revealed strong correlations among participation in discussions, video viewing and module completion. The study suggests that the CoI framework is a robust model for learning design in online environments.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Learner experiences of a blended course incorporating a MOOC on Haskell functional programming

RLT Journal - 10/07/19

There is an increasing move in higher education to blend university courses to include a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This article reports on the learner experiences of such a course, which incorporated a purposely designed MOOC as part of the blend, to teach Haskell functional programming. A survey revealed that students most valued the programming exercises, quizzes and instructional videos, while the follow-up focus group highlighted the flexibility of the MOOC, usefulness of the videos, drop-in sessions and programming exercises. The overall mix of activities was regarded as particularly useful. While discussions were not rated as highly in the survey, students in the focus group commented on their value, particularly for getting support from external learners. The perceived lack of face-to-face contact was the biggest issue; however, this reflected a lack of awareness of lab sessions which could have been better signposted. There was perceived to be a gap between the MOOC and the rest of the course in terms of level of difficulty and authenticity of learning tasks. These issues were positively addressed in subsequent runs of the course. The outcomes of this study are relevant to educators seeking to incorporate MOOCs into blended courses.

Categories: ALT, Publication
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