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Quality for Life

Quality for Life

30 January 2014 In Research and Practice

A lot has changed in e-learning with the use of Web 2.0 and later Web 3.0 technologies. Technology and human-cognition patterns are married together to create improved learning experiences. Previous trials and errors provide a plethora of heuristics that will enable future e-learning environment developers to create human-centred learning within a machine-centred functionality. The use of web-based technologies to collaborate and perform is no longer an option. Services that have a mobile application presence and an interactive website are preferred over traditional brick and mortar businesses. The idea is to stay “in sync” and connected at all times. It also means that consumers demand constant updates. Universities recognize this trend and offer courses that mandate the use of technology tools to get tasks done. Regardless of the learning environment of the learner (online, hybrid, physical) an e-learning environment is inevitable. Since learning is a social activity and cognition is often distributed, a medium that moderates knowledge exchange and provides meaningful feedback is not only motivating but enables efficiency in teaching and learning (provided instructors receive sound professional development of these tools). The chapter 4 in Key Issues in e-Learning provides with e-Learning models that enhance the experience of its users. A couple of these models will be adapted for my own learning environment that is under development for my company and NCU Dissertation: AP&L Act, Play and Learn Academy.

Features that enhance online learning

The following are the top ten e-learning features that enhance the quality of learning in an online/hybrid learning environment (as of January 2014!).

  1. Writing excellence for content development (using verbs and adjectives that appeal to 5 senses)
  2. Eliminating learner isolation
  3. Encouraging and moderating COP (Communities of Practice)
  4. Learning 5.0 (interacting with fellow online learners in 5 ways, as proposed in my AP&L 5.0 model: private chatting, group chatting, public forums and discussion threads, publishing audio, publishing video.
  5. The feeling of being somewhere, a sense of place when in a learning environment: providing online accommodation for language setting. Educating users of culture-etiquettes in order to create a positive and trust-worthy learning environment).
  6. Moderator/instructor training: innovation in use of multimedia (appeal to 5 senses)
    1. Video
    2. Audio
    3. Comments
    4. Chatting
    5. Invite to publish or add to the learning materials
    6. Modify assignment questions according to the competency of the learners
  1. Pedagogical intervention over informal learning systems. For example, some knowledgeable blogs provide meaningful and creative information to users but they are not grouped or shaped by competency level, comfort level or learning style of the user. As a result they lose valuable learners, who would have developed knowledge together by discussing the ideas in the blog.
  2. Using e-Learning templates by McCombs and Vakili (2005): Psychological Principles, Garrison, Anderson and  Archer (2000): Community of Inquiry Model, Brown and Adler (2008): A Circle of Knowledge Building and Sharing.
  3. Implications for strong vs. weak ties between online collaborators: Stronger ties between collaborators lead to biased knowledge sharing (Facebook). Weak ties between collaborators lead to stronger ties between the contributor and their opinion (LinkedIn).
  4. Interactive online communities: interacting in multiple ways. 
30 January 2014 In Research and Practice

New Era Digital Technologies

With the growing trend towards constructing new knowledge within social groups and “communities of practice” the tools for developing and managing technology is ambitiously pursued. In my previous assignment, I have explained five ways in which a knowledge-seeker can produce and consume knowledge using e-learning tools. The Act, Play & Learn (AP&L) 5.0 integrated website will have:

  1. AP&L private space for private chat between facilitator and learner (e-learning tool: Joomla! chat extension)
  2. AP&L group space for teams to collaborate with facilitator (e-learning tool: private group chatting rooms).
  3. AP&L publish space to publish blogs, comments and videos (e-learning tool: public forum space within website).
  4. AP&L performing space to play APL games developed for online environment (e-learning tools: online games developed using gaming applications like Maya).
  5.  AP&L watching space for e-learning workshops/videos developed for learning and facilitating the games (e-learning tools: Powtoon, Prezi, goAnimate, You tube as demonstrated before).

The above application of e-learning tools is a comprehensive view of how technology is (and ideally should be) used in schools, universities and corporates (private and government). It is also a direct application of the Circle of Knowledge Building by Brown and Adler (2008). It has all the tools and online settings needed to create an “Open Knowledge Exchange Zone”.

APL Academy with APL 5.0: Open Knowledge Exchange Zone

Create: All forms of tools to create and construct cognitive material

Re-mix: Online moderators group similar knowledge under headings to make it meaningful for future reference. New knowledge is fed back into the Knowledge Exchange Zone.

Use: Online moderators encourage the questioning, skepticism, relatedness, rejection and acceptance of new knowledge

 

BrownAdler

The above model is applied to the AP&L website design to create an online learning community using relevant website tools with pedagogical inferences. In order to encourage the establishment of an “Open Knowledge Exchange Zone” the AP&L 5.0 is proposed. Motivation to perform in the desired format and direction is provided my “gammifying” the website. The registered users in the website, gets a user name and an avatar. The user is awarded performance points for each activity:

  1. Registering completely (in order to get qualification and aspiration information of the user and determine their topics of interests).
  2. Commenting on an article on the website
  3. Commenting or providing feedback to someone else’s comment or question
  4. Sharing personal views and experiences (exchange ideas)
  5. Watching videos and listening to audios published on the website
  6. Add to the concept of game-based learning
  7. Publish their own videos, animations and audio relevant to the topic
  8. Provide review of a game-based event organized by the company

Live Game-based Learning merged with e-Learning support features

The game-based learning and teaching strategy is the very essence of quality e-learning (provides technology tools that are effectively merged with physical game-props). Cues and rules for playing can be provided online. Game demos and online version of the game can be provided online for users to “practice” online before they play live. Users can then post reflections and evaluations online in a keyword sensitive text area (a feature in the website) that will allow the website application to report the occurrences of a requirement. Thus, the game-based learning environment appeals the kinesthetic, the visual and the auditory learner, with performance support and quality assurance through the APL Academy website.

30 January 2014 In Research and Practice

The Psychological Principles presented by McCombs and Vakili (2005) can be applied to the APL Academy as follows:

Cognitive and metacognitive factors: The context of learning is a primary issue in the APL Academy project. Arabic language and Muslim culture with the local Emirati traditions need to be enforced and encouraged at all times. This is necessary in order to fulfill the community demand of preserving “national identity” and a knowledge resourced economy in UAE. The discussion over games and their learning goals can be discussed in a way to improve performance during play. The main goal of running events featuring games developed by the company is to foster talent and improve skills through score and survey recording.

Motivational and affective factors: Feelings of patriotism, unity and the drive to “Make a mark” on the globe motivate learner pride and sense of accomplishment. These feelings are intrinsic and work in the favor of achievement motivation. Creativity and contribution to discussions will be highly rewarded thru gammification features of the website.

Developmental and social factors: Discussions and resources that encourage benchmarking with international best practices will contribute to performance and growth of the online learning community at the APL Academy.

Individual-differences factors: The UAE is diversely populated country. Such a rich mix of nationalities, cultures, languages and expertise will add to the depth and breadth of knowledge developed at the APL Academy. Popular questions can be converted into short personal and professional development courses. Experts within the online community can teach novice and promote associative learning. 

26 January 2014 In Research and Practice

Games in Events across UAE

The aim of this game-based curriculum is to offer the schools an “edutainment” option as a co-curricular activity. As a result, the games offered will be evaluated for their popularity and effectiveness in achieving goals and motivation.  The popular games can be offered in a competitive environment in public events and educational institutions. In order to execute the objectives if the curriculum guide, a mixed method study will be designed and data will be collected using the above-mentioned tools. The following generalized samples will be used:

  • Games in Schools
  • Games in Universities
  • Games in Corporates
  • Games as a Program

Future Goals: Accreditation and Global Market

 The future of games in education looks promising. After implementation and evaluation of the games for quality control, the researcher plans to seek accreditation for the curriculum. The next step would be to work with international organizations that favor games in education and sell the unique design features in the global market as a trademarked event.

Summary                                                            

The extant literature in the field of game-based learning is current and demonstrates an innovative pedagogical startegy. It is exciting and in-demand in the corproate field. The challenge is to tap into the best practices and heurestics of game design and connect it to the school and university level. An observation and analysis of common features in traditional lessons will enable the researcher to create a game design template. This will aid the instructor to use the traditional lesson details to fill the game design template and create a game for specific learners. This will be the product of the game-based learning curriculum designed with the aid of this dissertation. Game assessments and evaluations will be lined clearly with game objectives. The ultimate accomplishment of game-based curriculum and game design will be to establish a motivating environment for learners to improve learning by undertaking greater responsibility for their inidividual knowledge acquisition.

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