Saturday, 7 June 2014

digital resources for particular learning contexts 

implications for accessibility, learner requirements and implementation 

#ocTEL week 3 'If you only do one thing…' activity asked us to take the perspective of a learner while using one resource from each of three different online learning collections, and respond to one or more set questions:

  1. What elements of these do you think are appealing to different learners?
  2. What learners, if any, would they be inappropriate for and why?
  3. 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?
  4. What ways can you see to improve the effectiveness or potential reach of these resources? Effectiveness can be considered as allowing students to work at their own pace and review areas they need to, providing a richer learning experience by expanding the range of expertise which students will confront, or providing a range of materials in different media formats to suit students’ different learning preferences.
My notes on my findings to questions 1 and 2 in this activity follow (watch out for the poop).

Khan Academy

After watching the inspirational introductory TED video of Salman Khan via Khan Academy’s YouTube videos, instead of remaining in the YouTube environment to view one resource, I went directly to the site and signed up. Khan inspiration proven simply by my actions. 

I like Khan's approach to learning. In this video, he compared getting a pretty good mark for math with just a few questions failed, compared to riding a bike where you actually want to master all components of the skill. His resources and philosophy may be encapsulated when he says we want to "encourage you to fail but expect [ultimate] mastery", i.e. try and be allowed to fail but keep trying until mastery.

I chose Introduction to evolution and natural selection as my one resource to watch, because I like biology. 

Appealing elements to different learners 

At first I thought the evolution presentation was a little slow (as an adult viewer), until I placed myself as a secondary school student, possibly year 8. The staging of the examples, by hand drawing on a blackboard-like background as speaking, gave a natural but structured flow through the topic in a kooky, easy manner. The ability for the presenter to scroll but up to previous examples also help ground the concepts.

Inappropriate for learner X

Learner X in this case would be young primary school learners or tertiary learners, as not pitched to either (too complex too simplistic respectively). As captions are provided (by clicking captions button, lower right of screen), a hearing impaired person is not excluded, but is also not getting the optimum experience (re the work of Richard Meyer). A sight impaired person could gain something from the audio, but the imagery is referred to constantly to illustrate the talk, so again partly accessible but not optimum.

Additionally, we know that not all learn well by passive viewing of video material. The style of this presentation including engaging visual and aural input may well help retain learning, but to deepen learning, teacher preparation beforehand (even by posing a couple of questions) and set activities afterwards should increase retention. 

And finally, those students who like to read everything may end up being confused by this resource. Why? Because the questions asked below the video (presumably by the general public) are sometimes odd, and the answers often worse! At first I thought the presenter was answering the questions, but it appears not, and some answers offered are simply wrong according to the video content. Same goes for the 'Tips and Trick' - which even divert into anti-science religious discussion... The comments under the YouTube version are no better. This is a real shame. The chatter spoils the resource for secondary students without careful guidance by an adult...


Keeping in the theme of biology (hey it's my Saturday night at home in Melbourne; I'll pick topics I like!) the one resource I interacted with from ElearningExamples e-learning games was Who Pooped at the Farm (no less!).

Appealing elements to different learners 

OK, so this shouldn't have appealed to me as it is pitched to primary school students, and contains noisy animal flatulence, but I loved it! Easy learner control meant you could respond to instructions at your own pace (e.g. feed the grass to the cow or move the tim can away from the goat). At commencement you had to interact by guessing which of three animals did the dead presented, meaning the promise of the title was delivered upon tout suite. It's hard to imagine children becoming bored with this activity, which includes at the end of the interactivity a short video of real farm animals and a keeper and veterinarian talking about the importance of poop in clues for animal welfare. Plus, the precursor to badges, a Poop Expert Certificate to print.

This resource appears to work just as well with the sound off, due to the instructions provided as text, and therefore accessible to the hearing impaired person. However, they may object strongly to missing out on the range of natural animal sounds, not to mention the banjo playing from under the tree! No captions on short video at the end. Additionally, the cow's tail was a difficult mouse manoeuvre, and most activities were mouse controlled. Therefore anticipate difficulties for those who have limitations in manipulating a computer mouse.

Inappropriate for learner X

I really should behave myself and say that learner X in this case would be tertiary/adult learners, but I'm struggling to. (After-all, I learnt that cows do not have four stomachs; they have four chambers in their one stomach. I may have learnt this once long long ago, but I'd forgotten...)


iEthiCS, or Interactive Ethics Case Simulations, offer ethics virtual patient scenarios via multiple small scenario videos that you choose your own pathway through - depending on your decisions at certain key points. 

Appealing elements to different learners 

Excellent activity for the tertiary/adult learner, or even for workplace training in ethics in the health industry. The activity is safe, that is, decisions made in this scenario are not going to affect any real people, and making a not so good decision is played out gently to encourage you to work out what next to do, but not with explicit flag waiving. However, there is sufficient consequences represented to (hopefully) help people remember the learning to act ethically and appropriately if encountering such scenarios in future real work situations.

Captions don't seem to be provided, so not necessarily accessible to the hearing impaired person.

Inappropriate for learner X

Learner X, besides those who are pre-tertiary age, are those not studying or working in a health care or medical setting, and therefore have no knowledge of the terminology used and no authentic application of the learning. However, it is still interesting considering people in own circles do get ill and can arrive at tricky ethical decision points as non-medicos, such as the son in the scenario. 

I would consider some sort of debriefing with the teacher would be necessary following the activity.
Note: the iEthiCS site provides extensive teacher support resources plus an offer to create your own scenarios with the help of St George’s, University of London iEthiCS team. 

In summary

As it turns out, I reviewed one online resource for each of the sectors of primary, secondary and tertiary education. Each resource has it's own merits and is of very high standard of quality. However, while anyone can stumble upon these resources and learn things for themselves, I would suggest that the most effective use of these resources would be to include some teacher preparation and follow-up activities. This might be face-to-face or online, synchronous or asynchronous, actual or vicarious, but is required.

No comments:

Post a Comment