Week 21 & 22 – A3b NSF cyberlearning report

Report available: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2008/nsf08204/nsf08204.pdf

Following are some main points extracted from this report;

Report’s scope work spans the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and the social, behavioral, and economic sciences as they intersect with education and the learning sciences. The arts and humanities are outside the scope of this report. Focus of report is the US .pg 10

1. Executive Summary

Cyberlearning – Is the use of networked computing and communications technologies to support learning.

‘Cyberlearning offers new learning and educational approaches and the possibility of redistributing learning experiences over time and space, beyond the classroom and throughout a lifetime.’ pg 5

‘New approaches to research and design make the development and testing of technolgies more responsive to real-world requirements and learning environments.’pg 5

‘Web technologies enable people to share, access, publish – and learn from – online content and software, across the globe.’pg 5

‘Even though schools have not yet fully joined this vibrant, digital world, information and communication technologies are deeply entwined in the lives of young learners.’pg6

‘How technologies allow new ways of looking at and understanding content and how teachers can interact with students and their school assignments. Finally, the Task Force considers it essential to find creative means of sustaining cyberlearning innovations beyond their initial development cycle.’pg6

‘…abundance of data is another key concern. Students and teachers alike need to be taught how to manage large amounts of data, whether produced through scientific research or collected as part of a student’s educational history.’pg6

2. Recommendations

1. Help build a vibrant cyberlearning field by promoting cross-disciplinary communities of cyberlearning researchers and practitioners

2. Instill a “platform perspective”—shared, interoperable designs of hardware, software, and services—into NSF’s cyberlearning activities.

3.Emphasize the transformative power of information and communications technology for learning, from K to grey.

4. Adopt programs and policies to promote open educational resources.

5.Take responsibility for sustaining NSF-sponsored cyberlearning innovations.

3. The Definition of Cyber learning

Cyberlearning: learning that is mediated by networked computing and communications technologies.

‘Cyberlearning offers new learning and educational approaches via networked computing and communication technologies, and the possibility of redistributing learning experiences over time and space.’pg10

‘Cyberlearning is thus learning in a networked world, where the forms of “steering” of learning can arise in a hybrid manner from a variety of personal, educational, or collective sources and designs.’

4. Background

The evolvment of technologies prove to be a fertile ground for learning. In this section the authors focus on a ‘cluster of interacting factors’ which today make it possible to talk about cyberlearning;

  • A new participatory Web culture – evolvment of Web 2.0 participatory/collaborative tools
  • The ease of deploying software at Web scale – rise of web hosted programs.
  • OER
  • From mass markets to millions of niches
  • Ubiquitous computing, mobiles, and broadband networking –
    • Metcalfe’s law – the value of a communications network grows exponentially with growth in the number of users
  • New collaborative modes, media richness, and virtual worlds.

5. Galaxy Zoo

Educational resources are used in unanticipated ways by unanticipated audiences. Need to be aware of this when developing & implementing resources. For example ‘software should be modular, with components that are open, available, and as user friendly as possible for all users.’  i.e. need of universal and multilingual accessibility.

6. Harness the deluge of learning data

Cyberlearning projects have been accumulating vast amounts of student data in different scenarios.

Through visualisation/analysis of learning data, quantitative and qualitative studies can be done. These can for example lead to a redesign to reduce unnecessary overpractive. Thus saving student time without any loss in learning, transfer or retention outcomes.

7. Summary recommendations

  • Help build a vibrant cyberlearning field by promoting cross-disciplinary communities of cyberlearning researchers and practitioners.
  • Instill a platform perspective into NSF’s cyberlearning activities
  • Emphasise the transformative power of ICT for learning, from K to Grey
  • Adopt programs and policies to promote OERs
  • Take responsability for sustaining NSF sponsored cyberlearning innovations
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