Browse Tag by learning technologies
Miscellaneous

Reflections on Learning Technologies 2011

Last week saw this year’s Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition. It was my remit to attend some of the free seminars and get a feel for what is being planned for this year with some of the other vendors in the exhibition halls with the occasional manning the stand.

Alas, I wasn’t able to attend the conferences on level 3 – there were some major names from the world of learning: Roger Schank, Jane Hart, Jane Bozarth, and Cathy Moore, Clark Quinn, James Clay, Craig Taylor, and Steve Wheeler to name but a few. Ah well – maybe next year.

As you would expect at a learning technologies event, Twitter played an important part in spreading the word for those who weren’t able to attend the conferences by using the hashtag #LT11UK to stream all the relevant chatter. If anyone is interested, here’s the Twitter backchannel from the conference. Nevertheless, the free talks were useful especially if you looked beyond the sales pitch of most of them.

The reflections after the event was that there seemed to be a difference in vision between the conference floor and the vendor floors but as I didn’t have first hand experience of what was being said in the conference I wouldn’t like to comment. However, what I found from this year’s exhibition was the recognition by some of the vendors of the value of enabling conversations as well as the need for bite-sized, on-demand and mobile solutions. All seemed to support the need for change in how we deliver learning. Of course, the sellers are always going to peddle their wares to the best of their ability and of course they will wow us with the latest gizmos and gadgets. But what I found refreshing was at least the acknowledgement that it’s not only about the content but collaboration too.

Adobe Captivate has incorporated a Twitter widget option to encourage collaboration and reduce the feeling of isolation in eLearning study modules; Epic has created iPhone apps for learning encouraging bite-sized learning and there are a more companies providing authoring tools for mobile technology. Personally, I’d keep my eye on the whole mobile arena now smartphone technology is well and truly settled in.

What we have to try and do is stay grounded and remember that it still has to be about the learning. It’s how we design the learning that needs to change not necessarily about using the latest gadgets. Don’t get me wrong – I love the gadgets and if we didn’t reach for the sky we’d still be sending children up chimneys. The gadgets will be the enablers – to make learning easier, more accessible and more efficient.

Some of the free seminars I attended during the event. They were:
‘How to create and integrate engaging mobile learning content’
‘Ten essential tips for working with SMEs’
‘Social learning when everything’s new’
‘Going mobile’
‘Collaborative learning using Twitter and Adobe Captivate’
‘Telling stories using learning technologies’
‘Coaching for Gen Y and beyond’

Technologies

Scan this….

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m all excited. I’ve discovered QR codes.

Well, I haven’t just discovered QR codes. I have been aware of them for some time and have ‘played’ with them using an App on my iPhone. What I meant to say was I’ve just discovered how to use them for something tangible and very useful.

It’s been a very busy couple of days planning for Learning Technologies next week where the we have a stand; we were tasked with designing brand new posters for the event advertising our eLearning courses. Well, needless to say, I was in my element. My creative ideas were going wild and my two worlds started to collide. Technology and art.

I also have more than a little interest in marketing. It’s not a professional interest you understand but I am fascinated by it. Bearing in mind that I love simplicity in my designs, I was trying to think of an effective way of providing extra information without covering the posters in text – a big mistake a lot of people make, confusing the reader. Then I had a brainwave. What about using QR codes to link to contextually specific information from our website. And what a perfect venue for the trial. A conference where technology is the heart of everything.

I couldn’t wait to try it out and the first idea was to create a label with a QR code to stick to the back of my business cards. When scanned, this code will take my networking connections straight to my LinkedIn profile.

So now we have four posters, each with a barcode unobtrusively on the bottom corner and high-tech (well nearly) business cards.

I used Kaywa to create my QR codes as recommended by Phil Vincent from Sheffield University (thanks Phil). Phil also uses Goo.gl but I’ve not tried this yet.

The Apps I have are Bakodo and QR Code Reader from ShopSavvy

I will be very interested to hear other creative uses for QR codes you have. I can already think of some for learning – have you?

Technologies

Gadget simulators helping us learn for the real thing

Image by Tomasz Mikołajczyk from Pixabay

Can home simulators help you learn and prepare for the real thing?

I was recently catching up with my ‘The Gadget Show‘ viewing (I hardly ever watch programmes when they’re scheduled these days so I can forward through the ads) when I pricked up my ears as they mentioned their experiment using home simulators. The task given to Ortis and Jason was to get some intensive use on simulators. Jason was given the task to train to become a martial arts expert using the robotic ‘wooden man’ and Ortis was to learn how to fly (and successfully land) a plan using a home flight simulator. Both had 8 weeks in which to learn before their real life assessment. Jason had to ‘fight’ in competition and Ortis would take to the air.

It seems even when switched off for the weekend, any mention of anything remotely associated with learning or technology can get my little grey cells trembling with excitement so the prospect of an experiment in learning WITH technology – well, they went into overdrive. For the purpose of this post I’m going to take Ortis’s experiment with the flight simulator as my focus.

The experiment claimed that Ortis would learn how to fly using a home simulator which would be tested by him taking the controls of a real Cessna 172 and completing a successful flight and landing. What I really found interesting was that Ortis didn’t just learn by using the home simulator even though that is what we were led to think. During the course of the programme I saw Ortis make use of the following:

  • Ortis began by using a ‘Virtual Aviation Experience’ simulator of a Boeing 737 800NG used to train commercial pilots.
  • An initial discussion with a Cessna expert pilot(SME) during which a small model aeroplane was used to explain how the it might behave in the air.
  • A job aid in the form of a single sheet with key points, wind speeds, flight plan diagram provided by the expert Cessna pilot to memorise before the final assessment.
  • The home flight simulator ‘X-Plane’ the “most sophisticated and realistic flight simulator out there” complete with a purpose built processor and three huge flat screens as well as a variety of flight control peripherals for added realism.
  • Access to the mobile version of the X-Plane simulator via the iPad to practise on the move.
  • Practise was also undertaken using the TRC472 Simulator and Cabin for even more realism
  • He also had access to a printed book to cram for the theory needed.
  • Finally he had his observed assessment with the SME sitting beside him who would have been able to step in should there be a real need.
  • During his intensive training, he was occasionally observed face to face by the SME who gave feedback and encouragement.
  • I also suspect that he would have been able to contact the SME if he had a query at any time during his study.

After his 8 weeks intensive study, Ortis had his first flight and passed with flying colours (pardon the pun) and his comments afterwards were that although he was able to learn all the steps and practise as many times as he needed, there were certain things that couldn’t be replicated to prepare him for the experience. I suspect these would be that although simulators could make the situation feel as real as possible, what was missing was the adrenaline rush; the physical experience of the thermals affecting the plane; the vibration of the controls in your hand and the powerful noise of the engine and air the plane sped through the sky.

So, it seems that one can learn to fly using a home simulator? Yes?….. Hmmmm not quite. It was clear to me that his success was down to more than that home simulator game. The success was down to a great blend:

  • He had an initial discussion with an expert and was provided with some key points to take forward
  • There was a period of intense study
  • There was the opportunity for him to practise over and over again at a time that was convenient
  • He had some realistic hands on practise
  • He had the opportunity for reflection
  • He was provided with a simple job aid / crib sheet
  • I also suspect there was access to a subject matter expert for help and advice

Of course Ortis isn’t the only one to benefit from using simulation tools to be the best they can be. F1 driver, Mark Webber (Red Bull) explains advantages of using simulators to practise and prepare for races:

So, back to the question ‘Can home simulators compare with the real thing’? My answer is ‘not on its own’. Learning in a simulated environment is never like learning in the real environment but we all know it is impossible to do that efficiently. What we can make sure of however, is that applying the right blend of tools for the situation and making sure we don’t compromise on the quality of the learning by using an appropriate mix of learning activities, learning this way can be both engaging and successful.

Oh and how did Jason get on? Well, he also succeeded bu I think he had a rum deal. It looked like he only had the robotic wooden man but boy did it feel real. When he punched and kicked, it punched and kicked back and he lost a tooth to boot.