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Formative Interfaces for Scaffolding Self-Regulated Learning in PLEs

Formative Interfaces for Scaffolding Self-Regulated Learning in PLEs

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Formative Interfaces for ScaffoldingSelf-Regulated Learning in PLEs
Mustafa Ali Türker
1
and Stefan Zingel
2
 
1
IES Information and Education Technologies
2
Laboratory for Mixed RealitiesSummary
 APersonalLearningEnvironment(PLE)isasoftwareapplication(desktoporweb-based)whichallowsstudentstoorganiselearningresourcesandpublishindividualoutcomes.AlthoughPLEsarebuiltforbottom-uppersonaluse,theyinvolvecommunicationandincreasinglysocialtools,promotingnetworkedlearningscenarios.Knowledgemanagement,syndicatingresources,trustworthinessandassessmentontheassemblageofresourcesareactualresearchissuesrelatedtotheimprovementofPLEs.Withoutapedagogicalvalue-add,PLEscannotbeviewedaseducationaltools,butperhapsadvanced,user-friendlyfilemanagementtools.Therefore,howcansuchauser-centrictoolinfluencethestudyprocesssothatmeaningfulandconstructiveactivitiesarecommittedmoreoftenthanrudimentaryinformallearning?Inotherwords,howcanself-regulationbescaffoldedbyaPLE?Basedonresearchthatpointsouttheroleofscaffoldinginactivatinghigherorderlearningcompetenciesitistheorisedinthispaperthatthesecompetenciescanbeperformedevenbyyoungusers.iClassisanintegratedprojectwhichispartiallyfundedbythe6thFrameworkProgrammeforResearchandTechnologyDevelopmentoftheEuropeanCommission.Althoughitstartedofftodevelopauser-centricintelligenttutoringplatform,theeducationalvisionoftheprojectwasupdatedduringthethirdyearandbringingsupportforself-regulatedpersonalisationonmainstreamvirtuallearningenvironmentsbecametheobjective.Inthispaper,formativefeaturesofthevisualinterfaceoftheiClassWeb-basedRIAwillbeexplainedassignifiersoftypicalregulatorystructures.Semioticprinciplesunderlyingeachsignificationwillbedescribedandtheroleofvisualisationinoperantconditioningandempowermentwillbediscussed.
Keywords:
PLE,LearningTheories,Self-RegulatedLearning,VisualInterfaces,ConnectedLearning,InformalLearning,Attitudes,Design,scaffolding,iClass,RIA,platform
 
1 Introduction
 Astheinformationageevolvesintoaconnectedage,thesocalledknowledgeworkeralsoevolvesanddevelopsamoreadvancedrelationshipwithknowledge.Anewunderstandingofknowledgeisemergingwhichisverypragmaticinitsnature(Bélisle,2008).Inspiredbythematuringtheoriesofconsciousness,Harter(1999)claimedthatfromacognitive-developmentperspective,theconstructionofself-representationsisinevitable.Fromtheneuroscientificperspective,Hawkins(2004)wentonestepfurtherandclaimedthatthebrainisamechanismevolvedtopredictactionoutcomesbasedonschemasandmodelslearnedthroughsensoryobservations.Asthebrainactivelycreatestheoriesabouttheworldandtheselfwithinthatworld,itgoesabouttotestthesetheorieswithalltheactionstakenconsciouslyandsubconsciously.
 
eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu •
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Henceprediction,actionandmakingsenseoccursimultaneouslyandthatissimplywhatthebraindoeswithitscorticalcircuitry(Osadaetal.2008).Henceforth,theactofself-regulationduringlearningandtheperformancewiththeacquiredknowledgethereafter,inevitablyresultinachangeofself-representation.Threepsychologicalneedsariseinapersonwhoisundergoingsuchachange:competence(perceivedself-efficacy),relatedness(senseofbeingapartoftheactivity)andacceptance(socialapproval).Moreover,thereareregulatorystructuresthatcanbeusedtogovernthelearningprocess.Theresearchchallengeaddressedinthispaperistodeterminedesignprinciplesforatoolthathelpstoexercisetheseregulatorystructureswithease,thatfulfilspsychologicalneeds,andthathelpstheuserdevelopastrongpersonalagency.Suchauser-centrictoolcaninfluencethestudyprocesssothatmeaningfulandconstructiveactivitiesarecommittedmoreoftenthanrudimentaryinformallearning.Theproposedsolutionusessemioticengineeringprinciplestodevelopavisuallanguageattheuserinterfacethatactsasatwowaymediator:1.
 
Reflectsuserintentionontothestudyprocess2.
 
Reflectsregulatorystructuresofthestudyprocessontotheattentionoftheuser
 
2 Connectivism, Self-Regulated Learning and Personal Agency
ConsiderhoweverydaylifeisaffectedfromtheadventofWeb,andtheactiverelationshipwealldevelopedwiththeknowledgeontheWeb.WenotonlytrytoaddresseverydaychallengeswiththehelpofWeb-basedinformation,servicesandapplications,butalsoweretrievepointerstoasubstantialamountofourfutureactionsfromWeb-basedresources.Naturally,thesubjectsandactsoflearninggettochangeonthefaceofthisrelationship,aswell.Thepedagogicalresearchinvestigatingthischangefollowedtwodifferent,butnecessarilyconvergentroutes:1.
 
Connectivism:Siemens(2006),inhisbookwhichwaswrittenthroughademocratic,end-usercontrolledprocess,identifiescontemporarylearningasresidingoutsideofus(withinavirtualorganization),hencewhatwedocanbedescribedasanactofconnectingspecializedinformationsetsinanongoingfashiontorecognizenewinformationandaltertheobservedlandscapeofknowledge.Thisacquisitionofactionableknowledgeisnotentirelyundercontroloftheindividual,asamatteroffactfollowsprinciplesexploredbychaos,network,complexityandself-organizationtheories.Asanumbrellatermconnectivismcoversweb-basedsociallearning,networkedlearning,microlearning,andemergentlearning.2.
 
Self-RegulatedLearning:Learnerscanbedescribedasself-regulatedtothedegreethattheyaremetacognitively,motivationallyandbehaviourallyactiveparticipantsintheirownlearningprocesses(Boekaerts,2000).SRLideashavebeenbornoutofeducationalpsychologyresearchinthe1980sandtheyhavegainedpopularityas“learningtolearn”creptintotheagendaofeducationalinstitutionswhilecomputerisedtoolssuchasintelligenttutoringsystemsfailedtodoso.Bothapproacheswerefirstattributedtoadultsandadolescents.Forinstanceacertaincognitivedevelopmentthresholdwasidentifiedwherebyalearnerstopsimitatingother’sregulationandfeelstheefficacyforself-regulation(Kayashima,2005).This“scientificbelief”isinlinewithPiaget'sfinalstageofcognitivedevelopment:formaloperations,occurringfromageelevenyearstoadulthood.Peoplewhoreachthisstage(andnoteveryonedoes,accordingtoPiaget)areabletothinkabstractly.Theyhaveachievedskillssuchasinductiveanddeductivereasoningabilities(Woolfolk,2004).Laterthough,MehlerandBever's(1967)experimentschallengedthesedevelopmentallimitsbyprovingthat,ifpresentedinasituatedmanner,childrendiddemonstrateskillssuchasnumberconservationatagesdeemedimpossiblebyPiaget.LatelyWynnetal.(2002)publishedworkwhichreceivedextensivemediacoverage,wheretheyhaveshownthat5-month-oldscandeterminethenumberofcollectiveentities–movinggroupsofitems–whennon-numericalperceptualfactorssuch
 
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ascontourlength,area,density,andothersarestrictlycontrolled.Thissuggestedthatinfantscanrepresentnumberperse,andalsothattheirgraspofnumberisnotlimitedtothedomainofobjects.Today,self-regulation(Paris,1990)andconnectivism(Siemens,2006)arebothregardedascompetencieswhicharepracticedat“varyingdegrees”bylearners,almostregardlessoftheirages.Thisdegreedependsonthesupportprovided.Researchhasshownthatchildren’sperceptionsself-efficacyonacademicachievementsdeclineprecipitouslywithadvancingschoolgrades(Eccles,1999).Especiallyjuniorhighschooltransitionbringsadramaticdecline.Theroleoftheeducationalenvironmentinthisdeclineisidentifiedtohavethelargestimpactbyalteringtheirunderstandingoftherelationbetweenabilityandeffortwithinthechangingeducationalpracticesandcuesforassessingcompetence. Astheypromotetheownershipofthelearningprocesstobeheldbythelearner,theconvergencepointofconnectivismandSRListhe“identity”.Thedegreebywhichtheyarepracticedrelatestothe“theories”thelearnerdevelopsaboutself.Bandura,(1997)hasintroducedthenotionof“personalagency”andstatedthatthoughtaffectsactionthroughtheexerciseofthisagency.Perceivedself-efficacychangingduringdevelopingpersonalidentityisacriticalcomponentofpersonalagency.Henceforth,theresearchabouttheeffectofsupportondevelopmentallimitation,andpersonalagencyinparticularisextremelyimportant.IfthethoughtreferredbyBandurarelatesto“choice”or“decisionmaking”andtheactionrelatesto“construction”or“assemblage”,thenpersonalagencyrelatestotheidentity.Wenger(1998)defines“identity”asalayeringoflearningeventsofparticipationandreificationbywhichourexperienceanditssocialinterpretationinformeachother.IftheselearningeventstakeplacewhileusingaPersonalLearningEnvironment(PLE),theabovediscussionleavesuswithacriticalresearchquestion:HowcanSRLandconnectivismbesupportedwhileusingaPLEsoastoempowerpersonalagency?ThismajorresearchquestionhasbeenaddressedwithintheiClassintegratedprojectwhichispartiallyfundedbythe6
th
FrameworkProgrammeforResearchandTechnologyDevelopmentoftheEuropeanCommission.Althoughtheprojectstartedofftodevelopauser-centricintelligenttutoringplatform,theeducationalvisionoftheprojectwasupdatedduringthe3
rd
yearandbringingsupportforself-regulationonmainstreammanagedlearningenvironmentswithcollaborativefeaturesbecamethepriority.TheiClasssystemisessentiallyaPLE.PLEsareuser-centrictoolswhicharebecomingincreasinglyvisualwiththeadventofWeb2.0applicationparadigms.iClassemploysaWeb-basedRichInternet Application(RIA)toaddvalueintermsofsupportingself-regulationandempoweringpersonalagency.Havingahighlyvisualinterfacetheonestrandofresearchwasdevotedtovisuallanguagesandsemioticsinreinforcingtheinterfacewithvisualcuesandsignsthatbringtheregulatorystructuresofthestudyprocessontotheattentionoftheuser.
3 Visual Languages and Semiotics
Thedebutof“visuallanguages”asarecognizedresearchfieldcanbedatedtothe1
st
Intl.WorkshoponVisualLanguagesheldinHiroshimain1984.Anewresearchdomainwaschartedwiththeideathatgraphicalandpictorialrepresentationofcertaindataandinformationcouldbetterenablecomprehensionandmanipulationbyhumansubjects.Today,IEEESymposiumonVisualLanguagesandHuman-CentricComputingisthemajoreventforknowledgeexchangeinthisfield.
 
eLearning Papers • www.elearningpapers.eu •
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 Nº 9 • July 2008 • ISSN 1887-1542
 

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