Learning Engineering

Creating Educational Technologies

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7131EDN Learning Engineering

Online Tutorial

This week we will:

  • Explore the process of Instructional Design;

  • Unpack the development of Learning Engineering; and

  • Examine the concept of a Universal Design for Learning.

Educational Technologies

The course 7134EDN Educational Technologies Research explores the history and nature of Educational Technologies in greater detail, but for those students not studying or completed 7134EDN, we will briefly explore what Educational Technologies involve, and provide you with a range of possible Educational Technologies to enable you to develop an Instructional Guide for an Educational Technology, explore two specific EdTechs that this course focuses on - Educational Computer Games, and Artificial Intelligence applications, create your own Educational Game and AI application, and by the end of the course, propose your own new Educational Technology.

So first up, what does Educational Technology mean to you?

Post an answer to this questions now:

While there exists a range of definitions that are constantly evolving, Educational Technology is generally defined "as the use of both physical hardware, software, and educational theory to facilitate learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." Currently, the field is incorporating the ethical use of technology into definitions of Educational Technology, such as "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources". The main point is that while the hardware and software are important, the processes of using these are also significant when considering Educational Technology, i.e. the process of writing, while not necessarily involving the use of hardware or software, is still an Educational Technology, and while Educational Technologies are fundamentally just tools, their application or not, give rise to ethical implications. As an example, the use of automated testing may advantage or disadvantage certain students.

What other ethical implications arise from Educational Technologies?

You will be familiar with a wide range of Educational Technologies, but perhaps not their scope. Language, writing, printing, film, photocopiers, etc. are all Educational Technologies when applied to improving the teaching and learning process. Today, we often think of online, web-based tools or mobile devices, but these have only existed for the last 20 years, the application of tools to improve teaching and learning has been part of the human experience for millennia.

During this course, you are going to explore a couple of Educational Technologies in-depth - Educational Computer Games and Artificial Intelligence chatbots, but first, you are going to explore an Educational Technology in depth yourself and report back on this as your first assignment. To provide a structure for this, you are going to create a 2-page guide to how to use this Educational Technology, and you will find more details in the Instructional Guide assessment task.

To assist you in identifying an Educational Technology to develop a guide for, here are some collections:

Instructional Design

Educators employed in roles supporting others in their use of Educational Technologies are often called Instructional Designers. Instructional design or Learning Design is the practice of systematically designing, developing and delivering instructional products and experiences, both digital and physical, in a consistent and reliable fashion toward an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring acquisition of knowledge. The process consists broadly of determining the state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some "intervention" to assist in the transition. The outcome of this instruction may be directly observable and scientifically measured or completely hidden and assumed. There are many instructional design models but most are based on the ADDIE model with five phases: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Another well-known instructional design model is the Dick and Carey Systems Approach Model:

Learning Design

Much of the work on Learning Design focuses on technology to automatically "run" a sequence of student activities (sometimes facilitated by an educator), but an activity in a Learning Design generally could be conducted without technology. Hence, a particular Learning Design may be a mixture of online and face-to-face tasks ("blended learning") or it could be conducted entirely face-to-face with no computers (in this case, the particular Learning Design acts as a standardised written description of the educational process - like a K-12 lesson plan). One way to think of a Learning Design system is as a workflow for individual or collaborative activities. A particular Learning Design is like an educational recipe for a teacher - it describes ingredients (content) and instructions (process).

While Learning Design is naive from the perspective of professional educators with many years of experience with a wide range of educational theory and practice, it does provide a simple instructivist framework for other professions preparing educational material, particularly when facilitated by the use of educational technologies.

Learning Design theory is an attempt to describe the foundational elements of the educational process. It provides conceptual and technical tools to describe who is involved in a learning activity, what resources are required for the activity, how the activity is conducted, and most importantly, how a collection of activities are structured into a Learning Design (also called a unit of learning, sequence of learning activities, digital lesson plan, etc). Two distinguishing features ofLearning Design are (1) Learning Designs are in machine-readable formats so that they can be run by software systems, and (2) the ability to store Learning Designs, and hence share them, search for them, re-use them, and adapt them.

Key Elements

While there are many Learning Design frameworks, the properties required for an operational learning design are generally:

  • A sequence of TLAs (Teaching, Learning, Assessment).

  • The time expected for each TLA; and

  • The tools and resources required by the learners to complete the TLA's.

Elements of learning design can be represented in several ways, e.g. using tables, hypertexted forms, or concept maps such as CompendiumLD, however the vast majority of educators use a wordprocessor to develop their Learning Designs.

While most teachers and academics develop simple Learning Designs as a natural process of planning their teaching, they have become particularly used by Educational Designers in higher education, the military and training organisations, where experts in Educational Technologies are employed to assist in the development of instructional material.

In this context, Learning Designs:

  • acts as a means of eliciting designs from academics in a format that can be tested and reviewed by others involved in the design process, i.e. a common vocabulary and understanding of learning activities;

  • provides a method by which designs can be reused in other courses and contexts, seperate from sharing content;

  • guide individuals through the process of creating new learning activities;

  • help create an audit trail of academic (and production) design decisions;

  • highlight policy implications for staff development, resource allocation, quality, etc; and

  • when provided, aid learners and tutors to understand complex learning activity sequences.

Educational Designers, while generally focused on instructivist processes, do explore other pedagogical approaches, and the process of Learning Design with academics and teachers is commonly used to introduce not just new technologies, but new ways of teaching (pedagogy).

Learning Engineering

The main limitation of Learning or Instructional Design is that it is focused on an Instructivist and Behavioural understanding of learning and teaching. In trying to shift pedagogical practices, Learning Designers will often champion constructivist and constructionist approaches, particularly where supported by collaborative Learning Technologies, but these are rarely evident in their own practice of Learning Design. Advances in our understanding of the brain and cognitivist approaches to teaching and learning have gained some traction however, and this has developed into Learning Engineering, combining cognitivism, learning technology, and instructional design, with a strong metaphor of not just designing, but engineering the learning process.

Learning Engineering involves an understanding of:

  • Current and historical product trends and the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of learning technology implementations.

  • Data standards and regulations around learning data and privacy.

  • Best practices in technical project management and in the design of learning technologies and learning ecosystems.

  • The factors contributing to success and failure in the design, development, deployment, and outcomes of learning technologies.

Current areas of focus for Learning Engineering include:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Adaptive Learning Technologies

  • xAPI and Learning Analytics

  • Competency Frameworks and Certification

  • Learning Technology Data Standards

  • Data Governance and Privacy in Learning Contexts

  • Learning Experience Design

  • Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Realities from the Learning Perspective

Design-Based Learning

Design-based learning (DBL) or design-based instruction, is an inquiry-based pedagogy, that is based on integration of design thinking and the design process into the classroom at the K-12 and post-secondary levels. Design-based learning environments can be found across many disciplines, including those traditionally associated with design (e.g. art, architecture, engineering, interior design, graphic design), as well as others not normally considered to be design-related (science, technology, business, humanities). DBL, as well as project-based learning and problem-based learning, are commonly used to teach 21st century skills such as communication and collaboration and foster deeper learning.

Deeper learning in this context is supported when students design and create an artifact that requires understanding and application of knowledge. DBL activity supports iteration as students create, assess, and redesign their projects. The work's complexity often requires collaboration and specialized roles, providing students with the opportunity to become “experts” in a particular area. Design projects require students to establish goals and constraints, generate ideas, and create prototypes through storyboarding or other representational practices. Robotics competitions in schools are popular design-based learning activities, wherein student teams design, build and then pilot their robots in competitive challenges.

Educational Technologies can support Design-based Learning, providing a range of tools for students to use in collaboration and communication, but Instructional Design and Learning Engineering struggles with the open nature of inquiry based approaches, that cannot be generally preplanned as students are the main decision-makers in the process.

Learning Science

Learning Engineering has been developed further into the Learning Sciences, which incorporates not just Design processes, but a wider understanding of the underlying systems that occur in any learning environment or experience, and how these many interdisciplinary systems interact. While we will not be examining Learning Sciences further in this course, if you are interested in this, it is explored in the T2 course 7170EDN Innovations in Technologies for Learning and Practice (Transformational Educational Technologies).

Learning sciences (LS) is an interdisciplinary field that works to further scientific, humanistic and critical theoretical understanding of learning as well as to engage in the design and implementation of learning innovations, and the improvement of instructional methodologies. Research in the learning sciences traditionally focuses on cognitive-psychological, social-psychological, cultural-psychological and critical theoretical foundations of human learning, as well as on the design of learning environments. Major contributing fields include cognitive science, computer science, educational psychology, anthropology, and applied linguistics.

By approaching Learning Design from a more complex systems approach, Learning Science has the potential to facilitate the design of inquiry-based learning experiences, particularly when supported by Educational Technologies that individualise support for students such as emerging AI systems that can cope with students dynamically making decisions that could not have been predicted by Instructional Designers.

Universal Design for Learning

Meeting the individual needs of learners in inquiry-based approaches has been greatly supported by the development of a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - an educational framework to guide the development of flexible learning environments and learning spaces that can accommodate individual learning differences.

Recognising that the way individuals learn can be unique, the UDL framework calls for creating curriculum from the outset that provides:

  • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge;

  • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know; and

  • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners' interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.

The curriculum in this context has four parts: instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments.

UDL was originally intended to increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organisational barriers to learning, but the UDL principles also lend themselves to implementing inclusionary practices in all learning environments and facilitating the use of inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning.

Educational Technology has been a driver of UDL, setting verifiable standards for inclusive instructional material, and a framework to reduce other barriers to learning. The accessible nature of Educational Technologies by other than teachers and students within organisations provides the mechanism by which UDL requirements can be enforced, but also opens up the Instructional Development process to Instructional Designers that can support the development of inclusive learning resources, for example, providing transcriptions of lesson recordings, high contrast diagrams, or translation of resources into other languages. Educational Technologies are also evolving to support these processes, such as automatic transcription of video clips, language translation, and accessibility options for students with disability.