miércoles, 16 de septiembre de 2009

The Psychology of Learning Environments

First, I will analyze our Moodle course management system according to the model of usability criteria.

Learnability: The Moodle course management system has a good capability that enables both teachers at the university as well as students to learn how to use it. This user interface can be learned quickly and effectively. Moodle is easy to learn because it has been designed to be easy to use based on students’ psychological properties, and because it is familiar, which means that it follows standards and its design follows students’ real world experience.

Efficiency: The rate or speed at which Moodle enables students to accurately and successfully complete a task is excellent. Both the consistent response time and the fast response time are good. Experienced Moodle users can accomplish certain tasks easy once they have learned the platform design.

Memorability: Moodle users can remember how to use the management system quickly and accurately. Moodle has incorporated a design that enables users to quickly recall what they have learned and also enables them to easily go around the platform the next time they use it. Moodle has a high learnability and this makes it even higher in memorability..

Errors: Moodle has few errors if any and this indicates that it is difficult for users to cause errors, and that even if errors occur, they are easily recovered. It seems to me that the people behind Moodle know that it is crucial to minimize errors in the management system. It is clear that confusing button layouts and error messages have been reevaluated making it difficult for us users to make a mistake. Moodle designer should make sure that if an error does occur, the platform design should allow the user to recover from the error without assistance, as much as possible.

Satisfaction: The degree of enjoyment that we Moodle users experience when visiting it is high. This usability characteristic is especially important for us who are willing to learn but at the same time want to be in some way relaxed and if possible entertained. We users who visit Moodle want to spend time learning and enjoying the learning experience, so we measure satisfaction in terms of enjoyment value as well as the speed at which we can accomplish our tasks. I do hope that to keep users coming back to Moodle, the designers keep on increasing satisfaction levels so that the platform is enjoyable and offers an active and rich learning experience.

After choosing a familiar physical learning environment and a virtual learning environment, I analyzed and compared them according to the 4 cognitive determinants of environmental preference.


A. My school’s library
(Familiar physical learning environment)

B. Virtual Sabana
(virtual learning environment)

Cognitive determinants of environmental preference.

Coherence (The ease with which a setting can be organized cognitively)

A. This physical learning environment frequently offers difficulty, hardship, or effort to some users, especially young learners as not all the books, magazines and other resources are arranged into a purposeful, sequential or spatial order or structure.

B. This virtual learning environment is free from difficulty as we users can work with many people at the same like in a virtual office. It has been created with an efficient electronic setting. This well-organized virtual workspace helps to make the flow of our cognitive work smoother and easier. We are more efficient in completing our intellectual work in a systematic way like this one.

Complexity (The perceived capacity of the setting to occupy interest and stimulate activity)

A. Basically there are two aspects which do not make this setting as interesting and stimulating to students as virtual environments:
Hours of Operation:The library is open only a set number of hoursTime restrictions:Checked-out materials must be returned

B. It has a good capacity to occupy students’ interest and stimulate their activity because it offers up-to-date news about subjects and topics in which students are interested; it is convenient as it can be accessed through a wireless device; there is a diversity of information and it offers the possibility to download and edit text and images and requires minimal computer skills.

Legibility (Perceived ease of use)

A. The traditional physical learning environment such as the school library in this case, is limited by storage space; does not have the potential to store much more information like a digital one, simply because digital information require very little physical space to contain them. The cost of maintaining a digital library is much lower than that of a traditional library. A traditional library must spend large sums of money paying for staff, book maintenance, rent, and additional books. Some users also find more difficulty, hardship, and effort to use it.

B. This virtual learning environment offers ease of use since the users feel confidence about the system security and because the users become more familiar with electronic resources. Enjoyment needs are also better met by users than those provided at the physical leaning environment.

Mystery (The perception that entering the setting would lead to increased learning, interaction, or interest)

A. As soon as users enter this physical learning environment, they already know what they can expect: books in shelves, encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesaurus, grammar books, etc. There are not many options for interaction and students’ interest decreases.

B. Entering the Virtual Sabana virtual learning environment leads users to increased learning, interaction, and interest as they find more options for different learning styles and collaborative work; students can interact with others and share experiences to gain more knowledge about a common topic or students can work on their own and use the tools available to carry out their tasks successfully and fully motivated.

Categories of E-learning

Here is my relation to each of the 7 categories of e-learning to my personal experience. I have been involved in educational experiences within the following categories:

Courses (as a student): Once I had the chance to take an online course called Desktop Computing. This online e-learning course covered common desktop computer applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. What I liked about it is that I learned about operating systems, the Internet, and much more. The course included features such as flash-based instructional demonstrations; instructional audio with graphics; exercises that allowed me to practice in the actual application being studied, sample files that included sample documents, application files, programs, and programming code that enabled me to practice with these files, enhancing my learning experience. The course was also challenging because it had a variety of question formats, including multi-step simulations, true/false, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank exercises.
Informal learning (as a teacher): My students need for information has taken me to encourage them to search for the information they need using search engines and personal knowledge management tools, especially blogs. I have used these tools with my students at the school and I have encourage them to use them at home where they learn a lot on their own. This has helped students to discover by themselves how to do homework and carry out school projects through informal learning by means of observing different web sites and using tools such as e-mail and blogs to ask questions to other classmates or even experts in some fields that are available in the Web.
Blended learning (as a student): The blended learning courses that I have taken in the Master’s program like the SOLRC I we took last semester provided me an excellent opportunity for learning about language resource centers by means of combining both classroom and e-learning sessions as this blended learning involved face-to-face sessions and online learning. This method made it easier for me to learn more about this subject because of the increased discussions and information reviews that we had to do outside the classroom. The instructors that we had in this blended course encouraged us to socialize through their direction and facilitation and they used the best of the Studium resource center with the best of online learning.
Communities (as a teacher): There is no need to separate students in time and space when we use e-learning resources; it can be overcome by building environments where students talk to one another, build relationships, and teach one another. This I have been trying to do with grade seven students to whom I am teaching religion. I have tried one key idea that maybe has been overlooked in the design and implementation of many e-learning programs, and it is that learning is fundamentally both social and experiential. In this case I have used wikis and blogs and taken into account the context of the learning and all of the elements that comprise the experience around the major religions of the world, and I have encouraged my students to work collaboratively online looking for real knowledge about this topic and creating communities of learning where to my surprise, high levels of student satisfaction have been generated.
Knowledge management (neither as a student nor as a teacher)
Learning networks (as a teacher colleague): In the department where I work, we have created a learning community around a particular goal which is the preparation for international exams such as TOEFL and the TKT (Teacher Knowledge Test). A group of English teachers and I planned and developed a network in order to study and share experiences related to teaching English as a second language with a challenge in mind: taking the TKT exam as a result of this learning network. The use of this colleague learning network allowed us to learn more about our teaching field and to obtain good results in this international test for teachers.
Work-based learning (Neither as a student nor as a teacher): Our school has considered the possibility of providing more rigorous and expansive work-based learning opportunities to students. Work-based learning is one option that the school is considering for providing meaningful and engaged learning for them, but to provide work-based learning experiences for all students, we know that our teachers first must develop a better understanding of work-based learning options.

jueves, 10 de septiembre de 2009

Task 2.2.4: The Role of Community

The concept of community itself is important. A community such as the one in which I work, is a group of interacting people who share an educational environment. The same applies to the NLE community in which we have been sharing knowledge about new learning environments interacting meaningfully. There are some conditions that a human community like ours has that affect the identity of the members and their degree of cohesiveness; aspects such as personality, personal beliefs, resources, preferences and needs, among others. In our NLE environment, we are a group of learners with a common purpose which is to learn more about new options we have as educators related to learning environments; we share knowledge and values using different ways such as virtual forums, wikis, blogs, and other technological tools guided by a community leader who takes us to reach the goals that have been set.

The community as a context for learning, whether physical or virtual is that in which its members share experiences meaningfully helping others to acquire more knowledge under the leadership of someone who, like in our NLE community, makes sure everyone participates and is given the chance to contribute and receive feedback. In our case, this happens within a virtual learning environment where we find a set of teaching and learning tools that help us enhance our students’ learning experience by including computers and the Internet in their learning process. Some components that we have been included in our NLE community are: curriculum mapping (the curriculum has been broken into sections or modules that can be assigned and assessed), student tracking, online support, electronic communication (e-mail, threaded discussions, chat, wiki and blog publishing), and Internet links to outside curriculum resources.

Collaborative work and the presence of coalescence are also important issues related to the role of community. Socializing, meeting people, playing around, sharing jokes, stories and just taking interest in each other are just a few examples. Communities foster their members to work together as we do in our NLE online community in which we have a sense of group. We build our team keeping in touch and working on projects together using different ways to communicate just the way other community groups such as sport teams, school groups and others do by using online forums for information and discussion, which help the groups together. Our NLE community is very important to all of us who share educational interests and issues for the benefit of our learners who form the nucleus of our online community.