Welcome to Croatia, and to the 11th Networked Learning Conference

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Parallel Session 2 - Ban Jelačić [clear filter]
Monday, May 14

4:15pm CEST

The relationship between age, technology acceptance model and grades obtained in the training of professional emergency services
This contribution reports on findings from a study on firefighters’ grades obtained in technology-supported training courses in Catalonia. The role of firefighters has changed dramatically over the past few years and will continue to do so as modernization progresses. This will have implications for everything associated with the service and in particular in relation to the type and delivery of basic training. The wider role of rescue work and the demands of community fire prevention require skills that need to be taught in a different manner. A review of current research concerning distance learning (Holmgren, 2015) and the use of digital technologies shows that there are few studies on firefighter training. This paper aims to describe and analyse the relationships between the firefighters’ age, the intention to use technology to learn and the grades obtained obtained in online training courses. To explain the influence of digital literacy on individuals’ intention to pursue online learning, we integrate the concept of digital literacy with the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (measured using the TAM2 questionnaire). Technology-supported distance learning is an increasingly common mode in practical professional training courses. In line with this development, campus-based firefighter training in Catalonia is implemented using a distance mode and blended courses. Data has been analysed from two courses carried out in a Moodle environment, one of which was delivered in a blended learning mode for aspiring firefighters and another was presented in e-learning mode for active firefighters with different levels of experience. The total number of participants was 247. The results obtained when analysing the variables of age, grade obtained and TAM2 scores show that there is no significant relationship between them. However, we have found a relationship in the case of the intention to use technology for learning and the grade obtained in the course. The results suggest that the acceptance and, therefore, the use of technology does not depend on the student’s age. We have found a positive relationship in the case of students on the Basic Training Course for Firefighters in the Intention to Use (IU), Perceived Usefulness (PU) and Voluntariness (V) scales referring to the grades they obtained.

Monday May 14, 2018 4:15pm - 4:40pm CEST
Ban Jelačić Hotel Dubrovnic, Zagreb
  Parallel Session 2 - Ban Jelačić, Paper
  • Key Words Firefighters, training, emergency services, e-learning, blended learning, TAM2

4:40pm CEST

Understanding and Identifying Cognitive Load in Networked Learning
This paper considers cognitive load theory (CLT) in the context of networked learning (NL).  It aligns with NL practitioners' efforts to understand and eliminate barriers to learning in NL situations.  The ideas presented are based on the premise that by recognising and either minimising or eliminating instances of unnecessary cognitive load in NL situations educators can improve learners’ abilities to acquire and develop schema and, in doing so, educators can support learning in NL situations.  The presentation brings together current thinking in cognitive load theory and descriptions of key aspects of NL to identify and describe of potential instances of cognitive load experienced by networked learners.
The paper is structured in three main sections: The first section provides the background to our exploration of CLT in the context of NL.  It includes an overview of CLT and its development; an overview of NL; and a definition of the problem this paper seeks to address, namely, that NL situations include a number of instances of cognitive load which may not be present in other (e.g., face-to-face; on-campus) learning situations.  The second section explores common features of NL and identifies potential sources of cognitive load in NL situations.  It is organised according to key features of the 'architecture' of NL:  the learning environment; learning tasks and learner activity.  By identifying potential instances of cognitive load, the presentation provides a basis for, firstly, understanding cognitive load in NL; and, secondly, addressing it. Key sources of cognitive load referenced in this paper include the presentation of information in NL situations; the use of mediating technologies; the demands of managing information in connected environments; the load associated with technology-mediated social activity, including computer-mediated communication; the presentation of learning tasks; and the demands of 'learning to learn' in NL situations.  The third section of the paper identifies a potential research agenda to guide further explorations of CLT in NL including: research into technical aspects of NL to improve the presentation of information and computer interfaces; research into the use of instructional design techniques sympathetic to CLT and specifically targeting NL and engagement tasks; research to understand learning to learn online in NL from a CLT perspective.

Monday May 14, 2018 4:40pm - 5:05pm CEST
Ban Jelačić Hotel Dubrovnic, Zagreb
  Parallel Session 2 - Ban Jelačić, Paper
  • Key Words cognitive load theory, cognitive load, instructional design

5:05pm CEST

Distributed learning and isolated testing: tensions in traditional assessment practices
Traditional assessment in higher education often measures performance in controlled conditions, isolating students from the people and many of the resources they have interacted with in the process of learning. While a desire to maximise reliability and standardise the measurement of ability is understandable, there is a danger that such practices privilege internal, individual and abstract forms of knowledge at the expense of contextualised, collective and adaptive practices. Most university graduates will need to be effective networked learners, using social and material resources to adapt to changing and complex workplace settings and, increasingly, digital networks. If we accept that assessment is an important driver of learning, then it follows that assessments in which students are able to make use of available resources and networks, may afford a more appropriate preparation for future employment, particularly in light of an increasing need to adapt to technological change.
In this paper, we draw on ideas from distributed cognition, in which processes of thinking are shared across people, tools and objects, to question traditional assessment practices. To ground our discussion, we present findings from a thematic analysis of blog posts of MSc Clinical Education students (made up of clinical educators from a variety of nationalities and disciplines) about the process of learning a novel motor skill. While these students tended to consider mastery of the skill to involve the ability to perform it without the help of people or supporting resources (instructions, images, video demonstrations, etc.), our analysis shows that there was often no clear boundary between supported and unsupported performance and that a requirement to reduce dependency on supportive networks and materials could be a barrier to development. Further, the acknowledgement by many students that learning and performance are contextual leads us to the conclusion that, while reducing reliance on resources may help to stabilise some forms of knowledge, it may also reduce opportunities to develop effective practices and the adaptive capacity to integrate into complex social and technological environments. In conclusion, we call for the development of assessments in which students are not only allowed but encouraged to make effective use of networks, technologies, environments and artefacts in ways that test both understanding and the ability to operate as components of distributed systems.


Monday May 14, 2018 5:05pm - 5:30pm CEST
Ban Jelačić Hotel Dubrovnic, Zagreb
  Parallel Session 2 - Ban Jelačić, Paper
  • Key Words Assessment, Districuted Cognition, Situated Learning

5:30pm CEST

Visualising the code: a study of student engagement with programming in a distance learning context
Programming is a subject that many students find difficult and it may be particularly challenging for distance learning students working largely on their own. Many ideas have been put forward in the literature to explain why students struggle with programming, including: the relative unfamiliarity of computer programming or ‘radical novelty’ (Dijkstra, 1989), cognitive load (Shaffer, 2004) and that the whole learning environment may be influential (Scott & Ghinea, 2013).
This paper reports on the first phase of a project, ‘Visualising the code’, which is investigating the impact of using a visual programming language on student engagement with programming. We used as our case-study, TU100 ‘My digital life’ which is a level 1 undergraduate Computer Science module in the Open University (UK). The rationale for this work stems from the necessity of developing an introductory undergraduate module that will engage students of widely differing prior levels of experience in terms of programming and of education generally. In TU100, the module team introduced a visual programming environment, based on Scratch (MIT, 2007), called ‘Sense’ which is used in conjunction with an electronic device, the SenseBoard.
We analysed the grades of 6,159 students in the final assessment across six presentations of the module to identify student performance in the programming task, as distinct from their overall performance on the module. The aim was to explore whether there was any difference between student engagement with the programming task in comparison with non-programming tasks. Early results suggest that there is no significant difference in levels of engagement between these tasks, and it appears that success, or otherwise, in one type of task is a good predictor of engagement with the other task.
There are implications for networked learning of this work, given that the learning environment encompasses: the student’s own home or other space, both printed books and digital learning materials, a programming environment linked to a physical device (i.e. the SenseBoard) and communications networks that link students to their peers and to their tutors. The learning environment also includes support through face-to-face and online tutorials and other online resources, such as forums.
In the next phase of the project we will analyse the textual comments made by TU100 students in the end of module survey to evaluate their views on the visual programming environment.

Monday May 14, 2018 5:30pm - 5:55pm CEST
Ban Jelačić Hotel Dubrovnic, Zagreb
  Parallel Session 2 - Ban Jelačić, Paper
  • Key Words Visual Programming, Student Engagement, Distance Learning, Computer Science Education, Scratch