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Instructional Videocasts: Facilitating Learning in a Mobile World
Transcript of Instructional Videocasts: Facilitating Learning in a Mobile World
One apprentice/One master
Now sixteen apprentices/one master This has been extended to mobile devices including mobile phones in recent years, but with varied success, mainly due to problems with wifi (Wireless Fidelity) availability and connection (Shudong & Higgins, 2006; Arrigo et al., 2008; Cochrane, 2008). Most new mobile phones now have the capacity to take a memory card of at least 1GB in size which can store hours of video. Maniar points out that “Video can cater for different learning styles, specifically students who are ‘visual learners’ (Maniar 2008, p.53), and as Gray (2009) has identified, bricklaying apprentices are mainly visual learners. The specific research question is “can using mobile phones to view instructional video demonstrations facilitate brick laying apprentices to achieve the practical learning outcomes for a module in arch construction and if so, to what degree?” This paper will begin by offering some background to the research topic.
Then a review of the literature on mLearning
The conceptual framework along with the methodology used for the study is then discussed. Also the methods used for the data analysis including the limitations and delimitations of the study are highlighted.
Finally a discussion of the findings, conclusions and recommendations are offered. Initial investigations into the field resulted in the creation of a number of short instructional video demonstrations in early 2009 which were embedded into theory lessons, and the benefits of using video demonstrations were evidenced first hand. Prensky says how hard it is “learning new ways to do old stuff”, and makes the point that “we have to invent, but not necessarily from scratch” and adapt materials to the language of the Digital Natives (Prensky 2001, p.4). The project explored phase six of the Irish standards based apprenticeship system, which is one of the off-the-job phases.
The intention was to support the learning of phase six apprentice students by investigating whether a selection of videocasts delivered via mLearning facilitated or transformed their learning. This was to address a difficulty identified by the teacher-researcher with the level of practical learning outcomes achieved by bricklaying apprentices on a module in arch construction.
The reasons for these difficulties were as follows:
1.The class size of sixteen students to one teacher decreased the amount of support time a teacher could spend with each individual student and;
2.Allocated face-to-face tutoring time was also too short to be effective as there were a large amount of techniques and skills to be mastered.
There are a number of factors to take into consideration: best practice for teaching practical psychomotor skills is through using demonstrations for modelling, drill and practice and rote learning (Toohey, 1999); cognition and reflection is also required for mastering these skills (as cited in Reece & Walker, 2000); situated learning is better (Whitaker, 2005) so demonstrations were needed in the workshop; and as Gray (2009) has identified, bricklaying apprentices are mainly visual learners. The idea was to address these issues by creating eleven short instructional video demonstrations, which could be stored and accessed by the students on their own mobile phones, a process similar to what Evans et al. previously suggested (2005). The memory cards in the student’s phones were utilised for this.
Okolo (2006) recommends using short clips five minutes long or less; so:
1.The clips are kept bite size, to aid students’ attention span; and
2.To minimise the size of the video file for transferring and storing.
These videos were created using a Nokia N95 mobile phone which produced good quality up-close demonstrations.
A blended approach was taken for the delivery as recommended by Fill & Ottewill (2006) and by Bowman & Kearns (2009) .
There are many large projects and studies in mLearning which have been carried out in various parts of the world; discussing these in detail however is beyond the scope of this paper.
Instead, some of the main issues that have emerged in mLearning research over the past few years which are pertinent to the research objectives of the project will be discussed. “Mobile learning is a relatively new research area, with the first research projects appearing in the second half of the 1990s and the first international research conferences less than a decade ago” (Vavoula & Sharples, 2008, p.196).
It can be claimed that the two main areas of focus in all of this research have been technical and pedagogical. It has been reported that ubiquitous access to the Internet or lack of access can seriously affect the uptake and success rate of mLearning (Anderson & Blackwood, 2004).
In recent times 3G (3rd Generation) phones with Internet access via GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) has helped with this problem but this also has limitations and cost factors (Shudong & Higgins, 2006). Technical issues are dictated mainly by the choice of mobile device.
Traxler (2005) suggests that “support for student and staff members’ own devices is one way that institutions can reduce pressure on their own resources” (p.4).
Shuler (2009) goes further by saying “Relying on features that are more common on less-expensive phones will help ensure that mobile technologies can help close rather than amplify the digital divide” (p.7). How best to use mLearning from a pedagogical point of view is paramount.
Different learning theories and some eLearning theories have been adopted for mLearning, (Siemens, 2004; Naismith et al., 2004; Botha & Ford, 2008).
In the past, “the negating of the importance of the pedagogical implications for a mobile learning environment has proven disastrous” (Botha et al., 2008, p.45) and in some cases has lead to “almost total lack of adoption by users” (Er & Kay, 2005, p.322). Preskey (2004) articulates his thoughts on the digital divide: “can cell phones really provide their owners with the knowledge, skills, behaviours, and attitudes that will help them succeed in their schools, their jobs, and their lives? I maintain that the only correct answer to the question of what students can learn with a cell phone is anything, if we educators design it right.” (p. 3). For this research study, Laurillard’s conversational framework (1993) was used in order to frame the learning scenario for which the videos were used in the workshop. She suggests that “teaching is a rhetorical activity: it is mediated learning, allowing students to acquire knowledge of some one else’s way of experiencing the world” (p.29).
The framework is used to illustrate this mediation through conversation and reiteration of understandings between the teacher and student. Sharples et al. (2006) advocate the use of conversational theory for application within mobile learning.
They argue that the use of technology “may provide or enrich the environment in which conversations take place” and that it can also “demonstrate ideas or offer advice at the level of descriptions” (p. 8) similar to the use of video in this study. So the conversational framework was used to facilitate the learning cycle within the workshop and optimize the time available for learning.
The idea was that students use the instructional video demonstrations on their mobile phones to progress through the various stages of the conversational framework and learn the tasks for building the segmental arch with the support of the teacher-researcher in the workshop. McNiff (2002) articulates that “sometimes we say we believe in something, but are unable to live according to what we believe” (p.13). Whitehead (1989) calls this “the experience of holding educational values and the experience of their negation”.
He describes this as a “living contradiction within the presentation of a claim to educational knowledge” (p.2).
According to McNiff, action research is about finding “ways of overcoming the contradiction so that we might live more fully in the direction of our values” (p.13). McNiff (2002, p.2) outlines the process
of action research saying Over the ten week period of phase 6 of an apprenticeship in brick and stone laying in January 2010, the following project was carried out.
In week one the students were provided with an overview of the research project and a statement of informed consent was completed by each student. Technical information was obtained about the students phones and it was identified that all sixteen students’ phones had the capacity to take a memory card and play videos The eleven videocast demonstrations were placed on the memory cards of the students phones using a multi card reader.
During week two and three the students were directed and guided to use the video demonstrations on their phones while building the segmental arch in the workshop. Analyses was carried out on data collected in weeks three and four from a questionnaire, a practical assessment and a research diary.
In week four the questionnaire was distributed to all sixteen students to obtain their experiences of using the videos.
Following on from that a focus group interview was held with five students. This was used to fill in any gaps identified in the dataset. The questionnaire addressed four key topics:
1.Patterns of mobile use;
2.Appeal of mLearning;
3.Ease of usability including technical issues and
4.Perceived effectiveness of instructional videos for learning
The practical assessment sheet was designed to evaluate specifically the practical learning outcomes addressed in this study. The focus group interview was used to explore the students perception of how effective the videos were for learning including the specific ways they found them effective. A research diary was kept throughout the duration of the project which helped to inform the findings of the study from the teacher-researcher’s perspective. They suggest using a variety of methods for data collection along with implementing a continual cycle of reduction and display in order to draw and verify conclusions from the dataset. Results from the questionnaire showed that 75% of the students viewed the videos both at home and in the workshop on their mobile phones.
Eighty percent (80%) watched them at least twice and 25% more than twice.
All of the students viewed the videos by themselves. The student who did score the highest in the class 98% was one of the students who viewed the videos the most amount of times (4).
He said “ having control of when and where to view the demonstrations and being able to look at them again and again was great” (student 10). Three other students viewed the videos more than twice, and it was noted by the researcher that in the workshop they were three of the weakest students but nevertheless they scored between 60%-75% and every 5% loss in the overall result was equivalent to only one millimetre of inaccuracy. They commented on the availability of the videos with one of them saying “I tend to forget instructions very quick, therefore the videos were very helpful!!” (student 13). It is fair to say that both the stronger and the weaker students found the videos effective for supporting their learning. There are five main themes presented in this section of the paper.
The first four were drawn from the initial apriori codes defined through the design of the survey questionnaire and the fifth is based upon the improved teaching and learning methods experienced by the participants of this study. All of the students liked using their phones for viewing the demonstrations and being able to view them more than once.
All of the students wanted more of these demonstrations on their phones for other jobs, a point which was brought up again and again in the focus group interview.
Ninety percent (90%) of them said they would like to use these types of video demonstrations out on site. Only 50% of the students agreed that they preferred the video demonstrations over the live ones.
However they expressed a need for both, saying “It’s good to have both and then if you get stuck you have your phone to fall back on and look” (student 3).
Macurik et al. had similar findings in their study on video training in comparison with live training (2008). The main technical issue that emerged in this study centred on the maximum bite rate and resolution of the video files supported by each type of phone. Through investigation and experimentation the researcher identified a standard video file format, bite rate and resolution that could be supported by all of the phones used in this study (see Table 1). As part of the emphasis on the study was on ease of use for other staff to implement the technology a free downloader and converter was used.
It was obtained from http://youtubedownload.altervista.org/. Files that are converted to 3GP with a maximum bite rate of 162 and resolution of 176 X 144 using the “optimal” visual setting and maximum audio setting with this specific YouTube file format converter, will give good quality videos which can be supported and played on all of the standard phones listed in table 1. From the perspective of access 85% of the students found it easy to access the videos on their phones. Forty percent (40%) of the students said they had difficulty with viewing the videos on the small screen which was identified as being the only real problem Maniar (2008) in his research on the effect of mobile phone screen size on video based learning, identified that students viewing videos on smaller screens learnt a significantly lower amount.
Nevertheless 95% of the students in this study found the picture quality of the videos good and Similar to Maniar’s research, this study found that all of the students had a positive overall opinion of mLearning. In audio terms 75% of the students said they found it easy to hear the videos on their phones. None of the students had any problems with the battery life on their phones or any problems with the storage space taken up by the videos. The specific methods used for filming with the mobile phones were taken from the Turning Point project on engaging youth in mobile learning, where Drummond suggests to “use close up shots, use minimal panning, overstate content, use strong lighting, use slow movements” (2007, p.10). In the questionnaire all of the students said the videos clearly showed them how to carry out the different tasks for building the arch.
They found them effective for learning how to build the arch and thought the number of videos and the amount of detail in the demonstrations effective for learning the skills required.
They all said that being able to view the demonstrations more than once helped to reinforce their learning and that viewing the videos helped them to build the arch correctly. The videos have given the students and the teacher extra time in class and learning resources.
It was noted in the research diary, that due to the extra learning material available to the students in the workshop via mLearning, a deeper and broader level of learning was evident than had been observed with previous groups of students who had taken this module. It is clear from the findings that this method of mLearning was student centred and allowed the students as stated by O’Neill & McMahon (2005) to have more control over their own learning. The practical orientation of the videos made the learning more authentic which was evident in the interview when the students said that the video they found the least helpful was the Arch Terms, which was a recording of a power point presentation. All of the students in the interview agreed that using the videos did not just save them time but in fact created more time for learning.
They also said using the video in the workshop “helps you to figure it out yourself” (student 5) and “you know how you are going wrong with the video” (student 3). They expanded on this by saying “You can interpret it into your own words not just the way it’s on the video that is you can put it into your own way of thinking” (student 3) and “you know sometimes it just doesn’t click with you, and you can watch it as many times as you want until it does click with you” (student 1). Laurillard (2002) talks about transformation of information for creating knowledge and it would appear that in part this is the process that the students were describing here. It would appear that the students used the videos to generate an internal dialogue which is better than having to engage with the teacher as this gave the students ownership of the learning (Duffy & Kirkley 2004). Due to the need for maintaining a pragmatic approach to the project, there was no use of wifi or internet connections for streaming of videos or any other type of learning media or materials.
Each student viewed the instructional videos on their own mobile phones which may have had different capabilities. Therefore the quality of the video resource might have differed for each student. This study made use of an existing facility and technology that most of today’s students own themselves, which are mobile phones with video capability.
It looked at utilising the memory card space on student phones and establishing the appropriate video formats supported by these phones along with reliable methods of transferring video files onto them. This action research study helped create a richer learning experience for these apprentice students, and made their learning further student centred by focusing more on the individual.
It situated the learning ‘on the ground’ in the workshop and provided just in time training on a one to one basis, thus allowing the student to progress at their own pace and allowed the teacher to focus more on specific individual student needs in the time available. It is the researcher’s intention to carry out further cycles of this study.
Now that the researcher has moved closer to living more fully in the direction of his educational values as Mc Niff (2002) highlights it would be difficult to remain static in this area. An expansion and examination of these methods used in other trades would be beneficial for achieving findings that could be more generalised.
Another area which has been identified here is the potential to expand this research to the on the job phases of the apprenticeship system and beyond. Abstract This research paper initially outlines a problem identified by the teacher-researcher with phase six apprentice bricklaying students achieving psycomotor learning outcomes, mainly due to high student numbers and limited available workshop time. A possible solution to this problem is presented through the facilitation of the students in using instructional video demonstrations on mobile phones to optimise the time available on this key component of their apprenticeship study. The research objectives span four key areas for apprentice education in this emerging age of mobile learning: 1.identification of patterns of mobile use, 2.gauging of the appeal of mLearning, 3.ease of usability (which includes technical issues with mLearning) and 4.student’s perception of effectiveness of instructional videocasts for learning. The data for the study was analysed by following Miles & Huberman’s (1994) interactive model of data analysis.