Ubiquitous Learning Materials (ULM) are educational supports and learning materials that can be fetched and operated on mobile. They are educational products such as videos, audios, PowerPoint presentations, notes, dictionaries and translation apps. Very often students will access them on their own devices such as mobile phones, android devices, iPads or laptops.
A ubiquitous learning environment is any setting in which students can become totally immersed in the learning process. So, a ubiquitous learning environment (ULE) is a situation or setting of pervasive or omnipresent education or learning.
Education is happening all around the student, but the student may not even be conscious of the learning process. Source data is present in the embedded objects and students do not have to DO anything in order to learn. They just have to be there. (Alsheail 2010)
Ubiquitous learning has shifted classroom potential from being teacher dependent to a blended environment where asynchronous learning arrangements make learning possible almost anywhere and at anytime. The outcome of this kind of learning changes the role of the teacher from being the primary source of information to facilitator and supervisor.
Taking advantage of the concept of the flipped classroom, the ubiquitous teaching environment frees the teacher so that he or she (or they in a team teaching situation) can pay adequate attention to every student. It also provides the student, their family and tutors with opportunities to access instructional materials at different times from different locations.
‘The goldfish in a bowl’.
Think of the ubiquitous learning environment as being like a goldfish in water. Even though the fish is confined to a goldfish bowl, he or she is not aware that the environment has been constructed specifically to provide a specific look and feel.
The environment is positively “valenced” in a particular way with specific outcomes in mind. For example the owner of the goldfish bowl may have “decked it out” with miniature shipwrecks for the fish to swim, trough and around. The fish does not even realise that everything in the environment effects it. The nonchalant fish simply “takes it in”.
What are the advantages of a ubiquitous learning environment?
As the world becomes more responsive to learning technologies, students will either be left behind or they will develop a love of learning. By flipping the classroom, and by training students to become peer tutors and assessors, teachers are partnering learners in a process that will prepare and encourage them to become avid lifelong learners. (Overmeyer Ac 20103)
If students experience learning at least one other language in a ubiquitous learning environment, they will automatically be able to see the benefit of ubiquity. Once they have seen the value of ever-present “just-in-time-support” they will certainly want to be able to achieve this level of support in other areas of their learning. (McKenzie 1998)
The educational trick of the 21st Century will be to persuade students that there is no end to what they can achieve. Students who learn how to learn, and learn how to collaborate within empowering environments will be able to take charge of their learning.
Once students begin to understand that they can access information from anywhere asynchronously, they will be less likely to value competition and become much more inclined to look for participatory situations where their efforts can be amplified by the teamwork integral to peer tutoring and peer-to-peer assessment. As students work and learn together to access and search for knowledge and information, they will become skillful at developing teams, organisation, time management and search and analytical skills.
Ubiquitous Environments make learning fun and remove stress by providing a safe environment for learners to interact with each other and with instructors. When the classroom has been ‘Flipped’ students have:
- Access to the technical aspects of their project at home
- To the materials in classroom if for some reason they get left behind
- Freedom to participate in creative project work within team situations in the classroom
Teachers are free to roam among the teams so that the environment is positively ‘valanced’ towards learning autonomy and creativity.
Preparing students for “real life”.
New technologies have become a part of our lives, and students need to learn how to use these technologies in order to prepare for their future careers. If the topic of research is “future careers” (for example) then it would be possible to provide a simulated ‘virtual world’ of employment so that students have a “taste” of the real world and the expectations of it. Your school IT department will be very keen to help teachers implement technology such as this, otherwise, there are plenty of external specialists that can help you, this being one of many examples – www.ourict.co.uk
The classroom will become a rich blend of ‘realia’ and virtual reality. Cash registers and fire extinguishers can be supplied along with a wealth of ‘virtual reality’ that the simulated world can supply. Teachers can use technology to create visuals (photos, drawings, flash cards), audios, videos, overheads, and PowerPoint presentations. On the other hand, students may elect to approach their research by making presentations using overheads, PowerPoint, or online journals. The Ubiquitous Learning Environment offers learners and teachers many cost-effective opportunities to present knowledge.
- Alsheail, Abdulrahman. (2010) “Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language in a Ubiquitous Learning Environment: A Guide for ESL/EFL Instructors.” MA Project. California State University, Chico.
- McKenzie,J. (1998) Creating Learning Cultures
with Just-in-Time Support. eSchool News.
- Vovermyer,J. (Ac 2013) The Flipped Classroom University of Northern Colarado.
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Susan has over a decades expereince working for various technology departments in the education sector. IN her space time, Susan likes to write blogs, such as this one!