Frontiers in Education: Digital Learning Innovations

Hybrid Teaching: Conceptualization Through Practice for the Post COVID19 Pandemic Education

3 days 20 hours ago

While a number of studies have previously conceptualized hybrid teaching, often used interchangeably with blended learning during the pre-COVID19 pandemic, hybrid teaching has been undertheorized and unexplored during and post-COVID19 pandemic when schools have slowly opened their classrooms for students. This paper explores the concept of hybrid teaching (also referred to as hybrid classroom instruction and hybrid learning) and how such teaching methodology is different from blended learning, fully online, and remote teaching by presenting a teacher’s practice during the COVID19 pandemic. Although our goal is to identify clearly what hybrid teaching is, we do not intend to offer a definite conceptualization and practice of hybrid teaching as teaching is context-dependent. However, we argue that hybrid teaching has the potential to be one of the teaching methodologies in the post COVID19 pandemic education, especially when schools and universities are in the transition back to residential classroom teaching.

Evaluation of a Virtual Campus Adapted to Web-Based Virtual Reality Spaces: Assessments of Teachers and Students

1 week 1 day ago

Educational institutions have continuously adapted to new realities in school education, accelerated recently by the COVID-19 pandemic’s transformation of learning modalities. This article analyzes teachers’ and Students’ acceptance of a web-based virtual reality (WebVR) tool called Virtual Campus proposed to overcome the limitations of teaching strategies using video conferencing platforms. To measure the acceptance of the Virtual Campus, we designed an instrument based on the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) that involves variables related to online contexts, the future perception of using the tool, skills development, and appreciation and recommendation. The results indicate that the participants favorably accepted WebVR technology as an alternative teaching methodology in emerging learning scenarios and intend to use it post-pandemic. The best-valued elements were interactions in the socialization spaces, the simulation of presence, and the environmental dynamics. The principal areas of opportunity for improvement were overcoming technical problems and improving the internet connection quality; however, these did not affect the participants’ recommendations. Future studies should incorporate variables related to analyzing learning mediated by WebVR-based strategies and using different methodological designs to compare the findings.

Learn to Machine Learn via Games in the Classroom

1 week 1 day ago

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are increasingly being adopted to create and filter online digital content viewed by audiences from diverse demographics. From an early age, children grow into habitual use of online services but are usually unaware of how such algorithms operate, or even of their presence. Design decisions and biases inherent in the ML algorithms or in the datasets they are trained on shape the everyday digital lives of present and future generations. It is therefore important to disseminate a general understanding of AI and ML, and the ethical concerns associated with their use. As a response, the digital game ArtBot was designed and developed to teach fundamental principles about AI and ML, and to promote critical thinking about their functionality and shortcomings in everyday digital life. The game is intended as a learning tool in primary and secondary school classrooms. To assess the effectiveness of the ArtBot game as a learning experience we collected data from over 2,000 players across different platforms focusing on the degree of usage, interface efficiency, learners' performance and user experience. The quantitative usage data collected within the game was complemented by over 160 survey responses from teachers and students during early pilots of ArtBot. The evaluation analysis performed in this paper gauges the usability and usefulness of the game, and identifies areas of the game design which need improvement.

Public Library Digital Competency Mapping 2019: A Survey on Digital Skills of Library Professionals With Different Qualifications

1 week 5 days ago

Social science researchers rarely can repeat a representative empirical study on an essentially identical sample in a relatively short time; to confirm the validity or, on the contrary, the invalidity of initial results. In the framework of the EFOP-3.3.3-VEKOP-16-2016-00001 “Museum and Library Development for All” grant scheme in Hungary, the flagship project “My Library,” implemented under the auspices of the Szabó Ervin Library in Budapest, allowed for two surveys to be conducted 2 years apart to assess the digital competence status of library professionals working in public libraries. This study seeks to answer the question of the impact of different educational levels on digital competence levels. Furthermore, it asks whether the results of the 2019 survey confirm the finding from 2017 that a higher education librarian degree, the librarian diploma, has a strong competence-increasing effect on each of the digital competence areas. Both studies are representative of the Hungarian public library sector. In the 2017 survey, 1,786 library professionals from different municipal libraries participated and in the 2019 survey, 1,868. As a result of the survey, an extremely rich data set is available, which allows for an accurate understanding of the digital skills of library professionals and the identification of areas for improvement or even the organization of targeted professional training.

Optimizing Education Processes During the COVID-19 Pandemic Using the Technology Acceptance Model

2 weeks 1 day ago

The COVID-19 epidemic has become a significant global obstacle as it has impacted people's lives in various sectors, including social, economic, and education. To respond to the shock caused to education systems, massive efforts—such as conducting formal education through online classes—have been made. This study has employed Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to examine this arena during the COVID-19 pandemic and has elaborated on how effectively the education system responded, especially through online lecturing. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was implemented as this study's theoretical framework. Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling was employed to measure and assess the proposed model. This study was conducted through a survey with 112 student participants in a postgraduate program between January and December 2021. The findings showed that (1) the TAM-based proposed variables have been successfully explained during the pandemic through factors predicting the use by an online class of postgraduate students, (2) significant effects were reported from perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness toward actual system use through behavioral intentions to use, (3) there were no significant results to show an indirect effect from perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness toward actual system use through behavioral intentions to use.

Factors Contributing to English as a Foreign Language Learners’ Academic Burnout: An Investigation Through the Lens of Cultural Historical Activity Theory

2 weeks 2 days ago

During the shift from face-to-face to online emergency classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) were under constant pressure to familiarize themselves with the once-in-many-generations learning context. Based on the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), this qualitative study investigated factors contributing to EFL learners’ academic burnout at Open University, Vietnam. The interviewees were seven students, two teachers, and two administrators recruited using a theoretical-based sampling technique. The data consisted of iterative rounds of interviews which lasted approximately 60 min each until the data saturation point was reached. The content analysis revealed six factors that impacted EFL learners’ physical and psychological exhaustion, including prolonged online learning time, privacy concerns and cyber-bullying, teachers’ role, institution’s role, and support community outside the classroom. Also, teachers’ insufficient preparation for online teaching and students’ academic misconduct during exams were factors that created EFL learners’ academic cynicism. Finally, participation in social networking sites’ extracurricular activities, participation checking, and cheating in exams affected the last dimension of academic burnout, the sense of academic achievement. Based on this study, the authority, administrators, and teachers can take a more proactive role in supporting students in curbing their academic burnout during this unprecedented pandemic. The authors also hope that this study can lay the foundation for further humanistic research into the EFL learner’s psychological world in online classes, particularly when each student’s social and cultural background is considered.

The Inclusion of Children on the Autism Spectrum in the Design of Learning Technologies: A Small-Scale Exploration of Adults’ Perspectives

2 weeks 2 days ago

This research explores the inclusion of children on the autism spectrum in the design of educational technology from the perspectives of adult co-designers. A group of five non-verbal children with a diagnosis of autism participated in a series of four design workshops over the course of 6 weeks. Using a participatory design approach, a small team of three teachers and two technology developers worked alongside the children to design a language development and literacy app for use in a special education classroom. The outcome of this process was a stand-alone education app that comprised many of the contributions made by children during the workshops. The inclusion of children with autism in technology design ensures the end-product reflects their education needs and requirements. Using a qualitative approach, this small-scale study sought to examine the participation of children with autism through the various stages of the design process from the perspectives of their teachers and technology designers. Data were collected through individual interviews and a focus group with teachers and technology designers. Three major themes emerged from thematic analysis: (1) valuing contribution; (2) the challenge of listening; and (3) ownership in outcome. Emerging subthemes highlight challenges described by teachers and designers in facilitating and maintaining meaningful participation in design activities and their efforts to address these. Findings emphasise the value of participation while questioning participatory practices for specific phases of design. The study explores the challenges of equalising power between adults and children with autism in participatory design projects. It uncovers tension between the desire to ensure the authentic participation of children with autism where communication and engagement is significantly compromised by the complexity of their disability. The small number of participants and the modest scope of this design project limit the generalisability of the findings. However, it points to the value of recognising children’s contributions and the importance of striving to incorporate these in the final design artefact.

T-MOOC for Initial Teacher Training in Digital Competences: Technology and Educational Innovation

2 weeks 2 days ago

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are perceived as emerging technologies for training and innovation in the educational context. They have become approaches for distance education in the face of the new challenges, changes, and crises experienced by the COVID-19 pandemic. They represent, in turn, new emerging opportunities as a response to the United Nations recommendations for open education and the development of sustainable goals. The presence of technologies in the development of educational tasks means that the acquisition of Digital Competences (DC) by teachers and students in training goes beyond the mere mastery of content and teaching methodologies. The research presented aims to analyze the educational possibilities of T-MOOCs for the development of DC in teachers, and as resources that favor autonomous and collaborative learning in innovative scenarios. The study sample is made up of 313 students of the Primary Education Degree at the University of Seville (Spain). For this purpose, two online questionnaires (Google Forms) were applied at the beginning of the course: the Digital Teaching Competence Questionnaire (DigCompEdu), and the Content Questionnaire: Digital Resources and Digital Pedagogy. The results obtained show that the students’ level of both digital competences and subject content is low to medium, so that training in educational technology is required for the acquisition of key digital competences. Based on the data obtained, the following actions are proposed: (a) The concretion of the contents structured by means of a learning guide and e-activities to be developed by the student body, taking into account the United Nations guidelines with regard to the Development of Sustainable Objectives; (b) The creation of a training and innovative environment under the T-MOOC architecture, based on open and distance learning due to the current health situation of COVID-19, which, on the one hand, empowers students to use digital tools, and on the other hand, facilitates the acquisition of the SDGs; and (c) The evaluation of the T-MOOC designed as a resource for autonomous, collaborative, guided learning in emerging contexts in which technologies and educational innovation play an important role for sustainable development.

Facilitating Mathematical Competencies Development for Undergraduate Students During the Pandemic Through ad-hoc Technological Learning Environments

3 weeks 2 days ago

In this article we show how to facilitate the development of mathematical skills using 3D surface visualization tools and virtual environments in an online, project-based learning context. The “Lumen” software is presented, which is an ad-hoc solution, designed and developed to visualize and combine mathematical surfaces in 3D, based on their associated equations. Several activities were designed with the use of Lumen, to measure the learning gain and problem-solving skills of the students, obtaining that a mean learning gain of 43% was observed on 242 students on the analysis of the pre- and post-tests for the first monitored activity, while a mean learning gain of 30% was observed on 210 students on the analysis of the second monitored activity. Based on these analyses, we make the point that although remote learning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic poses difficult challenges for learners and professors, the use of ad-hoc technological applications is an important resource that supports the reinterpretation of the learning process, as it shifts the focus to the development of skills through active learning.

The Situation Specific Arousal Analyzer: Innovation in the Physiological Assessment of Foreign Language Education Anxiety

1 month ago

As the most studied affective variable within foreign language education, the emotion of anxiety continues to generate significant research interest. Owing to technological developments in wearable research devices, new opportunities have arisen to expand the research methodologies used in the recording and assessment of foreign language education anxiety. This article contends that foreign language education research has over-emphasized the experiential component of emotion while neglecting the behavioural and physiological components. Attention is first given to the emergence of emotion as a significant focal point in foreign language education. The position of anxiety as an affective variable in foreign language education is then documented along with the methodological limitations of experiential measures. The article then highlights technological innovations in physiological data measurement and analysis in the form of the Empatica E4 wristband and the recent development of the Situation Specific Arousal Analyzer (SSAA) application. The article demonstrates how foreign language education anxiety researchers can use the Empatica E4 and SSAA to document autonomic nervous system arousal in real-time communication situations using high-integrity metrics such as Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Electrodermal Activity (EDA) under a range of tailored conditions. The article ends with a call to foreign language education anxiety researchers to extend their methodological repertoire beyond experiential self-report measures and to consider the opportunities afforded by physiological data capture and analysis technologies.

Performance and Configuration of Artificial Intelligence in Educational Settings. Introducing a New Reliability Concept Based on Content Analysis

1 month ago

Learning analytics represent a promising approach for fostering personalized learning processes. Most applications of this technology currently do not use textual data for providing information on learning, or for deriving recommendations for further development. This paper presents the results of three studies aiming to make textual information usable. In the first study, the iota concept is introduced as a new content analysis measure to evaluate inter-coder reliability. The main advantage of this new concept is that it provides a reliability estimation for every single category, allowing deeper insight into the quality of textual analysis. The second study simulates the process of content analysis, comparing the new iota concept with well-established measures (e.g., Krippendorff’s Alpha, percentage agreement). The results show that the new concept covers the true reliability of a coding scheme, and is not affected by the number of coders or categories, the sample size, or the distribution of data. Furthermore, cut-off values are derived for judging the quality of the analysis. The third study employs the new concept, as it analyzes the performance of different artificial intelligence (AI) approaches for interpreting textual data based on 90 different constructs. The texts used here were either created by apprentices, students, and pupils, or were taken from vocational textbooks. The paper shows that AI can reliably interpret textual information for learning purposes, and also provides recommendations for optimal AI configuration.

Social Network Analysis of EduTubers

1 month ago

The popularity of educational videos has increased in recent years. In 2018, YouTube announced a $20 million investment to support educational video creators and organized the YouTube EduCon event to bring them together and form a community. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed educational institutions to use resources contained in public repositories, such as YouTube. The objective of this research study was to explore the dynamics of EduTubers to understand the motivations for their interactions. We used social network analysis (SNA) with YouTube data to analyze the dynamics of EduTubers’ recommendation networks. Meaningful insights reveal a relationship between the level of digital engagement and the level of out-degree. Additionally, we confirm that educhannel homophily has a positive effect on the level of reciprocity. The main contribution lies in the use of theoretical concepts (reciprocity and homophily), focusing on the intrinsic motivations of EduTubers to recommend other channels. The practical implications of the results suggest that educhannels that initiate and grow digital engagement are more likely to participate in a recommendation network.

Co-creation of Research and Design During a Coding Club With Autistic Students Using Multimodal Participatory Methods and Analysis

1 month 1 week ago

Participatory design aims to work with those who are often excluded from design processes so that their interests are better represented in design solutions. Autistic children are often marginalised and excluded from design processes due to concerns about how their social and communication differences may act as barriers to participation, leading to calls for design processes to be more inclusive and examined more closely to understand the value of participation for (autistic) children and young people. This research describes a participatory design project to develop a computer game during a weekly coding club at a special school. Fourteen autistic (neurodivergent) young people, eight staff members, four technology industry representatives and a Doctoral researcher worked together to design, develop, test, and evaluate the game. This article focuses specifically on the views and experiences of two of the students, which are captured primarily through a Digital Story. Digital Stories are short student-centred videos which show educational experiences. We use a social semiotic multimodal approach to analysis which does not prioritise linguistically encoded meaning, instead recognising the importance and validity of the many and varied ways in which students contributed to the project. The findings highlight the valuable opportunities that participatory design processes can provide for students as both learners and as expert knowers. It emphasises the need to allow room for students’ agency in the design process, so that they really can have a say in the outcomes of design and feel ownership over the process and outcomes of their research participation.

Educational Reforms Amid COVID-19 in Thailand

1 month 1 week ago

Education is essential for any country to secure its future, but COVID-19 has caused considerable difficulty in Thailand. The COVID-19 pandemic harms the education of the students. The online education system is adopted in almost all parts of the globe. However, the pandemic has been impacting the overall quality of the education system. This research explored the experiences of law students in Thailand by analyzing several factors which affect their intellect. The methodology adopted for this study was a multiple method study. The sample size of 330 law students selected from leading Thai universities was analyzed qualitatively through Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) analysis and regression model for the quantitative analysis. The findings revealed that factors including internet availability, accessibility to own gadgets, online resources, government, social media, and classrooms have a significant impact on the education system of Thai law students. The study paves way for further microanalysis of the educational system in Thailand with the perceptions and experiences of teachers and parents.

Undergraduate Surveys Reveal That Instructors Are Key in Students Overcoming Classroom Struggles During the COVID-19 Pandemic

1 month 2 weeks ago

Many undergraduate students encounter struggle as they navigate academic, financial, and social contexts of higher education. The transition to emergency online instruction during the Spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these struggles. To assess college students’ struggles during the transition to online learning in undergraduate biology courses, we surveyed a diverse collection of students (n = 238) at an R2 research institution in the Southeastern United States. Students were asked if they encountered struggles and whether they were able to overcome them. Based on how students responded, they were asked to elaborate on (1) how they persevered without struggle, (2) how they were able to overcome their struggles, or (3) what barriers they encountered that did not allow them to overcome their struggles. Each open-ended response was thematically coded to address salient patterns in students’ ability to either persevere or overcome their struggle. We found that during the transition to remote learning, 67% of students experienced struggle. The most reported struggles included: shifts in class format, effective study habits, time management, and increased external commitments. Approximately, 83% of those struggling students were able to overcome their struggle, most often citing their instructor’s support and resources offered during the transition as reasons for their success. Students also cited changes in study habits, and increased confidence or belief that they could excel within the course as ways in which they overcame their struggles. Overall, we found no link between struggles in the classroom and any demographic variables we measured, which included race/ethnicity, gender expression, first-generation college students, transfer student status, and commuter student status. Our results highlight the critical role that instructors play in supporting student learning during these uncertain times by promoting student self-efficacy and positive-growth mindset, providing students with the resources they need to succeed, and creating a supportive and transparent learning environment.

Rock the Boat! Shaken by the COVID-19 Crisis: A Review on Teachers’ Competencies in ICT

1 month 2 weeks ago

The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly brought great challenges to the continuation of education. Institutions had to elect between pre-maturely ending their current school cycles or shifting to an online, flexible environment that had to deal with the digital divide in internet access. As part of its Sustainable Development Agenda, UNESCO developed the “Information and Communications Technology Competency Framework for Teachers” in 2018 to help institutions achieve digital literacy and reduce the digital divide. A systematic literature review (SLR) was conducted, identifying 23 studies on the use of ICT tools during COVID-19 educational disruptions in the database ProQuest Central and Google Scholar from August 2019 to August 2020. The results of this SLR showed that frameworks such as that of UNESCO could guide institutions to fast-track the development of educational strategies for post-crisis, COVID-19 implementation. Also, findings suggest an increase in the use of ICTs in learning environments, which will encourage organizations like UNESCO to develop plans and projects, such as the ICT framework further. Coping with the challenges of today’s learning environments is urgent; it is already time to “Rock the boat!” Introduction.

Relationships Between Undergraduate Student Performance, Engagement, and Attendance in an Online Environment

1 month 2 weeks ago

Monitoring student attendance and engagement is common practice during undergraduate courses at university. Attendance data typically show a strong positive relationship with student performance and regular monitoring is an important tool to identify students who may require additional academic provisions, wellbeing support and pastoral care, for example. However, most of the previous studies and our framework for monitoring attendance and engagement is based on traditional on-campus, in-person delivery. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, our transition to online teaching delivery requires us to re-evaluate what constitutes attendance and engagement in a purely online setting and what are the most accurate ways of monitoring. Here, I show how statistics derived from student interaction with a virtual learning environment, Canvas, can be used as a monitoring tool. I show how basic statistics such as the number and frequency of page views are not adequate and do not correlate with student performance. A more in-depth analysis of video viewing duration, rather than simple page clicks/views is required, and weakly correlates with student performance. Lastly, I provide a discussion of the potential pitfalls and advantages of collecting such data and provide a perspective on some of the associated challenges.

Increasing Sustainability in Open Learning: Prospects of a Distributed Learning Ecosystem for Open Educational Resources

1 month 2 weeks ago

The proliferation of Open Educational Resources (OER) constitutes an essential element for establishing education as a “public good” on the internet. A core objective of OER is to broaden access to educational material and improve the overall quality of teaching and learning. In this manner, OER contributes to the sustainable (re)use and (re)distribution of (educational) resources. The goal of sustainability is also visible in the latest UNSECO recommendation concerning OER, which intends to support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, namely SDG 4 (Quality education). The support of SDG 4 is combined with the call to create sustainability models for OER at national, regional and institutional levels and the planning and pilot testing of new sustainable forms of education and learning. As a result, several repositories and referatories for OER provision have been developed and tested in educational institutions worldwide. However, each of these platforms contains only a relatively limited number of resources. In our article, we argue that when considered through the lens of learning innovation and sustainable development, it would be necessary to increase the discoverability of available resources at the different locations and platforms that currently are visible to only a limited number of teachers and students. To achieve this goal, the focus needs to shift from the creation and growth of new and competing platforms to intelligent ways of linking and increasing their interconnectedness. We use the concept of “learning ecosystems” to illustrate this approach of interconnected resources. Ecosystems go beyond the spatial dimension of learning by focussing on actors’ diversity and interactions. Digital (networked) learning technology is part of an ecosystem and has itself to be understood as an actor. However, we discuss that ecosystems should be reflected with caution as they can themselves entail opening and closing mechanisms. Therefore, ecosystems that rely on mechanisms of opening their contents to other platforms can realise the full potential of open learning. We describe the implications of the concept of a distributed ecosystem by presenting case studies that show how technical solutions, including metadata standards and plugins, can link contents in repositories and referatories within ecosystems. The overarching objective is that the different repositories and referatories expand and improve the sustainable use of OER by merging into a distributed learning ecosystem.

Engagement in Online Learning: Student Attitudes and Behavior During COVID-19

1 month 2 weeks ago

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in nearly all universities switching courses to online formats. We surveyed the online learning experience of undergraduate students (n = 187) at a large, public research institution in course structure, interpersonal interaction, and academic resources. Data was also collected from course evaluations. Students reported decreases in live lecture engagement and attendance, with 72 percent reporting that low engagement during lectures hurt their online learning experience. A majority of students reported that they struggled with staying connected to their peers and instructors and managing the pace of coursework. Students had positive impressions, however, of their instructional staff. Majorities of students felt more comfortable asking and answering questions in online classes, suggesting that there might be features of learning online to which students are receptive, and which may also benefit in-person classes.