In the second in a series of posts from Ayrshire College’s Learning Technology team, Michael Robertson explains why it is important to test out new technologies to provide a high quality learning experience for students.
Emerging Learning Technologies
At Ayrshire College, we are always striving for the best solutions to support excellence in learning and teaching. Our role as Learning Technologists is to assess and develop lasting solutions to digital challenges, and share these in a way that is accessible to both lecturers and students. While our day-to-day focus is on maintaining and training students and staff in the application of the Moodle virtual learning environment, we also work with other current and emerging technologies.
At the moment, we are using devices for app development, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and designing college tools like the Moodle site to be mobile friendly. In regards to apps we have 3 piloted ideas currently underway. Our main project is working with the Learning Resources Centre (LRC) to develop a mobile app that will start as a Google Maps style tour, where students can use a bird’s eye view of the College to navigate and find out information about key areas around the campus. The intention is to integrate this into a fully realised 3D world of the campuses and allow students to navigate this using a personalised avatar.
Other proposed projects involve using Augmented Reality for tours and induction with things like QR and AR codes to allow placement of information points and interactive elements throughout the real world. Augmented Reality is about blending the real world into the digital world via device features such as cameras and gyro/accelerometers.
The last project in mobile is working with on-site students to allow them to report back to lecturers and integrate their logs (photos, notes, etc) into a centralised form that the lecturer can mark and assess without either having to report in person.
Unreal Engine 4 – Gamification
At the other end of the scale, we are using high-end software development tools, in the form of Unreal Engine 4, to develop more engaging software for “gamifying” education and its support for learning. This allows us to use a wealth of advanced graphical technologies that can be optimised for limited resource machines to top-end gaming rigs and even mobile devices.
Gamification is not a new thing but it is not widely understood. Essentially, it takes the concept of setting objectives and rewards, then putting these into a setting that aids learning and engagement of a topic or tool.
An example we already have on the College’s Moodle site is Level up! and Achievements which give the users rewards for usage of Moodle and their courses/units.
With a look to the future, we are working with other technologies such as immersive experiences using Virtual Reality and Abstract interfacing. This uses motion/spatial data and gestures to allow for controller-less interactions with software and devices whilst providing a believable environment for the users. We believe that we should assess technologies for the benefit of everyone in a learning environment and work towards reaping these benefits as soon as we can.
RAISING ASPIRATIONS | INSPIRING ACHIEVEMENT | INCREASING OPPORTUNITIES