Monitoring the Learning Process through the use of Mobile Devices

Monitoring the Learning Process through the use of Mobile Devices

Francisco Rodríguez-Díaz, Natalia Padilla Zea, Marcelino Cabrera
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-042-6.ch024
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Many studies defend the use of New Technologies in classrooms. It has been substantially proven that computer operation can be learnt at an early age, and that the use of new technologies can improve a child’s learning process. However, the main problem for the teacher continues to be that he/she cannot pay attention to all children at the same time. Sometimes it is necessary to decide which child must be first attended to. It is in this context that we believe our system has the ability to greatly help teachers: we have developed a learning process control system that allows teachers to determine which students have problems, how many times a child has failed, which activities they are working on and other such useful information, in order to decide how to distribute his/her time. Furthermore, bearing in mind the attention required by kindergarten students, we propose the provision of mobile devices (PDA - Personal Digital Assistant) for teachers, permitting free movement in the classroom and allowing the teacher to continue to help children while information about other students is being received. Therefore if a new problem arises the teacher is immediately notified and can act accordingly.
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There are many tools available on the market for content management and the administration of training activities within an organization.

Two categories of system can be classified with regards to the physical location of students:

  • LMS-LCMS. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are software applications that automate the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training events. Meanwhile Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) are multi-user environments where developers may create, store, reuse, manage, and deliver digital learning content from a central object repository. The LMS cannot create and manipulate courses; that it is to say, it cannot reuse the content of one course to build another.

These systems are designed for on-line learning, distributing courses over the Internet and offering features for on-line collaboration.

The JOIN project [JOIN], dedicated to providing support to the user community of Open Source Learning platforms, can locate a compilation of available systems and their evaluation, as well as a comprehensive glossary of terms.

Compared with commercial tools such as WebCT/Blackboard [WEBC], which offer a more compact and robust environment, open source tools allow us greater flexibility and the possibility to incorporate new features adapted to user needs.

  • Control Classroom Systems are tools designed for monitoring the work of students in the classroom, allowing teacher-student interaction either individually or in groups, using virtual whiteboards and controlling access to the Internet, documents and applications. Examples of these systems include NetSupport School [NETS], XClass [XCLA] and SMART [SMAR].

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distributed Control System (DCS): A DCS is a system that has different interconnected and interrelated components in different devices. Our system encompasses three main locations: the mobile device managed by the teacher, a server that manages communications and calculations, and students applications in their laptops.

System: A system is a set of modules that work towards a common goal. These modules are interrelated and interconnected and exchange information in order to obtain combined results.

Mobile Devices: A mobile device is a pocket-sized computing device with a display screen that functions by touch input or a miniature keyboard. Smartphones and PDAs are the most popular choices in situations where a computer is required, but cannot be used due to the inconvenience of size and its lack of portability. One device that has become very popular recently is the Netbook, which can be classified between a mobile device and a laptop, and has been chosen by the Spanish Government to be used by students in schools.

Classroom: This is the place where teaching takes place. In our system it is possible to define its structure, defining the sites where desks are placed, the number of positions available at each desk and the student who is seated in this position throughout the course.

Module: In the context of our system, a module is a part that fulfils a particular purpose within the whole system. It is relatively independent and incorporates a defined interface to communicate with the rest of the modules.

New Technologies in Education: This term encompasses all the computers, electronic devices, software systems and digital resources that are available for use to improve educational systems. The use of laptop and desktop computers in classrooms is becoming increasingly common, and traditional boards are being replaced or complemented with projectors and virtual whiteboards, etc.

Alert: In our system, an alert is a message that is sent to the teacher’s mobile device, providing a warning about a child who needs attention. The message is displayed with a colour until it is acknowledged by the teacher.

Metadata: A common way to define this concept is “data about data”. In our system, metadata are data about the configuration of several modules. For example, by using metadata we define the value of parameters to send alerts, how many times a child must fail in order for an alert to be sent.

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