Seamless Learning Design Criteria in the Context of Open and Distance Learning

Seamless Learning Design Criteria in the Context of Open and Distance Learning

Erkan Yetik, Nilgun Ozdamar, Aras Bozkurt
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9779-7.ch006
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Seamless learning is a form of learning whereby, regardless of location, the learning process, as it relates to learning needs and readiness, can continue through the aid of technology. Seamless learning environments are spaces that can be accessed independent of time and place through mobile or stationary devices, and that are equipped with technologies capable of meeting learning needs. With the advancements in technology, seamless learning environments are becoming increasingly popular. In this regard, the design of environments that are suitable for seamless learning in open and distance learning (ODL) fields is of critical importance. This study aimed to determine the criteria for the design of seamless learning environments in the context of ODL. In line with this aim, the Delphi technique, a qualitative research approach, was used. A total of 47 criteria under 10 different themes were identified in the study.
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Seow et al. (2008), in their study, highlighted that researchers are interested in seamless learning environments that are capable of combining informal and formal learning once mobile devices and network access become more widespread. Based on studies related to the design of a learning environment using mobile devices and online portals for environmental education and inquiry-based science learning, the following components of seamless learning environments were identified: community, place, time and context, and cognitive devices and constructs. Using these components, they proposed a framework based on the theory of distributed cognition for seamless learning.

Kukulska-Hulme and Viberg (2018), in their study, presented a review of the literature published between 2012–2016 which focused on mobile collaborative language learning in order to identify the mobile technologies used to support collaborative learning between second- and foreign- language students. Their results highlighted the elements of flexible use, feedback on-time, customization, socialization, personal assessment, active participation, peer coaching, outdoors sources of inspiration, and cultural originality.

Sharples (2015), who investigated seamless learning in terms of its capacity to deliver a continuous meaning flow despite the changes in the physical and social context, reported that one of the ways to achieve this was to provide a flow state whereby learners lose their awareness about their environment. It was further stated that mobile educational games can serve as one of the means to reach such as flow; however, it was noted this was neither easy nor necessarily effective on learning. Another approach suggested in the same study was to interconnect learning processes that take place in different contexts, such as in-class and home learning contexts. This approach requires that the learning process be strongly organized to ensure a smooth integration of one learning environment with that of another. Whatever the context may be, seamless learning is a learning concept that integrates self-directed learning and teacher guidance through the support of mobile technology toolkits.

Hwang et al. (2011) pointed out that mobile and wireless communication technologies not only provide ubiquitous learning but also presents opportunities for developing learning environments capable of integrating the resources of the real world and digital world. They suggested an interactive concept map approach to support mobile learning activities. An experiment was carried out in a primary school natural sciences course to evaluate the effectiveness of the method suggested. The experimental results showed that the method not only fostered positive attitudes towards learning but also improved students’ level of achievement in learning.

In their review study on seamless learning, Wong and Looi (2011) identified 10 distinct dimensions of seamless learning. This review study examined previous studies on seamless learning and identified these dimensions based on their common aspects.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Open and Distance Learning (ODL): Any learning activities within formal, informal, and non-formal domains that are facilitated by information and communication technologies to lessen distance, both physically and psychologically, and to increase interactivity and communication among learners, learning sources, and facilitators.

Open Education: Teaching and learning that are independent of time and place with a special focus on social justice, equity and elimination of barriers in educational processes.

Distance Education (DE): Planned and organized teaching and learning in which learners are separated from teachers or facilitators in time and space.

Ubiquitous Learning (U-Learning): As an extension of e-learning and m-learning, it is a learning paradigm that uses ubiquitous technologies to provide a seamless, just in time, just in place, and just for me experience.

Mobile Learning (m-learning): As an extension of e-learning, it is a learning paradigm that uses mobile technologies to provide a just in time, just in place, and just for me experience.

Seamless Learning: It is integration of the learning experiences across various dimensions including formal and informal learning contexts, individual and social learning, and physical world and cyberspace.

Delphi Technique: As a primary source of data to be able to get expert opinions from different disciplines, the Delphi technique is based on a structured process for collecting and distilling knowledge from a group of experts by means of a series of questionnaires interspersed with controlled opinion feedback.

Electronic Learning (E-learning): It is a learning paradigm that uses educational technologies in employing the principles of multimedia learning.

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