Ubiquitous Professional Training for Teachers using the uProf! Model

Ubiquitous Professional Training for Teachers using the uProf! Model

Sabrina Leone (Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy) and Giovanni Biancofiore (giovannibiancofiore.com, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch729
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Introduction

Technological uptake and consistent change and innovation in education have been urged by the decisively faster pace that economic systems, social relations and individuals have had since the diffused embracing of Web 2.0, that is the web of social networking tools (Leone & Guazzaroni, 2010), towards Web 3.0, that is a more connected, open and intelligent network thanks to semantic applications (Spivack, 2013).

Undeniably, living, working and learning are more and more ubiquitous, that is wireless and characterised by high mobility and embeddedness (El-Bishouty, Ogata, & Yano, 2007; Leone & Leo, 2011a). Most European countries have made significant investments over the last years with a view to ensuring universal access to information and communication technologies (ICT), with considerable success (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 2011). Specifically, embedding ICT in education and training systems has required relevant changes across the technological, organisational, teaching and learning environments of classrooms, workplaces, and informal learning settings; further efforts, though, are required in this direction (European Commission, 2008; Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 2011). A precondition for using computers in educational contexts is that they are widely available and users are familiar with them. With reference to formal education, data (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 2011) show that currently no great disparity between schools in availability of ICT equipment exist, but a lack of educational software and support staff still affect instruction. Thus, the solution to an effective use of ICT in education and training is not technology itself, but an advancement in understanding how new technologies are and can be used to support learning, and what are the barriers in the way of success.

Being an ICT-integrating teacher means going beyond ICT skills, and developing an understanding of the complex relationships between pedagogy, content and ICT (Alayyar, Fisser & Voogt, 2012). Moreover, while in most European countries centrally promoted online resources and general pedagogical support are available to guide teachers' practical implementation of innovative technology-enhanced learning in the classroom (according to TIMSS - Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2007) (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, 2011), no research literature seems to document the activation of tailored in-class techno-pedagogical tutoring to teachers during the implementation. A later study carried out on behalf of the European Commission (Pelgrum, 2010) shows that teachers often have difficulties in implementing ICT in the teaching-learning process and that they need support to accomplish this task. Finally, the outcomes of more recent research experiences (Leone, 2013) highlight that teachers perceive in-class techno-pedagogical tutoring as a basic need for the enhancement of their professional skills and, as a result, of their students’ learning.

This article illustrates uProf!, a model for teachers’ professional training in ubiquitous learning by tablets and Quick Response (QR) codes. The model has been designed, implemented and successfully validated within a full-immersion, learner-centred and metacognitive course for 80 Italian high school teachers who are part of a school network for the enhancement of curriculum continuity from middle into high school.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Non-Formal Learning: Learning that takes place through education organized for specific learners with specific learning objectives, outside the formal established system.

Lifelong Learning: A holistic vision of learning in different contexts (formal, non-formal and informal) and throughout life, based on the evolution of provider-driven education toward personalised learning and aiming at improving knowledge, skills and competencies within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related outlook.

Lifelong Learners: Self-regulated learners, characterized as demonstrating perseverance, initiative, and adaptive abilities. Self-regulation relates to an ability to recognize a need for further learning as well as to be proactive in gaining access to and accomplishing learning.

Computer Supported Ubiquitous Learning (CSUL) Environment: Everyday ubiquitous learning informed by the theories of authentic learning ( Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989 ), situated learning (Lave, & Wenger, 1991 AU24: The in-text citation "Lave, & Wenger, 1991" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ) and learning by doing ( Schank, 1995 ).

Quick Response (QR) Code: A bidimensional code (it displays information in both vertical and horizontal directions) that can hold larger amounts and different kinds of contents (e.g., website addresses, texts, numerical information, contact details) than a normal bar code (monodimensional). The information stored in a QR code can be readily decoded and accessed by a mobile device with an embedded camera and free code reading software installed.

Format QRcode: A technology-enhanced learning format to be implemented in a learner-centred learning environment to offer inclusive, personalised (different learning styles and goals) and flexible (anytime, anywhere) learning by the integration of paper-based and digital learning materials through QR code.

Formal Learning: Hierarchically structured, chronologically graded educational system running from primary through to tertiary institutions.

Ubiquitous Learning: Wireless learning supported by a large number of cooperative small nodes with computing and/or communication capabilities (e.g., handheld devices, sensor network nodes, contact-less smart cards, RFID and QR codes) and characterised by high mobility and embeddedness.

Informal Learning: Unstructured learning that allows persons to acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience, within the individual’s environment (i.e., family, friends, peer groups, etc.).

Adult Education: All forms of non-vocational adult learning, whether of a formal, non-formal or informal nature.

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