Ubiquitous Teachers' Training and Lessons Learned with the uProf! Model

Ubiquitous Teachers' Training and Lessons Learned with the uProf! Model

Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch667
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This article illustrates features and outcomes of the experiences with uProf!, a model for teachers' professional training in ubiquitous learning by tablets and Quick Response (QR) codes. The model was designed, implemented and successfully validated in 2012 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. Later on, uProf! has been used to provide continuous professional training and tailored in-class tutoring during these teachers' first implementations of technology-enhanced learning experiences.
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The current landscape of open and smart learning challenges calls for disruptive educational policies and systems (Li, Chang, Kravcik, Popescu, Huang, Kinshuk & Chen, 2015; Middleton, 2015). All stakeholders (i.e., policy makers, educational institutions, teachers, learners, parents) have renewed roles and degrees of participation in the learning process. Undeniably, though, teachers are on the frontline. On the one hand they are required to absorb their shifting function into facilitators in technology-enhanced learning environments, and on the other hand they are pressured to become more aware lifelong learners.

This technological uptake and consistent change and innovation 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).

Definitely, living, working and learning are smarter and smarter, that is they seamlessly accommodate next generation technology (i.e., smartphones, tablets, tablet PCs, sensor network nodes, contact-less smart cards, RFID and QR codes), socialised (Leone & Biancofiore, 2015), and 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 smart technologies are and can be used to support learning, and what are the barriers in the way of success.

Key Terms in this Chapter

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

QR (Quick Response) 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.

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

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.

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

QRcode Format: 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.

CSUL (Computer Supported Ubiquitous Learning) Environment: Everyday ubiquitous learning informed by the theories of authentic learning ( Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989 ), situated learning ( Lave, & Wenger, 1991 ) and learning by doing ( Schank, 1995 ).

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.

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.).

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.

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