Week 10: Catching Up on Seamless Learning — #EDUBLOGSCLUB

Here I am posting for the 10th week! However, weeks 4–9 remain works-in-progress, and I believe that #Edublogsclub is now up to week 14. Intend to to catch up eventually. In the meantime, I thought I’d post this bit on Seamless Learning.

I’m really excited by the work of Lung-Hsiang Wong and Chee-Kit Looi. They work at the National Institute of Education in Singapore on the concept of Seamless Learning. The authors define Seamless Learning as “the seamless integration of the learning experiences across various dimensions including formal and informal learning contexts, individual and social learning, and physical world and cyberspace” (Wong & Looi, 2011, p. 1). According to Inge de Waard’s article, Wong and Looi “identified 10 features that characterize the seamlessness of a WMUTE design (Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education)” (Waard, 2013, para. 1). They did this by reviewing, coding, and organizing 54 journal articles written on the concept. (There’s lots of different definitions of this idea, so they were trying to bring some order to the literature in order to guide future research and to assist instructional design practice.) The authors explain that their list is not a model. However, “[a] practitioner interested in adopting a MSL design or doing a new design can use our analysis to situate the dimensional space where the constraints or parameters of his or her design problem lie, and look at relevant design and research-based evidence of other related MSL systems to refine her own design” (Wong & Looi, 2011, p. 1). MSL stands for mobile-assisted seamless learning, an update on the WMUTE idea. Wong & Looi got my interest with the following two paragraphs taken from two of their papers.

“Apart from nurturing self-directed learners, the ultimate aim of embracing seamless learning is arguably the synthesis of knowledge, and the acquiring of the skills to perform the synthesis. To a student, what is the significance of “seamless switching between different learning contexts”? It is for the sake of acquiring data and knowledge in different domains and forms, and recording, organizing, processing and reflecting upon the knowledge. This is mediated by her own mobile device that serves as a learning hub, thereby making connections and perhaps identifying discrepancies between pieces of knowledge and ultimately, knowledge construction” (Wong & Looi, 2011, p. 22).
“Self-directed seamless learning, as the ultimate aim of the seamless learning approach, is however a tall order for learners who are more accustomed to the present instructivist-dominated education system. In this regard, we envisage the enactment of long-term facilitated seamless learning that engage learners in an ongoing enculturation process where their existing epistemological beliefs and methods of learning can be progressively transformed through the facilitation of systematically varied activities. The keyword here is enculturation, a crucial aspect that previous seamless learning research had largely ignored. [Wong, et al.] advocates teachers’ modeling of the seamless learning process by systematically incorporating m-learning activities into the formal curriculum, and encouraging learners to extend their learning into the informal context by picking up incidentally learned knowledge, applying their knowledge in daily life, and relating back or questioning the knowledge gained in the formal curriculum. Simply put, we consider self-directed seamless learning as the end and facilitated seamless learning as a means to achieve the stated aim” (Wong & Looi, 2012, p. 1–2).

Three things came to mind after reading the above paragraphs. First, I spend a lot of time on a MOOC platform with learners of all ages who often struggle to navigate assignment instructions that require the use of social media to submit their work. Additionally, assignment instructions can conflict with cultural norms in some countries or prompt fear of censure by an oppressive government. The course I spend a lot of time with I think strives for something like seamless learning, but the practical realities for many learners still results in unfinished assignments or technical difficulties. The learning platform falls short technically of being a learning hub even though I believe that is how it’s envisioned. There isn’t seamless integration with external social media platforms. And so far large MOOC platforms have been lazy in their development because they’ve bet the big draw for their platforms will continue to be content from big name universities. But “I spy with my little eye” some competition on the horizon from talented instructional designers and instructors from “no name” institutions who will pair up with new start-up platforms that offer full social media and SCORM integration. While MOOC platform providers are still wooing ivy league universities, I think it’s kind of funny that it isn’t the universities demanding better technology from the platforms!

Second, something as simple as attaching a SoundCloud clip to an assignment can really rock the world of some learners for a variety of reasons that include quality of internet connection, access to a recording device, unfamiliarity with how to record audio, language barriers, privacy concerns, and inexperience with social media and sharing services. So when Wong & Looi (2012) suggest “long-term facilitated seamless learning that engage learners in an ongoing enculturation process where their existing epistemological beliefs and methods of learning can be progressively transformed through the facilitation of systematically varied activities” (p. 1–2), it made me think about how this could be added to basic instructional design principles so that over time students will come to think of their mobile devices as learning devices and their external world as active learning environments. It’s not just cultivating the skillset (which needs to happen from kindergarten on) but the mindset that learning isn’t just for the classroom or the structured online course.

So third, it came to mind that one way to compete with MOOC platforms would be to create some kind of SaaS around micro-learning objects, adaptive learning, and the need for multi-level course content based on a connectivist framework. It could serve as both a platform with unique course content and as an individualized adaptive learning curation service that assists learners in structuring learning around open (or paid) content available from various repositories, experts or other digital resources from around the world. Learners could input their desired learning goals with some parameters and then the platform (AI served) would assist them with identifying learning objectives, skills needed, and then assist learners with attaining those objectives via adaptive learning and content curation.

Along these lines, repackaging micro-content from existing courses to create new adaptive courses for individual learners. Some kind of standardized elements, something like content creation 3.0 could be in place across the education landscape so there’s enough uniformity to make some AI mix and match possible. If instructors, IDs, institutions, or anyone really were to keep the standards in mind while creating content going forward it could really transform how we access content for learning in the future. I’m not necessarily saying everything OER here. In fact, content creation 3.0 could facilitate micro-payments for instructors, authors, artists, instructional designers or basically anyone who creates content and tags it for such use. The best content from a variety of sources could be combined to create cross disciplinary specializations. The advocacy work of CNI: Coalition for Networked Information comes to mind.


Waard, de I., (2013). Seamless Learning: Forget MOOCs, Mobile Learning, and Ubiquitous Access. Retrieved from https://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1298/seamless-learning-forget-moocs-mobile-learning-and-ubiquitous-access

Wong, L.-H., & Looi, C.-K. (2011). What seams do we remove in mobile assisted seamless learning? A critical review of the literature. Computers & Education, 57(4), 2364–2381.

Wong, L. H., & Looi, C. K. (2012, March). Enculturing self-directed seamless learners: Towards a facilitated seamless learning process framework mediated by mobile technology. In Wireless, Mobile and Ubiquitous Technology in Education (WMUTE), 2012 IEEE Seventh International Conference on (pp. 1–8). IEEE.

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