Education technology has over the decade revolutionised how people learn. The introduction of self-paced e-learning has transformed the execution of existing learning. Besides supporting flexible schedules, it removes the dependency of classroom presence and availability. It also opens up opportunities in digital facilitation in communication and collaboration.
A recent question in education is the role of emerging technology in education. Could it support a bigger move from age-old pedagogy to new needs in education? One reference of technological advancement in society is the use of social networks. Social networks let us know more about people around us, as well as the environment around us.
So we studied deeper into the use of educational technology and created an application (Soqqle). This article documents the attempt in a test-pilot in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam on 28 November 2019.
Background and Literature
Michael Papa (2000) describes Collective Efficacy as the use of social goals to complete collective goals. An individual could have a higher probability to accomplish goals if tasks were social.
Traditional class-based education are silo in nature. Teachers however do often introduce classroom group work. But class size and available content could limit outcomes. Importantly, the individual student may not contribute for fear of embarrassed. Thus with collective efficacy, we could create inspiring group activity
The goal of our experiment is to confirm if technology could be used to digitalize groups. And if yes, what could be the potential benefits? We constantly ask teachers on the type of data needed to improve delivery. Perhaps data could help teachers teach more effectively. Such that students could learn better.
In previous pilots in Singapore, we see increased participation in the classroom. Students are often keen to form digital groups. They were also excited to take pictures and share them. This time the pilot in Vietnam is of a different dynamic. The age of the students, the profile of the students as well as the teaching method of the teacher differ.
Bandara in 1977 emphasized on social learning theory. Individual behavior results from social interactions of people and their environment. He also infers how people learn from the observation of interactions of others. Here we wish to evaluate if learning outcome could be enhanced if students are placed in a digital environment. The student would also be placed to observe other students (observational learning).
Expected Outcomes and Measures
The ultimate person who evaluates the success of the pilot would be the teacher. This is important as scope of outcomes differs from class to class, scenario to scenario. There is a need to compare between the existing process vs the new process.
One benefit measure is on time saved. The teacher can then refocus time on real facilitation of learning. Another is the students perceived increase in learning outcomes. This could be based on both qualitative and quantitative measures by the teacher.
In some cases, the current situation is dire (etc student to teacher ratio is high and unmanageable). The use of education technology could provide benefits an order of magnitude higher.
The school is a Technical College in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh. It contains about 14000 students. Neither the teacher nor students speak English. The school does not have any WIFI either (so we had to use a WIFI hotspot to facilitate the test). We performed the trial with a small sample group of 15 students. We started by asking students to download the Soqqle application.
Students created an account and then proceeded to “unlock” their task in the application.
We needed this step of unlocking tasks because of the requirement that multiple schools could be using the app at the same time.
Creating a step for students to “unlock” content could also give an element of “gamification”.
Students also form 3 groups of 5 on our application which is used as the basis for us to “digitalize” offline groups to online.
The class that we piloted in, is in Physics. The teacher will coordinate 6 experiments that will be conducted over 90 minutes. After the initial “tutorial” explaination, students then go ahead to kickstart their experiments.
The goal of our app is to let students document their experiments and share them on the mobile application.
The pictures are then sent to a webpage that summarizes the activities of the students throughout the laboratory session.
As the session was conducted, several ideas were generated. Most of which the teacher would evaluate on how the application could be used to scale his classroom teaching. It could also give him insights about the execution of tasks by the students.
One person does — but who learns?
One obvious win was the engagement of other students who would otherwise be “inactive”. Often only one or two students would be actively engaged. And they would be in front. In this case, anyone could play a role in documenting the outcome of the experiment. Some students could become supporters by recording videos and sharing them. Students could also play the role of capturing questions from the groups to be shared.
We discussed if this would be an opportune use-case for students to ask questions. Here any student could capture the experiment and ask questions. Today, students may not want to “trouble” the teacher by asking questions. They often become disengaged.
Here a student could have a focus on the role to ask questions about concepts they do not understand. This way the teacher could gain more understanding about group dynamics. The teacher will need to set the context of “what a question is”, and “how to ask a question”. And even more importantly, he could actually share that it is “OKAY” to ask questions about something you do not know.
Saving time in monitoring
As students generate images, and content, the teacher asked how he could track the students. Although we have a dashboard on the website, we noticed the first thing the teacher did was to take out his phone. But we did not yet have a mobile app for the teacher. It means we need a teacher’s version on the mobile for real-time monitoring of student activity.
Potential personalization of learning
The teacher manages an estimated 500 students for Physics. Today he structures the class in groups of 15 so that he could manage the learning for the students. It is very tiring, and resource-intensive for the teacher to be handling the learning outcomes for each student.
It is impossible for teachers to personalize learning with the current classroom setup. This is especially so for interests and individual problems. Perhaps if enhanced with mobile technology, the teacher could get new insights faster. The application could play a bigger role in teacher-student communication and collaboration.
20% in class usage — but is it disruptive?
An average 20–30% of students were reading the application. Additional, some students would be also on the phone even as the teacher was teaching. We are unsure if the students were “distracted”. Or the visuals might actually give students more context to what the teacher was sharing.
But it’s the teacher’s decision on whether it could work as a reference point or not. There could be an option where the teacher could switch on a “screensaver” to lock groups.
Social E-learning is a genre for concepts like social learning theory & social gamification. It could enhance the classroom. We continue to uncover gaps in teacher-student collaboration as complete pilots. A social app if done well for teacher needs could enhance the learning outcomes of students.
Michael J. Papa 2000, Entertainment-Education and Social Change
Bandura 1977. Social Learning Theory.