Ambient learning perspectives in the context of modern information and communication technology

AutorNatascha Jasmin Tiotuico, Olaf Kroll-Peters, Benjamin Hirsch, Paul Zernicke
QuelleINTED 2008 - Conference Proceedings 

During our work on teaching practical courses for university students, we established our concept of ambient learning. Our approach to ambient learning is not focused on the way learning objects are accessed in a technical manner. Instead, we focus on including the students’ everyday environment into the process of intuitive learning of complex technical facts. These facts are presented in the context of ambient domains which allow them to apply everyday knowledge and motivation to their courses. Two domains that facilitate such learning processes are Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) and electronic Health (eHealth) – in our case the prophylactic wellness sub-domain. Both of these are technical extensions to well-known areas of our everyday life and allow students to apply their knowledge about everyday processes and to reflect on their own physicality. In this environment, students can connect to modern technologies from their own well-known, natural perspective. The motivation to learn about technologies employed in the fields of AAL and eHealth can be increased if these domains are not considered individually, but in the context of the underlying structures: Health and everyday life are two core building blocks of our life. Thus, students are enabled to identify with the technology and solutions, as they directly apply to themselves. Retaining information could also benefit from the link between complex technology and basic knowledge about the workings of our everyday world, allowing the students to classify the knowledge gained into well-known categories. Our theory was that teaching Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in these specific domains would yield positive results due the reasons mentioned. To evaluate this theory, we performed two empiric studies in two project courses covering the areas of AAL and eHealth. These courses were taken by computer science students and students of other faculties. We analyzed if the students motivation was increased by the selection of the aforementioned domains. Also, we were interested in the subjective knowledge gain experienced by the participants and how they classified the newly gained knowledge. In the course of this paper, we will introduce the two project courses and their topics, with an emphasis on the ambient learning approach mentioned before. We will describe what measures we used to ensure a good learning experience to the students and to maximize their motivation. Based on these projects, we will describe our findings that we derived from our studies.