Imagine if learning was like diving into a pool to any location you wished. You could learn a concept and then move to other areas of study exploring detailed content at various levels. There would be no “right’ entry point into or through the material, and all the while you are learning, you would be in control of the depth, direction, and pace of your own progress. As you learn, you would be kept informed of what knowledge levels you have attained, and what other areas you could navigate to, or further explore to complete your area of study.
Creating the type of learning environment that allows students to self-organize and direct their own learning is the idea behind the Concept Navigator, a personalized learning software interface under development by two UBC researchers–Dr. Robert Campbell, from the Faculty of Education, and Dr. Bowen Hui, from the Barber School Department of Computer Science. The Concept Navigator is designed so that each student can adapt and adjust their learning activities in real time.
“Increasingly digital technologies are providing many opportunities for personalized learning to occur,” says Campbell, “and programs like Concept Navigator will allow students to have agency over their learning.” According to Hui, “the Concept Navigator will allow students to become more engaged and be able to learn independently. Students will be able to learn at their own pace.”
Campbell and Hui are recipients of one of the UBC Okanagan Innovations in Teaching and Learning Research Grants. They will use the funding to continue to develop and implement the Concept Navigator and assess its effectiveness in educational settings. This interdisciplinary project continues Campbell and Hui’s ongoing research examining applications of learning environments and exploring innovations in computer science, digital media and educational technology.
The Concept Navigator is a timely response to the BC Education Plan, which identifies personalized learning as one of its 5 key elements. Personalized learning and analytics are also recognized in the New Media Consortium Horizon Reports as technological influences that are likely to have a large educational impact in coming years.
Written by Dr. Robert Campbell