Supporting older adults in using technology for lifelong learning.

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Eynon, R Davies, C and Holmes, W (2012) Supporting older adults in using technology for lifelong learning. 11th International Conference on Networked Learning, April 2012, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Transcript of Supporting older adults in using technology for lifelong learning.

  • 1. SUPPORTING OLDER ADULTS IN USING TECHNOLOGY FOR LIFELONG LEARNING Rebecca Eynon, Chris Davies & Wayne Holmes University of Oxford

2. Context The importance of supporting learning throughout life Positive outcomes both for the individual and society Older adults are an important group Life stage, ageing population, yet inequalities exist The potential and challenges of networked learning Lack of skills, low learner self-concept, poor design, complexity of learning across networks Could a learning companion reduce some of theseproblems? 3. Companions & pedagogical agents Animated pedagogical agents can form part of intelligenttutoring systems to provide Personalised instruction Collaborative interaction In these environments, a person learns while interactingwith one or more pedagogical agents Agents can be designed to provide information,encouragement, share menial tasks, competition Take on the role of expert, a tutor, a mentor, a companion, a peer 4. The learning companion An embodied conversational agent - an animated speaking character on a computing screen - to support self directed uses of computers and the Internet for learning Based on the notion of an artificial companion (Wilks, 2006) A supportive, encouraging and responsive conversational partner that builds persistent knowledge of the user over time Uses Natural Language Processing to communicate with people by using and understanding speech Developed in the EC Companions Project 5. The interface 6. Supporting learning Through dialogue (enables users to identify and articulateareas of interest, helps the learner to construct a plan of action, keeps the learner on track, encourages reflection) Reducing technical barriers to using a computer (via talkingthrough tutorials provide on demand and user friendliness) Remembering and reminding (reducing cognitive load, andsupporting the organisation of learning) A subtle shift not a transformative one May nudge people into more formalised learning routes orfeel more comfortable in group settings 7. Science fiction? NLP is not that new and is improving all the time ELIZA Siri Early stage exploration of new technological tools usingWizard of Oz Simulation Develop our understandings of learner experience Engage in debates about the design of future technologies 8. Exploring the concept What do target users think about a learning companion? What value could this kind of learning companion have? 20 participants, retired, aged 60-75 Questionnaire Use of Wizard of Oz to simulate talking to the learning companion Interview Focus on the initial meeting with the learning companion 9. What are Wizard of Oz simulations? An experiment which elicits data of how people engage indialogue with computers Participants are led to believe that they are having aconservation with a machine when in fact they are conversing with another human in the guise of a machine Two wizards used in this study 10. Why are they valuable? Enables the user to undergo the experience intended by atechnology without the technology necessarily being in place We can explore user experience without focusing on the limitations of the technology itself Produces human-computer dialogue that is necessary for the development of a fully functioning prototype Informs understanding of the relative importance of different technologies Facilitates more participatory design practices Helps us to better understand the use of the Internet for informal learning by this group 11. The target group Use computers and the Internet But low confidence in using the Internet, lack of skills, and engage in a narrow range of activities Low level of confidence in themselves as a learner Poor learner self-concept, low level of skills to learn, may have had negative previous experiences of learning, but care about learning 12. Emerging themes 1. The importance of learning 2. The challenges of learning 3. Eliciting interests 4. Expanding the range of digital opportunities 5. On experimentation6. Remembering and reminding 7. Supporting and encouraging 13. The importance of learning I like to be busy. I think it keeps you on the ball and itkeeps you young and fit, and it makes you a more interesting person (Sarah) The people who Im friendly with are alltheyve all gotminds like me who are interested in all sorts of things. (Paul) I'm interested in reading. I'm interested in languages,interested in the weather change that's going on (Ken) 14. The challenges of learning I have quite a lot of interests that I dont pursue in greatdepth (Sue) The others in some of the classes I attend havent got thepatience for people like me to catch up (Charles) Im an introverted person, I dont speak to people face-to-face, really, unless they talk to me. But I wouldnt have a problem talking to a computer (Alan) My mind doesnt work because I was very dyslexic as achild (William) 15. Eliciting interests [It] sort of opened my mind...The problem Ive got is that Ionly want to go the way I want to go. Thats not very good, because its like going down a very narrow alley all the time. What I need is to start off down that alley but instead of it closing down, to open up into a broad street. Probably thats the best way I can describe it. (Chris) I liked it very much it was thinking it was askingquestions I had to think about for a moment here (Ken) 16. Expanding the range of opportunities There is very little I can do at the moment apart from emailand look up information on my computer, but I feel that if I knew a great deal more about it, I would be able to explore things, which now I cannot do (Grace) Yeah, I mean, any sort of interests I have I can always access,I mean a simple illustration of that isits a silly thing but we put too much salt into a sauce recently. Went on the computer and e-mailed it, or on the internet, said too much salt in gravy, and they come up with the solutions right awayso you can find out, in other words, information you want. What I find difficult is actually knowing what the computer will do and then finding out how to use that particular application. (Martin) 17. On experimentation The kids do it. They like just fiddling around seeing whathappens you know. But I suppose that the adults, like me, youre much more focused. Because you want to do something, so [you ask] can the computer help me do it? And then when it doesnt work, youre just frustrated..... You havent got time for that. (Frank) I came to computers late as you probably realize, andtrained a little bit, but not sufficiently to get to understand all the applications and the possibilities of the computer, and Im very reluctant to try and experiment with a computer to try and find them out (Dan) 18. Remembering and reminding And then for instance, someone said to me Send mesome of your pictures [........]. And I thought how do I get the pictures? Now, I have been taught that. I thought Ive got to find this, you know, find the instructions. And this is the thing - I have to keep on being re-taught.....its so time-consuming. But, if youve got something like this that you can ask the question however many times you need to be told, you can be told. (Mary) 19. Supporting and encouraging I did like the way he was responding politely. It wasnt somesort of metallic voice, superior metallic voice. [............]Yeah, a bloke in the pub sort of He wasnt arrogant......Its very comfortable. (John) [The companion] is not being clever, its being moreunderstanding. Because with gifted people, very often its difficult for them to understand why people at a lower level cant take things on board because they find things so easy. (Chris) It was very friendly. And making you feel [when the companionsays] That was a very interesting question. That always makes you feel good, doesnt it? And that encourages you as well. If you feel youve asked an interesting question. You think, Im not so--you know what I mean. (Joanne) 20. The challenges of Wizard of Oz simulations Technical failures Cognitive load and choice points Ethics 21. Conclusion The use of Wizard of Oz simulations could be a valuablemethod to employ for a wider range of networked learning research The opening up of potential futures may be particularly valuable. It can help inform debates around the development offuture technologies for networked learning While there are a number of advantages to this approachthere are some significant challenges