Poster Session

University of Malta (Valletta Campus)

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Competency, Application, and Skill Emphasis - ePortfolio-Driven Design in the Liberal Arts: Competency, Application, and Skill Emphasis for Non-traditional Online Learners View Digital Media

Poster Session
Stephanie Fink,  Cheri Ketchum  

In this poster session, we will explain how students can exit an online Liberal Arts program with personalized ePortfolios, where they make, state, demonstrate, and support their individually defined and developed Competency, Application, and Skill Emphasis (C.A.S.E.) Liberal Arts majors are routinely undervalued for lacking “career readiness,” as compared to majors in career-oriented degree programs. Nevertheless, leaders across multiple sectors assert that liberal arts graduates have skills deemed broadly applicable and desirable, including, but not limited to critical thinking, writing, analysis, research, and multi-cultural perspectives. Despite such affirmations, misconceptions about the marketability of liberal arts degrees place particular pressures on first-generation and non-traditional students who would otherwise derive great benefit and lifelong competencies from pursuing such studies. Our approach, unlike other online liberal arts degree programs, provides explicit support for students throughout their course of study in terms of documenting, reflecting upon, refining, and expressing the extent their competencies can be applied in and beyond the workplace. Our ePortfolio design is driven by what we call C.A.S.E.-based learning conceived after surveying various ePortfolio systems, uses, and applications. Students learn to develop and deploy their C.A.S.E., informed by self-identified and instructor supported goals and objectives. Through the use of ePortfolios, we emphasize closing the knowledge-to-competency gap by creating a modality that helps students visualize their futures more concretely, which, in turn, serves as a degree completion motivator. Finally, student-driven identification of paths to attaining competency objectives makes this approach to online liberal arts education directly relevant to achieving individualized goals.

Taking Teacher Talk Online: Online Engagement as a Potential Site of Effective Professional Learning View Digital Media

Poster Session
Michelle Ratering  

Teachers often seek more than what traditional professional development (PD) experiences offer, taking their questions into online spaces. This study investigates how teachers’ professional engagement within online environments aligns with what research considers to be effective teacher professional development. While research has been done on effective PD; what teachers want from such experiences; and how teachers are interacting with each other in online environments, there is little research that aligns the engagement of teachers online with effective professional learning. This review examines literature on the topics of online teacher engagement, as well as effective professional development practices, and aims to contribute to research on teachers’ professional learning, teachers’ agency, and online learning. Conclusions were formulated after reviewing literature on effective PD, teachers’ perceptions and desires related to PD, and teachers participation in online spaces. Arguments for re-conceptualizing the online behaviors of teachers as valid professional learning experiences were developed by synthesizing findings from research on PD into a framework, which was then used to analyze findings on teachers’ online interactions. The results reveal alignment across multiple areas: what research claims is needed for effective professional development is what teachers want from their professional development experiences, and what both researchers say is effective and what teachers want is aligned with the behaviors of teachers in online environments. Therefore, researchers can begin to consider teachers’ actions online through the lens of PD, opening up new opportunities to develop more practical and effective professional development experiences for both online and in-person learning.

Featured Gamification and Artificial Intelligence for Digital Education: Designing, Developing and Evaluating AI-enabled Gamification for Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Poster Session
Stephen Bezzina  

Gamification, or the use of game design elements for non-game contexts, has been gaining popularity in the field of education technology practice and research. It uses game mechanics such as rewards, levels and challenges to motivate and engage learners and make learning more interactive and enjoyable. The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into gamification has the potential to create autonomous, adaptive and personalised teaching, learning and assessment experiences to further empower learners and educators. Consequently, this study seeks to extend the conceptual basis of the term 'AI-enabled Gamification' and explore the methodological approaches to designing, developing and evaluating AI-enabled gamification for digital education. This is achieved through a mixed methods approach that draws on theories and findings from the fields of social sciences, educational technology, gamification, computer science, and human-computer interaction. In particular, the presented research, which is a work-in-progress, focuses on the design and development of a web application for Primary Mathematics, which is underpinned by an AI-enabled gamification approach. This is evaluated through its capacity to act as an enabler for learners' motivation, engagement and academic achievement. The research uses data from various sources, including students, educators, game designers, and AI scientists. The results have the potential to contribute to the fields of gamification and AI in education and provide a foundation for future academic studies.

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