Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Learning Assistance Tool for Enhancing ICT Literacy of Elementary School Students

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Learning Assistance Tool for Enhancing ICT Literacy of Elementary School Students

Article excerpt


Internet learning via e-learning, distance education, remote experimentation, and computerized examination has been extensively used at all education levels. Numerous web-based e-learning platforms and examination systems have been developed. These information and communication technology (ICT)-based systems reduce the time needed for examination-related tasks, such as grading, marking, recording, and analyzing, and provide ubiquitous practice and tests via web browsers.

As students can learn effectively with and be encouraged by a learning-assistance tool that provides useful hints or feedback, this work developed a novel learning-assistance tool that guides learners when they become confused or stalled when using an ICT literacy-assessment platform constructed for elementary school students in Taiwan. Project-based activities are incorporated into the web-based diagnostic and assessment platform. Students are expected to use the application software suite provided by the platform to solve everyday problems. Guidance is offered via a feedback rule construction mechanism. A machine-learning technique, reinforcement learning, is adopted to provide useful hints or feedback to learners based on their learning portfolios, collected during learning activities. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first diagnostic and assessment tool in literature. Use of Asynchronous Java Script and XML (AJAX) technology in this work enhances interactivity, access speed, and usability of the web-based diagnostic and assessment platform, such that problems associated with traditional click- and- wait web applications can be alleviated. That is, via AJAX technology, the web-based diagnostic and assessment platform can respond promptly to ensure timely interaction between the platform and learners. According to experimental results, the proposed learning-assistance tool effectively assists learners in making progress during continuous assigned projects. The assessment module was confirmed capable of evaluating learner work quality correctly.

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Related work in literature is discussed in the next section. Following that, the overall architecture of the proposed ICT learning-assistance tool, how to apply the reinforcement learning mechanism to the learning diagnostic module, and experimental results are discussed in their respective sections. Finally, conclusions and future work directions are given.

Related work

In the late 1990s, many governments increased their investments in ICT in the educational domain. The rapid development of the Internet and the World Wide Web led to the adoption of plans to equip all schools with accessibility to these facilities within a short period. In England, the government launched a six-year project to build an information-technology platform for delivering onscreen tests to all secondary schools. The tests were developed to enable students to apply technologies to solve problems, analyze information, develop ideas, create models, and exchange information (Becta, 2006). A computer-proficiency test developed by Bradlow, Hoch, and Hutchinson (2002) consisted of 27 multiple-choice items measuring student computer knowledge in several domains, such as general computer terminology, file management, spreadsheets, databases, the Internet, and email. However, the test is not specifically designed to test the digital skills needed by primary school students. The items measured factual knowledge of computer terminology and concepts rather than gauging procedural knowledge about how to perform computer tasks. In Taiwan, several ICT-assessment platforms have been constructed to assess the computer knowledge of primary school students via multiple-choice questions. Students typically memorized answers to those multiple-choice questions, such that the multiple-choice questions did not assess student ICT literacy.

A computer-based performance test in which students are assessed via a number of functional computer tasks is undoubtedly more effective for assessing digital skills than a questionnaire. …

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