Learning in CyberParks - A Smart Learning Journey in Valletta.
A Smart Learning Journey, comprising 10 Points of Interest (PoI) was developed to explore the theme ‘Democracy’ along the main street of Valletta city. Smart learning is characterised by customised, networked, data-intensive, location-based, augmented learning. Customisation is evident both in the number of activity options available at each PoI and also by providing a flexible methodology for users to organise the learning journey according to their preference. PoIs can be visited randomly without a prescribed sequence. The information provided at each PoI forms part of an on-line knowledge network accessed through the Wifi available in the city. Users have to reflect about the theme at each PoI by commenting and by sharing their experience using different media formats. PoI were selected to include buildings and spaces related to the democratic process of the country comprising key historical events or political functions. The ten PoI identified in Republic street are: City gate, the Parliament building and adjacent square, Palazzo Ferreria, the Law Courts, the Great Siege monument, Republic square, the President’s palace, the Marble plaques commemorating the Independence and the setting up of the Republic, and the monument commemorating the riots of 7th June 1919. Using the HP reveal App, augmented reality is integrated at each PoI to provide a hybrid experience integrating virtual objects with the physical environment. A map the learning journey is developed in Google maps indicating clearly all the POIs and giving key information about each. Users use this map to get to the POIs. Once on spot, they have to turn their smartphone camera on and use the HP reveal app to activate content related to that particular location or building. They have to identify the trigger image on site, point their mobile to it and adjust the distance to have the content displayed on the smartphone screen. Activity options appear to acquire information about the History, Structure, Function and relationship of that site to democracy. Another option guides users to react and comment about their experience at that particular PoI preferably through the use of different media. They have to upload and share any generated content in an Edmodo group specifically set up for this learning journey. The underlying challenge is to make users reflect about how each PoI is related either to the development of the democratic process in Malta or to some key aspect of democracy.
The main objective of this smart learning journey is to promote the concept that urban spaces and buildings can serve as Personal Learning Environments. Through the proposed Smart learning journey, citizen’s experience is enhanced and possibly transformed by merging the physical with the digital environments. Smartphones and communication systems are integrated with the physical environment to provide a holistic, hybrid, interactive experience enriched through augmented reality. The Smart learning journey provides citizens with increased dimensions of interactions - physical and virtual environments, contiguous and on-line communities, data systems - and levels of interactions (acquisition of information, sharing of experience and knowledge, mediating and supporting others’ experience). Through this Smart learning journey Republic street in Valletta acquires more the characteristics of a CyberPark – a place/space, addressing various citizens’ needs, enhanced through technology and becoming more social, interactive, glocal, hybrid, connected, multipurpose. This smart learning experience increases the purpose of various categories of citizens to visit the place and experiment with different forms of learning, communication, socialising, recreation and entertainment.
University of Malta
Dr Philip Bonanno (Learning design) Dr Emanuel Buttigieg (History expert) Ms Pen Lister (Information & Technical design) Students from Faculty of Education and Faculty of Arts: