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Exploring Collaborative Self-Directed Learning for STEM education with a tablet-based app to facilitate exchange of chat messages and development of codes as collaborative interactions during group activities
Kam Hong Shum, Lucas Chi Kwong Hui, Cheuk Yu Yeung, Samuel Kai Wah Chu

Last modified: 2017-05-02


Due to the self-directed and hands-on nature of STEM learning activities, students often play an important role in taking the initiative to explore and complete their learning tasks. Self-directed learning (SDL) has recently been adopted by the Education Bureau (EDB, 2016b) as a strategy to STEM education to cater for learner diversity and enhances learners’ motivation to learn, sense of achievement and self-esteem. In addition to SDL, this project proposes to introduce the element of collaboration to enhance the effectiveness of the pedagogy for STEM education. Collaboration among students is highlighted by the Education Bureau (EDB, 2016a) as one of the most important outcomes of STEM education, together with creativity and problem-solving skills. As described in a working paper of OECD (Kärkkäinen & Vincent-Lancrin, 2013), collaboration can be used to help develop, spread, accelerate and sustain innovation in education. Moore, Houde, Hoggan and Wagner (2007) coined the term CSDL to represent Collaborative Self-directed Learning and suggested that purposeful inclusion of collaborative strategies can enhance self-directed learning.

To support the pedagogical practices of CSDL for STEM education, carefully designed technology-supported interventions are required. This paper describes the work-in-progress study in introducing the facilities to support collaboration into self-directed learning for STEM education. A tablet-based app is developed to support coding in Snap! and exchanging chat messages among students during group learning activities of STEM education. This tablet-based app is modified from the e-learning platform called SkyApp (Hui et al., 2015) which is developed by the joint research efforts of the researchers in the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong. SkyApp was initially designed to manage tablet-based e-learning activities in teaching mathematics (Shum et al., 2016). Organizing the information related to STEM learning activities as projects, this tablet-based app supports collaboration through learning from peers, learning from other student groups of their own schools and sharing outcomes of learning with external student groups. Collaborative actions of students introduced by this app include (1) coding in Snap! and exchanging chat messages (Figure 1); and (2) sharing of STEM activities outputs and exchanging chat messages (Figure 2) in group activities.