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What Is Ubiquitous Learning?

By Megan Shoop
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ubiquitous learning involves placing students in an environment that encourages constant stimulation through visualization and comprehension techniques. These environments are usually designed so that each student can learn at his or her own level and pace. Theoretically, this helps each student learn more quickly and retain information much more easily. Most ubiquitous learning environments contain very advanced interactive technology, but this kind of learning can also be done in a technology-free zone. Teachers in ubiquitous learning centers usually play a very different role from that of a teacher in a traditional classroom.

The word ubiquitous means constant, ever-present, and ongoing. An environment that encourages this kind of learning typically helps students engage themselves in the learning process with very little direction. The students interact with learning stations to gain an understanding of key concepts. When done correctly, the students may not even realize they’re continuing to learn. Not only do ubiquitous learning techniques seek to help students learn at their own paces, they try to intermingle subjects. Math, science, language, history, music, and art are often interwoven to create a total learning experience.

A ubiquitous learning classroom might contain four or five interactive learning stations. Each student may be given a small wireless computer tablet that keeps track of his or her progress. The student logs into the learning programs on each station with a password, and uses the tablet to interact with the lessons there. As the student works, his or her learning pace and style are analyzed, recorded, and passed to the other stations. When the student moves to the next station, the idea is that the lesson will be tailored to that student’s skill level. In this way, students of many skill levels may all share the same classroom.

The term ubiquitous learning also refers to the holistically-styled lesson plans. For instance, a student at a history station may be learning about the Renaissance. When he or she moves to the art or music station, that station will probably contain lessons about Renaissance art and music. The same goes for language, math, and science — the student will learn about what kinds of related breakthroughs scholars were making in that time period. In this way, students not only learn concepts, but also come to understand how, where, and why such things came about.

Understanding 'why' is also a very important part of this kind of learning. Even in an environment without technology, students can learn in this way to enhance their understanding. For instance, in a non-technological ubiquitous learning experience, the teacher may design activities to help students discover why seeds grow in some environments and not in others. This would probably involve experimentation, hypotheses, and plenty of discussion. In any ubiquitous learning classroom, the teacher acts more like a guide than a leader, allowing the students to work at their own paces, asking the teacher for clarity when necessary.

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Discussion Comments

By turquoise — On Dec 04, 2014

@ZipLine-- U-learning (short for ubiquitous learning) is similar to e-learning but more flexible. E-learning is still done from a single work station and as you said, it's not in a classroom, so one doesn't have as easy access to an instructor. U-learning combines interaction with experts, with immediate access to information. It also records the progression of learning which e-learning does not.

E-learning doesn't measure how you learn or how fast you learn. It's similar to typical classroom learning where an exam is given and the results grade. But with u-learning, instructors know exactly how each student is doing, how fast they're learning, which areas they're experiencing issues in, etc.

By ZipLine — On Dec 04, 2014

This is the first time I'm hearing about uniquitous learning but it sounds a lot like e-learning to me. I took a long-distance course in college with e-learning once. It was a summer course. I accessed the video lectures that our instructor prepared and uploaded onto the university course portal. We also accessed our assignments and exams that way. There was a forum where we discussed the weekly topics with the other students.

It sounds like ubiquitous learning is basically the same thing, except maybe in a classroom setting rather than outside of the classroom.

By SteamLouis — On Dec 03, 2014

This sounds like an amazing educational method. I wish ubiquitous learning was available when I was a student. We had a computer lab at school where we spent some time every week. But we never had access to this type of learning which is available thanks to the advancement of technology. It sounds like a very comprehensive method that's also interesting for the students. Since they have to interact, they won't get bored or lose attention. Classic learning methods can be very monotone which I think impacts learning negatively.

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