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Ubiquitous Social Presence Context-Awareness in a m-Learning


									Social Presence and Context-Awareness
 for Knowledge Transformation in an
       m-Learning Environment

       Raymond M. Kekwaletswe
    Centre for Educational Technology

      U n i v e r s i t y of C a p e T o w n
 One of the most fundamental facets of learning is the social interaction
   in which knowledge is an outcome of individuals sharing experiences.

 In a contact university, learners generally perform learning tasks in
   three locations:
     formal contexts
     semi-formal contexts
     informal contexts or non- academic settings.

 As learners move across different learning contexts, they do not have
   access to the same social networks for knowledge sharing and

 The lack of social presence awareness makes it difficult to provide
   them with context sensitive and anywhere anytime support as learning
   environments change.
 One of the prevailing educational challenges in a South African
   university is that of providing tailored social support to under prepared
      For these learners, the potential of personalized support on
       learning experiences through social awareness could be huge.

 Learners at the University of Cape Town come from very diverse
   backgrounds, with different languages and cultures.

 Social awareness of knowledgeable peers with shared background
   regardless of a learning location could enrich learning experience and
   knowledge transfer.

 This presentation is on how social presence awareness, afforded by
   mobile instant messaging (IM), is used to support knowledge
   transformation as a learner traverses varied contexts.
Knowledge Transformation
 Knowledge is an ambiguous, unspecific and dynamic phenomenon,
   intrinsically related to meaning, understanding and process.

 It is fundamentally intertwined with social settings in which it is

 Knowledge transfer is ultimately a human-to-human process.

 Since this process is inherently interactive and dynamic, the
   knowledge, in essence, transforms while or during the very process of
   its transfer.

 Knowledge transformation is, therefore, a social process which occurs
   when there is a shift in knowledge due to the social interaction.
Knowledge Social Space
 Social setting or context in which knowledge is encountered contributes
   to its meaning.

 Mindful of this, our view of ideal social presence awareness for
   knowledge transformation is one that is sensitive to the background of
   a learner, culture and language.

 The shared background, therefore, affords shared interpretations or

 Shared meanings are very important to social interaction transpiring via
   mobile instant messaging.

 The meaning of the text in IM interaction derives from its context. In
   other words, knowledge is socially constructed when IM text message
   is socially and contextually interpreted.
Knowledge, Social Presence
& Context Awareness
 The emphasis of this presentation is on how social presence and
   context awareness is used in the exchange of knowledge among

 Knowledge transformation is the outcome of learners sharing
   experiences while building helpful and socially rewarding networks of

 For social interaction to begin taking place, learners ought to be aware
   of the social presence of available social resources.

 In the next slides, we discuss theories of social presence and context
   awareness, conceptual model and conclusion.
    Concept of Presence
 Presence, although broadly defined as the sense of ‘being there’ in
   a mediated environment, can be conceptualized in a number of

 These multidimensional conceptualizations, however, can be
   grouped into two broad categories—social and physical presence

 The physical category refers to the sense of being physically located

 Social category refers to being and communicating with someone
Social Presence Theory
 “Social presence,” initially proposed by Short, Williams, and
   Christie (1976) as “technical social presence,”
     was defined as the capacity of the medium itself to present
      the “salience of the other person in interpersonal interaction”

 Short, et. al. contended that different communication media convey
   varying degrees of social presence based on their ability to transmit
   nonverbal and vocal information.

 Challenged by researchers in the field who showed that perceived
   social presence in mediated interactions varies among participants.

 They thus argued that social presence was as much a matter of
   individual perceptions as an objective quality of the medium.

 Consequently, redefining social presence as “the degree to which a
   person is perceived as ‘real’ in mediated communication”
Social Presence
 Rourke, et al (2001) regarded social presence as one of the three
   fundamental “presences” that support learning, the other two being
   cognitive presence and teaching presence

 Defining it as “the ability of learners to project themselves socially and
   affectively into a community of inquiry”

 They identified three categories of social presence indicators --
   affective responses, cohesive responses, and interactive responses:

       Affective responses contain personal expressions of emotion,
        feelings, beliefs, and values.
       Cohesive responses are communication behaviors that build and
        sustain a sense of group commitment, e.g. greetings and
        salutations and group or personal reference.
       Interactive responses are behaviors that provide evidence that
        others are attending, e.g. agreement/disagreement, approval and
        referencing previous messages.

 Context can be understood as the situation in which the
   individual or a group of learners find themselves.

 Accordingly, context is defined as any information that can be
   used to characterize the situation of an entity.

 An entity is a person, place, or object that is considered relevant
   to the interaction between a user and an application
Problem Formulation
 Our view is that awareness of social presence is a useful characteristic
   of a learning environment in which a mobile learner is engaged in a
   knowledge and learning activity.

 Accepting this premise, there are three challenges:

       Firstly, the learner’s engagement with a knowledge transforming
        activity is not fixed to particular locations.

       Secondly, learning environments exist to support learning and
        when a learner moves the environment ought to move with a

       Thirdly, the learner ought to be aware of a social presence while
        engaged with a location independent learning task and knowledge
Problem Formulation
 In this regard, the problem is       Formal contexts: Interaction in
  that of ensuring that the quality     these spaces is usually one-way
  of resources remains consistent       from instructor to learner. The
  for supporting a learning task        instructor delivers lectures, and
  regardless of the location of a       a learner either takes notes or is
  learner.                              given a handout. Learning is
 We use the term resources             often passive
  pragmatically to mean peers,         Semi-contexts: represent
  tutors, instructors etc.              informal spaces on campus.
 There are three types of              Most instructors schedule
  contexts within which a learner       consultations, often no ad hoc
  is mobile and for which a             consultations.
  learner needs support:               In-formal contexts include
     Formal contexts                   working during after-hours,
     Semi-formal contexts
                                        week-ends; in residences, or
                                        home. In these spaces, a
     In-formal contexts                learner may use his or her
                                        mother tongue language to
                                        consult with peers
 We sought to provide             Our context-aware
  ubiquitous learning support       consultation environment
  to a learner as he or she         supports a learner (who)
  traverses the three contexts,     as he or she engages with
 Our goal is to create a           the learning materials
  context-aware consultation        (what), whether in the
  system.                           formal, semi or informal
 Context-aware applications        learning contexts
  look at the who’s, where’s,       (where), anytime (when)
  when’s and what’s of              through the use of
  entities and use this
  information to determine why      context-aware social
  the situation is occurring.       presence mechanisms.
 An application doesn’t
  actually determine why a
  situation is occurring
 Lonsdale et al (2004) proposed a context model hierarchy to provide a
   hierarchical description of context as a dynamic process with historical

 The model had three features:
    Context (what’s going on over time);
    Context state (elements from the learning and setting at one particular time,
     space, or goal sequence);
    Context sub-state (elements from the learner and setting that are relevant to
     the current focus of learning and desired level of context awareness).

    The goal of the context model was to develop a learner-centered
      approach to context awareness.
Conceptual Model
 Although we share the learner centered approach, we differ in the
  implementation of the context-awareness.
 In our proposition, the mobile learner has access to the same social
  network and resources regardless of his or her location or learning

                         Mobile learner environment
                P1       P2          P3          P4        P5
                     Social Presence Awareness                                       T


                            Social            Network
L       Peers
    T                Social Presence Awareness

                     L                 T          Peer
                                                                            P = Learner with a learning task/problem
                         Mobile lecturer, tutor and peer                    T =Tutor
                                  environment                               L = Lecturer
Social Presence & Context-Aware
Consultation System
In the conceptual model (preceding slide), context-awareness and social
    presence are achieved via mobile instant messaging (IM). Current
    pilots involve the use of an IM client installed on pocket PCs.
    The need for a WiFi enabled PDA is to support synchronous interaction in varied contexts
    using wireless network hotspots.

   In our view, social awareness is a mental concept where a learner becomes
    aware of the social network that follows him or her while moving across the
    different learning contexts.

   In the model, a learner is consciously aware of available tutors, lecturers and
    knowledgeable peers should they encounter a learning problem for which they
    need to consult.

   By the same token, a peer is consciously aware of other mobile learners as well
    as available experts (lecturers or tutors).

   Learners access a consistent quality of social network and resources. The social
    network provides a necessary social interaction whose outcome is knowledge
    transformation in the mind of a learner.

 Although the mobile IM environment is serving as a useful source of
   context information on available sources of consultable peers, some of
   the current challenges include:

       Access problems to PDA devices or wireless hotspots.

       Integrating IM with the location awareness that is built into cellular
        phone systems.

       Seamless interface between the mobile IM client and the online
        consultation system (developed at UCT) called Dynamic Frequently
        Asked Questions, is under investigation.
   In view of the fact that learning and knowledge transformation are location and time independent, mobile
    instant messaging allows learners the unusual presence awareness of available social resources they can
    draw upon for consultation.

   We have shown how social presence awareness is used to support a learner. Our conceptual model is a
    learning environment that supports the mobility of a learner, continuously assuring him or her of consistent
    access to social networks and resources.

   We have shown how ubiquitous communication and social interaction through the use of a context-aware
    social presence mechanism is employed to support a learner as he or she traverses the formal, semi-
    formal, and informal learning contexts.

   Although social network and resources are static, they move with the learner through social awareness
    presence, regardless of a learning context. Therefore, social presence afforded by instant messaging could
    successfully maintain social networks constituted for anywhere, anytime knowledge transformation.

   We have also highlighted some of the implementation challenges with our model which we are addressing
    using pragmatic approaches.

   We approached mobile instant messaging in its local context of supporting social interaction in a South
    African higher education environment, where personalized academic support is a growing need but delivery
    is fraught with challenges.

   Hence, the synchronous mobile IM allows us to determine the local value it brings to learning and
    knowledge sharing, as well as its place among other media of social and educational communication.
Future Work
 The envisaged future work of the mobile IM environment will
  allow learners to:

      pick up knowledgeable peers or tutors who are nearest to
       their location and available for interaction based on hotspot

 This mobile IM environment through its social presence
  awareness feature will show a learner:

      who among his or her social network is available for a
       potential immediate and impromptu face-to-face
Ke lebogile! Thank you!


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