Mae at Grad Mae Doran

2022 EdD graduate of Athabasca University’s Doctor of Education in Distributed, Digital, Open education program. Awards in innovation and research. Beginning third career as a professor of digital education. Previous careers in ICT in Ottawa in various roles including instructional design and business process analysis, followed by a career as an entrepreneur in dental clinic startup/sales and commercial property management.

Title: A Virtual Education Intervention to Approximate Hands-on Learning: Via Task-Centered Learning Praxis

Abstract: As yet, technology cannot offer online learners a way to physically touch real objects in a remote learning environment. The gap in provisioning hands-on learning virtually is widening due to the global population explosion and society’s quantum move to a net-connected world. A conundrum is growing where organizations are bound to continue using existing equipment, labs, and worksites to teach physical hands-on skills yet need to move curriculum online. Further, the quality of the pedagogy vis-à-vis the needs of tech-oriented twenty-first century learners, as well as wide accessibility to many demographics at minimal cost, are factors of great concern. Metaverse solutions are nascent and out-of-range for all but the most well-funded early adopters: medical, military, aerospace, and gaming industries.

Addressing this situation, held against the three vectors of the iron triangle of distance education — quality, affordability, and accessibility — I designed a pedagogical-technological intervention called HAvatar. It uses a human avatar to stand in for online learners to practice skills.
The intervention was evaluated using design-based research methodology in iterations grounded in task-centred learning theory (quality) using existing real-world facilities and readily available retail technology (affordability) conducted with remote learners (accessibility). Data were collected via mixed methods: rating scales, descriptions, videography.

Findings reported that the quality of HAvatar as a way to master hands-on equipment skills was high. The seven participants unanimously recommended that HAvatar be taken further into technical and vocational training organizations. A quantitative in-situ study on its efficacy and using HAvatar as specifications for metaverse development are future directions.


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