Athabasca University, Canada
Seamless Learning in Higher Education 2 is an invaluable contribution to the field of open, digital, and distance learning as it captures cross-cultural and cross-institutional reports of opportunities, challenges, and solutions of seamless learning that are common across educational contexts around the globe. By presenting the detailed results of an international study that followed a consistent framework across varying educational circumstances, it offers the reader a better understanding of the aspects of seamless learning that are unique to diverse educational and cultural settings. Educational experts from nine countries co-authored the book as an extension of their ongoing collaboration, research, and dialogue on seamless learning at higher education institutions. The book is organized around the main research question of the reported study, namely “How prepared are higher education institutions for seamless learning?” It goes deeper to also explore what changes are needed to improve seamless learning universally and for specific environments. Recommendations are offered in each chapter dealing with specific dimensions of the seamless learning ecosystem and subsequently summarized in the concluding chapter.
The book describes seamless learning, an innovative approach to digital learning, and highlights its key features that promote seamless transition between different learning tasks, events, devices, systems, and educational environments. It illustrates how learning experiences can occur across varying contexts, including formal and informal learning that enable lifelong learning for all. The benefits of seamless learning are highlighted, including its flexibility that affords experiential learning and increased levels of engagement. The improved quality of course design, teaching approaches, and learner success are mentioned along with opportunities to improve the inclusivity and digital accessibility of learning. Chapter authors provide evidence of how seamless learning can bridge the various gaps experienced across learning environments, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic that exposed many of the shortcomings of the educational systems and practice.
The reported study contributes an evidence-based practical framework for identifying the areas that might require improvement. The findings of the study illustrate potential solutions and limitations that need to be considered. By providing specific examples, it demonstrates how various strategies can be integrated in unique higher education contexts at micro and macro levels, for instance, it can assist a course designer with identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a course or whether the course is “seamless learning ready.”
In the conclusion to the book Helga Hambrock underscores the learnings acquired during the COVID-19. She also refers to the importance of the combined analysis of the project data that stresses how “all countries persevered, adapted, and succeeded in teaching during COVID-19” by applying varied levels of seamless learning. That might suggest that implementing seamless learning to whatever degree is possible, under the existing socio-economic or other access restrictions, may lead to improved learning process and outcomes. This volume offers a proven guide to establishing the right approach and its successful implementation for diverse circumstances, including less privileged communities. Hambrock summarizes the significant outcome of this international study by observing that it demonstrated “that success is less dependent upon state-of-the-art technology to achieve a seamless learning experience for the students; rather, that simpler technology can be used along with, for example, pedagogical, positive, practical, human and design concepts.” This aptly summarizes how the SLED model, its concepts, guidelines, and practices identified in the book, can contribute to the success of the learning process and outcomes in a variety of educational contexts. This volume is an invaluable reference resource for learning designers, teachers, policy makers, and other architects of open, digital, and distance learning.