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.