Research of Extreme Learning
What is Extreme Learning?

Extreme Learning is defined as using technology for learning purposes in novel, unusual, or nontraditional ways. This includes learning with technology when in various locations such as a park, plane, train, subway, boat, or car. It can also include interactive learning activities when climbing a mountain, visiting a local company, riding a bicycle, working in a war zone, or taking a vacation on a remote island. For some people it involves mobile or interactive learning experiences such as in a museum, zoo, auditorium, theater, or sports complex. Others might have experienced extreme learning when at a summer camp, research station, or outdoor classroom. And still others might engage in extreme learning when in a grocery store, cafe, bookstore, nursing home, airport, hospital bed, or shopping mall.

Perhaps more commonly, you might be enrolled in a virtual school or university or have taken an online class. You might have also used free and open educational resources or an online learning portal during such online classes or experiences. In addition, extreme learning might include learning when in virtual worlds or online communities, participating in social media, engaging in Webcam experiences or videoconferences with people in other locations, sending or receiving text messaging with learners or experts in other countries, and using mobile devices to solve a problem when in a remote area. It can also occur when learning a language online individually or with others around the world. Highly extreme learning is evident when tracking and communicating with an expedition or group of explorers or adventurers in a learning adventure somewhere on the planet. It can happen when participating online in a cause or global social movement of some type. It can even involve very casual and common informal learning experiences such as using Wikipedia or a YouTube video to look up needed information.

A visual representation of the dimensions and impact of extreme learning

Research significance

This research offers insights into where and how the cutting-edge technology for educational purposes in authentic learning environments, especially outside conventional perspectives of where learning takes place. Furthermore, by categorizing and evaluating hundreds of extreme learning Web sites, educators should begin to fathom the potential of extreme learning. With that said, our team has spent the past 18 months finding, and cataloguingover 300 Extreme Learning websites. They have been categorized into Online Language Learning, Outdoor/Adventure Learning, Virtual Education, Learning Portals, Social Change/Global and Shared Online Video. These sites have been evaluated according to a set of eight quality criteria. Furthermore,Extreme Learning includes 5 dimensions: Dimension of Casualness and Informality, Dimension of Location, Dimension of Media, Dimension of Learning Delivery, and Dimension of Type of Learning.


We generated data through four primary methods. First is the continued content analysis of informal and extreme learning Websites. Nearly 300 Websites were collected by the “Extreme Learning Research Team” at Indiana University (IU). These sites were placed into six categories: 1. Online language learning; 2. Adventure learning and environmental education; 3. Social change and global education; 4. Virtual education; 5. Learning portals; and 6. Shared online video.

Website EvaluationBack

As the first step for the research team to identify the impact of extreme learning, evaluating and categorizing hundreds of extreme learning Web sites are essential for educators to begin.Highly ranked websites will be chosen for more detailed analysis to show how the features displayed at these websites offer experiential, engaging, and effective learning experiences to encourage unique human learning and empowerment. As such, this project intends to evaluate the quality of a wide range of online learning resources, projects, and activities from the casual informal to the highly extreme forms of learning. Given the pervasive clamor about online learning quality, the evaluation criteria should prove usable to informal and extreme learning project founders, developers, and users.

In addition to the evaluation criteria, we hope to create a highly functional and easy-to-navigate mobile platform and Website with hundreds of informal and extreme learning resources. When complete, users will become aware of the wide range of learning formats and options available today. We intend for to become a free and open Website connecting millions of potential learners and teachers around the planet. No such resource presently exists.

Evaluation Criteria

Each Website was analyzed by four different people according to eight criteria (Click to view the Web Site Coding Scheme): (1) content richness, (2) functionality of technology, (3) extent of technology integration, (4) novelty of technology, (5) uniqueness of learning environment/learning, (6) potential for learning, (7) potential for life changing, and (8) scalability of audience. Ratings were made of each Web site based on the eight criteria using a 5-point Likert scale (1 is low; 5 is high). For instance, the “Content Richness” criterion deals with how much information the Website, resource, or project contains on the topic chosen, how adequately it fulfills the purpose of learning, and whether the information is credible and up-to-date or not.

Dimension of Extreme Learning

More than 300 casual informal and more extreme learning Web resources, projects, and activities have been collected, categorized by the following 6 dimensions.

  • Online Language Learning Sites
  • Outdoor/Adventure Learning
  • Social Change/Global Education
  • Virtual Education
  • Learning Portals
  • Shared Online Videos
  • SurveyBack

    We have designed a relatively brief online survey intended to help understand informal and extremelearning experiences, needs, and desires. Participants will be asked about their favorite informal learning Websites and resources. In addition, the survey inquires about what motivates them to learn informally online, the barriers to informal online learning, and the supports that they are provided. These questions also address how learners become aware of informal and extreme learning resources, their intended outcomes when using them, and achievements to date. The surveys will be anonymous, though age, gender, and geographic location information will be gathered. By partnering with site owners, we expect to obtain thousands of survey respondents for each of the areas of extreme learning we are targeting (e.g., social change/global education, online language learning, adventure learning, etc.).

    A second section of the survey will include optional open-ended questions for participants to share stories about their extreme learning experiences. The open-ended interview questions will allow respondents to elaborate on their informal and extreme learning expectations, motivations, experiences and achievements, challenges and obstacles, supports, role models, and future plans. It is in these open-ended questions that we intend to begin to gather real-world stories of personal change and life altering empowerment moments. In effect, the online survey captures a wide-range of individual experiences in an expedient and secure fashion, while establishing baseline informal and extreme learning data as well as a pool of interview and story sharing participants.

    You can be a participant of the survey. Go to the Survey
    The research has been approved by IRB. Please see the Informed Consent Statement.

    Participant InterviewsBack

    A key facet of this research project will be to determine how learners experience improvement and enhancement in their learning pursuits through extreme learning tools, resources, projects, and activities. Technology-mediated interviews (e.g., email, chat, Adobe Connect Web conferences, Skype video calls) with learners engaged in extreme learning activities from the many learning Web resources will provide further insights into the potential benefits of extreme learning, including pinnacle or life changing moments that may occur. In terms of the interview participants, we plan to gather nominations of participants from various Web resource founders and directors. In addition, we will solicit participants who write interesting stories in the open-ended survey questions. We will also scan Websites and social media (e.g., blogs, microblogs, social networks) in order to identify participants. While a set of potential interview topic areas have been drafted, the exact questions asked will evolve after research team member immersion in the respective Web resources and activities.

    Focus GroupsBack

    Some of the interview participants will be asked to participate in one or more online focus group sessions in Skype or Adobe Connect. Approximately 3-5 people will participate in each online focus group. Participants will be requested to comment on how different technologies and activities empowered their learning. They will also be asked to point out any commonalities (e.g., common emotions, stages of learning, technologies, length of activities, peak experiences, etc.) across the experiences or situations. The general direction of the conversation and insights from the participants will determine which questions are asked.




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