Master thesis on self-documentation and empowerment at schools

The ubiquity of social media often means that we continuously document the smallest minutiae of our lives. This type of self-documentation often happens without explicit learning goals. The role of self-documentation in goal-oriented learning is what Jonas and Henrik, master students at NTNU, set out to investigate in cooperation with vendors of two IT tools, Mindfit and Dokker.

The main research objective for this diploma work is to design IT concepts and tools to incorporate daily goal-setting and positive self-reflection and self-evaluation into education. The hypothesis is that this type of tool will empower students and increase their self-efficacy, leading to a more enjoyable and effective learning experience.

Modern learning management systems often incorporate documentation tools to allow students to upload material connected to courses and evaluation done by teachers. Many of these tools support a top-down managerial model where the teacher defines what needs to be documented. One learning management tool called Dokker goes in another direction, allowing students to self-document their learning activities. The teachers still hand out assignments, but students use Dokker as a self-documentation tools similar to social media. Students decide what information in their Dokker portfolio can be shared with teachers and others. Dokker was evaluated as part of this master project, and new design concepts were developed by Jonas and Henrik.

Additionally, Jonas and Henrik have looked into what motivates students to self-document in the first place, both in terms of psycho-social conditions for self-documentation, the effect of self-documentation on motivation and efficacy, and design concepts that can be useful to make educational self-documentation easier and more enjoyable. In this respect, Jonas and Henrik have evaluated another tool called Mindfit. Mindfit is a self-reflection, mindfulness and behavior change tool developed for smartphones.

Ideas from Dokker and Mindfit were used in co-design workshops with students in order to come up with next generation learning management system ideas. During the thesis work we have cooperated with the vendors of Dokker and Mindfit and plan to continue this research together with them in new innovation projects. The thesis will be made available in TELL publication list once it has gone through evaluation.