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mLearning

Phillipa and Ryan are a little puzzled

Frustrated students are starting to doubt the future of progress. For the past two weeks I’ve inflicted a Mobile code hunt on their them, in attempt to demonstrate that mobile phones have potential outside the walls of the classroom.  They’ve sat, squinted and swore for an hour trying to figure out how to download a QR code reader to their Mobile phones so that they could find the answers on a QR code.  This morning, of the 20 students, only one managed to download the reader (the other students phone models did not support the code or they had no air time). While it was clear that many students were adept at managing their phones and could work around a small screen, the problem of a common platform made me doubt the possibilities that mLearning holds for whole class learning. The range of different phone models makes it extremely difficult to supply instructions on how to configure the phone.

mLearning certainly holds enormous pedegogic and practical potential.  But whether the phone has the ability to act as “a classroom in your pocket” will depend on the degree of uniformity amongst phones. The wide variety of phones amongst students meant that nobody was able to assist each other, as each had a different phone. Background of the mobile phone owner will also play a part in their ability to master the tool. It was interesting to note that students that had some business or other experience beyond the classroom were able to make better use of their phone.

Ah well, back to the drawing board, more prototypes, more thought is required.

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6 thoughts on “mLearning

  1. I enjoyed yesterday’s lesson, but I do agree that uniformity in technology might be necessary for this sort of learning to be really effective. Of course, if people (and here I include myself!) were better versed in the basic principles of this sort technology, and the application thereof, there would not be such difficulties with ‘troubleshooting’ around variations of equipment. But this simply is not the case. The rise of cellphone consumerism clearly is not an indication of highly sophisticated technological proficiency. Most phones are used for basic communication.

  2. “The rise of cellphone consumerism clearly is not an indication of highly sophisticated technological proficiency” You nailed it right there Carin. It’s easy to assume that because people have a powerful tool, they know how to use it. As educators I think that we also need to take it further and explore what / if other proficiencies (beyond technological) are necessary to learn within this mobile world. This however, is a new field. No – one has done much research into learning while on the hoof.

  3. I know exactly what you mean.
    I too have started at ways that i could engage with our PhD students using mobile devices. The diversity of phones they have are however immense and , no , not everyone has a smart phone yet. They are expensive! Not everyone still sees their added value yet, especially if they use it mainly for calling and texting people.
    Furthermore, not all our students are that well web connected or interested of this phenomenon as we all would like to see it. It’s still early times. But It’s important to start trying and thinking how we can capitalise on such micro, mobile technologies.

    My only hope is that we start using them from the very beginning in a very creative and different way. We don’t want to use mobiles to replicate exactly what we could do with something else. I think that si why systems as blackboard, etc in the UK have not worked … they even tried to call it a VLE (which I disagree with) but when you use it mainly to deposit content, you might as well use email. It saves students one more log in in a space they obviously don’t feel they belong to!

    I liked the challenge you set. This will spice students’ curiosity. It will trigger their interest. because it was different from what they could do with other tools… that’s where the added value is. Keep sharing

  4. I’ve also realized that I persist on introducing new ideas (like QR codes) without thinking about how I can use the channels that work. QR codes are exciting, but by themselves, they are not going to make a difference. Mobile learning requires a menu of options text, images, QR codes, images, hashtags. @AlexM11’s Museum Label 2.0 example has inspired me to explore further.

  5. At the workshop we had in Nigeria last week, teachers came up with several interesting m-learning scenarios. Most of them were based on basic, reliable features of technology used to address concrete, real-life problems.
    I fear that we are often stung by our eagerness to experiment with the hotest / coolest technology, which leads us to interesting but impractical designs. Thus, we miss out on the genuine potential of mobiles (or any other tech) in education.
    As @cshirky says, technology only really becomes interesting when its boring.

    • I’m interested in exploring and hearing more about your mLearning scenarios Yishay. I’d like to hear and collect stories about boring mLearning technology that works.

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