Monday, August 14, 2006

M-Learning Discussion Group: Models of Mobile Learning

Leonard Low is facilitating a discussion group on:

Models of Mobile Learning: Learner Centric vs Techno-centric

Here's Leonard's explanation of the focus of the discussion group:

"A number of models of "mobile learning", or m-learning identify it
as a subset of e-learning, including:
the main Wikipedia entry on the topic.

These models focus on how digital convergence and miniaturisation
now allows us to access electronic resources using small, portable
devices such as mobile phones, iPods, and PDAs.

The risk to my mind, however, is that educators may view
m-learning through the mindset of the devices with which it is now
so strongly associated - what I term a "techno-centric" approach
to m-learning. The focus becomes providing learners with PDAs
or mobile phones, without an understanding of the learning
methodologies and activities these devices enable.

In my opinion, the focus should be on the learning process, rather
than the learning platform. This position is supported by the
"it is the learner who is mobile - not the technology"

(a reflective outcome of the European 2004 MobiLearn project,
Sharples, M. et al (2005) Towards a theory of mobile learning )

One way to understand this paradigm is to realise that mobile learning
precedes e-learning by over a decade. E-learning became popular
following an increase in the affordability of personal computers in the
mid-to-late nineties.

A decade earlier (in the mid-eighties), we were
- listening to audiobooks and lecture recordings on our cassette
walkmans and car tape players,
- calling up classmates on the phone to ask for help with homework
outside of the classroom,
- taking photos of relevant learning experiences, and
- writing in portable reflective and visual journals -
albeit on paper.

I posit that these mobile, learning activities (and many others) were
no less valid than the "mobile learning" activities enabled by digital
devices today.

What the new generation of mobile devices facilitate is more
convenient, portable, and immediate access to very similar tools.
Given this link between "new" mobile learning and "old" teaching
practices, we can use our understanding of best-practice teaching
and learning to stimulate and derive powerful ideas for education.

In this thread, I'd like to explore the idea that practical mobile
learning activities can be informed by, and derived from, our
understanding of teaching and learning theory, mobile learning
activities that have not previously been digitally based, and
e-learning standards and practices.

Your thoughts are welcome at any time."


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