Saturday, April 2, 2011

We have always had mobile learning tools-why all the fuss NOW?

I have been going through some of the Mobimooc Week one wiki materials and am contemplating this Sunday morning, why all the fuss about mobile learning NOW

Pen on Paper by nate archer
Pen on Paper, a photo by nate archer on Flickr.

I've used pen and paper & books all my life as highly effective mobile learning tool all my life. What tools, expectations and capacities are converging now that surround mobile learning with such a buzz.

We here is a confused list of what comes to my mind in:

  • Smart phones fulfil a vision of every one carrying pads that I recall from the early days of personal computers. They are bit ‘Star Trek’ and are media favourite.
  • We also have better internet, WiFi and mobile phone systems. They are faster and cheaper and have better coverage.
  • The massive growth and familiarity and fun nature of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube and many many more Web 2.0 tools.
  • The innovators of mobile learning are getting somewhere. It takes long time for an idea to come from the margins and it has been a long time. They are overcoming resistance. Kind off-if your still on about that after all these years-then maybe there is something in that.
  • We have many people who are completely comfortable with the internet and Web 2.0. This means mobile learning innovators can shift from talking about “What is going to be  possible with mobile learning” to talking about “What we are going to do.”
Also for my own part, I encountered Connectivism ideas last year. And that really excited my thinking. I encountered the ideas as a loose golden thread that being curious I just pulled on and pulled on.

I think are Connectivism ideas really exciting and seem to fit with the ways knowledge moves these days. I could see immediately how they might fit with the capacity building for health promotion work I was seeking to do.

So last on my list, I would theory development and other mindshifts as making NOW a time when mobile learning takes off. These ideas are as important aspects of technological development as important as the hardware/software.

I’m aware that this list represents my view from my region in a first world country and from my position as a health promotion officer who is positioned outside of the eduction and school system.


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  2. It's like anything Malcolm I guess, when the idea hits the spot it moves and moves quickly. Like the hoola hoop and the paper clip. Am I showing my age - probably. I have been twiddling around the fringes of mlearning for some time. Now I feel ready to take off, but I want to keep it simple and accessible. According to the Horizon report mLearning is part of the future.

    Most students have a basic cellphone and I would like to encourage teachers to harness them. Just the act of sending images to a flickr account where sets of work are set up as a portfolio could be a good start. My concern is the cost - any ideas about this?

  3. Thanks Bronwyn,

    Yes I agree cost is a barrier. I still own a very basic phone. I plan to get a smart phone ASAP money permitting. The complexity of phone company plans create a great deal of anxiety for those on tight budget.

    As phone plans roll over, people will upgrade to much more capable phones and I expect a trend is happening to cheaper plans that support more data usage.

    The mobile learning future is coming fast and I feel the time to get up to speed was yesterday. Personally I'm more interest for planning stuff that will work in world two years away than with the limitations of today’s phones and plans. Some of this is because being from health promotion, I'm keenly interested in innovators and early adopters.

  4. Malcolm, I had the same concerns about the cost of a fancy data plan and all that. I can't handle one more expense at this point! However I was dying to know what all the fuss was about, so I invested in an iPod Touch with wifi only. That's helped me get a look at what's going on without any on-going costs.

  5. Hello Malcolm,

    When we are talking about comfort in internet use, I (and my colleague) thought just the same, until some of our students posted our elearning materials into their own web. They didn't claim these materials as theirs, but it was either they didn't ask for permission nor enclose the author's name.

    The students might feel comfortable but they didn't really carry it out right and by that time the faculty and I just found out that all these time we always were "we thought they knew".