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Tim Cliffe - Blog

Pervasive Mobile Communication - Pervasive Learning?

01 Target Audience

(01.1) Anyone involved in the planning and/or management of remote/independent learning, and its users.

02 Executive Summary

(02.1) This article provides a historical context for the expectations of mobile learning, as viewed in 2014. The reader will be able to compare this view with currently available statistics.

03 Structure of This Article

  • (04) Terminology
  • (05) Introduction
  • (06) How Widespread Is Mobile Learning?
  • (07) A Few Statistics (2014)
  • (08) How Useful Is M-learning To Formal Learning?
  • (08.1) Real Examples Of Students Putting M-learning Into Action
  • (09) Consequences For The Student/Teacher Relationship
  • (10) What About Evaluation?
  • (11) Cost vs. Return On Investment (ROI)
  • (12) The Real Challenge
  • (12.1) Managing Evidence
  • (13) The Present Day
  • (13.1) Thinking Outside Of The Box

04 Terminology

(04.1) All terminologies used are explained at the first point of use.

05 Introduction

Image of various portable devices.

 

(05.1) I wrote this blog several years ago, but never published it. I chanced by it, recently, and thought it would make for an interesting historical perspective. Remember, what you are reading was written in 2014.

06 How Widespread Is Mobile Learning?

(06.1) Formal mobile learning (m-learning) is not widespread, yet. However, it is claimed, by 2016 100% of K12 students in the USA will use a Mobile Communication Device (MCD) in their education.

 

(06.2) However, informal m-learning is as pervasive as MCDs. If someone uses a MCD to search for information on the web, or other network, m-learning is taking place.

07 A Few Statistics (2014)

Image of a mobile phone.

 

(07.1) It is claimed 77% of the world’s population owns a MCD. Even if this is a hefty 33% over estimation, it still means half the world’s population owns a MCD.

 

(07.2) In some African countries, almost every student owns a MCD, but very few own a computer.

 

(07.3) Android is king in the EU, USA, and Australia. Apple accounts for 16% of sales in the EU, while Samsung has 45% of the market.

08 How Useful Is M-learning To Formal Learning?

(08.1) Consider, how often do you use a mobile device? How often do you see others using a mobile device, to access on-line information? I think we can all agree the answer is "very often". The next question must be "What can we (teachers/trainers) do to take advantage of the benefits presented by m-learning?".

08.1 Real Examples Of Students Putting M-learning Into Action

(08.1.1) Students in Africa:
  • Living in regional areas with access to limited public transport, use MCDs to download study guides;
  • Working in-the-field, download readings and journals for review to support ‘professional’ practice, or listen to audio formats whilst driving to ‘work’;
  • Attending, via Distance Learning, select from a list of prescribed texts by reading samples on-line, then purchase the chosen eBook, which is conveniently to-hand at all times;
  • With families, access complete ‘set readings’ on-line and, pod casts of lectures;
  • Use Digital Object Management Systems (DOMS) to access resources posted by staff and students. Links to DOMS resources are easily shared;
  • Access e-learning and chat with other students in real-time;
  • Update e-Portfolio and add details of any emergent/unintentional learning;
  • Use MCDs to take photographs of geo-tagged pictures from study guides (e.g., plants identified in-the-field) and upload later, to discuss with peers, thereby supporting contingent learning (reacting to environment/experience) and situational learning in-the-field;
  • Studying arts subjects, whilst out-and-about, can share photos via, e.g., Flickr, make comments, and discuss progression. Context Aware learning is strongly supported;
  • Access educational games designed to explain complex ideas in a way that removes the barriers that often appear when a student encounters one of those ‘I just don’t get it’ topics;
  • Respond to classroom/virtual classroom polls and discuss why particular options are favoured over others. The subject matter immediately becomes relevant;
  • Use social media to engage in live discussions with remote classmates. Character limitations require participants effectively and concisely express their opinions;
  • Share experiences in-the-field and engage in discussion via a blog, thus supporting authentic learning (meaningful learning tasks related to learning goals);
  • Use a dedicated Fresher Facebook page to get to know and support other students during the first weeks;
  • Use SMS to share information about new on-line resources where Internet services may be less reliable;
  • Use Web Application Clients to aggregate and share content in one central location, allowing students to use familiar tools to gain access (personalised learning);
  • Submit on-line multiple choice tests and receive immediate feedback;
  • Access assessment materials on-line and submit comments for feedback by students and staff;
  • Access on-line support tools, information, and interactive tutorials from anywhere at any time;
  • During the Fresher period, Kindles pre-loaded with required text books, guides to academic practices, references, campus maps, and so on, can be borrowed.
(8.1.2) Remember, whatever works for the student/learner can also work for the teacher/trainer.

09 Consequences For The Student/Teacher Relationship

Image of Luke Skywalker and Master Yoda.

 

(09.1) Some argue m-learning, and the use of social networks, in learning, will transform the ‘student/teacher’ relationship beyond recognition. The premise being the weight of responsibility for learning will shift dramatically from the teacher to the learner.

 

(09.2) I suggest, such a proposition is overly simplistic. There is no doubt the relationship will evolve and adapt, but must not be allowed to be transformed, as some have advocated. My argument is best summarised as 'why do children need parents?'

 

(09.3) Mobile learning is not new, quite the contrary. Mobile learning was almost certainly one of the earliest methods of knowledge and skill transfer. Long before schools came into being, masters and their apprentices would roam, discovering, practicing, sharing, and debating. In fact, the ‘traditional’ concept of learning, a classroom containing a black/whiteboard, a teacher, and a class, is very new. It has existed, for the masses, for less than 100 years.

 

(09.4) What is different about m-learning, in the digital on-line age, is not the fact the master teaches and directs, and the apprentice attends and explores, it is how the roles are manifest. M-learning will not just turn back the educational practice clock to (the modern equivalent of) a master/apprentice relationship, it will do so, not on a one-to-one basis in real time, but on a many-to-many basis in real time, without regard for distance or the relative location of the masters or the apprentices, and this, for the first time in human history.

 

(09.5) Of equal importance is the capacity of supportive technologies to:
  • Convert, what has always been unintentional, contingent, situational, and authentic learning (albeit transient and vulnerable) into recordable, shareable, submit-able, and media rich ‘evidence’;
  • Enable access to formal, and informal, sources in support of learning from anywhere in the world, at any time.
(09.6) We are living in very exciting times, promising almost magical opportunities to ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’ alike, never before experienced. But let us keep our composure. Remember Gartner’s Hype Cycle (Access the Gartner website Hype Cycle page (External link, opens in a new tab/window)), let us learn from the mistakes of the past.

10 What About Evaluation?

Image of a Reaction (1 - base), Learning (2), Transfer (3), Results (4 - top) Pyramid.

 

(10.1) Teachers/trainers can use on-line resources to seek feedback from students regarding subject delivery and coverage. This helps do identify where the teacher/trainer needs to focus more effort, to ensure understanding. Such systems will identify what works well and why.

 

(10.2) Students/learners can use their MCDs like ‘clickers’ to provide feedback in-class or from remote locations. Notifications can be sent by ‘teachers’ regarding evaluation activities. The student is able to respond immediately, which improves participation, and can expedite remedies.

 

(10.3) Of course, mobile technology means, not only can students and teachers evaluate learning/teaching, students and teachers can evaluate each other.

 

(10.4) Points to consider:

11 Cost vs. Return On Investment (ROI)

(11.1) Some are already asking, "What is the likely ROI of m-learning?"

 

(11.2) I would suggest this is a question that cannot be answered quantitatively, at present. Firstly there is essentially no current data upon which a valid assessment can be based. Secondly, making such an evaluation will be difficult to perform, as many of the benefits are qualitative, and thereby difficult to quantify in an accurate and meaningful way.

 

(11.3) The current lack of equitability between formal and informal learning may well become a thing of the past. This in itself would represent a huge, albeit unquantifiable, ROI .

12 The Real Challenge

(12.1) M-learning could be a victim of its inherent and desirable qualities, i.e., flexibility, accessibility, immediacy, and commutability.

 

(12.2) For example, consider the many-to-many relationships that exist for a typical college student. A student has many relationships with many lecturers and with very many students. The permutations already require a calculator to resolve the numbers. Now add to the formula the ways in which m-learning may be communicated:
  • Audio;
  • Blogs;
  • E-mail;
  • File-sharing platforms;
  • Intranets;
  • Mobile up-load;
  • Pod-cast;
  • Social network sites;
  • Text message;
  • Video;
  • Web sites.
(12.3) Now consider the possibilities for multiple instantaneous 'sharings', e.g., a notice posted on LinkedIn is also sent to Twitter and Facebook.

 

(12.4) Now imagine you are a teacher with only 10 different classes a week, and each class has only 20 students.

 

(12.5) If you are, or have been, a teacher and you are thinking about end-of-term assessments, and the reports you must write, and the possibility of using m-learning, I know you are in a challenging place right now.

 

(12.6) It cannot be left to the student/learner to 'get on with their learning' in an m-learning enabled environment. There will be chaos, and a vast amount of evidence of learning will never see the light of day, at least as far as formal evaluation is concerned.

12.1 Managing Evidence

(12.1.1) We must ensure we give due consideration to the environment in which teachers and learners operate, and recognise that structure must be imposed.

 

(12.1.2) The key to success will be how to balance maximum flexibility with the need to manage learning for one-self and/or for others.

13 The Present Day

(13.1) I am not going to discuss the current state of mobile learning, as this blog will, consequently, date very quickly.

 

(13.2) Instead, and more importantly, in the spirit of this blog, I respectfully direct you to the Curation List displayed opposite. In this list you will find, among others, a link to a website providing global statistics on all things digital, mobile, and much more.

 

(13.3) I invite you to explore and discover for yourself, to compare, evaluate, discuss, and present your own thoughts on what has come to pass.

13.1 Thinking Outside Of The Box

In considering the future of pervasive learning, providing a significant opportunity for the student to freely explore, one should consider how such a future will be received.

Use of this Article

Any part, or all, of this article may be linked-to or copied for non-commercial purposes. Any linked or copied content to include the following...

 

Pervasive Mobile Communication - Pervasive Learning? by Tim Cliffe © 1997-2019.

 

Where use will be for commercial purposes, seek authorisation, including details of proposed use, via the Contact page.

 

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