What is Mobile Learning?

We are in the midst of a complete shift in the devices we use. As smartphones and tablets become more and more capable and user interfaces more and more natural, old methods of computing seem place-bound and much less intuitive. People increasingly expect to be connected to the Internet and the rich tapestry of knowledge it contains wherever they go, and the majority of them use a mobile device to do so. According to the 2013 “ICT Facts and Figures” report from the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, the mobile market consists of over 6.8 billion subscribers, with a majority living in developing countries. The unprecedented evolution of these devices and the apps that run on them has opened the door to myriad uses for education. Learning institutions all over the world are adopting apps into their curricula and modifying websites, educational materials, resources, and tools so they are optimized for mobile devices. The significance for teaching and learning is that these devices have the potential to facilitate almost any educational experience, allowing learners organize virtual video meetings with peers all over the world, use specialized software and tools, and collaborate on shared documents or projects in the cloud, among many other things. Although there are still likely many uses that have not been realized yet, over the past several years mobile learning has moved quickly from concept to reality.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Schools are hopefully shifting in their disposition towards mobile devices in the classroom. Traditionally these were considered distractions and were banned outright, but they have great utility in fostering a creative environment of inquiry. I've seen a lot of excitement from students when they get to use their phones for learning. Of course, this can be difficult to manage and keep them on task but if the activity is engaging this takes care of most of those issues.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015
  • Mobile Learning is a 'here-and-now' phenomenon, and will only continue to grow in importance. Smartphones are already used extensively in classes as research, computational and creative tools (how many student projects involve videos or photos they take themselves??).- jerry.szombathy jerry.szombathy Nov 5, 2015
  • I agree with Jerry, the idea that you capture your experiences only with writing has moved into the past. Students in classes are constantly using their tablets and smartphones to capture their experience as well as to look at their experiences in new ways (slow motion video or time-lapse capabilities). Mobile technologies also free students from the static desk and teacher centered classrooms of the past. - peter.hennigar peter.hennigar Nov 8, 2015
  • I agree with the above comments. The way students are able to use mobile devices--be it their phones or iPads--has become much more efficient. Even if it's just to look up a definition or quickly record an oral commentary, mobile devices are increasingly being used not as a distraction but rather as a complementary form of learning. - uzay.ashton uzay.ashton Nov 10, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Learning spaces need to be redesigned to foster the use of mobile devices, particularly when it comes to sharing. It is becoming more feasible to have projection systems that are lightweight and flexible, allowing for students to throw their devices to a screen and share with the group.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015
  • One interesting aspect of mobile learning that might be overlooked is problem solving. Not problem solving in terms of the content, but solving the problems that arise from using their devices. Rarely, as we continue to see changes in the devices, do processes work seamlessly. As such, students learn to problem solve and help each other. For example, a pair of students take photos and need to share it with each other and include those images in their projects. Within minutes students work with each other to find options that work. These are real life issues and skills that are going to be continually implemented.- ibeeckmans ibeeckmans Nov 6, 2015
  • Agreed. I also believe that more schools need to make more workshops available to teachers and educators so they can learn more about the devices and how they can be used effectively in classes. If a small group of teachers were sent to a workshop, they could then come back and teach their departments/teams how to (a) use their device in class as a teaching tool, and (b) have students use their devices as part of their day-to-day lessons. - uzay.ashton uzay.ashton Nov 10, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Mobile devices allow for a much more active and dynamic social environment for learning. Some of my best tech lessons have involved teams of students running around campus using their phones to communicate and capture media to share. I can then use my phone to support them if they need assistance and are on the other side of campus. They are also much more likely to always have their phones with them, which opens opportunities to collapse the borders between school and home.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015
  • The ability to connect with and share information quickly in an informal way allows for flexible teaming and sharing of information (ex: while conducting a science experiment). - peter.hennigar peter.hennigar Nov 8, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • There's lots of teachers moving in this direction. This interview has some pretty good defenses of phones in class.- JasonTiefel JasonTiefel Nov 4, 2015"By incorporating technology into individual and group lessons, I have noticed other transformations in how my students work. They shift from being dependent on me to being independent information seekers."
  • Students at Skekou International School use Storehouse to create on the move records of scientific investigation and record progress through artistic challenges in art classes. - peter.hennigar peter.hennigar Nov 8, 2015
  • In my class, I've been using mobile devices to record practice IB IOC's. Students pair up, record each other, make comments, and then share their commentaries with me. I've also been using them as a way to create stop-motion videos. So much easier to do with a mobile. One great app to use for this is called Stop Motion Studio. - uzay.ashton uzay.ashton Nov 10, 2015

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