Mobile Roundup of Sorts

 As I’m trying to get caught up on my reading about mobiles and mobile learning, I run into all kinds of interesting odds and ends. Here is a brief roundup of some of the things I’ve been looking at lately:

Publications

WLE’s occasional papers #1 Mobile learning: Towards a research agenda“. Edited by Norbert Pachler, this is an interesting collection of six papers, all arguing for the need for more theoretical work in the field of m-learning (and I would concur). Some work is being done, as is illustrated, example, by Wali, Winters, Oliver (“Maintaining, changing and crossing contexts: an activity theoretic reinterpretation of mobile learning” in the March 2008 issue of Alt-J; abstract is here), and earlier by Uden (“Activity theory for designing mobile learning” in the International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation), and of course “A theory of learning for the mobile age“, written by Sharples, Taylor, and Vavoula for the The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research

Research Methods in Informal and Mobile Learning is a book of proceedings from a December workshop, consisting of 15 papers that explore how me might go about doing better research in the area of mobile learning. I’m still reading this one, but so far it’s been an interesting and I think important piece. I’ve always believed that as learning (and learners) changes so should our ways of researching it. I’m proud to say that even though I wasn’t able to attend the conference myself, I did contribute a presentation and a paper.

This is not so much a publication as it is a good resource for many things having to do with mobile and learning: mLearnopedia. I’m surprised I haven’t run across this before, trawling the net for mobile learning resources. This is a worthwhile resource, with lots of links to current news and events in mobile learning.

Mobile phones for learning

A while ago, Dean Shareski wrote an intersting post about using cellphones as learning tools with an accompanying video, describing an experiment with mobile phones to see  “Can this powerful device help students learn?” The answer for now is a qualified yes, I would say.

Here is a more recent article from eSchoolNews that discusses how institutions of higher education are responding to the iPhone’s popularity. While it is great that different institutions are beginning to cater more to mobile users, I think there is a real danger in what some institutions like Abilene Christian University are doing by focusing on one particular device. It’s the connectivity that counts, not the device that’s used for it, and who knows, we may laugh at the site of an iPhone in 3 to 5 years… As I’ve said before, the focus should be on providing content.

A whole other take on learning with mobile phones is described by Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net, in his article “Reaching out through mobile technology with the humble SMS” Looking at the bigger picture of things, Ken describes some of his work with mobile technology in Africa. He argues that the three keys constraints to advancing mLearning in developing countries (and I’d add elsewhere as well) are mobile ownership, mobile technology, and network access. These are probably more constraining in developing countries because of a lack of alternative technologies (as for example is described in Dean’s piece).

However, as Ken Banks concludes:

Mobile technology has revolutionised many aspects of life in the developing world. The number of mobile connections has almost universally overtaken the number of fixed-lines in most developing countries in the blink of an eye. If further evidence were needed, recent research by the London Business School found that mobile penetration has a strong impact on GDP. For many people, their first ever telephone call would have been on a mobile device. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, their first geography lesson will be on one, too.

Student voices

Via Andy’s Black Hole, I ran across this video on BBC News, called Children’s love of mobiles. It’s about a group of kids in the UK who filmed the making of their video report about mobile phone use. As Andy says, it’s well worth a watch.

Another interesting piece is Next generation learning, produced by Handheld Learning for Becta. The video is a nice mix of children and adults speaking about  the use of consumer electronic devices and entertainment software for learning. A few notable quotes out of this one:

  • “I don’t think there’s a big difference between learning and entertainment” (student) 
  • “We need good teachers to keep up with this generation” (Prof. Stephen Heppell)

And while you’re on Handheld Learning’s Blip TV site, check out some of the other videos that are there.

Padding to protect pedestrians ...

Finally, for the funny story of the week, head over to Fox News for its story “Padded Lampposts Tested in London to Prevent Cell Phone Texting Injuries” and PollyPrissyPants comments entitled “Why don’t we just walk around in protective bubble gear?” Even though this story is a couple of weeks old, it was too good to pass up.

So there you have it, as the title of this post states, a mobile roundup of sorts…

Image Credits:

“The Brawley Roundup”; from independentman’s photostream:
http://flickr.com/photos/indieman/5858851/

“Padding to protect pedestrians” from
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/itn/20080304/img/puk-1204650490-uk-e08f352d4-710cec94c9bc0.html

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2 responses to “Mobile Roundup of Sorts

  1. Thank you for the kind reference to http://mlearnopedia.com. As you well know, it is getting much harder to track all the mobile learning activities, but we try. Anyway it is very exciting to explore the possible.

  2. Great mobile round-up…always interesting to see what’s out there in terms of learning and technology.

    Also wanted to take a moment to thank you for linking to my story…I couldn’t believe the Fox story when I read it and just had to blog about the absurdity of this nutty mobile-world we live in!

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