Supporting Mobile learning in HE

In July, I chaired an Inside Government event on ‘Maximising Mobile Technology”. The event brought together researchers, teachers and managers from across the UK. Overall, a good experience and a well-organised event, where the difficulties that occasionally mar effective chairing (i.e. speakers not sticking to their allocated time, orchestrating discussion during and beyond the sessions) were absent as speakers and audience were very keen to communicate and interact.

In 2015, we still refer to mobile learning in HE as it might be part of a futuristic scenario. One main reason for this is that infrastructure is not there or is substandard (poor wireless signal comes to mind as a common hurdle). But more serious in a pedagogical context is how mobile learning is adopted or accommodated by teachers (and developers) in learning design. Going back to the Sharpies et al taxonomy (2006) of mobile learning, we are still dealing with:

  • Learning with portable technologies (where the focus is on the technology, which could be in a fixed location, such as a classroom);
  • Learning across contexts (where the focus is on the learner interacting with portable or fixed technology);
  • Learning in an increasingly mobile society.

Quite a lot of mobile learning can be of an informal nature on a personal level, though the personal aspect has been morphed by new developments e.g. the advent and proliferation of social media into a potentially collaborative and peer learning endeavour.

The speakers discussed a range of technologies that can accommodate mobile learning (such as MOOCs, e-portfolios, digital badges, augmented reality). The benefits for the student population were to enhance performance but there were close links to what mobile learning can do for employability. In discussions some very useful questions were articulated and important issues were raised:

  • The use of liminal spaces to support the transition from traditional classroom based learning to mobile learning.
  • The necessity of putting institutional policies in place to deal with potential hitches, e.g. the use of portable devices in healthcare education (firewall restrictions etc.)
  • How do we integrate mobile devices within broader educational setups?
  • Mobile device digital literacy for staff and students employability skills.
  • How integration with mobile learning can help the impact of technologies using digital badges?
  • How do we evaluate mobile earning?

Find here further details of the event, speakers etc.

Dr Stylianos Hatzipanagos
Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning
Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning

Sharples, M. (Ed) (2006) Big issues in mobile learning: Report from a workshop by the Kaleidoscope Network in Excellence Mobile Learning initiative. Learning Sciences Research Institute, Nottingham UK.

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