Monday, April 22, 2013

Assignment 2

Mobile Learning: Small Devices, Big Issues

Sharples (2009) et al fully examined the meaning of mobile learning and its implication on learning. The article includes four important keywords for our reference: Mobile learning, conversation, context and collaborative knowledge building. It is an interesting topic nowadays because most people have their own smartphones since it ever invented.

2.                       First of all, the article explored issues under three broad themes: (1) what is mobile learning, (2) designing mobile learning and (3) evaluating mobile learning. In the meantime, it also discussed three mobile learning projects within the context of these themes. For (1), the early definitions of mobile learning were confined on the use of mobile technology – “it’s elearning through mobile computational devices: Palms, Windows CE machines, even your digital cell phone (Quinn, 2000).” We are reminded that the focus on technology could not be help assist in understanding the nature of learning even overlooking the wider context of learning as part of increasingly mobile lifestyle.

3.                       The authors gave us a full and clear definition of mobile learning in unpacking the term of “mobile” as follows:
                             i.                Mobility in physical space;
                           ii.                Mobility of technology;
                          iii.                Mobility in conceptual space;
                         iv.                Mobility in social space;
                           v.                Learning dispersed over time.
It can be seen that “mobile” under the definition can be understood as no fixed locations, technologies, topics, social status/identities and time in learning.

4.                       The theoretical foundations of mobile learning placed mobility and context as the objects of analysis and examined how learning flows across locations, time, topics and technologies. Context is a central construct of mobile learning. It was because the traditional classroom learning is founded on an illusion of stability of context. In terms of mobility, the context is continually created by people in interaction with other people, with their surroundings and with everyday tools. In the meantime, there are two technical terms of “exploration” and “conversation” explained. In the former, it either involves physical movement or movement through conceptual space, linking experience and concepts into new knowledge. While the later one, it is a channel that learning can be enable within or across contexts no matter how different locations or communication modes are used.

5.                       Collaborative knowledge building can be promoted by a distributed system of meaning making by employing both the explorations and the conversations. A characterization of mobile learning can be understood as knowing through exploration and conversation across multiple contexts, amongst people and interactive technologies. Conversation and context are crucial constructs for understanding how mobile learning can be integrated with conventional education. Importantly, the authors stated that mobile learning offers new methods in extending education outside the classroom, into the conversations and interactions of everyday life.

6.                       In order to promote the conversation within and across contexts, the design of technology for mobile learning was the central task. While Naismith and Corlett (2006) found out five critical success factors for mobile learning projects:
                             i.                Access to technology
                           ii.                Ownership
                          iii.                Connectivity
                         iv.                Integration
                           v.                Institutional support
It was noted that the above success factors were largely identified from observations of critical incidents in pilot projects.

7.                       The authors pointed out that evaluation is a central activity in the lifecycle of interactive systems design. The evaluation can consist of unpredictability of the context of use, of the learning process and of the mode of use. Looking beyond the “wow” effect will be at last employed for evaluation. In general, the evaluation of mobile learning might be assessed by usability, educational effectiveness and overall impact. In specific, three levels can comprise: (1) Micro-level; (2) Meso-level and (3) Macro-level.

8.                       In the article, there are three exemplars of mobile learning that show how children can be helped to explore the physical environment, how learning can be supported across contexts, how mobile technology can enable conversation for learning and how new methods of evaluation can reveal the practices and outcomes of learning outside traditional settings.

9.                       The first one is MyArtSpace: Learning with Phone Technology on Museum Visits. It supported learning through explorations and conversation across the contexts of classroom and museum. The students used the phones to capture photos, notes and audio recordings and send these information via the GPRS phone network to a personal web sit.

10.                   The second one – The AMULETS Project: Bridging Outdoor and Indoor Classroom Activities Using Smartphones, PDAs and GPS Devices – explored how to design, implement and evaluate innovative educational scenarios combining outdoor and indoor activities supported by mobile and ubiquitous computing. The students are provided with the said communication equipment to perform activities in the subject of natural sciences, history and geography.

11.                   The last one – The Mobile Digital Narrative: Collaborative Narrative Creation with Mobile Phone Technology – realized an approach to support collaborative creativity with mobile technologies. It includes the creation, from idea generation to final production.

12.                   Sharples (2009) provides useful explanation on the term of mobile learning. From literal interpretation, it will let us have an impression that mobile learning may be relating to smartphones. In fact, the mobile is not only including smartphones, but also relating to abstract and relative concept of mobility. In tradition setting, we learn knowledge from classroom setting and taught by teachers with a syllabus. However, mobile learning let students participate the activities what they want to learn such as visiting museum or outdoors using handheld technologies. With development of technology, iPhone can consist of all functions mentioned in the article. Thus the students can only pay attention to the topics what they would like to investigate. Simply speaking, in terms of mobile learning, we can acquire knowledge outside the classroom setting of our own accords.

P.S.  The 3 exemplars have common ground of "Collaborative knowledge building". The students can contribute their efforts and creative ideas on their projects. I think it is the central place to promote learner autonomy. Simply speaking, they may use their technology or devices to realise their ideas or planning on learning. [Lewis 23/April/2013 morning]

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