Wednesday, 15 September 2010

John Traxler on academic and corporate mLearning in a Global context

Today I am at the 13th edition of the Interactive Computer Aided Learning conference in Hasselt, Belgium. With some interesting speakers and presenters.
John is looking really sharp with a nice suite in distinguished grey on top of a black shirt.
Live blogging notes follow, so sorry for potential typos or strange writing:

John focusses on the difficulty nowadays to pick some mLearning examples, for there are so many strong and successful mLearning projects.

mLearning has reached the unreached in only a couple of years (first projects started 9 years ago). Spatial and geographical distances were crossed for many reasons. There are small and large scale projects.
Sparsity and distance (socio-economic, cultural) have also been bridged. (example in Wolverhampton: small steps to take the IT illiterate student from no instrument, over mobile, to computer).

One big EU mobile flagship the NEEDS projects with homeless learners (social distance), these projects are still going today. Indication of success, some of these projects led to changes in UK government and policies in the vocational and further education sector.

Sometimes time is an essential factor for learning with mobiles. There are of course also downsides to bridging time: less concentration, getting them away from spare time... Upside: it has been using time that otherwise would be wasted.

Exploiting a resource was at the core of many mobile projects (time, space...)
There is a need to explore how mobile technologies can expand the conception of learning.

PDA pilot study: Green energy in th Lake District (Sellafield Nuclear Site): field study mobile course, capturing measurements with mobile data capturing (saves time and gains on accuracy).
Contingent learning is suddenly possible, calculation in situ and it allows students to follow their curiosity while looking at the data (reacting to the reality of the measurements, more curiosity driven model).
Another adaptation e.g.: WII-mote + pico projector: mobile contingent possibility. Lectures and teaching on the fly!

Contingent teaching was not part of teaching and learning before.

Another need: to train professionals to use mobile technology in their professional field: practical, active learning. Situated and authentic learning makes it much easier to learn in those type of areas. communication between peers, teachers and lecturers, assessments, external material from the web, capture data.
If there are models of learning, this mobile technology allows them to be embedded in the context itself => more meaningful, more authentic.

Enhance the idea of what learning can actually be. It also allows to rethink the nature of assessments.
Students at practice will be able to produce 'evidence' that they undertook actions in a real life situation. (treating an animal, small surgeory...)
Much more meaningful assessment of their abilities.

E.g. context aware learning project: near metropolitan University (where they have been, who they are with, what they communicate...) So learning becomes part of open air learning, the outside world reinforces the actual learning and it is not hardwired.
also mentions the Uffizi gallery in Italy which can calculate what you are interested in, where you can find similar cultural artifacts, it can keep your interest and even adapt and suggest in different seasons.

Proximity is no longer what you are nearby, but also who you are nearby => near to zones of proximal development (Vygotsky)

augmented reality: overlay of images over the real world.

Most of the time: mLearning is linked to money and motivation, but there is very little (to no?) real, research evidence.

Some theories of m/eLearning (work of social constructivist, Diana laurillard), accounts of how people learn are challenged and extended. And we get a bigger pictures by the context that were never possible before.

Problems and challenges:
scale: lots of projects with little students, but it has not yet lead to scalable projects
sustainability: for the rich currently, difficult to get beyond that
embedding with other kinds of learning: institutional, life...
most research on mLearning is short term and fixed: most funding fell on stoney ground. Gov's fund good projects, but the funding should go to sustainable projects that can become good.

So far we have seen little sustained activity in mobile work (comment from myself: anyone interested in setting up a sustainable mobile project with social angle?)

Problem to find mobile business plans that fit developing countries' settings. Opportunity for social entrepreneurs that can get up and start projects. We ought to put innovations in social contexts, not contained environments (schools and classrooms). Increase serendipity to find something useful.

Maybe mLearning can also be a Trojan horse, loaded with unrealistic expectations (like eLearning got loaded: utopia).

(e.g. ironbridge: first things you do with a new technology is what was previously difficult, afterwards use it for things that were first impossible, only after a good amount of time it will be used for what is now seen as inconceivable.

mLearning might be just another way to sex up the idea of turning students into 'factory' workers.

Technology is just a lot of dumm tubes, you put stuff in their and it gets pumped along, but ... John argues that we are now a society being transformed by technology and so we are transformed with it.

New pressure on our personal time is also a challenge.

A difference in how knowledge is generated and produced, which was not the case in the past. Social media enable users to create content and knowledge. Mobile devices also allow contextualized knowledge, so you can talk (postmodern) that content is now very fractured, detailed...
It can be portrayed as democratization, but this entails challenges as well because there is less trustworthiness.

Various spaces get rearranged (personal, professional, private).