Thursday, 31 October 2013

Free #mobile research papers from #mLearn Qatar

Free papers on mobile learning research are made available to all thanks to the mLearn Qatar organizing team. There is a wonderful and rich overview of the latest mLearning research available at 

With no particular reason except my own interest, I gladly highlight 3 papers I found interesting (so far, reading one paper at the time, whenever possible so lot of time to read still). 

The paper on "mobile learning through indigenous languages: learning through a constructivist approach" written by Mmaki Jantjies and Mike Joy was a treat to read. With their research they provide a possible solution to work around bilingual students (in this case African languages) and how this can be used to increase learning overall by allowing students to support themselves and use multilingual communication through mobile devices, and at the same time allow teachers to create solutions for the bilingual challenges. In the study learners created their own audio based bilingual learning material on mobile phones using a constructivist learning approach, in the subject area of physical science. A total of 32 high school learners and their teacher from a South African school participated in the study, and though semi–structured interviews and questionnaires learners reported on their experiences. Infrastructure challenges, including limited access to free electronic resources, and slow and expensive Internet access, became the main hurdles in supporting a constructivist learning environment. The mobile learning process however gave learners an opportunity to create their learning content in their own languages at any location at any time, and use the content later for revision. The audio option is key here (I think) as this allows people to work around writing as well. To me, it is easier to share French or German audio than to write in both languages, when I was a student an audio option would definitely have gotten me to support my peers more than only having a written option. This got me thinking about the lack of mobile OER again... will get to this in a later post. 

The paper by Edgar Napoleon Assiimwe and Sana Zubair Kahn on the topic of "Ubiquitous Computing in Education: A SWOT Analysis by Students and Teachers" immediately appealed to me as the idea of doing such an investigation is so needed! So, got reading. When going through all the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, I immediately found myself acknowledging many of them. "I am not alone!" immediately came to mind and that gives a good feeling. The paper provides an immediate overview of the SWOT analysis as provided by teachers and students and that very simple list of ideas provides an insight in what keeps all of us busy. So copied one of its tables here as the picture to lead this blogpost.  The nice thing is that comparing both, you can see that students and teachers often have the same basis that leads to the SWOT elements. And a heart warming opportunity coming from the student list of opportunities: "Cultural or political differences are overcome/ solved". That is a VERY nice read!

Another paper I found of interest was the "Integrating Interactive Videos in Mobile Learning Scenarios" presented by Dan Kohen-Vacs, Marc Jansen and Marcelo Milrad. My interest for reading this paper was ignited by my own wish to embed more fluent interactive video in mobile learning options as part of a seamless mobile pedagogy. Enabling interaction in a multiple device learning environment is quite challenging and these people seem to be able to come close to actual seamless engagement (nice!). Idea is simple: small video sizes (enabling download or streaming), short questions within video content (waiting for a response of the learner) and ... on to the next bit of (mobile) content. The authors provide a nice flow of the learning activity and the approach has been tested during 2013 on approx. 100 students in academic courses offered by 2 universities. But although the approach is promising and the need for this type of seamless learning is clear, challenges stay multiple. Looking forward to the future research building upon this.