Wednesday, 21 October 2009

paper review: Mobile learning paper summary

Mobile learning, South-Africa, case study.... this is a perfect combination to build an interesting paper. The paper I summarize here is part of a mobile learning book edited by Mohamed Ally and I wrote about it in an earlier post here.
Lately I have been rummaging through a lot of papers. Some of them are interesting, but this one is truly inspiring, so I decided to put a summary of the article in my blog. Hopefully some of you will get motivated to go through it, I think it is worthwhile because the article clearly describes the steps that are taken to come to the case study it describes. It is referenced quite a lot, because this review was part of an assignment. If you are into mobile learning research, this is a good paper to read through.

In this article Jon Gregson and Dolf Jordaan (2009) focused on the challenges and opportunities of a two year mobile learning (m-learning) project started in October 2005. The project was based in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The project was embedded in the Wye Distance Learning Program (DLP) of the Imperial College in London, United Kingdom, and has been developed in close collaboration with the University of Pretoria (UP) in South-Africa. The target population consisted of postgraduate distance learning students from the SADC region registered in the DLP. The case study covered an investigation of the context and potential value added of m-learning, considering the pedagogic and practical models being used by the DLP. The project also looked at the educational needs of the students.

Gregson and Jordaan (2009) delved into the current status of eLearning in the SADC region within the DLP program design, and delivered a literary review of mobile projects in a Southern African context. The steps followed in the design and the implementation of the project, were also shared. The authors described the two phases that were covered. In the initial phase four students were identified and became involved in the planning of the project. The second, pilot phase involved a group of 20 students testing out course materials, activities and tutoring approaches that were designed for the mobile phone. The selection procedure and the reasons behind these student selection procedures were described in the article.

The authors highlighted the major considerations and challenges: communication, access and participation, tutoring support to students in diverse locations, the usability of learning resources for students who are mobile, and access to content and programme materials.

An overview of the SADC baseline survey was given: ICT access, rating for current eLearning support, quality of support and access, and Online Learning Environment (OLE) access. Insights into the context of the regions were obtained by interviewing the four students of the initial phase. Gregson and Jordaan (2009) examined mobile coverage maps, future telecommunication coverage plans, and student relationship with the student’s local infrastructure. The preliminary activities of the students were covered: sms with the project team, audio and video recordings, picture taking, and communicating with peers. The m-learning support for the two course modules that were trialed in the project was also covered. The authors specifically drew on the integration of constructivist, situated, collaborative, and informal learning theories and activities as the pedagogical model of the project.

After describing the project in clear detail, Gregson and Jordaan (2009) reflected on the technical design decisions that the project team made. They concluded with possible areas for further research.

I really liked the article as it clearly described the decisions they made along the way. It also made sense in the longterm, from a historical archive point of view.

For those interested in the complete reference:
Gregson, J. & Jordaan, D. (2009). Exploring the challenges and opportunities of m-learning within an international distance education programme. In M. Ally (Ed), Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of education and training (pp. 215–246). Athabasca, BC: Athabasca University.

And I got it from the internet here.