Thursday, 15 December 2011

Scanning the status of #mLearning across the globe #unesco_mlw

Straight from UNESCO's first mLearning symposium: panel: Jan Hylen, Hyo Jeong So, Shafika Isaacs, Maria Teresa Lugo, Keith Kruger

Focus: Learning with mobile phones: the implications for national policy - drawing on the regional review on mobile learning

There seems to be a lot of one person talking, most listening, so I was looking forward to the first panel of the day (liveblogging what is said, so these are my words paraphrazing the speakers). Many of the people in the panel are educational consultants in a variety of settings.

Shafika Isaacs, YEAH (yes, I think she does great work, and she speaks MUCH quicker than I can follow!!!), immediately starts with a gender picture. sub-saharan region reveals that this continent is most at risk for achieving education for all by 2015. There has been improvement in gender parity and education, but at a number of levels the millenium goals are challenged. The goals were build on the industrial model, which can explain the fact that this model was not attained. Can we reach the education for all goals when it is build on failing systems (industrial model). So maybe we must look at other models. The phenomenal rise in mobile devices and mobile subscriptions, bigger then than textbooks, toilets... so this is an indication that infrastructure is changing, but still challenged. For instance, South Africa is mobile rich, but textbooks poor. The goal is to deepen education quality and education equity. In scanning 15 illustrative projects, if this is mapped to a formalized system (industrial model), and how mLearning is given rise to emerging, innovative projects on education. Also alludes to Arabic spring as a good example of the impact of learning , most mathematics are currently learned outside of the classroom in South-Africa (mobile math projects, e.g. momath). Very important : how are mobile disruptive, and they could and will change the system. From a policy perspective that opens up a significant gap in policy guidelines on how to engage with this disruptive.

Maria Teresa Lugo gives an overview of South America
A very big discrepancy between all the Latin American continent and the adoption/implementation of mobile learning. A lot of social inequality. The potential of learning initiatives: education has improved, but only 4 countries have mandatory secondary schooling. there is an increased expansion of secondary schooling at mandatory level, but a lot of countries have debts, which reflects on education. But teacher training is lacking, which impacts education over all. The indigenous people in Latin America is also a vulnerable group. All of these problems are made worse when you look at the most vulnerable populations across Latin America. When starting to use new technology, you also need to understand its potential, in order to use it to its fullest potential. So we need to come up with new curricula in different formats, also for teachers. And infrastructure needs to be transformed in order for everyone to have access to education. The mobile labs that are set up across Latin America, yet they do not reach the students. Investments are still highly needed in education. The potential of smartphones is underused: to provide real time information that is reliable and viable.

Keith Kruger on education in North America (US and Canada)
k-20 Keith kruger focuses on the fact that communication is the main feature of learning via mobiles. How are mobile devices changing learning (formal and informal), and spaces where learning is happening. Engagement is key for learning motivation, yet there is an increased amount of drop-outs. There is more personalized learning and the expert becomes more of a facilitator.
He emphasises that the US has a vision on education (which is something we all hope our national policy makers will have a vision as well :-D

Jan Hylen focuses on policies on mobile learning in Europe
Lists a couple of European initiatives, like MoleNet in UK, emphasizes changed government role in UK. Focues on promising Danish model with regard to mobile learning, netherlands which has national support for deploying mobile learning. Just like the American model, students are asked to bring their own device (risk of new digital divide, not yet thoroughly researched). A lot of bottom up innovation. Barriers and drivers for mLearning: policy makers and public are often barriers (my own idea: is this really true? Can this not be linked to Innovation Theory of Rogers, and early adopters versus majority? maybe only a 'natural' evolution towards innovation adoption). He also emphasises on the need to see education as a holistic approach, where integration, durability and sustainability can be assured.

Hyo Jeong So focusing on Asia Pacific region
Mobile phone penetration is also very impressive, and increasing fast in those countries who are still catching up. Big gender gap, India has good poor mLearning projects. Descriptiveness of mobile phones, lead to the minister of Maleysia to send a recommendation to ban mobile phones from schools (like in many other countries around the world). Mobile learning frequently falls under ICT for education, this is not always the best => links it more to indirect learning than direct learning. mLearning involves different stakeholders (policy makers, teachers, students, telecom providers, researchers... ). Refers to knowledge ladders framework of Kozma (2011). Our vision needs to take into account micro-level to fully actualize the learning potential of mobiles.