Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TEC fund application - unsuccessful

Thom Cochrane from Unitec, Nick Ford & myself, put in an application late last year to the TEC for funding via the ‘encouraging & supporting innovation’ fund. The overall proposal was to use evidence based research studies to build guidelines for the implementation of mlearning with vocational / tertiary students. With the funding, we were going to extend on our present projects with apprentice bakers to include apprentice chefs, possibly also builders or plumbers. Thom’s work was with Unitec students studying design and music. The emphasis would be in using mobile phones to allow students to collect evidence of their learning and to make use of Web 2.0 tools to archive, collate and eventually showcase their work. Mlearning meshed with social networking sites will lead to greater interaction between learners, tutors, employers and the learners’ social circle (including their friends and family). Ease of access often leads to better motivation and engagement in learning for students who take up vocational based training.

Unfortunately, our application was turned down. The feedback provided said that it was “because the rationale for the intervention was not strong and it lacked evidence". I emailed the good people at esi support to find out what the above meant & to glean some learning from the experience, so that our next application would be more concrete and contain more evidence. There is another round of applications to be considered in May, so we will put in a revised application to see if we are able to meet the criteria required.

It’s been over a fortnight since I emailed esi support & I have not, as yet, received a reply from them. So Nick & I will work through our existing application and update to reflect requirements provided in the one sentence feedback. Thom, as always a pragmatist, has suggested that perhaps the evaluators did not understand the implications of the concepts proposed in our application. Therefore, we will need to supply a more detailed description (using examples of work that we have already completed) to provide a sense of the potential that our mlearning project has towards contributing towards a better understanding of how to make use of mobile (both hard and software) technology.

Much of our work stems from our daily interaction with young people and their use of technology in their daily lives. From textually org blog comes two blogs this week about how technology has changed the way in which young people socialise and inter-relate.
One is Rich Ling’s book, New tech, new ties: how mobile communication is reshaping social cohesion. The book looks at how the mobile phone affects the two kinds of interactions via mobile communication and face to face. Ling finds that the use of various social rituals the mobile phone strengthens social ties with friends and family but sometimes at the expense of interaction with those who are actually physically present.

The other is an article from the economist magazine on homo mobilist which reports on research at MIT by Shelley Turkle on how the use of ‘mobile tools’ leads to ‘the emergence of a new kind of person’.

These very recent studies provide a strong reason for me to continue my mlearning research and to be persistent about applying for funding to provide adequate resources for studying the sociological aspects that my mlearning research is continually revealing.

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