Thursday, February 08, 2007

Evangelising mLearning or use of technology in learning

My work over the last couple of years as a elearning facilitator plus several opportunities for me to present my findings about mlearning to staff has taught me a couple of things. Caryl Oliver, from William Angliss TAFE has brought up some salient points about bringing mlearning into the culture of a training college.

From my perspective, people will only make the time and effort to engage with the use of technology if:-

  • They have to or have been told they have to. In this case, some people do the minimum to keep their heads above water. A few grasp the opportunity with open arms and thrive but many do the minimum to keep their managers happy.
  • They have some external motivating force that makes them look outside the square and using technology brings with it opportunities that do not exist if they just stick with the status quo. External motivating forces could be a decline in student numbers due to more competition in the market for students or an increase in international students who need more counselling and support.
  • They have an internal motivation to keep up with the play and to try out new ideas to improve learning for their students.
  • They are inherently geeky / techy and enjoy exploring new methods for delivery content .

Without at least one of the above happening, the teaching and learning process would continue the way in which it has always taken place. The teacher shows and tells & the student imitates, practices and perhaps learns. For me, external forces pushed me into looking into alternative modes of delivery as CPIT was geographically removed from where most bakery apprentices in NZ are employed. The journey first into elearning and then into mlearning triggered my internal motivation to try to find something that would work well for my students and also help CPIT retain student numbers. So, first there was a push, & then the pull into the challenge of working out how to make things work better.

Some of the above is resonating with my Phd research as well. The first year apprentices I interviewed in 2005 had all fallen into the trade. None of them had any inclination to take up baking before they found themselves signing up into an apprenticeship. Through the end of 2006 and into 2007, I have been working through another series of interviews. The year two apprentices are progressing well but what has been enlightening is that several have found a passion for the trade. It is making a noticeable difference to their performance at work and onblock course. They have become self motivated in their learning and practice. All of them have had sort of an epiphany, a realisation that there is something in baking that likes them. This ‘fit’ into the trade is powering their work ethics, encouraging them to make the most of learning opportunities at work and outside of work and bringing into their lives, whole new fields to look into. I feel very privileged to be witnessing this as part of my research project.

One way in which we can make use of mlearning is to make use of the opportunity to 'catch' the learner in the process of workplace learning. These 'support' session could be used to help motivate the learner further in their skill learning. This can be done by using the situated learning opportunities presented when contacting the learning while they are immersed in their practice and making use of these to enhance learning.

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