Friday, May 11, 2007

Issues in mLearning & Zooming in on learning in the digital age

Another bit of ‘Easter holiday reading’ from the University of Nottingham. It’s a report of a workshop by the Kaleidoscope Network of Excellence Mobile Learning Initiative. The report collates ideas thoughts and discussions and is a good resource cum update of the current developments in the mlearning area.

I found reading through the report a good refresher plus a good anchor for reflection on the pros and cons of mlearning. I especially found the statement that ‘mobile learning applications are best viewed as mediating tools in the learning process’ to be very much where I had based my mlearning project.

Also good to see so many practitioners involved in feeding back their thoughts and perceptions. In the long run, educators still have to be the ones to lead the use of mobile technologies in learning. Our students are extremely competent users of technology for their own, usually leisure and social objectives. Some of them may baulk at educators capturing their social networking tool to use for class based exercises. However, feedback from my own students indicates that they are often curious to try out new things as well. Also anything that helps them learn more effectively in a more efficient and convenient way appeals to their way of living. I think that our role is to use their phones as a conduit for helping students to learn but that we also need to be careful how we use the phone.

I also had a read through a NZ Council of Educational Research report that studied the young NZ ‘digital age’ learner. The report is the first one of a series that will be looking into learning in the digital age. One of the findings that I have found to ring through is that digital literacy in young people spans a wide range. Some of us early ‘digital immigrants’ may actually be more digitally literate that the generation Y digital native. Just because a young person is born into a world surrounded by digital technology, does not mean that they are conversant with the whole spectrum of digital technology use. However, on the whole, young people are more comfortable with digital technology, they are not afraid to fiddle and experiment with a new piece of equipment. Therefore, before beginning on sorting out a ‘learning scafffolding’ / personal homepage / portal / dashboard project for the school, I will need to do a survey of the students to find out their depth and breathe of interaction with current digital technology.

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