Thursday, October 09, 2008

mLearn2008 day 1 morning sessions

The conference begins with a keynote from Professor Diana Laurillard, London knowledge lab. Her topic is – towards a pedagogy – driven account of mobile learning which sets the scene for the rest of the conference. She argues that technology are optimised for business & leisure, not perhaps for education (in the form of guiding inquiry, structuring discussion, adapting collaboration, adapting learner practice etc). Pedagogy needs to be a focus in how technology is made use of to contribute to optimising education and students’ learning. She advocates the use of technology to help capture informal learning that takes place in learning with digital resources, discussions, practice environments, group work /projects, learning through production of design, products, solutions etc. She calls this process the ‘conversational framework’ and continues by making links to how learning can now be enhanced using mobile technologies which encourage cognitive and affective forms of motivation.

Stayed put in the ‘mobile learning, mobile knowledge & mobile societies’ strand for the mid morning sessions as I was presenting in the 11am slot.

Other papers included Christoph Goeth from the University of Zurich on designing tasks for mobile learning. Starts with good overview of how mobile learning links with social constructivist frameworks. Uses a continuum of an engagement framework from transmissive to interactive to explorative learning and provides examples of how mlearning maybe used in each part of the continuum. The mExplorer is a mobile learning game that supports the orientation day at a university. Game involves finding items, interacting with others and orientating themselves to the facilities at the university eg using the library catalogue. Additional information is accessed once each item is found or place is visited.

Richard Kenny from Althabasca University and others from North Island College, Courtenay, Vancouver Island presented on the feasibility of using mobile devises in nursing practice due to changes in health care & models of teaching using Koole’s framework model of elearning. Fields trial were evaluated comparing a small group of 12 students with excess to mobile learning with another group of students without access. Results indicated that nursing students found the ability to surf the web & use their drug database the most useful but the communicating options like audio (skype), email etc. not as useful. Costs involved in accessing web was seen to be a barrier.

Elizabeth Hartnell- Young from the University of Nottingham reported on the use of ‘mobile phones in mainstream schooling : resistance & change. Studying how to bring mobile learning into secondary schools when large number of schools ban mobile phones from the school grounds using Giddens work on structure and agency as a framework. Although the three schools who took part did not allow the use of mobile phones in the classroom, there was already surreptitious use of the mobile phones already! A wide range of ways to use mobile phones in learning was used 24/7 by the students over several months. After the trials, 42% of the students saw a use for their phones in learning compared to 12% before.

Ian Watkins reported on a project making use of Pocket PCs at his school from his perspective as the school principal of Highvale Secondary school in Melbourne, Australia. One objective was to have teachers who have been teaching at the school for many years to share their teaching practice, improve teaching methods, integrate technology into their teaching & making their teaching more student focused. Uses of mlearning included production of vodcasts / podcasts for revision of concepts and mlessons to assist students with study skills.

Debra Polson from the Queensland University of Technology provided background information on the MiLK (mobile informal learning kit) project which involves providing tools for teachers to build mobile learning games. Important to have buy in & agreement from all stakeholders involved before the project is structured. The project / game is successful when the result provides users / teachers with excitement about greater possibilities for future learning applications. MiLK originated via work done on other projects

Great to see many examples of actual mobile learning projects. Almost all the above presentations indicated plans for future projects, investigations and research along with some mention of the pedagogical foundations of the project. This provides good indication that mobile learning has progressed well beyond the novelty phase.

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