Monday, April 19, 2010

Future of the use of technology in learning aka currently as mlearning

Organising myself for conferences this year. The last bits of the $$ available from my tertiary teaching excellence award will be going towards several conferences in Europe which have an emphasis on mobile learning. First up would be Handheld 2010 from 10th to 13th of October in London, then a Forum Oxford: futures technologies conference on 15th October followed on with the annual mlearning 2010 conference in Malta from 19th to 22nd October.

I will be evaluating the progress of papers on mlearning and to work out if I will continue to follow this area of research. My work into apprenticeship learning is taking up much of my energies at the present. It is an area with very little research focus and therefore important to continue with. The use of technology into teaching is now, for many tutors at CPIT, a way of integrating technology into helping students learn.

My view on mlearning is that very very soon, all technology assisted learning will be mobile. It’s sort of the normal way which learners should be approaching learning, anytime and anywhere. It’s no different to what has taken place for 100s of years when we carried books around and read them when on the go and dipped into reference books whenever we had to find things out. Technology now enables this to take place much more efficiently. Instead of carrying a couple of books, I now carry hundreds on my ipod touch, instead of waiting to get home to look up something, I now google it if there is wifi available. Just in time approach is an innate human response. Wifi availability is also now becoming much more ubiquitious. For instance, there is 15 minutes of free Wifi available at my local Christchurch airport and Wellington airport offers free Wifi. The last three conferences I attended had free Wifi available to delegates. People now assume they will be connected wirelessly and for no cost.

The early work of mlearning learning on’micro learning’ etc. and working with small screens is all but obsolete with the coming of nettabs like the ipad. With an ipad, there is no need to reconfigure LMS like Moodle or web pages to optimise interaction with the hardware. The ease of use of the ipad will change the nature of how we access and utilise information. Therefore, before we know it, mlearning will be normal technology assisted learning. There has been a flurry of articles on using the ipad in education including pros and cons and various uses in learning.

Over the weekend, I caught up with an interesting presentation from Dr.dana boyd at Games based learning 2010 which was held recently. This presentation provides some suggestions for educators in leveraging social networks for enhancing student learning. For educators, there is a need to understand what technologies are out there, who uses them, how they are used and why. How these technologies are ‘rupturing’ the way in which how young people see the world and the role of educators in helping young people get the most out of technologies. She covers perceptive insights into the implications for young people and educators using social networking sites as examples. All of the social networking sites are now accessible via mobile devices and this migration from desktop to mobile is accelerating.

Also in the same conference, Professor James Gee presented a good overview of the role of games in providing situated learning opportunities for students which I am going to evaluate for suitability as a resource for my adult learning principles course. He is one of the members of the New London Group who authored the paper on the "pedagogy of multiliteracies" which is informing my practice and the various research projects I am working on at the moment. 
Both the above presentations provide justification and food for thought on how technology may contribute to enhancing learning for students plus the ways in which ubiquitious computing is now almost mainstream.


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