Monday, 19 April 2010

mLearning, Mobility and Change: Broadening the Conversation

Abstract of KeyNote to be presented at the University of Maryland.
Friday 23 April, 2010

(Tweets will be linked to this presentation)

The year 2010 is touted to be the year mobile devices move from the fringe of student learning to the centre of a personalized learning experience. There is no escaping the evidence from numerous surveys that young people see mobile phones, in particular, as their birthright, ultimately personalisable ubiquitous parts of their lives. This view of a mobile phone as an essential personal appendage is not always a view shared by many educators, particularly when disturbed by the incessant ring of a mobile phone at an inopportune moment. Mobile devices in education are often seen as distractions, or threats to learning rather than opportunities for engagement.
In higher education what are the drivers for change? There are a number of candidates. Some educators and techno-savvy innovators see opportunities for the use of rich media (video, audio, and student-initiated content creation), utilizing the social networking and technology skills of students for collaboration and engagement, while others question the need for change: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. While technology moves very fast, we as educators often do not and whether we chose to accept it or not, change is upon us.
This presentation will examine pedagogy and practice of mLearning, the need to extend basic student literacies in the 21st Century, and issues of individual and institutional change in an effort to broaden the debate about how notions of mobility and mobile devices might contribute to the student learning experience and student learning outcomes.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

To iPad or not to iPad: That is the question

iPad fever has reached its peak with opinions, first-impressions, hands-on reviews for the select few appearing everywhere, even making it to the front pages of national newspapers! Click HERE, and HERE and even more HERE from Engadget. The pundits are suggesting that it will revolutionize the personal computing experience and maybe, just maybe, kill off the mouse.

What does this mean for education? A large number of educators are scrambling to see if this (what looks like) persuasive, sexy and cool-looking device will really assist student learning. At least one (rich) institution has already indicated a very large commitment to developing iPad applications. And that is where the serious question resides: what affordances does the iPad offer that will make it the killer-product for education in addition to the rest? Read any number of writers on the use of technology in the classroom and they will talk about communication, student engagement (and not just with content), social networking and the like. Apple, however, talks about access to content via iTunes such as iBooks, movies, games and music. That is, consumption of content rather that creation of knowledge from the plethora of information that will now be available in a lightweight, attractive package. The latter is no where better exemplified by the comments by Rupert Murdoch, touting the iPad as the saviour of newpapers!

It is the work of app developers and maybe the next version of the iPad with camera (still and video), USB, and access to external media that may answer the questions and opportunities for education.