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Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Tensions between personal space and social space in mobile learning

The session on mobile learning by Dr Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Dr John Cook, Professor Tom Boyle, Mr John Traxler was very interesting. Agnes and her colleagues were good presenters.

I did, however, find my personal devil's advocate surfacing. So much of mobile learning seems to be about the devices, and it seems to me that as technology moves on, and converges, we will all have devices that unite TV, phone and computer technology and we will laugh at the days when we tried to deliver learning via SMS.

I've tried to decide on a meaning for mobile learning - or m-learning before - at much length, with others at a conference. In this presentation it seemed to be mostly about the location interacting with the person - and the person interacting with other people's responses to that same location - great for studying the architecture of a building, or an ecosystem on a field trip, but not much use for "studying chemistry on the bus".

I liked the idea of social space as hyper-local - but I'm still not sure about the local emphasis. Am I not m-learning if my wearable computer is connecting me to a seminar on psychology from Australia while I am walking down the road? Not connected with the location but very much mobile learning.

Like Tim Rudd earlier, John Traxler reminded us to think about the future in new ways - not just to design a faster horse (from the quotation from John Ford).

A very interesting and practical symposium.

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posted by Helen Whitehead 7:57 PM

Hi Helen,

As you point out, m-learning need not exclusively imply a situated learning paradigm; however, using mobile technologies to situate learning is certainly one of the emerging paradigms of m-learning, and one that I and my co-author explored in a white paper of our own ("Learner-Centric Design of Digital Mobile Learning"

One of the great advantages of mobile technologies is that they provide the ultimate opportunity to "immerse" a learner in a learning context, and it is from that aspect of digital mobility that situated mobile learning approaches derive their strength.

However, as you correctly point out, situatedness is not the *only* advantage of digital mobility. Another primary strength of digital mobile devices - convenient and functional ubiquity - is also useful for other mobile learning approaches. You mention a "live" connection with an educational event in Australia, but I'm sure other educators agree that listening to an audio podcast (or lecture recording) on a bus can also support learning.

Really, what I'm trying to say is that you're both right. It isn't a contradiction to say that mobile devices can be used for *both* localised/situated learning experiences, as well as non-situated (but convenient) ones. Rather, mobile devices are powerful and flexible enough to be used in a range of learning contexts, and that in itself could be a compelling reason for exploring the use of mobile technologies in education!

For more ideas on mobile learning, check out my m-learning blog at . :)
Leonard's comments are, of course, exactly to the point. And the situatedness of some mobile applications is indeed their great strength and a genuine advance in learning opportunities. Also I have seen some brilliant artistic and creative applications of location-specific mobile technology. Leonard's blog looks fascinating - that's my reading for the weekend sorted out! Trust an Australian to be so comprehensively knowledgeable about mobile learning.
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Helen Whitehead's blog of e-learning, digital literacy, online writing, and digital creativity.

Which methods and techniques using new technologies are of real use?

Writing in the digital age is so much more than delivering information, or traditional stories and poems electronically. Digital forms of literature can include text, hyperlinks, multi-linear plots, superlinear narrative, graphics, interactivity, animation... and so much more.



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