In a Campus Technology interview, Tim Flood the former Stanford Mobile Program Director and manager of iStanford responds to Mary Grush’s question about the key advantage institutions can get by offering mobile applications on campus with two words:
Flood makes the argument that the world that students live in on a daily basis is a mobile world and higher education must at minimum use mobile technology to just stay relevant. I would take this a step further and suggest that relevance is only a starting point. If we (higher education) really want to be student centered and build effective learning environments we have to be respectful of who are students are and what they bring into the classroom. This is not a new idea and mobility is only the most recent cultural circumstance that brings the need to respect the learner to the forefront. Back in 1966 the learning theorist Jerome Bruner argued that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects:
1. predisposition towards learning,
2. the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner,
3. the most effective sequences in which to present material, and
4. the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments.
Recognizing where your learner is at or being aware of your learner’s predisposition toward learning is the first and perhaps most important step in building effective learning environments because until you do so you are NOT respecting who they are and what they bring into that environment. The use of mobile devices is so intrinsic in almost all aspects of culture that it not only should be considered in point one, a learner’s predisposition, but should also considered in point three, the most effective sequences to present material. Mobile devices enable learners to access content all the time and everywhere so when presenting or using content the instructor has to take mobility into account.
The challenge of accessing information which was intrinsic to the print culture of the 20th century is no longer the challenge of the digital culture of the 21st century. Our new challenge is assessing information because we can access so much on our mobile devices all the time and everywhere. Recognizing mobilities role in 21st century learning is not only a matter of relevance for higher education it is a matter of respect.
To those who have been working to promote mobile learning the claim that mlearning is here to stay is no surprise. The fact that we use many different names to describe the use of technology to enhance the learning environment, which exists all the time everywhere, is also no surprise because the pendulum swings in education result in many old ideas becoming new again. This blog post and the hundreds more like it are part of the assurance that we have reach a tipping point with mobile learning. Perhaps the key to why mobile learning is here to stay is that it is a very empowering ideal that places the control of learning back with the individual–where is always should have been.
Another wonderful take away from the post is the citing of the EDUCAUSE definition for mobile learning:
Using portable computing devices (such as laptops, tablet PCs, PDAs, and smart phones) with wireless networks enables mobility and mobile learning, allowing teaching and learning to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom. Within the classroom, mobile learning gives instructors and learners increased flexibility and new opportunities for interaction. Mobile technologies support learning experiences that are collaborative, accessible, and integrated with the world beyond the classroom (EDUCAUSE Editors, 2012).
The key in this definition is that the learner is once again in control and people outside of the learning theory community are finally recognizing and accepting that learning happens in the world OUTSIDE of the classroom.
EDUCAUSE Editors. (2012). M-Learning and Mobility. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from http://www.educause.edu/ELI/LearningTechnologies/MLearningandMobility/12397
Christopher Dawson predicts that the following major technologies will have a major impact on Education in 2012:
Of the 5 predictions that Dawson makes I have to agree with him fully on his final three. Bring your own device (BYOD) not only makes logistically with the cutbacks we face in Education it also makes sense financially. Technology is the easy part of this major trend but the challenging part is the fact that since some faculty and staff have lived and worked in an environment of control where technology has traditionally been provided that it may be difficult for them to give up some control and adopt to this change.
Similarly, open education resources like Kahn Academy and many others as well as the move from books to digital resources will be technologically easy to implement but will face opposition from those who still prefer the “traditional” approach that has worked for so many years.
One of the consistent trends that I have seen over the years is that getting the technology in place is the easy part but the hard part is getting the faculty to use technology to enhance the learning environment. I was willing to cut faculty and staff some slack on their apprehension toward adopting technology even up until about 19 months ago but with the release of the iPad and subsequently the iPad2 and Android tablets my patience has run out. Why? Prior to the IOS and Android devices becoming so popular and readily accessible it wasn’t that easy to live and work digitally and faculty and staff could use the excuse that they needed training and support in order to be able to work digitally. We are finally at a point where training isn’t required to use technology like an iPad or Android tablet. Faculty still do need significant instruction and support in learning how to create effective learning environments but at least now the technology part of this process is no longer a hindrance.
It is ironic that the technology writer who once said that the iPad is good for only two things is now offering a top 20 list for the same device. To be fair to Jason Hiner of Tech Republic he did add note taking to his first two uses, reading/viewing and multitouch interaction. So now that Hiner is offering a top 20 list we may assume that he has found many more uses for the iPad–or has he? If you look closely at Hiner’s list you will find that many of the apps fit into one of his first three use categories but he has unwittingly or unknowingly added a fourth and perhaps even a fifth category–organization and learning.
Apps like Flipboard, Kindle, Documents to Go, Pulse, Skygrid, Propublica, NPR, Guardian Eyewitness, Big Picture, Weather Channel, Netflix, WeatherChannel and NASA all fit into the reading or viewing category. Most of these apps are recognized as some of the best news, news aggregator or media apps in the Apps store. Since I have almost all of these Apps on my own iPad I can confirm his assessment. In addition, most of these apps fully utilize the iPad’s multituouch interface and when you add the the editing apps, iA Writer and Penultimate Hiner’s usage categories may initially appear to be complete.
But Hiner has included Evernote, which is by far the best organizational tool that can be found on any computer, smartphone, and tablet and Things which is arguably one of the best To Do list tools available so he has added something new to his category list. While these two applications do fully utilize the multitouch interface and allow one to view what they need, these apps do much more–they help one stay organized and make life much more efficient. I have often referred to Evernote as my external brain because it enables me to store and access so much more information than humanly possible and it functions as my external or augmented intelligence. Because, Evernote helps me to make so many more meaningful connections within the data than what I could do on my own, I also put this app into the learning category. This is not the only app in Hiner’s list that falls into this category.
The Rosetta Stone is clearly a learning app because it enables one to take advantage of the very popular language software that was originally confined to a computer. Mobile learning is perhaps one of the most powerful functions that the iPad supports because it can be used to help us learn all the time and everywhere. Whether one is using the Rosetta Stone app or augmenting one’s intelligence with Evernote the iPad is a useful tool that helps us make meaningful connections which is the foundation of learning. The iPad is also an powerful learning tool because its ease of use and efficiency enable the user to focus on what they want to do as opposed to the technology. For many years I have been predicting that technology will eventually mature to the point where it disappears and we then focus purely on the task at hand–we are finally getting to that point.