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.