Cordelia – Nothing
King Lear – Nothing!
Cordelia – Nothing.
King Lear – Nothing will come of nothing; Speak again.
Having recently experienced a tech meltdown ( CristinaSkyBox), issues regarding the relevance of being connected, of teaching digital citizenship/identity, of engaging learners and teachers with technology for education, it is no surprise that concerns about mobility have been most on my mind.
It is never sufficient to explain how mobility needs to be integrated into classrooms. Mobility of being able to connect without firewalls, mobility to use mobile phones – above all, the mobility to inspire minds. In many institutions world over, the rule of no mobile phones in the classroom is still strongly preached and enforced.
Question: what exactly are educators afraid of?
Are they indeed concerned for their learners or the fact that their classrooms are dull, boring, lifeless?
Or, is it the threat that a younger generation, who is more tech-savy, has the power to dismiss the teacher who does not wish to update him/herself both technologically and pedagogically? Were I student today at school (and please do note that I am in fact currently a student as well), I would be on my mobile device throughout boring lessons. Why would I even want to attend school if I was not learning how I wanted to, how I needed to and above all ,not be respected as a 21st century learner?
Mobility to learn is not just related to M-learning. Mobility to learn is our reality today with OER, Open Universities, MOOCs, Web 2.0, mobile devices and so very much more.
Mobility is an attitude. A state of mind. A state of learning.
Question: what right do “teachers” have to censor learning?
What right do “educators” who are unwilling to keep up with current pedagogical approaches, with the needs of their learners, with the demands of real life outside the classroom, have to maintain silence? To establish educational censorship?
Bauer (2012) explains how “Today’s students aren’t interested in “going online” to get things done. Booting up, opening the browser, logging on, navigating to the task — they’ll do it if absolutely necessary. Students live in a text and tweet world now and are more likely to consume information and access services if they’re mobile-friendly.“
“Involvement is also an important condition for student learning. Even among students who persist, students who are more actively involved in learning, especially with others, learn more and show greater levels of intellectual development.”
Tinto also stresses the need of not only shared knowledge but share knowing – and shared responsibility. This is put into practice through communities where students are required to collaborate with each other. Result?
” students spend more time-on-task, learn more, and persist more frequently than similar students in stand-alone and/or traditionally taught classrooms. Their involvement with others in learning within the classroom becomes the vehicle through which effort is enhanced, learning is enriched, and commitments to their peers and the institution are engendered. By being placed in a setting where students have to learn together in a collaborative fashion, everyone’s understanding and knowledge is enriched. As one student observed, “not only do you learn more, you learn better.” (Tinto, Taking Student Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College,)
It is through digital and mobile technology that these successes occur.
Bauer highlights how “According to market research firm IDC, by 2015 more users will access the Internet through mobile devices than through PCs. By not embracing mobile, institutions will not only miss an opportunity to communicate with their students, they will actually create an interaction barrier.”
Change comes slowly. Change does not happen in a vacuum. Change demands loss of fear and commitment. Bauer’s (2012) results from a 2011 survey showed the following:
“We were surprised to learn that students wanted more than just a handful of campus services on their mobile devices — they wantedeverything. The overwhelming majority wanted mobile access to view grades, check course schedules, and log in to the college’s learning management system, Blackboard. They also wanted access to essential services like the library database and course registration information, along with conveniences like dining menus and bus schedules.
The student survey also pointed out that a majority of the students felt that mobile apps were of high importance. It was clear that whatever we did with mobile, we needed to do it quickly. And in building our strategy, we needed to incorporate students in creating the vision – we couldn’t workshop something and pop it out on them. We needed their voices and ideas in our development efforts.”
Change. Change is embedded in life. Change should be embedded in education.
However, as Herrington & al (2009) note:
Despite the significant potential of mobile technologies to be
employed as powerful learning tools in higher education, their current
use appears to be predominantly within a didactic, teacher-centred
paradigm, rather than a more constructivist environment. It can be
argued that the current use of mobile devices in higher education
(essentially content delivery) is pedagogically conservative and
regressive. Their adoption is following a typical pattern where
educators revert to old pedagogies as they come to terms with the
capabilities of new technologies, referred to by Mioduser, Nachmias,
Oren and Lahav (1999) as ‘one step forward for the technology, two
steps back for the pedagogy’ (p. 758).
Barseghian (2012) recently pointed out:
“The opportunity of using mobile devices and all of its utilities allows educators to reconsider: What do we want students to know, and how do we help them? And what additional benefit does using a mobile device bring to the equation? This gets to the heart of the mobile learning issue: beyond fact-finding and game-playing – even if it’s educational — how can mobile devices add relevance and value to how kids learn?
There’s not just one explanation. As mobile devices evolve and become ever more powerful and multi-functional, the answers will change. In the meantime, there are some things educators know for certain do make a big impact on learning.”
“Because mobile devices are the new piece here, people want to know does it make a difference,” Pasnik said. “When we know that learning happens because of relationships, and we want to keep that richness. So the question of the value of a single piece like the mobile phone becomes reductive. You falsely are having to focus in one element, when in fact, learning happens because multiple elements are interacting with one another.” (Barseghian, 2012)
With learning in mind, I turn to Herrington & al (2009) who call one’s attention to authentic learning:
“Authentic learning situates students in learning contexts where they
encounter activities that involve problems and investigations reflective
of those they are likely to face in their real world professional contexts
(Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991). Herrington
and Oliver (2000) have identified nine characteristics of authentic
• authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used
• authentic activities that are complex, ill-defined problems and
• access to expert performances enabling modelling of processes
• multiple roles and perspectives providing alternative solution
• collaboration allowing for the social construction of knowledge
• opportunities for reflection involving metacognition
• opportunities for articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be
• coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times
• authentic assessment that reflect the way knowledge is asses in
Mobility is real. Mobile learning is reality. So, again I ask, what right do those who are involved in education, dare dismiss mobility? Mobile phones, iPads/tablets, iPods are all useful learning tools. Learners connect with their devices – and through their day-to-day devices, become more open, more accepting of being in a classroom. Or must they only be in a classroom to do tasks and actually learn?
Hockly (2012) clearly explains how teaching/learning tasks may be carried out in the classroom or on “the go”. Even when an institution denies permission to use M-learning, there are so many creative, inventive ways for educators to guide learner on how to use their mobile devices. It is a question of taking advantage of the moment, of opening learning opportunities to students.
No. This lack is not because of tech. There are too many teachers, who by sticking to routine lesson plans, afraid of taking the untread path, fearful of losing “power”, do not take advantage of relevant learning moments. Which begs the question – isn’t that why students go to educational institutions? Aren’t they there to learn?
Many comments, such as the ones published here and here, are unacceptable. If one is involved in education, one has social, ethical and professional responsibilities. Educators need to keep up-dated. Educators need to connect with their learners, guide them, show them how they can use their devices to learn and not only send texts to each other.
In the words of Siemens (2012) in regard to higher education:
“Educators are not driving the change bus. Leadership in traditional universities has been grossly negligent in preparing the academy for the economic and technological reality it now faces.”
Changes. Economic, technological realities. It is not only at tertiary education where these changes should be taking place, but at all levels of education.
Mobility comes in many forms. Mobility is above all an attitude, a belief and practice of life.
Barseghian, T, (2012) Amidst a Mobile Revolution in Schools, Will Old Teaching Tactics Work?
Bauer, P. (2012) Mobile: It’s Time to Get Serious
Herrington, J., Herrington, A., Mantei, J., Olney, I., & Ferry, B. (2009). New technologies, new pedagogies: Using mobile technologies to develop new ways of teaching and learning. In J.Herrington, A. Herrington, J. Mantei, I. Olney, & B. Ferry (Eds.), New technologies, new pedagogies Mobile learning in higher education (pp. 1-14). Wollongong: University of Wollongong. Retrieved from http://ro.uow.edu.au/
Hockly, N. (2012) in Mobile Tech, Nicky & Language Acquisition – IATEFL, Glasgow 2012
Siemens, G. (2012) The Future of Higher Education and Other Imponderables
Tinto, V. Taking Student Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College
10 Sites to use with Mobile Phones in Education
Mobile Devices Drive Creative Instruction
Top 50 Mobile Learning Resources