Mobile Learning

In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools? Why wouldn’t we have it available for our children’s education?
President Barack Obama
What is it?

Mobile learning involves taking advantage of the any time, any place capabilities of mobile devices, not immobilizing them in a classroom. This means various kinds of situated learning.  For example, augmented reality can enhance the experience and learning at a particular place. As Dr. Dede describes, augmented reality is like the Terminator robot with magical vision that sees not only the real world but different kinds of overlays of information about its environment.

Why is it important to learning?

The 2010 National Education Technology plan sketched a vision of learning that was different from the traditional classroom experience. The focus was on learning any time, any place. On extending learning beyond the walls of the classroom (and even the home) and the hours of the school day. Only mobile devices can effectively serve this purpose.

How does it support intrinsic motivation and ownership?

Today, so many people personalize their mobile devices and effectively think of them as extensions of the self. If they are taken as extensions of people’s learning, not just work or entertainment or social activity, but learning, they become empowering tools that let students take charge and take ownership.

What does it look like in practice?

Situated learning can look like augmented reality where students can learn to see a pond or an ecology through the eyes of an expert. It can look like historical information and actions played out in the places where they originally took place.  It can look like an augmented marketplace where students can see goods, money, inventory, and everything needed to understand the inner workings of the local commerce.

What are concerns about mobile learning?

It is important to recognize the limitations of mobile learning and to not mistake the affordances of mobile devices with those of laptops or other devices. Mobile devices are unique in their usefulness for situated learning, but don’t have the power of a laptop and shouldn’t be confused with one.

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