Archive for April, 2011


Mlearning

                               Wikipedia defines Mobile learning as any learning that occurs when not in a fixed, predetermined location. That seems a bit vague to me since that would encompass learning techniques that have been used for hundreds of years, such as field trips, and guided tours. Mlearning actually has been around for over a hundred years, ever since  language lessons where released on wax cylinders in 1901(which where one of the precursors to compact disks). Later 8 tracks, cassette tapes, and cd’s took over. In the 70’s xerox created the dynabook mobile computer to run simulations for learning, and that marked the beginning of the modern mobile device learning movement that is mlearning.

How does it Work?

The mobile learning format is best for brief interactions of less than five minutes per use. The navigation tools and controls are kept simple, and text is often little more than a twitter sized message. Mlearning devices and formats are not suitable for deep and extended sessions of learning, but are better suited for activities such as quickly reviewing assignment information and parameters, responding to a quiz question in a classroom setting, or, in the case of podcasts, to download a lecture you’ missed or would like to hear again, and listen to it at your leisure. This makes mlearning sound like a potentially shallow and disatifying learning experience, but its really not. Students are often sent into the field to collect data and use their mlearning devices to record that data and send it back to the classroom to be added to a larger project. An mlearning project can be as deep or as shallow as it’s creator see’s fit. The learning device is a tool, and the environment does the teaching.

Advantages of Mlearning

  • Is Constantly evolving and may help drive the creation of new technology
  • offers a lighter weight way to learn when compared to books, and computers
  • Could be used to supplement traditional learning methods
  • supports the learning process but isn’t integral to it
  • can help some students with special needs
  • might attract students who have given up on conventional learning
  • can chose from audio, reading, and video learning
  • many students already have the tools they need to mlearn

Disadvantages

  • Students must have IT skills
  • There might be a few students who’ve resisted the cell phone and MP3 player craze.
  • device limitations such as key size, battery life, and screen size. (A books battery has never gone dead. Not even once.)
  • device bandwidth is still relatively primitive, and video and audio streaming may be limited, so the technology might not be there yet.
  • Limited technology in some developing country’s
  • it’s social and lends its self to collaboration
  • Devices become dated quickly and many can’t be upgraded
  • Can’t print easily
  • Small screen size lends itself to video, but it’s best to avoid text

 

I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept untill I found this example scenario at http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7060.pdf

 

Scenario

Tabitha has been studying the influence of changing climate patterns on animal migrations. As part of her senior project, she has been monitoring hummingbirds, which have been seen in increasing numbers locally in past years. Tabitha is observing two sites in her neighborhood where they have been seen and one where they have not.

She sets up motion-sensitive cameras at each of the three sites—one at the local botanic garden, a second near a honeysuckle bank in an undeveloped wooded area, and a third near heavy perennial plantings on the back side of the community center. The cameras are set to record video of anything that moves, so she aims them high enough to ensure human traffic will not set them off. Whenever video is recorded, a message with a URL to access the video is sent to her smart phone. She consequently spends her free moments during the day—waiting for class to start or standing in line at lunch—viewing video on the screen of her mobile, trying to decide if there has been hummingbird activity. She also visits the camera locations daily, recording information on temperature and humidity. She uses her smart phone to upload these observations to a database and to compare the day’s weather data with that of previous years.

Her first sighting comes five days into the study. She is scanning the video on her way to class when she sees a streak across the screen that she is sure is a hummingbird. Excited, she checks the data from the previous four years and notes her sighting is two days earlier than the average.

For her, the most exciting moment of her project comes after hummingbirds have been present for more than a week at two of her sites. A male hummingbird soars right in front of her as she checks temperature readings at the wooded location, her third site. Excited, she pulls out her mobile to check the hummingbird habitat maps. She thinks the bird is a full half-mile northeast of where his species had been spotted previously. Tabitha will need to do further research, but she believes she might have evidence confirming that the migration patterns continue to shift.

Applications

  • in museums
  • On field trips
  • constant on the job training, especially for the military
  • life long learning, such as dictionary access, or mobile assisted language learning (MALL)
  • using for interaction in the classroom
  • In natural resource or other training programs where a lot of field work is involved

Supported Devices

  • Smart Phones (cell phones are the number one mlearning device right now)
  • Ipods (for pod casts and in some cases video)
  • Ipads and other tablets
  • Laptops
  • Anything mobile and capable of displaying data

A Brief Video Describing the Uses of Mlearning

click here if video wont load

Conclusion

                      I didn’t know a thing about mlearning before I began my research for this post, but now I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Hand’s on learning is generally regarded as the most effective way for most people to learn, and mlearning is a way for us to get out of the classroom, and out into the realworld where everything that we’re here to learn about is actually occuring. I like the mobile aspect of mlearning, but I also enjoy the fact that it embraces new technology’s. I bought my first ipod four years ago, and I still get a kick out of how much information it holds, and the fact that I can watch movies in a tent or while riding in a plane. Technology is big business because we’re obsessed with it, and anything that manages to hold our attention for more than five minutes in this riddelin popping, twitter tweeting world, can and should be used to help us improve ourselves. I’ve always wanted to become proficient in a foreign language but don’t really wanna have to read too much… perhaps my time has come.

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