In a previous post, I blogged out loud about my concern for misusing/overusing the term mobile learning, or mlearning. In fact, a recent post and nudging by Michael Barbour got me to start putting some thoughts down that I’ve been mulling over for a while. Plus, I have a very talented student right now who is working on a dissertation about mobile learning in higher education, and she has caused me to spend some sleepless nights thinking a lot about this. So, here’s a start to something that I hope will grow into more finalized. I would really like to have your thoughts about this, so please comment and ask questions.
The definitions of mobile learning that I’ve read and have found, I believe are incomplete. For example:
I particularly like the direction and indecisiveness that Dr. Traxler (e.g., 2005, 2007, 2010) puts on the difficulty in defining mobile learning in a number of his articles on defining mobile learning. Still, I think these definitions do not ask all the questions appropriate to mobile learning. I believe folks have been defining mobile learning, and trying to define a mobile learning environment.
Pushing my thinking even further, Dr. So (2010) in a presentation at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology asked me to consider the relationships among mobile learning, elearning, and distance learning. He suggested that many people would argue that mobile learning and elearning were subsets of distance learning.
However, he posited that mobile learning (and elearning for that matter) were more likely derivations of distance learning, sharing specific traits but also retaining unique characteristics.
I really liked where this line of thinking was taking me, so I began to think about what mobile learning meant for teaching and learning. In almost all of the cases I’ve read, the emphasis had been on the learner and the learning, and I like this concentration. However, I think the current definitions do not do justice to the other components in learning environments, namely the teacher, the content, and the learning system, which in this case is the mobile computing device. So, I’m begining to play around with this diagram:
By looking at all of the pieces in a mobile learning environment, I think it forces us to consider theoretical foundations for practices and avenues to take advantages of the mobile computing devices. In particular, it begs the following questions:
- What does it mean if the teacher/trainer/facilitator is mobile?
- What does it mean if the device or system is mobile?
- What does it mean if the learner is mobile?
- What does it mean if the learning content is mobile?
I am planning a follow-up post about this diagram and how I think existing and future mobile teaching and learning strategies fit in. What are your thoughts so far? Please let me know.
Herrington, J., Herrington, A., Mantei, J., Olney, I. & Ferry, B. (2009). 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, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, Australia.
Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET ). (2009). What is mobile learning? Retrieved December 30, 2009, from http://www.molenet.org.uk
Motiwalla, L.F. (2007). Mobile learning: A framework and evaluation. Computers & Education, 49, 581-596.
Quinn, C. (2000). mLearning. Mobile, Wireless, In-Your-Pocket Learning. Linezine. Fall 2000. Available at http://www.linezine.com/2.1/features/cqmmwiyp.htm
So, S. (2010, October 27). Pedagogical and technological considerations of mobile learning. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Anaheim, CA.
Traxler, J. (2005). Defining mobile learning. IADIS International Conference Mobile Learning.
Traxler, J. (2007). Defining, discussing and evaluating mobile learning: The moving finger writes and having writ…The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 8(2). Avaiable at http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/346
Traxler, J. (2010). Distance education and mobile learning: Catching up, taking stock. Distance Education, 31(2), 129-138.