“E-learning”, “M-Learning” etc. I think that so long as the operative word continues to be ‘learning’, I would not be averse to using mobile technology in the classroom. If, therefore, presented with the opportunity to include it, I most certainly would jump at the chance. Being willing to incorporate mobile learning in my classroom, however, does not translate into implementing it with reckless abandon. In fact, it is precisely because of the amount of work involved in ensuring that mobile learning (M-Learning) facilitates learning and is appropriately applied that would make it much easier to actually forgo. Nonetheless, just because one is willing to utilize mobile technology, does not mean that one is ignoring its critics either.
Like with anything else, M-Learning does have its troubles and shortcomings including, but not limited to, being viewed as a disruption or distraction. Dismissing mobile technology entirely however, in my opinion, does not solve them. After all, throwing the proverbial ‘baby out with the bathwater’ has never accomplished much. Instead, I view it somewhat as a challenge. It is always easy to pinpoint what is wrong with a situation, tool or technology, but it is often more valuable, though admittedly difficult, to propose an effective solution. I would, therefore, want to adopt the approach/application of M-Learning and work towards various potential solutions, largely due to the wide array of advantages (i.e. flexible, instant accessibility, economic viability, continuous learning etc.) it has offered students, myself included.
The next step would be providing appropriate guidance, just as one would with almost any other tool. In the end, there are very few things we hand to children (or even adults), without some parameters or advice suggested i.e. don’t run with scissors, be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp side of the blades, watch what you are cutting etc. If we provide so much direction when using a relatively simple item such as scissors, imagine what a smart phone would require. Regardless of how much information, cautionary pearls of wisdom or rules one gives, however, the potential for children to accidentally cut themselves, snip their clothes etc. can never be entirely prevented. Nonetheless, we do not entirely remove this simple tool from children. We may not provide or include them for every activity, but students are aware the existence of scissors, their purpose, and the ways in which they can be employed. Although perhaps an over simplified analogy, I believe that in the same manner that we do not completely ban scissors, but rather supply age appropriate ones (i.e. plastic to dull metal to pointy to sharp) and typically according to the task at hand (e.g. one would likely not give scissors for a traditional math test etc.), so would I do the same with mobile technology tools.
If the (learning) objective would benefit or be enhanced from the use of mobile technology, I would most definitely want it in my classroom. While the management of these tools is far more complex than a pair of scissors, I would be sure to develop parameters to help manage some of the disadvantages associated with M-Learning. I especially like the idea of having students come up with the majority of the guidelines. I think we continually underestimate how aware of technology children are these days and may be surprised that many would suggest or agree with some fairly stringent “rules“ or “restrictions”.
Ultimately, I would consider the implementation of mobile technology. Whereas, just like scissors, they can have unwanted consequences or dangerous outcomes, they also can be immensely important as they encourage creativity and learning. I think the key challenge will be to successfully balance those students that thrive through M-Learning and those that may not be as eager about it or fare better with other learning processes, as I would not want to rob either of learning opportunities. In the end, I believe that students need to be taught how to use mobile technology, particularly as it is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, but not without forgetting other modes of learning. One can never tell, after all, what resonates with a student and their learning process: for some it might be an iPad for some things and a pencil in other instances. I personally would like to strive to be a teacher than can show the learning and knowledge-building potential of both… just as instructors have in my life.
10 Ways That Mobile Learning Will Revolutionize Education. (n.d.). Co.Design. Retrieved November 22, 2012, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669896/10-ways-that-mobile-learning-will-revolutionize-education
Schools grappling with how to best use technology in the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2012, from http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Schools+grappling+with+best+technology+classroom/7568017/story.html
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning | Elearning Companion. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from http://www.elearning-companion.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-online-learning.html
What is m-learning? (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2012, from http://www.m-learning.org/knowledge-centre/whatismlearning
I really like the approach and analogies you make. One of the worst concepts to me is withdrawing awareness of something (be it an object, situation, or theory) to “protect” a student. Like you, I believe students should be exposed to mobile learning in the classroom, even if there are a few potential negatives to using the technology. Students need to be able to explore different tools and evaluate the positives and negatives for themselves I believe. Taking away that right to explore could prove more harmful to a student, unable to have guided use on how to best use technology in an appropriate manner for learning.
As well, in regards to your statement that “we continually underestimate how aware of technology children are … [and] that many would suggest or agree with some fairly stringent “rules“ or “restrictions”, I think this ties in nicely to a point made during our class lecture, that when students made a technology contract, even they made rules to not login to facebook and what not. I think sometimes we need to trust students more, that they can be responsible learners and we need not be holding their hands 24/7.
Thank you very much for your reply E. As you implied above, I agree that the emphasis these days on “protecting“ students is perhaps slightly excessive at times. There are increasing references in regards to this generation being “bubble wrapped“ and I believe that to a certain degree this may be true and therefore, somewhat problematic. While I am an avid supporter of non-technology related activities (i.e. especially involving no “screen time“), I also feel as though it would be detrimental in this century to withhold technology, despite all of its potential risks and complications. There are, after all, great ways to integrate technology into learning; not so learning becomes entirely dependent and relying on it, but in a manner in which it is heightened and enhanced.
Considering that students will likely already be exposed to and familiar with many forms of mobile technology, either at home or in public (i.e. stores, adverts etc.), I think that teaching them to use it responsibly and introducing them to ways in which it can support their academic endeavors is vital. For example, I am currently using my smartphone to type this response, as I commute (via LRT) home from work. Working two jobs, in addition to being a fulltime student, tends to keep me quite busy (so I really have to use my time wisely) and therefore, when purchasing a phone, opted for a bulkier and less popular option, simply because it was equipped with a qwerty slide keyboard. I know that there are many K- 12 students that have similar predicaments, whether it is a job or other (sports etc.) commitments. Having the option to efficiently complete assignments or continue their learning in and out of the classroom is a great convenience that mobile technology offers. Although I dislike it, when it becomes a mandatory component, having the flexibility to provide the possibility and the know-how on how they can use mobile technology to support their learning in and out of the classroom, should definitely be considered.
I am even open to the idea of “free-play” via mobile technology. Learning doesn’t always have to be structured and I think students are increasingly forced to adhere to organized activities, rather than perhaps having less formal events that accommodate for a child’s imagination to run free. It is because of this increasing trend, that I really appreciated Randy Lyseng’s discussion of a “digital sandbox”. After all, play should not necessarily be viewed separately from learning. Once again, I think instructors would actually be surprised to find out how aware students are and how much is learnt through play – whether via mobile technology or in an actual sandbox.
The Serious Need for Play: Scientific American. (2009). Retrieved November 26, 2012, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-serious-need-for-play