Wikipedia’s first sentence about this new field is:
“The term M-Learning, or “mobile learning”, has different meanings for different communities”
what does mobile learning mean to you?
The next 5 points will explore what this field means to me and how I see it evolving. Hopefully this journée(y) will spark a few reflections of your own, and that you’ll choose to share them with us all.
NB I will be addressing mlearning in the “anywhere, anytime” context, not the use of mobile devices in the classroom, which I see as quite separate.
1) Etymological roots
We can trace the word “mobile” 4500 years back to “meu”, an Indo-European root which means “to move”… no big surprise, right? “Meu” then transformed within Latin, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, Iranian and Indian language famillies and morphed into these words in English:
A thousand years ago, someone in England might have used the word “laeran,” which at the time meanteth not “to learn” but actually— “to teach”. Wild, eh?
So, if my high school arithmetic still serves me right:
mobile + learning + Wordle =
2) Mobile Learning = in-the-moving-moment
A few days ago I participated in an mLearning panel in the Virtual Round Table webinar that Heike Philp, Shelly Terrell, and Berni Wall pulled together. Big KUDOS to them for their hard work (and Heike… the next round of Lancelots is on me)! After the panel, Berni and I had a quick exchange on twitter, which summarized an important part of mlearning for me:
“ON THE GO LEARNING”
During the panel, I also cited the king of the internet, GOOGLE’s opinion on the matter. Their expert in mobile user experience, Leland Rechis, states that google views mobile use in three ways:
A. “Repetitive now“
B. “Bored now”
C. “Urgent now”
3) If it’s now, on-the-go, and “repetitive, bored, urgent” then what is the best implementation for learning on the go?
Do you ever talk to yourself when you walk down the street?
However, the minute I see someone walking towards me, “a normal silence” reigns.
UNLIKE those folks nowadays that walk down the street talking out loud, seemingly to themselves… the ones with the Bluetooth thingamajiggie, or the iPhone headphones with audio pickup…
Our somewhat odd walking-talking friends bring me to this query: Will language learners soon be walking down the street practicing their lessons outloud while staring at their little smartphones?
Probably not. Though, mLearning won’t be as one-way as it is today. It will become COM-MUNITY-oriented (in latin com+munus = with + exchange). So, while I do foresee communities forming around mobile applications, and mobile learning platforms, I don’t expect an extensive amount of verbal mLearning for two specific reasons:
1) It’s socially awkward to communicate “for learning” when you’re on-the-go, especially when other people around you are not participating. (tho, possibly chatting and messaging).
2) A mobile device has endless potential, and considering point 1, I think it will fulfill other “collecting functions” as I’ll describe in point 4.
I feel the very vital portion of vocal expression/communication will continue to be tackled in the classroom, at home eLearning on a larger screen, or HOPEFULLY in real conversation in the foreign language.
4) mLearning is about learning w/ a mobile device
mLearning will explode in the next few years, and in ways we have only just started to imagine. Up until now, it’s been mostly examples of old technology (flashcards/language lessons) in a new technology format (smartphones/tablettes). Although, those applications will always have a draw for certain users, I believe mLearning will soon become much more
be about GATHERING new knowledge from the environment,
and STORING or SHARING it.
It will put the learner in the driver seat by pinpointing their own personal needs, relying on their creativity, and turning them into a content producer.
This will enhance our roles as teachers, as we can become guides and “instigators”, encouraging students to enjoy “homework” through mLearning missions!
5) “Phones” are now much more than “sound”
(from the Greek word phōnē = (voice))
They are the objects that we tug along everywhere, day in and day out, and they have become slightly schizophrenic assuming the roles of our camera, map, mp3 player, game platform, notepad, pager, phone, books, videocamera, wallet, internet, TV, Car GPS, health diagnostic tool etc etc etc ad infinitum.
And more than anything, they are the most personalized digital object we have, so I’m going to finish by saying that in the future, mLearning will certainly be as much about Me, as it will be about Mobile.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think. Cheers, b
(Steve Jobs photo credit)