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Making mLearning Work: Utilizing mobile technology for collaboration, assessment, and reflection in higher education | Fisher & Baird

Making mLearning Work: Utilizing mobile technology for collaboration, assessment, and reflection in higher education | Fisher & Baird

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Published by Derek E. Baird
The convergence of mobile technologies into student-centered learning environments requires academic institutions to design new and more effective learning, teaching, and user experience strategies. In this article we share results from an (mobile learning (mLearning) design experiment and analysis from a student survey conducted at the National College of Ireland.

Quantitative data support our hypothesis that mLearning technologies can provide a platform for active learning, collaboration, and innovation in higher education.

In addition, we review mobile interface and user-experience design considerations, and mLearning theory. Finally, we provide an overview of mLearning applications being developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland including, Virtual Graffiti, BuddyBuzz, Flickr, and RAMBLE.
The convergence of mobile technologies into student-centered learning environments requires academic institutions to design new and more effective learning, teaching, and user experience strategies. In this article we share results from an (mobile learning (mLearning) design experiment and analysis from a student survey conducted at the National College of Ireland.

Quantitative data support our hypothesis that mLearning technologies can provide a platform for active learning, collaboration, and innovation in higher education.

In addition, we review mobile interface and user-experience design considerations, and mLearning theory. Finally, we provide an overview of mLearning applications being developed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland including, Virtual Graffiti, BuddyBuzz, Flickr, and RAMBLE.

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Published by: Derek E. Baird on Jan 27, 2010
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J. EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS, Vol. 35(1) 3-30, 2006-2007
MAKINGmLEARNINGWORK: UTILIZINGMOBILETECHNOLOGYFORACTIVEEXPLORATION,COLLABORATION,ASSESSMENT,ANDREFLECTIONINHIGHEREDUCATION
MERCEDES FISHER, P
H
.D.
National College of Ireland, Dublin
DEREK E. BAIRD, M.A.
Yahoo! USA, San Francisco, California
ABSTRACT
The convergence of mobile technologies into student-centered learningenvironments requires academic institutions to design new and more effec-tive learning, teaching, and user experience strategies. In this article weshare results from an mLearning design experiment and analysis from astudent survey conducted at the National College of Ireland. Quantitativedata support our hypothesis that mLearning technologies can provide a platform for active learning, collaboration, and innovation in higher educa-tion. In addition, we review mobile interface and user-experience designconsiderations, and mLearning theory. Finally, we provide an overview of mLearning applications being developed in the United States, the UnitedKingdom, and Ireland including,
Virtual Graffiti, BuddyBuzz, Flickr,
and
 RAMBLE.
INTRODUCTION
The Internet has revolutionized the way in which we teach, learn, and retrieveinformation. The rapid spread of mobileand social mediatechnologies has deeplyinfluenced the thinking, communicating, and working of entire generations. Andmore and more, as the “Web 2.0” or social software movement continues tounfold, our digital lifestyles are becoming increasingly mobile.
3
Ó
2006, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.
 
The current generation of students, dubbed the “
 Net Generation,
” has grownup in a world that has always had the Internet, multimedia,and on-demand accessto information. As a result, today’s students have adapted to the onslaught of digital information by media-multitasking and are open to discovering new waysof integrating their digital reality into learning (see Table 1).At the same time, increasing pressure has been placed on higher education toteachmassesofdiversestudentsexpectingbothaqualityeducationcombinedwithhighly interactive multimedia. As a result, educating this Web-centric generationhas become increasingly more challenging. In this article, we illustrate howmLearning technologies can support and provide a platform for active learning,collaboration, and innovation in higher education.For the most part, colleges and universities are just beginning to realize the potential of mobiletechnology to improve the quality of student learning. In order tomeettheirstudentschangingexpectationsanddigitallearningstyles,instructorsneed to be provided with professional development opportunities to experimentwith current and emergingWeb-based technologies.AnotherkeyindicatorthattheInternetistrendingtowardamobileexperienceisthe move by media giants such as Yahoo!, Google, Disney Internet Group, AppleComputer,andSonytoprovidemoreandmoreoftheircontentonmobiledevices.Moreover, a 2005 study conducted by the United States-based Kaiser FamilyFoundation found that, although 90% of teen online access occurs in the home,
4 / FISHER AND BAIRD
Table 1. What Are the Key Attributes of Web 2.0 Technology?
Foundation attributes
User-contributed value
: Users make substantive contributions to enhancethe overall value of a service.
Network effect
: For users, the value of a network substantially increaseswith the addition of each new user.
Experience attributes
Decentralization
: Users experience learning on their terms, not those of acentralized authority, such as a teacher.
Co-creation
: Users participate in the creation and delivery of the learningcontent.
Re-mixability
: Experiences are created and tailored to user needs, learningstyle, and multiple intelligences by integrating the capabilities of multipletypes of social media.
Emergent systems
: Cumulative actions at the lowest levels of the systemdrive the form and value of the overall system. Users derive value not onlyfrom the service itself, but also the overall shape that a service inherits fromuser behaviors.
Note
: Refer to Schauer (2005).
 
most students also have Web access via mobile devices such as a mobile phone(39%), portable game (55%), or other Web-enabled handheld device (13%).The convergence of mobile and social technologies, on-demand contentdelivery, and early adoption of portable media devices by students providesacademiawith an opportunity to leverage thesetools into design learning environ-ments which seem authentic to the
digital natives
filling the 21st century collegecampus (Prensky, 2005). Clearly, the spread of Web-based technology into boththe cognitive and social spheres requires educators to reexamine and redefineour teaching and learning methods.
STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNINGENVIRONMENTS
Whether in a traditional, computer, or mobile-based learning environment,communication rests at the heart of the human experience. Academic institutionsneed to recognize the growing and important role Information CommunicationTechnology (ICT) plays in students’ lives and design instructional strategies based on these digital learning styles. Meeting the rapidly changing needs of different student groups and utilizing new content delivery channels creates realchallenges as we search for new pedagogical solutions.As students use social media to collaborate with others, they shape their ownidentities, find, create, and join communities, set goals, and negotiate ways toreach them and learn (Hall, cited in Phillips & Terry, 1999). Education in the21st century can no longer be defined by static guidelines but rather by grow-ing, changing, and evolving sets of opportunities, projects, technology, andcommunities.In order to educate and train students to become highly competent lifelongmembers of a learning community, we need to provide an environment thataids retention and development of high quality thinking and reflection.Social-constructivist theory views learning as a socially situated, collaborative,and task-based procedure that occurs through interaction with others (Brown& Duguid, 2000; Schwienhorst, 2000). As we strive to identify, test, implement,and improve delivery of a range of effective learning technologies, includingnew applications and capabilities, we need to keep in mind that students learn by becoming actively involved and making meaning out of the content.Social-constructivists recognize an important role for technology in learning.For learners, this approach provides an unrivaled intellectual laboratory andvehicle for self-expression and exploration using a new wave of highly collabor-ative Web-based communication technologies.A recent study conducted by the UK-based NESTA FutureLabs (BBC, 2005)concluded that the educational model needs to be “reversed to conform to thelearner, rather than the learner to the system. Moreover, the NESTA study foundthat social media should be used to enable learners to study and be assessed
MAKING mLEARNING WORK / 5

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