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Informal and Mobile Learning

Nery Carmen Alvarado Villarreal MODULO: Herramientas digitales en línea para el aprendizaje

21 de junio de 2008

Beyond the line of lockstep, the confines of the classroom and the demands placed upon the learner, the new trends point towards the opening of new spaces that free the students from any social, academic, or self imposed constraints.   This ideology of expansion, brought forth by Temmu Arina, exemplifies how every experience can be seen as learning, and

School, with its traditional concepts, has limited the strengths of this, and though steps have been taken towards achieving significant changes, there are other means to use that can lead us there.

Technology is one of them. Given the rapid, constant growth of communication technologies, as well as the access opened to many more users who are perfecting them, theories have been set concerning its importance and application in the fields of education. This is not a new trend. Many attempts have been made to use this to many different degrees of success, all directing the learner towards what the teacher wants him to learn. Rather, this new conception advocates for learner freedom, where he can learn the same things in different ways.   A guidance without pathways, but only suggestions where to start. A virtually unlimited space for interaction and further reflection upon the aspects of the topic discussed and studied. Several options and potential participants, meeting at one place for the same purpose. At first, educators might see these as only troublesome chaos. Once again, it must be said, we must go beyond our preconceptions and open up for the idea of how this could work.

To explore this approach, we must explore its applications: As teachers we would be there to present our class a topic, work on it along them, then introduce them to the different places over the internet where they could expand their understanding of it. There is no specific set of homework we would ask for, and therefore, no standard grading or feedback. We aim for the learner to find his own way through the information, select it according to his specific interests and needs, and in the end internalize it in the form of a personal reflection upon his own learning. People play a very important part of this process. Technology is just that; without the people interacting, using it, its meaning and purpose would be lost. Participants not only search for the knowledge, but construct upon it. Discussion boards, instant messaging, wikis, blogs, podcasts, video; all made by the very same users, sharing and exchanging towards a more ample understanding of the topic. Informal and mobile learning: Learners utterly interested, being where the knowledge to be had is. Learners taking part in their own acquisition of new, meaningful and useful information, without being led by the classical concepts of teaching. Students being motivated, connected whether by face to face contact or over a social network in the internet. It is now, then, that as teachers we step into this space of possibilities, and make it work for the best of our educational

My insight on the topic…
I find these ideas truly interesting. Mobility and informality may sound confusing at first, but can be very well applied in learning, particularly with the kind of students I have. Given my students´ access to the internet, and their willingness to surf the net to find and discuss things, I believe they can use podcasts and blogs quite well to meet the requirements of this trend. Of course, as I mentioned it in my work, there must high motivation involved. I had already considered the use of social software for my students to use, and now I can see there are actual theories concerning how they can actually help them improve. The early results are showing in my class, as they are participating in the first activities guided towards it. The part about opening spaces sounds good, particularly if you consider local networks such as one for the school. Then again, as the interviewee said, that could lead to more formal learning. Even then, considering that most students this age are not quite ready for self guided and reflective learning yet, this might be a practical application. Finally, connectivism I find most important. This is the true matter here. There might not be