Monday, March 5, 2012

Mobile Learning: It's Here


In the past, the phrase “classroom without walls” meant instructors relied less on textbooks and more on multi-media components such as incorporating appropriate topics from laser discs, using suitable public television segments in the classroom and bringing in local experts to share their experiences/expertise with students.  Today, this phrase has taken on a more literal meaning; classrooms have become learning spaces.  And technology has removed walls, bringing in students and presenters from around the world.  Students in these environments bring their own computers using wireless capability (Walker, Brooks, Baepler, 2011) that extend the classroom beyond its physical walls. 

Additionally, students are no longer tethered to backpacks carrying books, notebooks, pencils, etc.  Our 21st century students are now accessing information via their Smartphones and Tablets receiving information from e-Books and software applications known as “apps” in an environment referred to as “mobile or mobile learning.”  

According to ELI (2010), mobile learning, or m-learning, can be any educational interaction delivered through mobile technology and accessed at a student’s convenience from any location.  Because m-learning utilizes a variety of devices, many of which are ubiquitous in the lives of students, it can foster student engagement and offer opportunities to make learning integral to daily life.

Universities such as Stanford, Oklahoma State University, University of Maryland, Duke University, and University of Kansas (Lawrence Campus); just to name a few institutions are exploring ways mobile devices can enhance education.  The outcomes of these pilot programs will help answer questions related to integration of existing network infrastructure, use of e-books compared to traditional print textbooks (expense impact), and its overall enhancement(s) to the academic experience.

By the same token, KUMC faculty members are also exploring ways mobile devices can be integrated into their disciplines.  Hence, the formation of the Apple Support Group where interested faculty and staff meet to discuss overarching issues such as security, iTunes implementation, network infrastructure, customer support, as well as teaching and learning integrations and app selection.  To find out more about this group or if interested in joining, please contact your TLT Liaison.

For even though many universities and school districts are experimenting with the use of mobile devices within their curriculum, mobile learning is still an emerging trend and research on its implication in teaching and learning is still underway.   

References:
Traxler, John.  “Current State of Mobile Learning.”  Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of
                Education and Training, pp. 9-24, March 2009.
Walker, Brooks, and Baepler.  “Pedagogy and Space: Empirical Research on New Learning
                Environments,” Educause Quarterly, v34, #4, 2011.
Educause Learning Initiative (ELI):  7 Things You Should Know about iPad Apps for Learning, February
                2011.

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