I’ve noticed the term mLearning progressively more and more lately. mLearning is short for Mobile Learning. It’s likely that due to advances in mobile technology, applications and affordability, that the adoption of mobile learning in education is beginning to accelerate.
So is mobile learning the same as distance learning? I would argue that not all distance learning is mobile learning, yet all mobile learning is distance learning.
So what does this mean? Distance learning has already allowed for students to remove themselves from the classroom and substitute learning in their home environment as a matter of convenience and some would say luxury.
Does mobile learning enable the same student to take this luxury a step farther and say, do his or her learning from the comforts of a folding chair on a sandy beach while listening to the gentle sounds of the ocean lapping at their feet?
Would there be anything wrong with that if it were so? While the video chosen for the last of this three-part elearning video review series does touch on the importance of the context within which one learns, I digress.
The main focus of the brief segment of the talk given in the video below seems to be about the idea of social interaction through mobile learning as a way to increase its effectiveness.
The speaker further argues that to harness this effectiveness it should be imperative for educators not merely to push out existing content onto smaller screens/mobile devices. Rather they should seek to balance the three types of identifiable distance learning interactions:
- Learner >< Content
- Learner >< Expert
- Learner ><Learner
The speaker further argues that it was “the opportunity that students had to interact with each other about the content” that proved to make the biggest discernible difference in making the experience effective for the students.
I certainly don’t deny the importance of social interaction on the way we learn, but I find it an interesting topic in light of current trends in technology and what we now call ‘social media’ on the internet.
I have read recently that some educators are incorporating Twitter into their course designs to allow students to interact with each other during online classes. I’m not sure of the overall results but I do know that some have raised concerns that this method has proven to be disruptive in some cases, as students have engaged in side conversations and even hijacked lesson plans by carrying the class into off-topic tweets.
This type of problem is nothing new though, since even in traditional class students may choose to ‘act up’ by speaking over the teacher, talking at the back of the class, etc. The remedy for that is simply to kick them out of class. But how do you kick someone out of your online class? Again I digress.
As a student, what would you suggest for online professors and educators to make learning from your mobile devices more socially interactive? I’m thinking perhaps there may be some interesting possibilities with things like iphone apps. What do you think?