Mobile Devices and Mobile Education
The implications that may arise from the use of mobile phones in education intrigue me and I hope to keep abreast of this use. I feel that there is a place for mobile phones in education as an instant contact with the outside world. The variety of apps already has increased the possibilities for mobile phones to become more than communication devices. Cook, Pachler and Bachmair (2011) discuss the implication of mobile phones within education as a ‘cultural ecology for mobile learning’. These ideas will be further elaborated below.
Cook, Pachler and Bachmair (2011) see mobile phones as cultural devices as they allow for the user to become a user on a broader context. This is, that through mobile devices people can become authors via twitter, photographers via instagram etc. The mobile phone is not limited to making phone calls or text messages. It allows the user to immerse themself in cultural experiences. There is a place for these devices in education as these resources are essentially ‘free’ once on the web. The mobile phone provides schools with an endless supply of apps to help support learning but also to match the learning within schools to the students’ lives outside of the school context.
Another aspect of the use of mobile devices in education discussed by Cook, Pachler and Bachmair (2011) is the idea that learning is not mainly occurring at school. Students can learn any time and any place through the aid of mobile devices. This learning can also be individualised. Each user has different interests and can customise their mobile device to suit their individuality. Mobile devices could be assimilated with the current classroom practices and not used to reinvent education. They could be used to access the internet and access different educational apps.
User generated contexts are real world situations in which the user has some affect on the outcome. Mobile devices allow for this to be enhanced. To be able to access certain information students may need to be in a specific location and then must complete a task before they can go on to the next task. Cook, Pachler and Bachmair (2011) mention that this makes a learner become an ‘active participant’ rather than just a ‘passive participant’. The 21st century learner is not as interested in teacher-guided instruction as students have been in the past. They want and desire interactive and fast paced learning experiences.
Moore (2012) raises the idea that reading via mobile devices such as through twitter and social media sites becomes a social experience. Readers and writers are able to engage in discussions on topics that they enjoy or dislike. Moore (2012) also explains how via eBooks you can highlight a quote or a topic and then tweet this information. This allows for an open discussion on something that you need further clarification on or that has interested you. Moore (2012) also mentions that it is now possible to tweet the author of a book a question regarding their novel as you are reading it. This implication of allowing students to have contact with an author they are studying is that the learning would become more ‘real’ to the student. This would enable greater connections between the real world and the learning situation.
Moore (2012) also mentions the idea of audiobooks and that thanks to these you can read whilst doing other activities. This also opens up experiences for students with learning disabilities. Traditionally audio books have been expensive and technology was needed to support the playing of them. With the use of a smart phone and an audio book students can now be reading and experiencing reading in an easy and manageable way.
O’Connell (2012) talks about how through the use of mobile devices students have access to up to date information. The information can be as recent as 1 minute ago and allows the students to be in contact with the real world in real time. They are not limited in resources to the textbooks the school bought five years ago or the encyclopaedias in the library from the 1980s. If they want information they have instant access to it via their mobile devices. This is also a concept that can be embraced by the classroom teacher when asked a question by a student that they can not immediately answer. They can use their mobile device to look up the answer instantly. O’Connell (2012) does not feel that the use of mobile devices detracts from the library but that it allows more opportunities for their communities. Libraries are places that can support learning and interacting with mobile devices as long as they adjust to suit the needs of technology and Web 2.0. Libraries are now open extended hours through the web. They still offer a sanctuary or refuge for those wanting to escape but this might now happen whilst reading an eBook and sitting in the library café.
The implications on education of mobile devices are being felt right now. The pros seem to outweigh the cons and the notion of banning mobile phones at school seems to be a losing battle. Mobile devices do not need to replace current educational resources but can be used to support them and assist them. By embracing the use of mobile devices in education we are allowing students to learn skills that are relevant to them and can be applied in the real world.