Weekends are a time for family and recreational reading. This weekend was no exception. I put my feet up and turned on the prequel to “March Madness” for ambient noise and began cruising around through my favorite blogs and journals on my iPad. Within minutes I found myself engrossed in a fantastic e-journal from IRRODL on “A Pedagogical Framework for Mobile Learning.” Even the tag cloud grabbed my attention.
As discussed in the last blog, instructional designers and lecturers are searching for tools to engage their learners. Class sizes in higher education continue to grow and most eclipse 50 students with many running in the hundreds. There is also tectonic shift in delivery of information through hybrid and flipped classrooms. Combine class growth with smart phones and mobile devices with near ubiquity, and you have problem/potential solution set. The e-journal’s clarity rings true and matches the response we have received from the education community on Via’s Response’s participation, collaboration and assessment platform.
The first thing that jumped off my “virtual page” was a nuanced definition of mobile learning. “It has been widely recognized that mobile learning is not just about the use of portable devices but also about learning across contexts (Walker, 2006).” Winter (2006) reconceptualized the nature of mobile learning and addressed “mediated learning through mobile technology” . (emphasis added) What visionary thoughts for 2006! Mobile technology and the use of smart phones and devices as an assessment, participation and assessment vehicle just makes sense. In Via Response’s small part of this continuum, mobile clickers or virtual clickers allow response to be extended both in and out of the classroom. The mobile device or smart device mediates the learning no matter where the student is located.
I paused and my thoughts centered around the mind numbing speed of data evolution on mobile platforms. Four short years ago, less than 10 percent of all mobile phone utilized data on their phones. Now the number is above 70 percent in the general population and nearly 100 percent for higher education. Students can’t and some might argue, won’t put their devices down. The shift from mobile computational power to mobile communication and socialization through data has created a very unique and powerful continuum.
Back to the journal, my mind was traversing the same path as the author. Mobile learning spans personal/individual data intensive tasks such as calendaring, and contact data all the way to real time data and communication like classroom response clicker systems. The journal then spent time breaking down “trans-ACTIONAL distance” learning into four categories as one would view a pyramid from the top down with the mobile device mediating the type of learning activity. The depth of the discussion would not be done justice in this short blog. The full work can be found here.
More than anything else, the journal solidified some of my many random thoughts into a much more cohesive structure and the author nailed it with this statement.
“…When the transactional distance is defined as a psychological gap between instructor and learner, it still contradicts definitions of structure and dialogue. Due to the recent developments of emerging communication technologies, structures of learning are built not only by the instructor or instructional designer but also by collective learners; and dialogue is also formed not only between the instructor and learners, but also among the learners themselves.”
A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types, 2012
We have entered a new era where mobile technology mediates asynchronous individual learning tasks to flipped classroom collaborative work that is synchronous and constructive. Systems must match the instructional design and pedagogies, which are rapidly emerging. Via Engage is attempting to match these changes stride for stride to provide tools to meet the time distance challenges of today. With more than 30 pilots and betas going on, we are learning exponentially from all of you at this point. We always look forward to hearing from you at any time.
Derrick Meer, COO, Via Response Technologies