M-learning potential: Hype or reality #change11

A few recurring themes about the affordances of mobile learning include the following: (see “Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training” edited by Mohammed Ally (downloadable here http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120155)

  1. flexible, just-in-time and personalized learning;
  2. discovery-based learning and contextualized learning experience, the examples of which range from guided tours offered by museums or apprentice nurses in practicums;
  3. informal, continuous learning, given the high penetration of the technology and that many people are already using some form of mobile technology to learn
  4. an extensive reach to people in poorer countries, given the high penetration rate of the mobile phone
  5. learning communities, as users can connect with other users and experts
  6. users develop better evaluation skills given the huge amount of information

What’s more, the use of the technology will continue to evolve and be redefined by its users – instructional designers, teachers, learners and collaborators.

However, a point of caution at this point is whether or not these potentials can be realized depends not only on what arises from collaboration but from careful instructional design and systematic research studies. As the use of the technology is evolving, educators and researchers often seem to be one step behind the practice. Rather than having research studies to guide the practice, the hype around m-learning may lead to research studies lending uncritical support for technology. More critical evaluation of the technology is also needed.

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