A Seamless Learning Approach with Mobile Learning
I recently got my hands on an article called “Leveraging Mobile Technology for Sustainable Seamless Learning: A Research Agenda”, in the British Journal of Educational Technology. I found this article to be insightful because the authors provide a real concrete example of mobile learning as part of a seamless learning approach.
A Little Bit About the Approach
The authors decided to teach students in Singapore schools about the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). They gave the students HP RX3725 Pocket PCs with WiFi, camera capability and a browser. Students performed several activities, one noted in the article was a visit to a grocery store where they observed things like the use of plastic bags and even interviewed customers about their habits regarding the 3Rs. Mobile devices were used while conducting the grocery story activity to do things like provide their reflections and log their experiences as well as to take pictures to document the event. The training design was based on the experiential learning approach and used 5 phases to achieve the results – Challenge, Experience, Reflecting, Planning and Applying. Each piece if the design worked students to a higher level of learning and understanding and by the end of the training, students are able to plan how they would apply the 3Rs at home and in their communities. It’s important to note that the students were able to interact with learning materials and collaborate both with mobile technology and desktop computer technology. Enabling the student to use a similar portal and learning assets in multiple contexts is a facilitator for seamless learning.
Highlights from the Article
- The authors define their vision of seamless learning by citing research by Hollan, Hutchins and Kirsch (2001). I found this to be one of the most important excerpts from the article because it gave me foundation for seamless learning and how it could be applied with mobile devices, here’s the excerpt: “The authors just mentioned proposed three principles in which cognitive processes occur: they are distributed across the members of the social group; they are distributed over time; and the operation of a cognitive system involves coordination between internal and external (material or environmental) structure. Applying these principles to seamless learning, learning takes place through individual learning in private learning spaces, collaborative learning in public learning spaces, and cognitive artefacts created across time and physical or virtual spaces mediated by technology within a context.”
- – The authors really valued what they referred to as a “one-to-one ” relationship between mobile devices and students, i.e. each student should have a mobile device, it should not be a shared resource
- – They felt that it was important to push both formal learning and informal learning as part of the seamless learning approach, a quote reads “We believe that the two forms of learning should not be seen as dichot0mous and conflicting situations (Barron, 2006; Sharples, 2006). Instead, by utilising affordances of mobile technology, we can bridge the gap between formal and informal learning, and encourage students to learn in naturalistic settings for developing context-specific competences”
- – Authors state that “The portability and versatility of mobile devices has significant potential in promoting a pedagogical shift from didactic teacher-centred to participatory student-centred learning. In this type of learning culture, teachers act as a facilitator and learning partner rather than a sole expert of knowledge. Previous research on learning with mobile technology has clearly shown that the mobility and connectivity of technological tools enable students to become an active participant, not a passive receiver in learning activities.”
The article is a very good primer for anyone who is trying to understand how mobile learning could be applied as part of a blended or seamless learning approach. I really like how their research used all approaches to formal learning (mobile, desktop based learning and classroom learning), while also attempting to capture and facilitate informal learning. True seamless learning provides many options for learning and demonstration of that knowledge and I believe mobile technology has the best chance to facilitate informal learning since mobile devices are a witness to more of our lives than any other technology. Providing learning and collaboration opportunities through the mobile device gives the learner a chance to intermingle their learning with their social lives in a way that we have not seen before.
The article is titled, “Leveraging Mobile Technology for Sustainable Seamless Learning: A Research Agenda”, and available in the “British Journal of Educational Technology”, Vol 41 No 2 2010
The authors are: Chee-Kit Looi, Peter Seow, BaoHui Zhang, Hyo-Jeong So, Wenli Chen
and Lung-Hsiang Wong