John Dewey, writing in the early years of the twentieth century, may not have foreseen the proliferation of 21st century ‘mobile devices’ but, in the quotation to the right, he does point out something that remains relevant: that mobile learning involves change, initiative and adaptability.
"A society which is mobile, which is full of channels for the distribution of a change occurring anywhere, must see to it that its members are educated to personal initiative and adaptability."
John Dewey (1916)
Mobile learning involves change in the sense that the ability to communicate with tutors and peers, as well as access learning resources, changes what is possible in education. It takes initiative for leaders to create a vision to sustain that change and, finally, mobile learning requires adaptability by members of staff to carry out the change.
This is a practical guide to thinking through the issues relating to institutional adoption of mobile learning. It follows a mobile and wireless technologies review which delves deeper into the theory behind mobile learning and the wider context. One of the biggest take-aways from that review is that mobile learning is still in its infancy and that mobile learning, as explained in What is mobile learning? is about the mobility of the learner rather than the device.
As with other forms of technology-enhanced learning (TEL) it is possible for mobile learning to be used in a small-scale and ad-hoc manner. Such approaches are rarely sustainable or, ultimately, satisfactory without wider buy-in from across an institution. Successful mobile learning initiatives are change management programmes that involve Strategy, a focus on Pedagogy, and a rigorous Implementation plan.
Whilst there are many approaches an institution can take when it comes to mobile learning, from administrative functionality through to rich learning and teaching experiences, one key factor to take into consideration is the learner. The importance of context cannot be overstated when it comes to mobile learning. Talking to and gaining feedback from learners allows institutions to plan accordingly for the contexts within which learners operate. The snapshots section gives examples of institutions and organisations that have done just this.
Emerging practice in a digital age
This guide is a developing resource launched at ALT-C 2011 alongside the new Jisc publication emerging practice in a digital age (September 2011). Augmenting the emerging practice guide, this is a practical guide for educational institutions planning to implement a mobile learning initiative.
At launch, the guide comprised a wiki-based resource collating information and guidance from Jisc and other sources. It has developed to incorporate additional examples of initiatives from across the sector. An overview of the guide is available as a SlideShare presentation.