It’s funny the things that make you pause…
I had just started reading the the “Are You Ready for Mobile Learning Article?” and didn’t get any further than the anedoctal preamble when I stopped to consider the influence of technology. You see, in the anecdote there was a reference to a student sending an IM (instant message) to a professor (regarding course work or something to that effect). As if the fact that the acronym (IM) without explanation (therefore assuming the reader understood) wasn’t enough, further on the reader sees the term “IMing”; so, “instant message+ing”. And while I didn’t give the IM a second glance (either proving automatically understood the acronym or–and more likely–proving that I need to pay more attention when reading for information), the “IMing” threw me for a minute. I mean there was a moment of “Why are we talking about a Ming Vase?” that went through my head (proving that I was at least paying enough attention to realize that contextually, “hey, that didn’t make sense”) before I was able to put together the meaning of the term.
And that’s what gave me pause.
The idea of the introduction of new vocabulary into our daily lexicon. And certainly, ever evolving technology is one way that this is done. Just think of all the words that we now use that are the result of new technology (and I’m not even talking text-speak short forms): IM, Google, podcast, anything Apple-iPod, iPhone, etc.; even the word “text”: while the word itself is not new, we now use it as a verb, whereas previously, it was mainly a noun.
Anyway…moving on. (Really and truly, it’s amazing that I get anything done…)
This article was published in 2007. I find it interesting to reflect on what was considered “the brave new world” of mobile learning, half a decade later. Good predictions? Bad? Or, status quo? Which technologies lived up to their hype and which were left lingering a slow death on the roadside?
There was quite a bit on podcasting and its role in the learning environment, even so far as to offer pedagogical suggestions as how to best create a podcast (not too long, and not too broad a topic: stay focussed). While I’ve created a podcast (as part of coursework), I have yet to listen to one. Even for entertainment purposes and certainly not for any learning purpose; I’ve had no profs or (teacher related) professional development opportunities offered as podcasts. In fact, I rarely use my iPod. To be truthful, I don’t like sticking stuff in my ears. It makes me nauseous. So I suppose that none of my MLIS profs decided to use podcasting as a means of teaching, is a good thing for me. But I’m curious: how often are they used? I do remember reading about a UK school that offered iPod borrowing at the school library: the iPods contain exam review/revision material for O-levels or A-levels. Students would use them to prep for their upcoming tests. Apparently, students marks went up significantly after introducing the devices.
One of the benefits of mobile technology is that it allows for meeting students where they are (wherever that may be). So yes, offering the opportunity to listen to a lecture on the loooong bus ride to school, or being able to text (or in the very least email) your prof/TA/study partner when the question comes to mind, those are both ways of multi-tasking and offering just-in-time learning opportunities. But is it conducive to learning? Really, learning. Like, if I’m on the bus listening to my lecture, and looking around and being distracted by a two year having a tantrum, am I really taking in information? Or, if I’m able to text or email a question (and if lucky, receive a quick response), do I ever bother to try problem-solving myself? After all, someone will get back to me–won’t they?
The article also offers a pro & con list of mobile technologies and I have to say: what is an “UMPC” and does anyone still use PDAs? Haven’t the Smartphones (another one on the list) basically usurped those? And as for the “UMPC”, which is an “ultra mobile PC”, still what is that? Like a tablet (iPad-esque)? ‘Cause, if it’s not there’s one piece of technology that didn’t really rise to the occasion (or did it, and I just don’t understand what it is?) I also find it funny that the USB stick is considered a mobile device. I mean, I know it is, but I was thinking about something that demands a little more interactivity. I guess an example of how the article’s dated is the concept of cloud computing–I mean that allows for pretty serious mobility–isn’t even mentioned. 5 years-that’s all.
Once again–and the article does bring this up–I’m reminded about the digital divide that’s created when we start to expect everyone to have a smart phone/an iPod/a laptop etc.; this worries me in the educational environment. Given the way technology changes (5 years remember!!) and updates, it can be extremely costly to keep up with the digital Jones…will all kids get the same access to both information and education? I dunno.
What’s it going to look like in 5 years?
Corbeil, J. R., & Valdes-Corbeil, M. E. (2007). Are you ready for mobile learning? Educause Quarterly, 30(2), 31-58.