Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A helpful video from one of the instructional design ‘greats’: Dr. David Merrill.

In this video Dr. Merrill reminds us that no matter what technology we use, we should always be asking the question: Is the instruction effective?

As he mentions, so much of web-based instruction has been designed into more of an information dump than actually instruction. He reiterates parts of his First Principles of Instruction to remind us that no matter what technological delivery method is used, the bottom line is about designing instruction.

Basically put the formula looks like this:

Demonstration + Application in a real context = motivated learners

I think that as I immerse myself in the mobile learning world, this video a relevant reminder in that when I design or am finding ways to influence the design of mobile learning interventions, I must remember that in the end it really is about instructional effectiveness. Determining effectiveness is more of an evaluative question than a design one, but the answer to that question should clearly feedback into the design.
  • How then can a mobile learning design – blended or independently used – be designed using these principles? 
  • And how do we evaluate the effectiveness?
Mobile learning is about designing for learning and not just for the sake of technology.

Thanks to

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thanks to John Traxler and Mark van't Hooft

These last couple of weeks have been rather busy and hectic for me. Its all a part of learning to be a doctoral student (constantly buzzing around to catch up yet eager to discover new).

During the course of my readings on mobile learning I have found two particular research scholars who are articulating the phenomenon with (in my opinion) the proper insight needed for the research field at this point.
I was able to contact them, which opened up some new insights into their thinking for me.

John Traxler - director of Learning Lab in the UK who as I write is jetting around the world to various conferences to present his insight into mobile learning research. He is examining practice from a cultural impact perspective and asking researchers to see the deeper implications of the field. See his abstract from the UNESCO conference here.

Mark van't Hooft - with Kent State's Research Center for Education Technology. He has been working with m-learning since 2001. Like John, he is trying to see the mobile learning phenomenon from a broader base. As he said an email:
"I think our work goes beyond the issue of "how to integrate them into the education system", and should focus more on how to integrate mobile devices in life in general so that we can take maximum advantage of the affordances such devices provide for learning."
I feel very fortunate to have contacted these gentlemen, and look forward to contributing to their ideas on how to better understand mobile learning.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alan Kay, Dynabook and mobile learning

The Diamond Age.jpg An idea that has been driving my interest in mobile learning comes from the computer scientist, Alan Kay. Being credited for inventing such things as object-oriented program and the GUI, he is also know for conceptualizing a mobile laptop computer called the Dynabook. (See wikipedia). I was first introduced to this device in the book by Neil Stephenson called The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. See wiki here.

In the Encyclopedia of Information Technology Curriculum Integration, Mark van't Hooft and others (2008) evoke Kay as the first person to envision a handheld device to support learning. What is interesting is the concept of supporting learning, not teaching. Such a device would be quite different.

As I'm trying to wrap my head around the variety of literature on mobile learning, I need to remind myself of what I am studying - ways to improve learning through the use of technology. In such a world, people don't stare at machines to teach them something. Instead they interact with them, in turn learning how to solve problems. Better yet, the mobile device acts as a scaffold to assist a learner, whether through a game, narrative, or presentation of a novel problem.

I need to now ask, how does conceptualization of learning  influence the design of mobile learning materials?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A blogger asks what m-learning is all about.

Thanks to Michael M Grant for thinking critically about m-learning. 

He makes a comparison to e-learning in how it became an umbrella term involving too many dimensions. M-learning is running into the same situation.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Extended Description

As I was typing up the header, I realized that my description was a little too long. However, I think that it is important to post my rationale. Here is the extended description:

This blog is dedicated my doctoral studies in instructional design applied to mobile learning and e-learning design.

However, I am biased!

As with so many other educational based technological interventions, mobile learning is a solution seeking a problem and therefore needs close examination and empirical research.

As more and more learning ‘apps’ are being developed, it is important to ask if mobile learning just a fad, or the beginning of a movement?

My motivation to study mobile learning is based on the fact that:
1.     I think the technology is sexy, cutting-edge, and a wide-open niche ripe for research.
2.     I assume that people want to learn with mobile technologies and will do so more and more in the future.
3.     More learning will be mobile in the future so it is best to establish myself as an early adopter and pioneer.
4.     As with e-learning design, instructional design principles will play a role in mobile learning design, but they will also need to adapt.
5.     I believe that mobile learning is a catalyst for a learning paradigm shift towards a more 21st century educational philosophy.

In essence, this blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on ideas and intellectual challenges related to my studies in mobile learning design.

Please feel free to comment on my thoughts, biases, and beliefs. The challenge of a doctoral level education is about both focusing studies and also learning to be an objective researcher. No practitioner in the educational community benefits when ideas are purported without a proper critique and through analysis.

In other words: Less cheer-leaders and more research-leaders.