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?

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