Mobile Pedagogy And Mobile Devices

As much as I see written about mobile devices in education, I rarely see anything that includes what I am calling mobile pedagogy (for lack of better words).  There are little snippets here and there – but nothing that really seems to leverage the possibilities of a mobile device.

To me, it would seem that since the learner would be mobile, you would want to have them get out and interact with their surroundings, and not just send existing content to a mobile device.  Watching a lecture video on an iPhone might be a great way to save time for busy commuters – but you can also pretty much accomplish the same educational goal on a 50 year old television.  Where are the courses designed specifically for mobile learners – ie, learners that are mobile – and not just re-formatted for mobile devices.

So often it seems that when people talk about mobile learning, they are talking about mobile devices and not mobile learners.

Here are just a few ideas that could be possible:

  • Instructor-guided tours of physical locations – a walk through the city to talk about civil engineering, or a tour of a local zoo that explores the political climate of the countries that certain animals are from. Why not make lectures more interactive? A political science lesson at a zoo? Why, you ask?  Well, just because it makes learning interesting and different – mixing subjects just for the heck of it. I loved doing that when I was a teacher.
  • Have learners collect “artifacts” through out the day that relate to the week’s topics – pictures, voice memos, videos, notes, etc.  Students then sit down at some point and assemble an analysis of these artifacts into an interactive report.
  • Augmented reality tests – students go to a Biology lab or Art museum whatever, and as they walk around questions pop-up that require them to examine what is in front of them and then answer.  You know – real world application and not just disconnected multiple choice questions. And there would be no set order or numbers of questions – you keep going until you have proven that you understand the topic and can aply it.
  • Then there is the whole range of projects where students would create projects, tours, etc for other mobile learners – those possibilities are endless.

Wouldn’t it be great if your LMS had an app that helped your students do this, instead of half-baked blog and wiki tools?  Just make sure your school has a good supply of lower cost smart-phones to loan out to students that can’t afford them, a good set of back-up plans for accessibility purposes, and a good contingency plan and you are ready to roll.

Oh, if only I had the money to do all of this on my own.

(I would probably go bankrupt in no time…)

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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