Four R’s Model and Mobile Learning Activities

11 08 2006

Repost of posting to EdNa forums, with other commentary here. A summary of previous theorisings on this model, here and here, supplemented with diagrams.

We can classify mobile learning activities using an activity-based model of the “Four R’s of Mobile Learning”.

In a reflection of the “Three R’s” of the essential pre-Net Generation skills (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic), the “Four R’s” of Net Generation learning reflect the current sociocultural shifts in thinking and learning for an increasingly mobile twenty-first century. Defined from a learner-centric viewpoint, these are:

Record : The learner as a gatherer and “builder” of new knowledge

  • The learner may use a portable device to capture, preserve, memorise, note, or create information.
  • The information recorded may be in response to a prompt from the portable device itself; or in response to a stimulus from a situated learning environment or their teacher.
  • The information may be recorded to the portable device itself; or the portable device could serve as a conduit for storing the information remotely.
  • Underpinned by a Constructivist theory of learning

Reinterpret: The learner as an analyst of existing data to discover new knowledge

  • The learner may use the portable device to discover, process or enhance existing data so that it is transformed into new information, or “remixed” to enhance learning. In these conditions, the mobile device enhances or supplements the learner’s own senses or processing abilities.
  • Underpinned by a Constructivist theory of learning

Recall: The learner as a user of existing information and resources

  • The learner may use a portable device to recall information, events, experiences or stories, stored on the portable device (e.g. iPod recording), or by using the device to access information remotely (e.g.on the internet).
  • Underpinned by a Connectivist/Instructionist theory of learning

Relate: The learner as part of a social context and a network of knowledge

  • The learner may use a portable device to communicate with other people; for example, with other learners, or with a teacher (i.e. in a learning relationship).
  • The learner can use the device to communicate directly and synchronously (e.g. mobile phone conversation), or access asynchronous communication services (e.g. web discussion board or weblog).
  • They can also recommend and share resources, for example, linking mobile devices (usually wirelessly) and sending a file from one to the other.
  • Communicative and collaborative: underpinned by a Social Constructivist theory of learning

Related activities include Mobile Assessment (self, formative and summative assessment), and Teaching and Learning Support (tools to help teachers and learners, such as mobile gradebooks, rollbooks, etc.)

Mobile Learning Ideas

Record : The learner as a gatherer and builder of new knowledge

  • Moblogging: (Remote Record) using a mobile device to record audio, video, or (most commonly) images and save them to the web in a reverse-chronological format with text annotations.
  • Database/Form Entry: (Local Record) inputting data into a mobile device that can later be reviewed or assessed. Example applications include:
    • Dance moves database demonstration – uses XSForms by Grandasoft (freeware)
    • Recipe database
    • List of vocabulary/glossary
    • Database of procedures
    • Generally done on a PDA
  • Recording media: learners can record audio and video to devices like mobile phones, audio players, and PDAs. Example applications include:
    • Recording a class or lecture for later review as an mp3 file NoteM demonstration
    • Recording a mock “interview” or interaction for review or assessment
    • Recording a video (e.g. “Changing a Tyre”)
    • Done on PDA, Phone, audio device, digital camera
  • Journal Using Calendar: If an online blog is not appropriate, Outlook Calendar can be used to diarise and record events, class notes, assessment deadlines, and more.
    • Why? Because this is what PDAs were originally designed for, they perform these functions well.
    • May also be possible (though less convenient) on some mobile phones.
  • Freehand Drawing: Ability to quickly sketch drawings, diagrams, and jot notes could be useful on PDAs. MobilePencil is a good product for this.

Recall: The learner as a user of existing information and resources

  • Accessing a local Learning Object: I’m using a very broad definition of “Learning Object” – includes learning video or audio file, a learning interaction such as a Flash activity, even a document. Some examples:
  • Accessing a remote Learning Object: as above,
    but not stored on the mobile device itself, but at another location in
    “cyberspace” – a network server, a PC, or the Internet.
  • Accessing an RSS feed: what’s awesome about mobile RSS aggregators is that they allow “real time” updates of information to a mobile device.
  • Mobile Web Search: Google mobile is an example – provides mobile web search from a connected mobile phone or PDA
  • SMS-based information service: these require a bit of preparation. A service is set up by a commercial provider that enables a student to send a text to a number, which then returns some information. For example:
    • a student sends an SMS with the word “impasto” to 131234
      (example only). They then receive a dictionary definition of the term
      back via SMS.

Relate: The learner as part of a social context and a network of knowledge

  • Ad-hoc networking: Programs such as “Proximity Mail” enable PDAs within Bluetooth range (approx 10 metres) to form an ad-hoc networks allowing instant messaging. Other products also allow file exchange, and operate on the longer-distance (100m) 802.11b wireless protocol. Examples of use:
    • Learners engaged in local text-based chat in a quiet environment e.g. art gallery, lecture
    • Learners share learning materials and resources in real time,
      as they discover them in their browsers or write down their own
      learning experiences
  • Instant Messaging: the preferred communication
    channel of the Net Generation. IM types include SMS/MMS between mobile
    phones, MSN Messenger (installed in Pocket PCs), and other IM products
    can be installed which operate over wireless Internet (802.11a/b/g).
    One of the most comprehensive is Agile Messenger, which supports five of the most commonly used IM clients on Pocket PCs: Yahoo, ICQ, MSN, AOL and XMPP.
  • Voice Chat: most commonly implemented in mobile
    phones, but also possible to accomplish from a PDA with a suitable
    Messaging Client installed. Some include “Press To Talk” functionality
    that allows PDAs connected to wireless internet to operate like Walkie
  • Mobile Blogging:
    • Winksite demo (text), Moblog.UK
      demo (moblog)
  • Mobile Discussion: Asynchronous communication tool. Truly Flexible Mobile Learning – anywhere, anytime participation.
    • Winksite demo
  • Mobile Chat: Synchronous communication tool. Text-based group chat, allows group interaction using mobile phones (Winksite)/PDAs (ProximityMail)
    • Winksite demo
  • Mobile Wikis: Collaboration tool.
    • No free implementations (yet), but some well-documented reasons why these are/will be a Very Good Thing for learners.

Reinterpret: The learner as an analyst of existing data to discover new knowledge

  • Location-specific (potentially, situated) learning: PDA used as a processing tool to provide contextual information to learner. GPS, 2D-Barcodes, RFID tags connected with learning materials.
  • Data mining: searching a mobile database for trends and patterns in data
  • 2D Barcodes: a “bridge” between print/screen and mobile devices.
    • A QR Code could be a link to whole range of resources. Instead of a studentcopying down homework tasks, they can simply capture the information, or a linkto it, with a camera snap. When they get home, they gain access to, say, (or page, wheretheir resources are assembled. Some of the resources might even be mobilethemselves, such as resources developed in mobileprep – a mobile phone flashcard creator.
    • This example links to a Wikipedia page on the video game Grand Theft Auto.With a click of their camera button, the user gets access to the information directly on their mobile device:

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One response

30 08 2006
Mobile Learning » The Future of M-Learning

[…] These new opportunities provide the basis of my learner-centric “Four R’s model” of mobile learning activities.  When viewed through this activity model, it’s clear that these learner interactions will always be useful adjuncts to teaching and learning practices; indeed, Stephen Downes has previously commented on how simply “teaching and learning” these activity classifications seem.  It’s because of the inherent usefulness of these activities that I don’t see them as a fad; rather, as standards become further established, and DIY content tools are made available, I believe mobile digital devices will become increasingly affordable, accessible, and predictable platforms for facilitating learning. […]

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