Mobile Learning Ecologies

25 10 2006

I have just finished a (draft) paper on social aspects of mobile learning for the Knowledge Tree, in which I explore the connections between postmodern theories of socially constructed learning (such as social constructivism and connectivism), and digital mobile learning.

Entitled “Connections: Social and mobile tools for enhancing learning,” it draws on some of the latest research in the field of digital mobile learning in Australia – including the Learning On The Move conference at Queensland University of Technology last month, and last weekend’s Global Summit conference in Sydney.

George Siemens’ paper at the Global Summit, on “Connectivism: Learning and Knowledge today” was particularly interesting. Siemens’ models of “learning ecologies” aligns quite nicely with the learner-centric activity models of m-learning to illustrate the interrelationships of mobile learners and the integrated “nodes” of content and functionality provided by the social web (Web 2.0). Siemens posits:

“Learning is the process of creating networks (see Figure 2). Nodes are external entities which we can use to form a network. Or nodes may be people, organizations, libraries, web sites, books, journals, database, or any other source of information. The act of learning (things become a bit tricky here) is one of creating an external network of nodes—where we connect and form information and knowledge sources. The learning that happens in our heads is an internal network (neural).”

Here are some “Relate” aspects of mobile learning, structured as a learning ecology, illustrating the use of Web 2.0 tools to form nodes around and between learners:

How this mobile learning ecology differs from other learning delivery approaches is in its persistence. Whereas other delivery methods – classroom or computer based – differ from mobile learning is that the networks formed by other methods is transient; learners in a classroom interact for a brief period of time; online learners are only externally “connected” while physically located in front of an internet-connected computer.

Mobile learners have the opportunity to retain a persistent network of peers, mentors, teachers, and nodes of content and functionality – to add and remove nodes, and interact with them as and when convenient. This is quite similar to the way our internal neural networks operate: we create connections of information, and access knowledge from our memory when we need it. This illustrates the potential of mobile learning to extend or augment our internal process of learning with an external process of “node gathering” – setting up persistent, on-demand resources that can be called upon by learners as their situation or context allows or requires.

This exploration also helps to visualise the importance of social aspects of mobile learning, by illustrating the synergies that can operate between a number of mobile, social learners.

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One response

17 09 2007
The Open Education Blog » Blog Archive » Personal Learning Ecosystems

[…] previously blogged elsewhere about the use of mobile devices as a means of accessing and adding to a PLE, and many […]

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