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Archive for May, 2015

Mobile Learning – A Conference Report

Posted by jturner56 on May 26, 2015

What did I learned from the International Mobile Learning Conference ( where I attended and presented this past weekend?

  1. While laptops as used within our school provide many of the affordances that Mobile Learning researchers are exploring, the importance of context and teacher values in curriculum design remain key determinants of what can be achieved. Perhaps a sobering reminder was the newspaper report last week, based on a London School of Economics study, that schools that ban mobile phones see better academic results.
  2. When considering MobilFullSizeRender(1)e Learning there is some interesting and relevant work by Matthew Kearney and Kevin Burden, which includes Viewing mobile learning from a pedagogical perspective (2012) and Investigating distinctive pedagogies in mobile learning (2014). They are also involved in the European Erasmus Project and have identified three main mobile learning characteristics: Personalisation, Collaboration and Authenticity.
  3. There is a strong link between Mobile Learning research and 21C Skills as promoted by the Partnership for 21C Learning. SAMR and TPACK were put forward as suitable change management approaches for schools.
  4. The eBook is also being looked at as more than ‘paper under glass’
  5. It was also interesting to hear from differing contexts, such as a Bangladesh study that is starting with phones and no previous digital education legacies. They have found mobile phones used by students for (A) storing learning materials (B) for accessing information and knowledge (C) as an effective and efficient learning tool (D) and as effective for collaboration.
  6. Mobile Learning researchers expect both the infusion of mobile devices within and across societies, and accruing educational opportunities and demands to expand into the future.
  7. The personal learning aspects of personal mobile digital devices will continue to put more pressure on standardised approaches. Relevant to this, researchers at the University of Limerick (2012) found a “notable trend of standardisation and pupil passivity within the classroom.” Once again it remain to educators as learning designers to incorporate digital in ways that take on board and promote authenticity, personalisation and collaboration in the learning opportunities provided.
  8. In the end, the importance of understanding context, clarity of objectives, and openness to learning by all stakeholders remain  cornerstones of digital change in education. In terms of Mobile Learning, as with all digital technology developments, integration of personal aspects into curriculum design requires teacher leadership and awareness of what can be achieved. Teachers remain spread across an epistemological continuum that makes systemic change difficult. (See for the graphic displayed)
  9. Within my school this conference translates into further considering opportunities to support (A) multiple devices for senior students to support efficiency choices (B) the importance of curriculum tasking through the middle years (and beyond) to generate learning outcomes appropriate for the students and the world they face, and which evolve as earlier learning progresses and (C) ensuring mobile device use in early years advances learning dispositions of similar value. This is nothing new for the Digital Age.

(My Conference Paper: Mobile Learning in K-12 Education: Personal meets Systemic is available here)


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My conference presentation on “Mobile Learning in K-12 Education”

Posted by jturner56 on May 17, 2015

This coming weekend I will presenting at the International Mobile Learning Festival ( here in Hong Kong.

Below is my Google Presentation and key points. Feedback as always appreciated.

I hope to share the associated paper in the near future.

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Can digital technology add value to school education? A practical mathematical insight.

Posted by jturner56 on May 3, 2015

While pondering this question I came across this recent comment from a Columbia University academic:

Education technology is not yet a proven solution for learning, and limits the experience of education and human interaction

Of course, I could defer to alternative realities such as the Maker Movement as the latest iteration of constructivist thinking, with its call to simply change the dynamic of learning interactions. I have spoken elsewhere about value, beliefs and systemic limitation, so here am more interested in realities.

In my travels I was drawn to this from James Bosco of Western Michigan University, who in the forward to Kathryn Moyle’s (2010) Building Innovation: Learning with Technologies, points to

“the fostering of creativity and self-directed learning occurs when students are given tasks or problems that challenge them to ‘think outside the box’ and to ‘own the problem’.”

This encapsulates what for many years I have been involved in trying to do, embed and connect.

The latest insight came this past week.

First, a discussion on the use of Minecraft within Grades 4-6 to develop mathematical understanding of space and measurement. The mathematical value of Minecraft has been increasingly documented. Second, the limited transferal by some of these students when taking on 3D-Printing. Thirdly, a Grade 8 packaging project, where students used mathematical thinking and SketchUp computer modeling to create their own authentic package.

  FullSizeRender(1)  FSR3  sku   FullSizeRender
 Minecraft Student village  Mathematical modeling SketchUp Package model with design   Final student constructed packages

What I noticed was

  • the high level of learning engagement across both projects, evident in student commitment to personal ownership, diversity of choice, peer interactions, curriculum value and teacher interactions
  • “experience” with Minecraft not adequately preparing students for efficiently taking on the mathematical aspects of 3D printing.
  • the teacher’s crucial role in bridging as questioner, technical adviser and fellow learner
  • the fragmented thinking in uniting disparate digital-based projects (although this insight arose from an attempt to better connect to enable development of deeper learning opportunities)

The strong mathematical links made me think: Should we be better educating students to understand  the mathematical relationships between digital and physical space?

I had encountered a similar experience twenty years ago when researching the relationship between programming and mathematical thinking in school conditions. It seems we still have a way to go to value higher order thinking in Mathematics when it comes to digital spaces (and digital thinking). Yet this is a domain where employment and creative opportunities are growing.

So we continue to face

  • Should digital technology be adding value to school education?
    Yes, but it is a complex relationship requiring more than absolutist thinking
  • How can digital technology add value to school education?
    Depends on what is valued, by whom, and in what ways.
  • Does digital technology add value to school education?
    Depends on what learning environments are supported, and in what ways.

The quest goes on.

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