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At the recent IATEFL 2012 conference held in Glasgow, Macmillan sponsored a panel discussion about mLearning, with a number of educational experts:

  • Agnes Kukulska-Hulme (Open University UK): researcher and writer on mLearning in education
  • Gillian Penny (West Dunbarton Schools, Scotland): Apple Distinguished Educator and teacher trainer on pilot programmes integrating tablet use in primary schools
  • Jim Brady (Anniesland College, Scotland): Teacher in adult education
  • Lindsay Clandfield (Spain): Teacher, trainer and author. Panel discussion moderator

Knee surgery prevented me from taking part in person, although you can see my pre-recorded video contribution for the panel (an overview of practical considerations for teachers). The panel event itself was filmed, so I was able to watch the panel tackle a range of interesting issues from home. You’ll find a link to the video of the whole panel discussion at the end of this post. Meanwhile, in the spirit of my quick-to-read 1-minute series, here is a 1 minute summary of the panel’s excellent contributions:

How big a growth area is mobile learning in education?

  • We need to remember that students like to have access to the teacher in class, not just to devices. But overall there is pressure coming from students themselves towards the use of mobile devices (Jim)
  • At primary level, the use of mobile devices tends to be very directed and integrated into classroom activities and the syllabus. This is happening only in some schools in the UK now, but is coming to an increasing number of schools (Gillian)
  • Globally mobile learning is a huge growth area – see for example the teacher training English in Action project in Bangladesh, or the Nokia and UNESCO MoMaths project  for maths learning in South Africa (Agnes)

What about practical uses of mobile learning?

  • When students have access to one mobile device each (e.g. an iPad), the classroom dynamic is much calmer, as kids don’t need to share. However, this clearly has budget implications. Ideally students should be able to take home the mobile devices so that there is a spillover between school and home learning (Gillian)
  • Students can use mobile devices for production e.g. recording audio/video (Jim)
  • The Open University is seeing a combination of disk-based and mobile learning being used by students. The question is how mobile technology can extend what learners already do in class, outside of the classroom (Agnes)

What if your institution bans mobile devices (especially mobile phones)?

  • At primary level using a directed device in the classroom (e.g. class sets of tablets) works best. BYOD (bring your own device) not really practicable at the moment at primary (Gillian)
  • Using the devices for specific purposes in class and at specific moments can impede misuse (Jim)
  • Institutions who ban mobile phones need to consider putting in place a clear Acceptable Use Policy. Prohibition is often caused by caution or fear (Agnes)

What role do large tech companies play in the spread of mobile learning?

  •  Educators need to beware of ‘shiny box syndrome'(being dazzled by attractive hardware). Support is needed not just for the technical aspects of using a mobile device, but more importantly support is needed for implementation and the pedagogy behind using mobile devices effectively (Gillian)
  • Designing for mobile learning versus delivering standardised e-learning via a mobile device are two very different things. Mobile learning needs new activities designed for situated, personalised learning which is done out in the field. (Agnes)

Watch the full panel discussion.

The audience came up with some excellent thought-provoking questions for the panel. I will summarise these in my next 1-minute  blog post.

What about you? What questions do you have about mobile learning? 🙂

Nicky Hockly
The Consultants-E
April 2012