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Going mobile

September 21st, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Some twelve years or so ago I was at a conference iN hong Kong. One of the sponsored presentations was by a local elearning company who demonstrated their mobile learning platform. I was totally sceptical. The screen was to small I said, no-one would want to learn on a phone.

I was wrong. The thing the Hong Kong developers had got right was the idea that learning happens in context – in their case learning how to play Badminton – and the phone could allow access to learning in real time in any environment. What they got wrong was the lack of any real interaction – this was just a series of very short videos. What has changed is social software allowing interaction between people using mobile devices. Last week I had a meeting in a bar by the sea in Crete. We had one laptop, two ipods and an iphone. The internet cafe had a wireless connection and we were able to go on a virtual tour of a proposed confernce venue through the safari browser and then book our venue through skype. In this case the context was that a group of us from five different countries were in the same place and we wanted to work together.

Over the summer I have been working with colleagues from the Mature project and with Mark van Harmelen on the idea of a mobile PLE based on Mark’s mPLE software. The more I have worked on this, the more I am convinced that mobile devices are integral to the idea of a PLE. But they also provide a challenge, not just to traditional course based education, but to ‘traditional’ notions of educational technology which is still very much wedded to VLE based courses. One of our central ideas is that learners will support each other through the social layers of a PLE and in particular will use such a device for collaborative problem solving in the context that the problem occurs. In such a situation the curriculum is essentially being evolved within the community and resources are co-developed by that community. I am not saying that such an approach will replace traditional education – or that everyone will want to develop their own PLE. But I am convinced the opportunity is there – if educators and educational technologists can grasp the idea of contextual learning using mobile devices.

NB If you are interested in trialling the mPLE contact Mark van Harmelen.

2 Responses to “Going mobile”

  1. Steve says:

    Mobl21 is one of the new age applications that is easy to use and a cost effective platform to deliver educational mobility. Mobl21 is accessible enough for individual teachers and students to adopt, and scalable enough for institutional and enterprise adoption. The unique pedagogy of Mobl21 helps create learning assets that compliment your formal courses, extending the learning opportunity beyond traditional barriers.


  1. Food for thought on the mobile learning and Personal Learning Environment front

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