Considerations on What mLearning Now Means

Posted: December 11, 2013 in digital culture, edushifts, mlearning, mobilelearning, reflections
Tags: ,

I’ve been quiet on the blog for a while. It’s not that I have nothing to write about. Educational and societal changes happen so rapidly these days that there is always something to reflect on. However, in a strange way, this is the same reason for my silence – with such a rapid pace to change in western society, it’s so easy to get caught in superficial discussion and surface level analysis. I haven’t written for a while because I am considering what mLearning looks like as we head into 2014.

Back in 2007, when I began this blog, the posts often focused on ways educators and students could utilize mobile devices for learning in an attempt to make it’s use ubiquitous. Now, a mere six years later, use of mobile devices is becoming ubiquitous and soon their use will be common place. Considering this new reality, I’ve been asking myself the following question: “What does mLearning look like when use if mobile devices is ubiquitous?”

It has come to the point now where neither the device nor the platform matters. All one needs is a mobile tool and access becomes instant. In this environment of multimodal devices and BYOD, what are next steps for mLearning?

The more I think about this, the clearer the answer becomes. Now more than ever, mLearning is about skill development. It’s not that skills didn’t matter six years ago, it’s that six years ago, I looked more at the viability of using mobile devices. The tool itself is now moving to the background and some would argue that is where a tool belongs – in the background supporting skill development.

So what skills can be supported by mLearning? Platforms, apps and tools exist on all mobile devices to support collaboration. They also exist to support knowledge construction, research skills and problem solving. In addition to all this, one skill that mobile learning devices really offer possibilities is with skill development in communication.

It’s not Twitter that matters but how using Twitter can be used to develop collaboration skills. It’s not blogs that matter but how using blogs can help develop communication skills. It’s not mobile access to the Internet that matters but how mobile access can help develop research skills which in turn helps to develop skills in knowledge construction.

This blog post is a turning point for me. While I have discussed skill development using mobile devices before, I am now looking to move away from superficial posts and to think deeper on this topic.

  1. Lori DiMarco says:

    So true Rob. Learning Skills and Catholic Graduate Expectations have been around for a while. But with the focus on 21st Century Learning and the changing world that our students are growing up in, it’s no longer about ‘content’. Hearing from companies in all fields that they no longer higher for specific skill sets but for their learning skills – employers are looking for project workers now not “task-completers”.

    • Thanks Lori. Part of my shift in thinking here has been the result of observing the implementation of mobile learning with students. Another contributing aspect to this shift is being a small part of the ongoing work of the neXt lesson. As I mentioned in the post, the discussion really was around justifying that mobile devices had a place in classrooms to support learning. That debate has subsided substantially and I believe that most educators now agree that these tools can help to support and enrich learning for kids. Now that we’re moving past these initial discussions, it only makes sense that we focus on those important life skills that kids need in their lives beyond school and in the workplace and how mLearning can support the development of those important skills.

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