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Geography and Learning: Closing the circuit

I think this post will reveal both my penchant for cliches and my optimism, but so it goes. I just returned from a trip to the Hamptons and I was able to make my way to the beach and Lighthouse at Montauk. For those of you unfamiliar with American geography, Montauk is a far as you can go east on Long Island before literally plunging into the Atlantic. Overall, the trip closed a few open loops in my (nostalgic) psyche, all of which I can seemingly convert into learning moments.

  • Closing a circuit is the final peg of synthesis. Let me start by saying I am not that original, but nor do I think to be effective or a contributing individual you have to be. Case in point, I lived in Korea for many years and while there, I rented and watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The characters in this movie make their way to Montauk, meet, fall in love (again), and all of that. My wife is from Long Island so in 2003 I asked her (in Seoul) if we could go there together. She said yes and we just completed that open circuit this weekend. The culmination of a desire cast in motion almost a decade ago; the sense of completion at a wish that had been lurking around the subconscious for years. Satisfying and reflective; a marker of me in 2003 compared to me now. A new landscape, only imagined, now made real to recast context. A nice mix of the emotional and the intellectual; the conceptual and the concrete. Time passes and so do I.
East Hamptons, Montauk, Long Island: February 2011
Staring out into the Atlantic from the edges of Long Island.
  • Seeing it from both sides. Once again, I argue that geography matters more now than ever before. It is another kind of marker altogether, a marker and rite of passage. I have seen the Atlantic from this side (Long Island) and the Atlantic from that side (Ireland, Senegal, Ghana); the Pacific from this side (Seattle, San Francisco) and that side (Tokyo, Seoul). This type of activity is important even if it only is seeing your apartment complex from one side of the parking lot and then the other. It is a mental recasting of familiarity. It means forcing a recomposition on expectation. It is important for development, this temporary degradation of skill and knowledge for an opportunity for even greater perception. It means to know is to know completely (or as close as possible).

East Hamptons, Montauk, Long Island: February 2011
This is what mobile mediated learning means to me. Marking a place on the egdes of the ocean.
  • Love is experience. This weekend almost reminded me how much I love my wife; how many shared experiences I have had with her; how far (literally) we have come. 10 years on and my love grows vaster than empires and more slow.  The thing that accelerates is my restlessness; that is the impulse that takes me to these places. Might as well learn from that which we are beholden to.
  • The Lighthouse at Montauk is the first public works by the newly independent United States. See, I am not completely a slave to contextual based/mobile/serendipitous learning; some of it can be normal/traditional. .

 

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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