Seoul Station, Korea: documenting the flow of activity through space with mobile learning
Seoul Station, Korea: documenting the flow of activity through space with mobile learning

I Like Writing Books and I Cannot Lie

I feel far enough along with it to not feel like I am jinxing it by mentioning it here. I am writing a book. And by far enough along, I mean I have the first draft about done and am working with my wildly creative architect/designer sister to illustrate this book. She did the color scheme and logo for this site and does quite a lot of other work in the realm of design. Once this aforementioned book is edited and rewritten, illustrated and formatted, I will be distributing it via Amazon (more than likely) or through an alternative service (intrigued by this configuration of Dropbox for selling content). I will be charging for it, but at a much lower price point had I been eager to go through the traditional publishing route. I considered distributing it for free, but I am a PhD student, currently without gainful employment, paying exorbitant international rates in London. Consider the cost a sort of work/relief scenario or public assistance. I intend to have it up on Amazon available for purchase by the end of the summer.

The subject, perhaps not surprisingly, is mobile learning field activities, or how we can use mobile technology to stimulate learning in situ along the disciplinary lines of the Humanities. I will be releasing bits and pieces of it here on this site as I think some of it has immediate relevance for those teachers or learners who are considering using mobile technology for a few projects, but aren’t exactly sure how to get started. The book attempts to sit somewhere between pure academic theory (designed for other academics) and a pure How To Guide (for teachers or enthusiasts). I am trying, awkwardly at times, to position mobile learning as a philosophical as well as a technological stance. Mobile learning as transformative of the space and habitus of the learner (drawing from Kress & Pachler there).  I am in no doubt inspired by the works of Sharples, Traxler, Winters, Hjorth, Potter, and Farman (only two of these are my supervisors). Farman’s book in particular was encouraging as it was one of the first, I thought, to begin to position mobile learning in a theoretical realm of creation and curation (and locative media).

I am less concerned with how to document or observe and more focused on how to enact mobile learning in the field. By the field, I mean spaces outside the classroom. A street, a neighborhood, a home, a city. These are my domains in this book. I am including one of the bits I just wrote as I think it has some overall relevance to the group I worked with recently in Helsinki and to anyone wanting to demonstrate that the Humanities and mobile technology are a match made in heaven. It has to do with inserting reflective activities throughout any mobile learning activity and mixing up the manner in which they are delivered and answered. For example, the teacher can stimulate reflection with occasional prompts into methods of selection (why this media? what that tool? etc.), data use and copyright (who owns this data? can it be downloaded?) and presentation (why a mosaic and not a mashup? Why is this media object foregrounded and that backgrounded? How does that advance what you want to know?).

Reflection is the cornerstone of these mobile learning field activities as I see them, whether as a textual reflection (notebook, digital or analog), a representative image with metadata (metadata is reflective and referential in nature), an audio reflection (as a podcast, audio memo, or recording a call as a post a la Tumblr). Reflection brings process to the surface, makes it conscious, and that is the beginning of the transformation of learning into an active, almost aggressive pursuit of understanding and representation. So here is a short bit from my book discussing reflection, something I return to in almost every chapter.

(Perpetual) Reflection

I have mentioned reflection many times so far in this book, but I think that discussing it directly with your learners at this stage of the mobile learning field activity is useful. The goals of reflection in this activity are varied, but mostly they fall under some of these general ideas:

So there are many goals and types of reflection and there are many places to insert it into the mobile learning field activities. I have found that the easiest way to structure the reflection into your learning design is to break up into discrete chunks of activity. This can be done by merely breaking activity up into Before, During, and After the mobile learning field activity. I thought about giving them sexier titles, but I couldn’t think of any.

Postman's Park, London
London basically introduces mobile learning field activities to you as they provide signposts all over the place. In this instance, Postman’s Park has plaques dedicated to people who have given up their lives trying to save others.

3 Responses

    1. Thanks, Inge! First draft is done. Now just revising/rewriting/proofreading as my sister pulls together the illustrations. Not too much longer now!

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