I am putting together a presentation and related workbook/reference guide for a workshop I am conducting in Helsinki in May organized by my colleague and tireless Pekka Ihanainen. I have been given a wonderful opportunity to work with teachers on how to incorporate mobile technology into their lessons, to brainstorm some new ideas on how to make use of mobile learning, and to learn from them, frankly. I will be presenting on mobile learning and field activities, how we might transform or augment the established practice of field data collection and research in the Sciences and Humanities and recreate and/or improve that process through mobile technology.
I find it helpful to try and think broadly about what mobile learning can be and balance that against the pragmatics of the learning context. There are notions of local context and application that we can never, ever lose track of: how technology affects relationships, how it is itself an artifact of power, culture, etc. However, I think by evoking the ideal, how see mobile technology being used down the road, and juxtaposing that against the pragmatic situation on the ground we can begin to bridge the gaps between the actual and ideal. A useful design metaphor for field activities using mobile technologies are field diaries/journals. They link existing and accepted disciplinary practices with the disruptive aspects of mobile technology use for education. Using a metaphor from the past to engage a future application.
In this presentation I lay out some mobile learning background, discuss habitus and multimodality (briefly), and then begin to transition into the pragmatic aspects of conducting a mobile learning field activity, including tools, research questions, sequencing, and (perpetual) reflection. I think it is most useful for teachers and/or independent learners who want to expand their learning ‘spaces’ further and further afield. One side effect of this type of activity is the reclamation of space itself as an artifact and environment in itself. I suggest space/place/geography was never ‘lost, but merely reordered/prioritized in the first advent of elearning. Mobile learning just foregrounds it a bit more.