I love it when smarter people that myself say things succinctly in a way that I never could. Especially when it is something that relates to something I might be thinking but am not articulate enough to say. Although I was not able to attend the live session that John Traxler just conducted for the #mobimooc open course on mobile learning, I was able to follow the Twitter stream for it and I am impressed by how ripe many of the posts were, how much they gathered in 140 characters. Many thanks to Ignatia for keeping those of us unable to attend updated. If anyone is interested, a really great read that sets the stage for this conversation is Traxler’s “The Learner Experience for Mobiles, Mobility, and Connectedness“. Very engaging discussion and convincing argument on the learner experience in mobile. 

I wanted to take a few of the Twitter comments from the discussion and think about them a bit more. Click here if you want to see the entire thread. 

@johntraxler communities connect by mobiles share and discuss but also generate personal, localised info, eg images, videos, audio #mobimooc

This one is particular important when one thinks of the individual learner (discussion and collaboration on a local scale as evidence of learning) as well as the recycling of locally produced data. When John Traxler talks of previsiting a place before actually going there (via Google Maps, Flickr, YouTube, etc.), this is the “stuff” of that visit. These images, videos, and locally produced content are authentic expressions of place and interaction and form the backbone of how we now begin to envision the exotic. Through the eyes of local inhabitants responding to local information needs. This is an interesting paradigm and a significant shift away from “authority”. Before, at least when I was growing up, I relied on National Geographic or Encyclopedia Brittanica to inform my understanding of what life was like in Tanzania or Peru. Now, I can access content produced locally, reappropriate that for my own understanding, and begin to know, or at least visualize, that place. It is certainly a significant shift as we have removed the middle man in some capacity. This localized content is both evidence of learning and fuel for future learning opportunities (especially this previsiting). 

#mobimooc @johntraxler Challenge for eduation, how do you support learning when you don’t control the resources, networks being accessed.

This was in reference (I think) to Google, Facebook, etc. That the arenas in which learning takes place (especially in mobile technology) are corporate structures. Educators have little input into their structures (and I would argue that the closed nature of their systems is part of their popularity and strength-the Facebook closed shop vs. MySpace free for all springs to mind here). So how do we stimulate learning without any measure of control? This is a signifanct leap in pedagogy here as we will struggle to influence the means in which learning is conducted, to control even the combination of variables being used towards some learning end. But do we need to? 

Is it enough to merely lay out learning structure? To facilitate progress across any sequence or combination? To see the forest (learning goal) for the trees (learning medium). On a personal level, I don’t much care what sequence of tools are being used as long as learning is taking place and as long as that combination of tools and learning facilitates an empowered, aggressive learning approach. I want my students hungry for more and that can be accomplished through the aggresssive appropriation of anything under the sun. Safety, security, and privacy are all real concerns, certainly, but they must be balanced against learning in an open dynamic. Learning now is a highly visible pursuit, an endless cycle of knowledge construction. I think the ability to appropriate anything for learning ends is a positive trait in the modern student. 


@grainnehamilton: #mobimooc @johntraxler fragmentation of knowledge, local, transient, ephemeral – reqs critical awareness. Challenge for educators to support

This is an excellent one, one that articulated better than I could ever hope to. This fragmentation is important to consider both on the micro (individual) and macro (community) level. Does knowledge seem fragmented to the individual if they are cobbling it together across multiple streams? I am not sure. The combination of Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Google, etc, informs ephemeral knowledge constructs for me. I cobble it together and it makes sense for a moment and then circumstance shifts and I tear it apart. This is exactly how we should view knowledge itself. Fragmented to some degree, but constantly cobbling everything together to inform a holistic worldview. What I think we need to embrace more in our learning and education is the ephemeral nature of this knowledge. That it is constructed to suit a temporary context and when it outlives its use, it needs to be deconstructed. 

This ability to rapidly (and reasonably) construct and disassemble knowledge structures is a key trait in an empowered learner. To understand that learner development is not ephemeral, that progress is not ephemeral, but that everything we use to advance ourselves as learners is. A real challenge for educators to support, certainly. But to understand that to know is a combination of sense and space and time. As each of those variables shifts, so must our constructions of reality. Mobile bleeds all of that into one messy whole and re-embraces time itself as an organizing construct. 

#mobimooc epistomological revolution triggered by the mobile technology (#mobimooc mobile impact on greater wider world => we don’t acquire knowledge in the way we used to, acquire knowledge itself has changed…)

Yes, yes, yes. 

This is an epistomological revolution. As mobile technology becomes ubiquitous with our waking lives, as it embeds further and further into our active processes, our understanding of the world itself, we will begin to understand, embrace, and capitalize on how it affords us opportunity. How it shortens lifecycles of acquiring knowledge. How we can immediately paint understanding onto data through applied activity. While we still rely on people and trusted networks as guides through all of this (especially the uncertain bits), we acquire knowledge in ways our parents could not have imagined. At least not with the same sense of urgency, ubiquity. 

It is a revolution of what it means to know. The validity of knowledge itself. The transience of understanding. The shift away from fixed knowledge constructs. Great conversation from #mobimooc. 


By Michael Gallagher

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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