I am participating in the mobiMOOC open course for mobile learning development available at and it seemed a natural enough time to reflect on my relationship to mobility as a learning construct, as a facet of learning itself. I began to take stock of all the ways in which mobile itself is infused in my life and it made me realize that with or without actually acknowledging mobile learning, I was already deeply embedded in it.

I find myself wanting to shed the terms a bit that seem to limit the discussion into containers. How different is my participation if it occurs on Twitter vs. WordPress, on a blog vs. a microblog, through images or through audio? This is where I think mobile learning actually can help a bit as it presupposes (at least it seems to for me) a disaggregated learning community, a user-centered focus, and even an aggressive pursuit of knowledge. Learners are very agile in appropriating any technology that can advance a learning need; they become non-denominational in their choice of technology to serve those needs. Technology merely becomes extensions of themselves, an augmented self navigating the mobile landscape. Moving, analyzing, synthesizing, creating, reflecting. Constantly. That is what mobile is to me. I reflect constantly (on blogs, Twitter, etc.). A micro-reflection, perhaps?

I also enjoyed the blog post for #mobimooc at , discussing an embrace of audio as input method. That is another, perhaps side effect of mobile learning; it brings potential learning channels back into play. We move away from the authority of the text and embrace audio, visuals, representation. We embrace communication at 140 characters or longer. With mobile we are out in the world and we reintroduce all the senses into the learning process. A fairly heady mix of learning agents!

I also enjoyed the blog post’s positioning of learning styles from the author to the discipline. The author needs to see the “big picture”, the context of why this process or operation is so important, and how that contrasts against the disciplinary practice of building context out of the accumulation of operations. I find that I am the same and it applies across all disciplines. Recommend a Shakespeare play and I want to know why it is so important; what was the impact? Why do I need to know how to conjugate a verb or say excuse me in French or dissect a frog? Why? That is another advantage of mobile for me; I can at least attempt to actively pursue the answers to that why and do so in perpetual context. I am in my world with my device constructing my knowledge and mediating that with my community.

Sorry, that was a bit longer than I had anticipated!

Amplify’d from moocable.tumblr.com

So my mobile learning life right now is mostly informal, but very exciting and fulfilling. I would love to take it much farther. I actually want to improve my math skills a lot, and would love to have rich, Mathematica/Maple/Matlab/Sage-style visualizations to play with on phone – and a curriculum to follow that let me learn the way I need to learn. (I need to understand the context that makes an operation relevant before I can assimilate that operation. Math is often taught the other way around – you are supposed to learn operations on faith that their utility will be made clear in due time, and maybe a year or two later in the curriculum the “big picture” is unveiled. By then it’s too late for me. Without the big picture up front, I can’t learn the operations.)

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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.

6 thoughts on “#mobiMOOC: Impact of mlearning”
  1. hi Michael Sean, great post. I have noticed there are some other math people in the MobiMOOC course as well: Ivan from Russia, Ricksnowaputi, Neil Spurgeon (and maybe others), it might be nice to join forces or exchange ideas.

  2. Thanks, Ignatia! I actually work in the Humanities mostly, but also quite a bit for the field sciences at work (plant sciences, mostly). I think for mobile the math and the sciences have the most linear/direct application. Math, in particular, certainly has the advantage of working across devices as well, smartphones and SMS ones. Thanks again, Ignatia!

  3. Hello there Ivan,Good comment. I was thinking much the same about how mobile makes almost everything modular and micro. I love Siemens’s granularization concept as well and I think it does apply to mobile in particular. For micro-reflection, I think of mobile as providing ubiquitous and consistent feedback channels and loops, which promotes continuous learning cycles. I see it as a kind of engineering lifecycle, where once a thing is developed, it immediately goes into review/edit/ and redesign mode. Learning can be like that with mobile.

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