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Mobile learning: Hype or evidenced impact for higher education applications?


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Keynote presentation by Dr Mohamed Ally, Director and Professor, Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University, Canada, for the DEHub/ODLAA Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and …

Keynote presentation by Dr Mohamed Ally, Director and Professor, Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University, Canada, for the DEHub/ODLAA Education 2011 to 2021- Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning the (14 to 18 February 2011).

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  • 1. Mobile learning: Hype or evidenced impact for higher educationapplications?
    Mohamed Ally, Ph.D.
    Director and Professor
    Centre for Distance Education
    Athabasca University
    Education 2011-2021 Summit
    Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning
    Sydney, Australia
    February 2011
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5. Presentation Outline
    What is happening in mobile learning?
    Why higher education needs to get involved in mobile learning?
    Examples of use of mobile technology in higher education
    Campus-based education Delivery Model
    The learner in mobile learning
    Future of mobile technology in education
  • 6. International Association of Mobile Learning
    Executive Committee
    President - Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, The Open University, UK
    Vice-President - Jill Attewell, Learning and Skills Network, UK
    Secretary - Jocelyn Wishart, University of Bristol, UK
    Treasurer - Tom Brown, Midrand Graduate Institute, South Africa
    Member - Mohamed Ally, Athabasca University, Canada
    Member - Vanessa Camilleri, University of Malta, Malta
    Member - Brendan Tangney, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
    Member - John Traxler, University of Wolverhampton, UK
  • 7. International Association of Mobile Learning
    Founding Directors
    Mohamed Ally - Athabasca University, Canada
    Jill Attewell - Learning and Skills Network, UK
    Tom Brown - Midrand Graduate Institute, South Africa
    Giorgio daBormida - EIGI Consulting
    Caryl Oliver -, Australia
    Mike Sharples - University of Nottingham, UK
    John Traxler - University of Wolverhampton, UK
    Herman van derMerwe - North West University, South Africa
  • 8. Regional and Countries Mobile Learning Associations
    Latin America
    Arabian Gulf
  • 9. Setting Standards for Mobile Learning
    Working on a ISO standards committee to set standards for mobile learning for learners on the move (nomadic learners)
    International committee (Canada, South Korea, Germany) that reports to a larger committee
  • 10. Mobile Learning Journals
    International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies
    International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning
    International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation
  • 11. Journals that Published Mobile Learning Papers
    American Journal of Distance Education
    Distance Education
    IRRODL (International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning)
    Journal of Distance Education
    British Journal of Educational Technology
    Educational Technology, Research and Development
    Educational Technology & Society
  • 12. Mobile Learning Conferences
    Five mobile learning conferences are being held in 2011
    Many conferences, including IEEE and ACM conferences, have mobile learning streams
  • 13. The World Bank
  • 14. UN Millennium Development Goals
    Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
    Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
    Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
    Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
    Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
    Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
    Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
    Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
  • 15. Connect the Indigenous Peoples with Mobile Technology
  • 16.
  • 17. Mobile technology in different sectors
  • 18. “In the pocket banking”
    “A library in everyone’s pocket”
  • 19. “A doctor in everyone’s pocket”
    Are we ready for “Education in the pocket”
  • 20. Are Faculty Ready for Mobile Learning?
    Corbeil et al. (2007) conducted a study where they asked students and faculty whether they are ready for mobile learning.
    Of the 107 students who responded, all students owned a smart phone or cell phone and 94 percent of the students said that they are ready for mobile learning; however, only 60 percent of faculty said that they are ready for mobile learning.
    Learners are ready to use mobile technology for learning but the question is “Are educators ready for mobile learning”.
  • 21. Some people are predicting that mobile technology has no role in education
    They will be proven wrong
    We know of famous predictions in the past that were wrong. Examples include:
    The ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
    The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.
  • 22. Some educators, professionals and experts are resisting the use of mobile learning
    (some resisted the use of the internet in education but students and educators cannot do without the internet today)
  • 23. Some experts are predicting that mobile devices are not suitable for learning
    We know of other predictions that were wrong, for example
    there will be a need for only 5 computers in the world
    why would anyone want a computer in the home
  • 24. There is no turning back - mobile learning can make a major contribution to education and society
  • 25. Campus-based Education System
  • 26. Is the physical campus system set up for learning?
    The campus-based higher education system is a complex system.
    The question is why is it so complex when learning should be learner-centered and it is the learner who is doing the learning?
  • 27. Problems on Campus-Based Institution
    If you think of a typical campus-based higher education institution today, common problems include: high dropout rate, high absenteeism, vandalism, conflict between students, conflict between faculty and students, old infrastructure, closure because of extreme weather conditions and break out of contagious diseases, students and staff safety, campus security, students or staff suing the university because of injury, etc.
  • 28. Campus-based institutions need the infrastructure to prevent and solve these problems. For example, health services, security guards, building maintenance, etc.
  • 29.
  • 30.
  • 31. Operating Costs: Campus-based vs Distance Education Institutions
    The campus-based university spent 34 percent of the budget on operating costs while the distance education university spent only 15 percent on operation.
    For a campus based university with total expenses of one billion dollars, 340 million is spent on operation.
    The operating cost for the campus based university is more than double the operating cost for the distance education university
    The infrastructure for campus-based institutions is buildings while the infrastructure for distance education is information technology.
  • 32. Recent Australian Research
  • 33. Recent Australian Data
  • 34. Australian Study
    Researchers surveyed 150 students who dropped out from 4 Australian Universities.
    Reasons for dropping out include:
    Teaching staff
    Course content
    Life issues
    Paid work commitments
  • 35. Mobile Learning around the World
  • 36. Mobile technology in education around the world
    Many mobile learning projects in Europe. For example, HandLeR, MOBILearn, Caerus, Mobile Learning Organiser, Myartspace, etc.
    At Athabasca University there are developments and research on the use of mobile technology in course delivery, language training, workplace learning, and reading by older adults.
    The first international conference on mobile learning was held in the United Kingdom in 2002.
  • 37. China
    The Network Education College, which is an online college in China, implemented online learning where students can access learning materials from anywhere and at anytime using a variety of technology, including mobile devices.
    Because of the flexibility in access of learning materials, enrolment grew from 200 to 17,000 in seven years.
  • 38. Open University of Nepal
  • 39. Latin America
    There are approximately between 50 and 60 millions underserved indigenous people in Latin America who have limited or no access to formal education.
    Many of these people are nomads where they travel from one location to the next to make a living.
    An research project was conducted to develop a mobile learning model to use mobile technologies to reach these underserved indigenous people.
    Results showed that the students were able to use the devices to learn and the parents used the devices occasionally to improve their vocabulary.
  • 40. United States
    Educational institutions are giving students mobile devices as standard resources required to complete an education.
    Abilene Christian University gave iPods or iPhones to freshman students.
    University of Texas at San Antonio and gave free iPod Touches to teachers who attended a technology training workshop.
  • 41. Other Countries
    Governments of countries are giving people wireless mobile devices or portable devices for learning.
  • 42. Example of Projects at Athabasca University
    Course Delivery Using Mobile Devices
  • 43. Mobile Course Delivery
    Study was directed to over 500 students in 3 different computer science courses (all are completely online and distance delivery)
    Students were asked to complete a unit of study using a mobile device then complete a survey
    Many students completed one or more units but only a sub-set of the students completed the survey to determine their experience with the mobile devices
  • 44. Delivering to Specific Devices
    Device detection had been problematic because new devices and mobile OSs and browsers were constantly coming on stream.
    Created problems for the device detection scheme used to determine the mobile device:
    String user_agent = request.getHeader("user-agent");
    Changed to JavaScript to determine screen real estate:
    if (screen.width >= 800) {
    document.write('<style type="text/css">…..
  • 45. Stylesheet Delivery
    If screen size < 800, delivers style sheet meant for mobile device
    If the screen size is >= 800, delivers the full stylesheet
  • 46. Multimedia Displays
    Delivery of alternate graphics to mobile devices
    Device detection also implemented for applets, flash, large graphics, etc.
  • 47. Results
    No difficulties encountered in access using mobile devices.
    A variety of devices used by students:
    iPaq, PalmOne Treo and Tungsten, Blackberry, Dell Axim, Pantech 3200, Motorola Razor, Samsung, UT Starcom, Toshiba Pocket PC e330, and even a PSP (Portable Sony Playstation).
    A complete range of connection plans including WiFi, phone plans, and desktop synchronization.
  • 48. Suitability of Using Mobile Devices to Access Learning Materials
    User Comments:
    • The screen on the mobile device is very readable. I managed to finish reading an entire section while waiting for a meeting to start yesterday.
    • 49. I actually really liked reading the course on the phone.
    • 50. The layout was fantastic & easy to follow.
  • Flexibility of Mobile Learning
    User Comments:
    • There are many times in our busy lives where we could use our waiting time more constructively.
    • 51. If I would have known how to use the device - I would have been using it all the time to review the course material.
    • 52. Through this medium I am able to take the course anywhere.
  • Language Training
  • 53.
  • 54.
  • 55.
  • 56. Benefits of Mobile Learning to Learners
  • 57. New Generations of Students
    Online presence
    Now generation
    Virtual generation
    Social networking
    Digital experts
    Adapt to technology quickly
    Technology is second nature
  • 58. How students prefer to learn?
    In groups (55%)
    Doing practical things (39%)
    With friends (35%)
    By using computers (31%)
    Alone (21%)
    From teachers (19%)
    Becta, 2008
  • 59. Use of Mobile Technology in Education
    Uses of mobile technologies in education include: administration of learning, monitoring students’ progress, providing learner support, interactive activities to promote higher level learning, delivery of learning materials, use of context specific activities, workplace learning, just-in-time learning, and reaching the disabled.
    Gaskill and Mills (2009)
  • 60. Learnable Moment
  • 61. Mobile learning benefits learners since they can use mobile devices to learn in their own learning community where situated learning, authentic learning, context aware learning, augmented reality mobile learning, and personalized learning are encouraged (Traxler, 2010).
    Learning will move more and more outside of the classroom and into the learner’s environments, both real and virtual, thus becoming more situated, personal, collaborative and lifelong (Naismith et al., 2006).
  • 62. Mobile Learning to Develop 21st Century Skills
    Use of mobile technology by learners will help the learners develop 21st century skills required by learners when they join the workforce.
  • 63. 21st Century Skills Area
    Project Management
    Continuous Improvement
    Problem Solving
    Information and Communication Technology
    Team Work
    Personal Well-being
    Critical Thinking
  • 64. Mobile Technology
  • 65. Learners have multiple devices
  • 66.
  • 67. Near Future
  • 68. Future
    In the future, mobile devices will look completely difference from what they are today.
    According to a recent Futurelab report, by 2020, digital technology will be embedded and distributed in most objects.
    Personal artefacts such as keys, clothes, shoes, notebook, and newspaper will have devices embedded within them which can communicate with each other.
    We will not be taking any devices with us, they will exist everywhere.
  • 69. Everything will be connected to everything through network. There will no longer be any such thing as ‘the internet’, ‘telephone’, ‘TV’ and so forth; instead there is blanket wireless connectivity to the network which allows access to all communications channels even in remote areas.
  • 70. Input to and feedback from digital technologies will become much more ‘natural’ by 2020, and we feel as though we are interacting with things and with people, not machines, screens and keyboards.
  • 71. Conclusion
  • 72. Is the use of mobile technology ‘hype’?
  • 73. Ask Rory McGreal
  • 74. Ask a learner who has a mobile device but no learning materials to access
  • 75. Ask young learners who have no access to schools or libraries
  • 76. Ask an unemployed young person
  • 77. Ask a female who has the mobile technology but cannot attend school
  • 78. Ask a President who got elected because of the use of mobile technology
  • 79. Ask a President who was forced to resign because of mobile technology to connect young people
  • 80. Young people are using mobile technology for revolutions because of lack of jobs, no human rights, suppression, high prices for basic needs (education, food), etc.
    Would it take a revolution by young learners to transform education to meet their needs?
  • 81. With Mobile Learning “Education for All” is possible
  • 82. Social Justice
    The concept of social justice expresses an ideal in which all members of society are treated fairly and have access to their fair share of society’s goods.
  • 83. Research Needed
    How to design for the unknown
    How to design for learners on the move
    Most effective interfaces for mobile and virtual devices
    How to design information rich content for mobile delivery
    What are the characteristics of mobile technology for different cultures
    Interactivity on mobile devices
    Intelligent learning materials
    Learner-generated content for mobile learning
    OER for mobile delivery
  • 84. Thank youDr. Mohamed AllyDirector and ProfessorAthabasca