Sustainability for mobile learning
the societal and cultural condition of delimitation
A conceptual framework with a proposal of practical tools
Institute of Education University of London
Bristol Ideas in Mobile Learning March 6th, 2014
Basic assumption: Delimitation and sustainability
Tools in the arbitrary dispositif (Foucault) of
conversation and discourse on m-learning
Tools within a conversational, discursive framework
Part 1: Basic assumption
Delimitation and sustainability
The actual cultural transformation or de-traditionalization
appears in the mode of delimitation (Entgrenzung).
Mobile devices for learning are a result and a contribution
to blurring regulations and blurring boundaries in mass
communication, everyday life, learning and teaching.
Under the condition of delimitation it is helpful to define
media and its mobile or internet descendants as cultural
resources within flexible contexts.
Multiple perspectives on the running
Delimitation as actual version of detraditionalization in
the Second Modernity (Ulrich Beck/ Christoph Lau, )
Provisionality (Gunther Kress)
Learning as meaning making in provisional, generated
contexts in the life course
Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens and Scott Lash (1994, p. vi),
protagonists of a theory of "reflexive modernity", discuss the
detraditionalization which appears as migration
"To speak of detraditionalization in the present day at first seems odd,
particularly given the emphasis of some forms of postmodern
thinking upon the revival of tradition.
To speak of detraditionalization, however, is not to talk of a society
without traditions - far from it. Rather, the concept refers to a social
order in which tradition changes its status.
In a context of global cosmopolitism, traditions are today called upon to
defend themselves: they are routinely subject to interrogation.
Particularly important in this respect, the 'hidden substratum' of
modernity, involving traditions affecting gender, the family, local
communities and other aspects of day-to-day social life, becomes
exposed to view and subject to public debate. The implications are
both profound and worldwide in scope."
A feature of delimitation:
Provisional cultural resources
Gunther Kress (2010):
“ Stability – even though that had only ever been
relative - has given way to instability;
homogeneity has given way to often radical diversity;
permanence has given way to provisionality,
a condition in which crucial characteristics of the
environments of communication may vary from one
moment to the next.”
Provisionality, the semiotic version of delimitation
A dominant societal and cultural feature of delimitation is
provisionality, which characterises also emerging new
forms of learning and teaching to which mobile learning
Provisionality urges also to understand sustainability
not as a static definition with objectified procedures
and tools. Sustainability is a relational category.
Sustainability is a process which can't repair the
provisionality of learning and representation but deals
systemically with it.
Transformation of Learning in the maelstrom of de-
traditionalization / delimitation
Meanwhile accepted (?) innovative trends in learning:
- Learning as communication in and over contexts:
collaborative knowledge building; situated learning;
Personal Learning Environments; context aware learning
(?); informal learning (?)
- Learning as personal development: scaffolding; learning
as social risk = NEETS; individualized expertise (?), life
- The tablet as mini-computer in the tradition of the text
book and the work book
Learning to deal with provisionality:
Sustainability as relational category
Email: March3, 2014, HBMeU@icwe.info, HBMSU News Service -
“The 2014 Congress “Leading Transformation to Sustainable
Excellence”, organised by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart
University, starts today. Consisting of three conferences –
Healthcare, E-Learning and Quality – the Congress will present
novel ideas and concepts, illustrate best practices and stimulate
scientific interaction via round tables, plenary and scientific
sessions or workshops.”
Actual example, an email on my PC about sustainable
knowledge production and dissemination in a competitive system
of higher education
… “sustainable development is not a fixed state of
but rather a process of change in which the exploitation
of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation
of technological development, and institutional change
are made consistent with future as well as present
We do not pretend that the process is easy or
straightforward. Painful choices have to be made. Thus,
in the final analysis, sustainable development must rest
on political will.” (p. 17)
Definition of Brundtlandt commission / Report of the World
Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Our
Common Future. accessible at: www.un-documents.net/wced-
ocf.htm, accessed 28. December 2013
Mobile devices as well as learning or teaching are / can be
interpreted as cultural resources.
Under the condition of delimitation it is helpful to define media
and its mobile or internet descendants as cultural resources
within flexible contexts
In this line of argumentation I use a cultural ecology as
framework for mobile learning of the London Mobile Learning
Group. (Pachler, N., Bachmair, B., Cook, J. (2010). Mobile
Learning: Structures, Agency, Practices. New York: Springer)
Why does it make sense to refer to the history of ecology?
The proposal of Scott (2002) and Wan, Nicholas (2012):
to specify and realise sustainability of innovative mobile
learning by and within discursive, conversational*
procedures. *Laurillard, Pask
My intention is to contribute to sustainability in
discourses, conversations by offering a set of tools.
The contradiction between
sustainability as a relational category
sustainability as maintenance of stability, to make innovative
procedures operational, and to generalise implementation
“The literature, however, shows a clear distinction in meanings with
sustainability as a goal and sustainable development as a process.”
Scott 2002, p. 3
“Multiple perspectives; differing prognoses
Examines the way different groups view and use ideas about
sustainability in order to focus on widely different learning and/or on
social goals, and explores different ideas about whether social and
ecological unsustainability can be cured by contemporary society,
or rectified by means of appropriate learning.” Scott 2002, p.6
“A view from cultural theory
Argues that human knowledge of the natural environment and of
our interactions with it is both imperfect and characterised by risk,
and that social actors, in the face of this uncertainty, construct their
environmental reality within archetypal interpretations.” Scott 2002,
Scott, William (2002). Sustainability and learning: what role for the
curriculum? Council for Environmental Education. Reading. The text of
the lecture is also available online at www.bath.ac.uk/cree
Ng & Nicholas (2013) designed as complex „person-centred
sustainable model for mobile learning‟
Diana Laurillard (2007, p. 171) Learning as
conversation inside and outside of the school
Inside the schoolOutside the school
Yishay Mor (2013, p. 2): The design experiment cycle (Source:
The relational definition of sustainability leads to
conversational, discursive procedures,
which is liked by a pedagogy in line with Habermas‟
democratic mode of discourse.
But the structure field of power (dispositif) in media,
education, public and private, formal and informal,
everyday life and formal learning in teacher guided
institution is manifold.
A conversational approach inherits unclear power structures.
Teachers‟ argument in respect to didactic innovations is:
“We are in a period of exam”.
Tools in the arbitrary dispositif (Foucault) of conversation
and discourses on m-learning
At one level, the concept and practice of sustainability in mobile
learning is aimed at the ability to maintain innovative
processes over time and to embed them in the mainstream
which requires stability and continuity.
Sustainability is a further aim by seeking to develop mechanisms
for scaling implementation from some to many.
One strategy for achieving sustainability in mobile learning,
currently pursued by the London Mobile Learning Group
(LMLG), is the development, collection and
implementation of mobile scenarios.
The LMLG is in the process of organizing a Network for Mobile
Learning Scenarios with the aim of generalizing the
development of scenarios as well as taxonomies with which to
systematise the discussion about mobile learning scenarios.
Again and nevertheless:
The necessity of objectivity and continuity
Lary Cuban (2001) analyzed the steps of integrating
computers into schools as „levels of technology integration‟
with reference to earlier work by Ringstaff et al. (1997, pp. 4-
5; Lomicka, 2003, p. 43)
• Entry: Teachers are beginner users of computers.
• Adoption: Teachers tend to take more traditional approaches
to instruction but do provide some explanation on how to use
• Adaptation: Traditional approaches to instruction prevail but
some class time is allowed for students to use computers for
homework and daily class work.
• Appropriation: Teachers integrate technology regularly into the
• Invention: Teachers find new ways to connect students and
use project-based and interdisciplinary approaches to
The variety of tools, some examples
Ruben Puentedura, Sweden, (2013) developed the so-called
SAMR model of Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and
(1) Headline and date
(3) Author/s, copyright holder, facilitators (e.g. ‘teacher’), participating
institutions (school, university, company etc)
(4) Time and place of realisation
(5) Leading education ideas and plot of scenario
(6) Learning aims and objectives achieved
(7) Target group and its views regarding the scenario
(8) Institution of learning and curricular context
(9) Mobile devices or other technology deployed
(10) Cost and men/ women power, steps and necessary time for
(11) Main results of realisation with main positives and negatives
(12) Available report and artefacts (photos, videos, texts, images)
Template form to describe m-scenarios
Ben Bachmair, Howard Scott 8 December 2013
Tools within a conversational, discursive framework
The triangular structuration model,
which refers to Giddens‟ structuration model
Describing a dispositif (Michel Foucault)
that govern users‟ being in the world:
convergence, fragmentation, provisionality, discontinuity,
user-generated content and contexts, detraditionalisation
of learning, milieus
the user‟s capacity to act on the world:
appropriation, meaning-making, habitus of learning (self-
representation, play, target orientation), naïve native
the routines users engage in:
normalization, self-expression, communication,
traditional and flexible modes, learning in informal
Actual structures in the foreground of mobile
(a) Feature element of structure : Detraditionalization
Detraditionalization through globalisation and an increase
of individualisation through mobility and convergence;
the risk of decision making and dealing with risk taking is
transferred to individuals.
Fragmentation of society in respect of lifestyle according to
the variables of socio-economic status and orientation
Analysis of sustainability with reference to the mobile
complex through conversational, discursive processes
- Diversification of mobile devices;
- Apps for connecting mobile devices to institutions,
services, resources, repositories and activities;
- From linear media production and media use to user-
generated content and contexts.
(b) Feature element of structure: Mobility
Dourish's model describes four feature elements of user-
generated contexts (Dourish, 2004).
“contextuality is a relational property that holds between
objects or activities"
"the scope of contextual features is defined dynamically".
"context is particular to each occasion of activity or action.
Context is an occasioned property"
"context and content" are not two "separable entities". (p. 5)
Proposed tool in respect of the feature element within structures:
- Detraditionalisation and increased flexibility of contexts
and frames of activity leading to fragmented meaning
- The school loses the power to define teaching and
- Neo-liberal models of teaching and learning lead to de-
schooling (see as example
- The school as a knowledge production organization at the
expense of other functions and tasks such as social
(c) Feature element of structure: Learning
• Efficiency: the optimal way to go from being hungry to
• Calculability: to transform food, production and
consumers into being measured: e.g. making food units;
• Predictability: management of offer and consumption of
units of food;
• Control: working people and consumers are subdued to
these processes e.g. by pre-organised choice, going
• “The irrationality of rationality” (pp. 121ff).
Ritzer‟s cultural analysis (1993) of the neoliberal transformation:
The commodification of education and learning within the logic of
a neoliberal market economy.
(a) Feature element of agency : Mobility
user-generated content and context
(b) Feature element of agency: Learning
- learning as an individualized social risk, at-risk learners
- learning in informal contexts and lifelong learning;
- provisionality of meaning making as a basic feature of
- new modes of habitus and habitus of learning linked to
social milieus and attendant lifestyles.
• Making learners mobile so that they are able to expand
• Engaging learners on their own ground and addressing
them as people who are learners already and as
• According them full recognition in their position and
achievements in their lives; as well as of their position as
learners and makers of knowledge. (p. 32)
Proposed tool: pedagogy of inclusion
Margit Böck (2010) summarizes the discussion about at-risk
learners and mobile learning under the heading of inclusion as
(a) Feature element of cultural practices: Mobility
Ubiquitous integration of mobiles and their applications into
(b) Feature element of cultural practices: Learning
Trend to designing learning and teaching as individualized, flexible
learning options which correlate with the affordances of mobile
devices but support also learning as part of development within the
Informal learning strategies which are enhanced by formal learning
institutions. Essential for informal learning is the media environment
of everyday life, which – for children and young people – tends to be
based on mobile devices such as mobile phones, smartphones and
tablets as interfaces for the internet with its social network(ing) sites,
repositories and (online) games.
Situated learning which re-frames the role of a teacher (Lave and
Collaborative knowledge building (Scardamelia and Bereiter, 1999).
Context aware learning (Yang, Okamoto and Tseng, 2008).
Learning as conversation (Laurillard, 2002; 2007) which focuses on
personal meaning making of the world.
• To integrate informal learning by means of the mobile;
• To set up episodes of situated learning by means of the mobile;
• To generate learning and media contexts by means of the mobile;
• To set up conversational bridges by means of the mobile;
• To support students as experts of their everyday life within the
school by means of the mobile;
• To set up responsive contexts of development and learning by
means of the mobile.
Tool: Pedagogical focal points for designing mobile learning
The pedagogical focal points react to these innovative trends
and represent the educational and didactic options within the
breadth of available mobile applications. They are tested in a
German school project for mobile learning (Bachmair, 2011;
Bachmair, Pachler and Cook, 2011)
Yishay Mor (2013, p. 2): The design experiment cycle (Source:
John Hattie, Australian educationalist at the University of Melbourne,
carried out a “synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to
achievement” (Hattie, 2003; 2008) He found the following “major
sources of variance in students‟ achievement” (Hattie, 2003, pp. 1 -
• Students: “about 50% of variance”. “High correlation between ability
• Home: 5 - 10 % of the variance. The “major effects of the home are
already accounted for by the attributes of the students”.
• Schools: 5 - 10 % of the variance;
• Principals: “are mainly accounted for the variance attributed to
• Peer effect: 5 - 10 % of the variance.
• Teachers: “who account for about 30% of the variance”.
Proposed tool: Hattie‟s evaluative summary of the variables of
students‟ achievement within the established learning practices
• orientation of the school culture to the school’s cultural and social
environment (Ausrichtung der „Schulkultur“ auf den
• professional standards of teachers („Professionalität der
• participation in teaching and learning („partizipative Moment von
• feedback to students about their attainment as reflexive element of
learning („Rückmeldeverfahren zum Lern- und Leistungsstandard
der Lernenden“ als „reflexives Moment von Lernen“).
• dealing with diversity („Heterogenität und Diversität“).
• political participation („politische Teilhabe in der Demokratie“). (p.
Proposed tool: a critical cultural theory of learning environments
In the context of the OECD-project “innovative learning environments”
Schrittesser et al. (2012) summarized the main features as being: