Mobile learning in adult education Lessons learnt and recommendationsUniversity of FlorenceMaria (Aggregate Professor) and Isabella Bruni (PhD student, Media Educator)Via Laura 48│ 50121 Firenze│ ItalyTel +39 055 275 61 80Mailto email@example.com│ firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite www.scform.unifi.it/lte│ Blog
Aims and purposes•Identify some trends in the practice of mobile learning in adult education•Provide some recommendations for policy, practice and researchOverall background• The socio-cultural ecological approach to mobile learning (Pachler et al.,2010), which considers mobiles as cultural resources and learning as aprocess of meaning-making based on the interplay between learner agency,social structures and cultural resources.Method and context• Cross-case analysis and synthesis based on the comparison between the 5national workshops carried out by partners (UK, Germany, Italy and Belgium).• About 60 people involved for an average period of 2 months.• Data analysis and synthesis were conducted by two researchers.• The final report was read by partners for member-check.
Preliminary remarksAdult education indicates:“the entire body of organized educational processes […] whereby personsregarded as adult […] develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge, improvetheir technical or professional qualifications or turn them in a new direction[…] in the twofold perspective of full personal development and participationin balanced and independent social, economic and cultural development”(UNESCO, 1976, p. 4).Briefly, the concept of adult education includes:6)the idea of education as a permanent process converging with lifelongeducation;7)the emphasis on the social, economical and cultural development of theperson;8)the need for increasing inclusion and participation of disadvantaged groupsthrough the education for all.
Looking at Strengths• Mobile devices as cultural → learning resources. In more than onesituations mobiles have proved to be cultural resources providing peoplemultiple learning opportunities such as: (1) supporting exploration andwidening learning context (German workshop); (2) enhancing self-expressionand self-representation (Italian and British workshops); (3) enabling mediaproduction (Italian workshop); (4) supporting social networking andconnections (German workshop).• Inclusion and Participation. The high degree of personalization of mobiledevices and their level of penetration in everyday life can make mobiletechnologies a factor of inclusion and participation, enabling access to socialnetwork and cultural resources and supporting forms of self-organizedpersonal learning (all the workshop, particularly the German, Italian andBritish workshops).• Bridging formal and informal. Bridging formal and informal means re-interpreting spontaneous forms of appropriation and media use in a moreexplicit and reflective way, and this effort requires high levels of involvementand attention (Belgium and British workshops).
Looking at Weaknesses•Technological divide. Despite mobile devices and the internet being widelyspread, people preserve very different levels of access to technologies.Mobile phones come with many different levels of complexity, some arecharacterized by very basic functions whilst others support multimediaapplications and internet navigation (Italian workshop).•Digital skills and competence. Even though all believed in the greatpotential of digital technologies, it seems that current gaps in knowledge andskills make technologies a barrier rather than a driver for democratic accessto communication and information (Belgium workshop).• Motivation and expectations. Individuals with low level of digitalcompetence (particularly with disadvantaged adults) the use of newtechnologies is often accompanied by a high level of expectations. Youngadults tend to use new technologies with high levels of enthusiasm and astrong interest in exploration, but they seem to lack the capacity of reflection Balancing gaps between skills and expectations andhelp students to take a distance (Italian workshop).
Implication for practiceDeveloping some points made by Hart (2012) and applied to the context of mobilelearning, we suggest three main recommendations for pratice:•Think ‘learning spaces/places’, not ‘learning rooms’. M-learning means learningeverywhere and this in turn requires conceptualising the learning environment asa ‘learning space’ rather than a ‘learning room’. the focus should be put onlearners rather than contents by providing them scaffold and support in order tomake them able to manage their ‘learning space’.•Think ‘activities’ not ‘courses’. Mobiles are mainly seen by users as personaltools, so they could hardly be seen as a means to deliver formal courses. Whendesigning m-learning, designers should think ‘activities’ rather than ‘courses’.These activities can be conceived as triggering inputs for learning or as stimuli forremediation and learner empowerment.•Think ‘continuous flow of activities’ not just ‘response to need’ . Learning is acontinuing process. Some affordances of mobile phones such as, for example,‘portability’ and ‘ownership’ seem to be particularly appropriate to support thisidea of continuity in learning. This is particularly important with adult learners, asthe emphasis in adult education is on the full and global development of theperson.
Designing mobile learning activities Mobile uses Mobile learning activities• Accessing web information and • Information problem solving navigation within the context (inquiry)• Recording pictures and videos of • Creating a self-presentation or a friends and personal experiences digital storytelling (identity formation)• Taking and sharing pictures of • Creating and sharing maps and holidays, places, surroundings geo-tagged contents (exploration and widening learning context)• Documenting learning/working • Creating portfolio and experiences multimedia resume (awareness and empowerment)• Connecting with people (social • Participating in mobile learning mobile networking) groups or communities (participation and engagement)• Arranging meetings, navigation • Organising learning activities and micro-coordination
Implication for researchMobile learning and cultural practices in adults’ everyday lives. If mobilesdevices are understood as cultural and learning resources, we need to betterunderstand how adults appropriate them, especially considering the newforms of nomadism characterizing our contemporary societies.Research and development of Life Long Learning Apps (LLAs). Whileeducational apps specifically designed for children and young people areincreasingly growing up, much less developed is the sector of apps for adultsand older people. Research should focus on the definition of instructionalprinciples and methods that are appropriate to this specific target.Mobile devices for community building: what is the impact? There exist agrowing number of projects based on the use of mobile devices to supportcommunity building in disadvantaged contexts. Although this is a relevanttopic for its social implications, there is little research on the social impact ofmobile learning.
Implication for policySome issues for further considerationResearch in the field of mobile learning and adult education. Investments inresearch on mobile learning and adult education is limited. But there areseveral areas of interest that deserve consideration and this requires a strongengagement of public institutions in funding research activities and projectsin this field.Provision of technologies and promotion of digital/media literacy.Technological divide and lack of literacies still impact negatively on learners’experience of learning and knowing, thus producing social exclusion. Lack ofmaterial infrastructures and cognitive skills is a factor of exclusion that publicinstitutions must balance for the future.Developing mobile services for adult learners. There is an increasing interestin the development in mobile services for the public sector (see projectsrelating to m-government). new mobile services for distributed trainingshould be designed and implemented to support lifelong learning and adulteducation for all.
Thank you!University of FlorenceMaria (Aggregate Professor) and Isabella Bruni (PhD student, Media Educator)Via Laura 48│ 50121 Firenze│ ItalyTel +39 055 275 61 80Mailto email@example.com│ firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite www.scform.unifi.it/lte│ Blog