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Mobile Learning and Health Risks - Implications for Pedagogical and Educational Practices


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A presentation in the Online Educa Berlin 2008 Conference.

Mikko Ahonen, Researcher, University of Tampere, Finland.

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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Mobile Learning and Health Risks - Implications for Pedagogical and Educational Practices

  1. 1. Wireless Systems and Health Risks - Implications for Pedagogical and Educational Practices Mikko Ahonen Researcher Department of Computer Sciences University of Tampere, Finland Mikko Ahonen – Online Educa Berlin (Based on a presentation in the Online Educa Berlin 2008, slides updated in February 2011)
  2. 2. Table of Contents <ul><li>Background – Mobile Learning </li></ul><ul><li>Warnings and precautionary approach </li></ul><ul><li>Research question(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Microwave radiation and children </li></ul><ul><li>Wireless technologies (3G, DECT, Wi-Fi) </li></ul><ul><li>Pedagogical and educational practices </li></ul><ul><li>Future perspectives </li></ul>
  3. 3. Also: Worked at a teleoperator (TeliaSonera) and in the IT-business in the 80’s. Currently: Researcher at the University of Tampere (Power Quality, GreenIT). . Background: Research group leader – Mobile learning Tekes Digital Learning + EU IST MOBIlearn (2001-2006) Learning evaluation research (Ahonen & Syvänen, 2006) User-interface research and development (Syvänen, Beale, Sharples, Ahonen & Lonsdale, 2005).
  4. 4. Mobile learning – many dimensions Kukulska - Hulme and Traxler (2007 Remote/rural /development Informal, personalized, situated Mobile training/ Performance support Connected Classroom learning Miniature but portable e-learning Technology-driven Mobile learning
  5. 5. Interview - Australian Interphone project leader THE PAPER: RCNIRP Russia - Warning: Precautionary actions - Children and mobile phones :
  6. 6. Israel recommends radiation-free zones in schools
  7. 7. The Dilemma <ul><li>Research question: </li></ul><ul><li>How wireless information systems can be used risk-free in public organisations like schools and libraries? </li></ul>What is special in microwave radiation and children? How to minimise radiation exposure? What are those alternative pedagogical and educational practices? How to redesign information systems? (replication, off-line use, synch etc) Should there be areas without wireless network coverage?
  8. 8. Children are different from adults Gandhi et al . (1996) , Wiart et al . (2008), de Salles et al. (2008) “ The results show that the locally induced fields in children can be significantly higher (>3 dB) in subregions of the brain (cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus) and the eye due to the closer proximity of the phone to these tissues. The increase is even larger for bone marrow (>10 dB) as a result of its significantly high conductivity.” (Christ et al. (2010); see also Peyman & Gabriel (2010))
  9. 9. Radiation - Electromagnetic Spectrum <ul><li>Microwaves : </li></ul><ul><li>GSM </li></ul><ul><li>3 G (UMTS) </li></ul><ul><li>DECT </li></ul><ul><li>Wi-Fi (WLAN) </li></ul><ul><li>Digital-TV </li></ul><ul><li>@450 </li></ul><ul><li>Tetra </li></ul>Pulsed microwave radiation Huber et al , 2000  ECOLOG-study  Blackman et al , 1980; 1989  BioInitiative  DEMO Source: Wikipedia (2008)
  10. 10. &quot;The alive human body is an electromagnetic instrument , not just a bag of chemicals. Information is transported electrically, the body chemistry is controlled by electrical signals.” - G. Hyland
  11. 11. How well does an artificial head emulate a human being? <ul><li>SAR ( S pecific A bsorption R ate) is a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone. (FCC, 2008)  Thermal effects . </li></ul>SAR-measurements do not take in consi-deration biological effects like changes in blood pressure, glucose increase, abnormal cell division or calcium leakage from cell membranes .” Hyland (2000), Hänninen et al. (2007), BioInitiative (2007), Volkow et al. (2011)
  12. 12. Kramarenko & Tan (2003), Barth et al . (2008), Salford et al . (1994), Eliahu et al ., 2006 , Bawin et al. (1975), Hamblin & Wood ( 2002), Frey (1998), Hyland (2000), Leszczynski et al. (2002), Panagopoulos & Margaritis ( 2008 ), Arnetz et al . (2007), BioInitiative (2007), ECOLOG (2000) Non-thermal, biological effects - examples Discussed biological effect Symptom 1. Alters electrical activity in the brain.  Speed, coordination, learning difficulties 2. Affects pineal gland and melatonin production  Sleep problems, hormonal imbalance 3. Increases permeability in the blood-brain barrier.  Headache, dizziness
  13. 13. Cancer and tumours? <ul><li>In the WHO Interphone 13-country case-control study only some studies indicate risk ( Sadetzki et al . (2008) , Lahkola et al . (2008), Hours et al . (2007) and Blettner et al . (2007 ) </li></ul><ul><li>The Interphone final report is difficult to interpret: Increased risk, but reason unknown . </li></ul><ul><li>The study protocol may have design faults, Morgan (2009) </li></ul><ul><li>The independent research team by Dr Lennart Hardell has produced the most concerning results </li></ul><ul><li>[Author]&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlus </li></ul><ul><li>Several meta-analysis show an increased risks for users who had used a mobile phone more than 10 years </li></ul><ul><li>,19328536,17619826,18425337 </li></ul>
  14. 14. Video CBC National – What aren’t they telling us
  15. 15. DNA-damage Not only in the REFLEX-project, but all around the world: Ivancsits et al. (2002), Aitken et al. (2005), Baohong et al. (2005), Gursatej Gandhi (2005), Lixia et al. (2006), Baohong et al. (2007), Kim et al. (2008), Yao et al. (2008), Zhang et al. (2008), Kesari et al. (2010) …. <ul><li>2.45 GHz: </li></ul><ul><li>Wi-Fi (WLAN) </li></ul><ul><li>mikroaaltouunit </li></ul><ul><li>DECT (USA) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Fertility problems of mobile phone users and in-the-pocket-keepers Problems with motility, bad sperm quality, DNA-damage De Iuliis et al. (2009), Baste et al. (2008), Agarwal et al. (2009), Fejes et al. (2005), Salama et al. (2010) etc
  17. 17. Can you make a case-control study? (Where to find unexposed subjects?) Moser (2005)
  18. 18. Example: Problem-Based Learning - Possible without continuous wireless connection Gather data, interpret information by using mobile devices (taking pictures, making notes, recording sound) in the off-line mode . Modify, edit and reflect findings by using a PC with an Ethernet connection) START Student identify what they need to know Apply it Learn it Problem posed
  19. 19. 3G aka UMTS ( U niversal M obile T elephone S ystem) Research findings and related comments are conflicting (examples): ” UMTS signal had no effect on attention or reaction time” (Unterlechner et al ., 2008) &quot;DNA-double strand breaks take place in 1/40 of the (ICNIRP) guidance level. UMTS-signal is thus 10 times more bioactive than GSM-signal.” (Adlkofer, 2008) ” UMTS inhibits DNA repair 72 hours after 1 hour exposure ” (Belyaev et al. , 2008) <ul><li>3G signal is not clearly pulsed, it consists of many frequences and it is heavily modulated </li></ul>1885–2200 MHz
  20. 20. DECT ( D igital E nhanced C ordless T elecommunications) <ul><li>Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz – German Radiation Protection Bureau – recommends that the base station should not be continuosly on </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>BMW Corporation set already in 2004 an ECO-limit of 100 uW/m2 for base stations by shielding DECT-basestations (compare: normally 10.000 uW/m2 in 2 meters distance from the docking/base station) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>German Doctor Appeals (Bamberg, Freiburg …) </li></ul><ul><li> / </li></ul>DEMO 1880–1900 MHz Pulsing at 100 Hz
  21. 21. Wi-Fi = WLAN ( W ireless L ocal A rea N etwork) http:// , , Laptop on the lap: RF-Radiation exposure to stomach, hands and eyes + low-level magnetic field. Recommendations: - Use directional antennas in the hot spot (Wi-Fi router), so that only a certain sector is covered, not the whole building. Miminise the output power. - Use Wi-Fi or other wireless connections only occasionally, most of the time use an Ethernet-cable connection. Pictures: Next-Up 2400-2485 MHz Pulsing 50-500 Hz 10 Hz beacon signal
  22. 22. Why (Wi-Fi) laptop should not be kept in lap 1/2
  23. 23. Why (Wi-Fi) laptop should not be kept in lap 2/2
  24. 24. Technology is using the same frequencies as our brain
  25. 25. Thermal-based ICNIRP-guideline versus Biological, non-thermal recommended values
  26. 26. Bias? ICNIRP International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (saksalainen säätiö) Kunniapuheenjohtaja: Michael Repacholi (critic: , http :// ) EU SCENIHR + COST 281 International EMF Project in the WHO Before: Michael Repacholi Now: Emilie Deventer (critic:see  lower right frame WHO Watch) Video:
  27. 27. European Parliament 2.4.2009 - No base station near schools - No marketing of mobile phones to children - Information packages of safer cell phone use Like the Green Party in France, the EU Parliament recommends BioInitiative values, 100 µW/m² indoors, 1000 µW/m² outdoors. Several French cities have adapted this. http:// =-//EP//TEXT+IM-PRESS+20090401IPR53233+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN
  28. 28. Epidemiological studies : <ul><li>Radio and TV-transmitters </li></ul><ul><li>Increased risk : Dolk et al. (1997a), Hocking & Gordon (2003), Ha et al. (2007), Mascarinec et al. (1994, Michelozzi et al. (2002), Morton & Phillips (1983), Park et al. (2004) [More leukemia and lymphoma] </li></ul><ul><li>No risk: Dolk et al. (1997b), Mersenich et al. (2008) </li></ul>Mobile Phone Base Stations Increased risk: Abdel-Rassoul et al. (2007), Eger et al. (2004), Hutter et al. (2006), Gadzicka et al. (2004) Navarro et al. (2003), Santini et al. (2003), Wolf & Wolf (2004), Blettner et al . (2008), Eger & Jahn (2010) [great variety:from neurobehavioral effects to breast cancer] No risk: Meyer et al. (2006), Berg-Beckhoff et al .(2009)
  29. 29. Replication / Synchronisation “ Replication is especially important in mobile environments, since disconnected or poorly connected machines must rely primarily on local resources. … The monetary costs of communication when mobile, combined with the lower bandwidth, higher latency, and reduced availability, effectively require that important data be stored locally on the mobile machine. (Ratner, Reiher and Popek , 2001) MIT Technology nominated Offline Web Applications as one of ten Emerging Technologies of 2008
  30. 30. Alternative technologies in the future? Source: Smart Lighting ERC ( ), Visible Light Consortium ( )
  31. 31. Recommendations – Mobile learning at schools <ul><li>Keep distance: device away from head and body </li></ul><ul><li>Minimise exposure time, no base stations (incl. Wi-Fi) close to classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid continuous mobile data transfer, prefer synchronised, off-line services </li></ul><ul><li>Anytime, anyplace is not realistic. Focus on time management advantages. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember: pulsed radiation effects memory, concentration, cognitive abilites, growth … and learning. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Questions and comments welcome! <ul><li>Mikko Ahonen </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher </li></ul><ul><li>University of Tampere </li></ul><ul><li>Finland </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone +358-3-3551 8069 </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail mikko.ahonen [at] </li></ul><ul><li>Blog </li></ul><ul><li>Info </li></ul>