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

Researcher, PhD at Wireless Education
Dec. 2, 2008

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

  1. Mobile Learning 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 March 2011)
  2. 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). Partner: Sustainable Mobile ( . Background – Researcher Mikko Ahonen: 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).
  3. 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
  4. Interview - Australian Interphone project leader THE PAPER: RCNIRP Russia - Warning: Precautionary actions - Children and mobile phones :
  5. Israel recommends radiation-free zones in schools
  6. 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))
  7. "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
  8. 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
  9. Video CBC National – What aren’t they telling us
  10. 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
  11. Can you make a case-control study? (Where to find unexposed subjects?) Moser (2005)
  12. 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
  13. Why (Wi-Fi) laptop should not be kept in lap 1/2
  14. Why (Wi-Fi) laptop should not be kept in lap 2/2
  15. Technology is using the same frequencies as our brain (and cells)
  16. Thermal-based ICNIRP-guideline versus Biological, non-thermal recommended values Please, note: ICNIRP-level is 10.000-100.000 times higher!
  17. Bias? ICNIRP International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (a German foundation) Honorary chair: 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:
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. Alternative technologies in the future? Source: Smart Lighting ERC ( ), Visible Light Consortium ( )

Editor's Notes

  1. Why this topic? I come from a city called Tampere. This city has been a test site for all new mobile technologies for the last 20 years. I have (also) worked with educational technology the last 20 years. I have read, seen, investigated and experienced… enough to be a bit critical about this current technology hype.
  2. I and my colleagues were running the first ‘ Children, Mobile phones and Learning’ pilots in Finland and perhaps in Europe. In the EU IST MOBIlearn project we were responsible for the adaptive user interface development (and mobile learning evaluation). As you can see, I have also worked for a teleoperator .That was an eye-opening experience.
  3. This has been a busy year (2008). In January France gave a warning: Children should not use a mobile phone and adults should use a headset. In February Russia announced a warning. I spoke with the head of RNCNIRP, professor Yuri Grigoriev in London, in the EMF& Health –conference. Russian researchers have good reasons to announce this warning. I will cite you two rows: “ According to the opinion of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP), the following health hazards are likely to be faced by the children mobile phone users in the nearest future: disruption of memory, decline of attention, diminishing learning and cognitive abilities, increased irritability, sleep problems, increase in sensitivity to the stress, increased epileptic readiness. Expected (possible) remote health risks : brain tumors, tumors of acoustical and vestibular nerves (in the age of 25-30 years), Alzheimer’s disease, “got dementia”, depressive syndrome, and the other types of degeneration of the nervous structures of the brain (in the age of 50 to 60).” About Australia: Dr Vini Khurana is one of the best brain surgeons in the world and his team has won many prizes about their excellent work. It has been pleasure to exchange views with Dr Khurana.
  4. The main research question should be split to sub questions. I will try to answer these questions in the following slides. Note: A more extensive research is needed to provide answers to all of these questions. This presentation … is just a presentation, not a results summary of a large research project.
  5. The absorption rates are higher in children’s skull. So are the SAR values. Children are not mini-adults, they are unique, vulnerable in their physiology. This same picture was used in A) in the warning of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and b) in the US Congressional Hearing led by Senator Dennis Kucinich. So, I consider the picture valid. Those videos and links are worth watching!
  6. In this presentation I will focus on microwaves and especially pulsed microwaves. Pulsing has been shown to produce more biological effects than continuous wave signal. This is documented by Huber & Co in the ECOLOG-study and also by Blackman & Co in the BioInitiative report. Demo: A radiation metering device, Gigahertz HF 35C. This device cannot measure SAR-values (or near field). Still, it provides us some information how these mobile devices work. First: Switching on a typical GSM mobile phone. When activated, the mobile phone first uses full power to connect to the base station. Thereafter the power it adjusted to minimal, if the base station is close. Second: The radiation exposure is 100% if the mobile phone is pressed against your head/ear. If the device is on a table, in 1 meters distance, the radiation exposure is like 2-5 %. So, it is worth using mobile phones in the speaker-phone mode or with hands-free equipment. I recommend airtube-handsfrees.
  7. Often the signals in mobile devices and networks are stronger than what those natural signals (and currents) in the human body are. Additionally, those sigals use the same frequences as brain waves. That might be problematic. An example: Brain waves Alpha 8–12 Hz Beta > 13 Hz Delta 3 Hz Theta 4–7 Hz
  8. All current guidelines for pulsed microwave radiation are based on thermal effects. That means that radiation causes only tissue heating by ICNIRP. The current ICNIRP guidance levels for mobile devices and base stations: The BioInitiave suggestion for new guidance levels: The German Building Biology guidance levels: A mismatch??
  9. Just examples.
  10. Some Interphone study protocol limitations: No children inspected Selection bias, heavy users more eager to participate than non-users Memory bias, operated patients were interviewed in the hospital just after the surgical operation The DECT use / exposure was not included The rural/urban users were not separated (a mobile phone increases its power dratically in the countryside, far from a base station) The base station exposure was not recorded
  11. Even ordinary devices like baby surveillance phones produce quite high (pulsed) radiation power density values. The exposure is chronic, in many cases. Therefore, unexposed subjects can not be found any more. According to my understanding, more effort should be put in in vivo and in vitro studies. + providing more independent funding.
  12. Asynchronous communication, replication and synchronisation are (some) alternatives.
  13. The UMTS-signal form is strangelooking. UTMS uses much more frequences than GSM and jumping from one frequency to another. Once again: New technologies are tested only on their thermal effect.
  14. - DECT base station produces sharp pulses and the power is occasionally quite high. - DECT base stations can be shielded as shown by the BMW example. German Doctor Appeals / Initiatives warn especially symptoms related to the DECT technology DEMO: Meter indicates that the peak values are much higher than from a mobile, measured from . An old DECT base station operates 24/7. Newer Low Radiation DECT base stations are less riskier.
  15. The radiation power density values are quite low with Wi-Fi. The problematic part may be the beacon signal, 10 Hz, pulsing 24/7 in the same frequences as our brain waves. This presentation does not focus on low-level magnetic field. Still, in many laptops this low-level magnetic field is quite strong in the front part of the laptop. Therefore, the radiation exposure time should be kept in minimum and the distance to the source of radiation should be kept long enough. The paper of Andrew Goldsworthy, how radiation can remove calcium ions from cell membranes, is interesting.
  16. LED-light - based data transfer. Non-pulsed. Currently Visible Light Consortium is working with IRDA- Infrared Light Association.
  17. The general discussion continued after my introduction in the Online Educa Berlin 2008. This slideset can be found in the Slideshare. Please, visit my blog. Comments welcome. Thank you for your interest  Mikko