Saturday, January 23, 2010

m-learning Symposium

Professor Mohamed Ally.  Photo from Athabasca University website

Professor Mohamed Ally’s symposium held at Massey University Library yesterday was really worthwile.   You will notice that the title has changed between posts and that now I have called it m-learning.   The Symposium highlighted the fact that the boundaries between m-libraries and m-learning are very blurred and that in effect m-libraries are really only the library that supports m-learning.   This blurring also seemed to obscure any divisions between the library and academia.
Professor Ally surveyed the developments from the e-words to the m-words: e-learning to m-learning, e-libraries to m-libraries, and e-training to m-training.  In the course of these sessions he covered some really notable and noteworthy areas: the ‘hole in the wall project’ in Mumbai run by Sugata Mitra, the Millenium Development Goals (which most other people have forgotten), the $100 laptop for developing countries and of course the way in which his own institution Athabasca University in Canada is moving into mobile delivery.

In developing mobile learning and preparing materials for mobile dissemination Professor Ally listed four requirements:

  • ·         Break your content into chunks (chunking information)
  • ·         Design material as learning objects with clear learning outcomes
  • ·         Share in repositories for easy access
  • ·         All learning objects should be meta-tagged for retrieval and re-use.

He also suggested that each piece=chunk should have no more than seven pieces of information, and that Advance organisers or summaries were vital.

For the exporter studying the course at the New Zealand School of Export, I could imagine him/her being able to search ELIS and downloading Sample Contracts at the point of need, checking country information, reading Module materials and completing activities specially designed for m-learning.   A great deal of food for thought!

In trying to come to grips with my own personal computer/cellphone needs/wants, the symposium clearly pointed the way forward to some kind of mobile device – smartphone.  By chance the Dominion Post’s Indulgence magazine iDom page today covers E-readers, Smartbooks and Nexus One.  Neither Nexus One nor dedicated e-readers are sold in NZ.  Next week it the iDom column will cover NZ iPhone applications.
Professor Ally has recently edited the following book: Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training published by AU press in March 2009.   It is available in e-book format and can be freely downloaded from this URL:   Professor Ally and Athabasca University have a policy of open access to information which they produce.

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