Another dot in the blogosphere?

The cost of (no) mobile learning

Posted on: March 23, 2010

[image source, used under CC licence]

Education Week’s article, Mobile Learning Makes Its Mark on K-12, is mistitled. Mobile learning hasn’t made a dent!

The article starts by stating the need for large scale research to determine impact that will convince decision makers to adopt mobile devices so that they become the norm rather than the exception. It then outlines oft cited reasons for not adopting these technologies: the cost of mobile computing devices (MCDs), teacher training, curricular integration, and suitable instructional content.

But even if you handed these things for free on a silver platter at the end of a red carpet, teachers might not bite. If they do, they will have to change their pedagogy to suit the technology. Case in point?

As more educators have started to move beyond the simple mobile applications for education, such as multiple-choice quizzes, flashcards, and polling, they are learning that adapting existing lessons to the miniature viewing area of a cellphone or personal digital assistant does not always work.

On a related note, Steve Wheeler calls these MCDs “child friendly technologies”:

Such devices, including Nintendo game consoles (Wii and DS), mobile phones and iPod Touches can be identified as ‘child-friendly’ technologies, because they are fun and culturally relevant to children, yet they are perceived as either troublesome, or having little relevance in a formal education setting. Teachers often use technology to support their own teaching, but may often fail to see the relevance of child-friendly tools as a means to support children’s learning. Further, many schools have banned the use of such devices due to a perceived threat of misuse and abuse.

So these are some of the barriers for not adopting mobile technologies in meaningful ways. But what are the costs of not adopting mobile technologies logically and meaningfully? Somehow we collectively think of ways to maintain the status quo.  We react less quickly when implementing change (not for the sake of change, mind you, but for the good of our children).

In the Singapore context, I can think of one strategy to galvanize the troops. Parents recognize the importance of getting a head start, e.g., enrichment classes and tuition. If we could sell the idea that having and using MCDs (these child friendly technologies) in class is not just useful but critical for the education of their children, then half of the battle is won.

Yes, I am referring to the same parents who use their phones to arrange business deals, get information on where to eat and how to get there, monitor the stock market, receive the latest news, update Facebook, conduct online banking, ad nauseum.

3 Responses to "The cost of (no) mobile learning"

I completely agree with you. I firmly believe that the education system has to keep up with technologies that our students are using at home. The resources are limitless, and we need to teach them how to find, use, and critize what they find.


Thanks for your support!

I think we belong to the minority who think this way. And perhaps to an even smaller group who is trying to do something about it! 🙂


Just read a tweet that led to the Apple Learning Interchange site which offered ideas on how to use the iPod Touch for learning:


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