17 March 2013
17 March 2013,

Learners and the modern workplace are driving the mobilization of tertiary education. Students blending their learning with the reality of daily life in the community now account for the majority of tertiary learners, and the life-skills derived from this balanced approach are increasingly important to employers. Furthermore, skills such as digital literacy, personal management, and social integration must be a priority for institutions seeking to attend to funders’ – the learners and Government – expectations of work outcomes.

Examples of successful application of mobile learning are proliferating at an astonishing rate. The combination of learners’  expectations, increasing access to mobile networks, reducing cost and increasing capability of mobile handheld devices using a Natural User Interface (NUI), and better understanding of the pedagogical models that support student success using mobile learning are supporting this trend. It can be done.

In order to blend learning with life, learners need to have learning resources and connections to faculty and their peers at the time and place that suits them. The shift in power is tangible. The learner dictates where and when they learn. But learners, particularly those who are not practiced at learning, need structure and support. Simply introducing new technology is not enough. New models of support and teaching must be applied to ensure engagement with learners, and ultimately, their success. The MOOC model is an example of the institution not caring, and will not work for our youth learners.

Young tertiary learners, the focus of the Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy, need to be deeply engaged with their learning: it needs to be relevant, interesting and they need to feel they are progressing. The model of support is complex. It involves imbedding communication and support into the fabric of the learner’s life. Support and information arrives and can be found through social media channels, through legitimized course material, through peer interactions, and workplace and life experience. 

The task of the institution becomes less of information supply and more of information curation. The institution must respect the multifarious information sources, while amplifying the teaching and learning structure so learners have the information and connections they need and are not lost in Google-dross and Tube-spam. 

It can be done. Examples exist. Using a mobile NUI to provide an rich and connected interface that engages and guides the learner, keeps relevance and progress in the foreground, and allows life to continue ‘as normal‘ for the user. If this device was able to seamlessly report back to the institution on progress and activity, conduct tests and facilitate cohort and learner – faculty discussion, we have the magic pill. The good news is that this is now possible. It is not the technology at the user end, it is the structures and systems of the institutions that elicit our wicked questions. 

The Wicked Questions 

§ How does mobile learning fit into our curriculum, and how well are we prepared for its adoption to alter learner engagement with our curriculum?

§ How will mobile learning impact our infrastructure? What infrastructure decisions, current and future, need to be reexamined in light of mobile learning’s needs and requirements?

§ How can we tailor mobile learning solutions to reflect the unique tenor of our institution in positive, manageable ways?


Horizons Report 2013 – see ReGear Website for the original article

The Future of Mobile Learning: Rick Oller, Marlboro College Graduate School

Wicked Problem: The term ‘wicked’ is used, not in the sense of evil but rather its resistance to resolution. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.