Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Implementing Mobile Learning     What You Can Do

How Educators Around The World Are Implementing Mobile Learning
Improving access to mobile learning ultimately begins with educators themselves. Here’s how you can help make a difference in this important movement:
1. Do more with less.

Creative doesn’t always mean complicated. In developing countries, mobile connectivity has leap-frogged fixed line connectivity. Students and teachers who weren’t connected at all before now have access to the same volume of online materials that those of us in developed countries do.

“By no means is that experience (on low-end devices) what you would get on an iPhone,” says Nickhil Jakatdar, who founded the successful mobile video company Vuclip five years ago. “But it’s way better than what one can imagine when one thinks, ‘Oh, it’s a small screen on a lower level network.’”

When these students see a small screen, he says, they don’t just see a small screen; they see a great opportunity. And so should we. The shiny new tech phenomenon shouldn’t keep us from doing more with less.
2. Encourage the use of apps that work on smartphones and basic phones alike.

Vuclip already has about 45 million unique monthly users who log onto the company’s platform to watch mobile videos that automatically adjust their resolution and other features based on the level of each user’s network and device, especially for those with low-end devices. We need to focus more on using and creating quality apps that are compatible with multiple networks and devices.
3. Advocate for clear policies.

The uncertain policy moment plaguing most of the world does not exclude Australia and the U.S. Districts are bringing tablets into the classroom or allowing student to bring their own devices, but haven’t always set clear policies. Some schools, recognizing the ubiquity of mobile devices, are taking their acceptable use policies and shifting them to become “responsible use” policies, trying to teach students how to use their technology respectfully.

Becoming active in your school’s mobile technology policy sends a clear message to leadership that you’ve considered mobile learning, want to engage with it, and have ideas surrounding the conditions under which it can happen.
4. Help parents understand the benefits of mobile learning.

Contrary to popular (parental) belief, mobile technology neither distracts learners nor disturbs learning environments –especially if it isn’t made taboo by authority figures.
5. Create Open Educational Resources with a mobile, international audience in mind.

Traditional course material should not be copied and placed on the Internet as an OER. Instead, it should be designed properly to facilitate flexible delivery. It should take into account cultural differences, different values, and different contexts of the learner. This means staying informed on a political and cultural level, or at least collaborating with someone who is.

In addition, make your OER easy to locate. A 2011 study found that two major obstacles for teachers’ use of OERs are locating and finding the most appropriate resources. Tag your OERs properly so that anyone from anywhere can locate them.
6. Use mobile tech to reinforce newly learned material.

The biggest problem for new literates is forgetting what they’ve learned unless that knowledge is reinforced. In one project focused on literacy for young women in Pakistan, students would travel to a central location for lessons in Urdu, then return to their remote villages for several weeks. The only way to reach them quickly was through text messages, so teachers texted reminders to the girls about reading and discussion assignments. This practice has played a very important role in the teaching and learning environment since.
7. Convince your colleagues it doesn’t have to be expensive.

While data in developing countries has traditionally been more expensive for users to purchase than in developed nations, its price appears to be falling more rapidly during the past 12 months. Selling data in a packet model format similar to how it’s sold to smartphone users in the United States and other developed nations is gaining steam. This in turn may encourage users to have fewer concerns about the amount of data they consume, and thus seek more video content.

Vuclip follows the two-tiered model that has become a standard for many startups: offering free services to most users while charging users who wish to purchase premium content and features, the rationale being that delivering educational content to developing countries will drive up the company’s user numbers.
8. Make content easily digestible.

The traditional course delivery structure, where vast quantities of information are transferred from teacher to student, doesn’t fly in the mobile world. Information is now recorded in an electronic format, allowing learners to access it anytime, anywhere rather.

But this means the structure and length of courses must be re-examined. For example, courses could be designed as modules, about four to eight hours long. Each module could consist of several learning objects that are independent but linked together. After students complete the learning objects in a module, and have their learning properly assessed, they will have successfully completed it and can be given credit for that module.

Along the same lines, Jakatdar says educational video publishers will need to shorten more of their clips into the two-to-three-minute range.

“That seems to be the sweet spot of what a consumer can consume at any one stretch,” Jakatdar says. “The two-to-three-minute clip I expect will remain popular for quite some time.”
9. Design content and choose platforms that can be used in the workplace.

According to a survey by Vuclip, 41% of us consider career development their number one learning goal. Coupled with the fact that people are now using mobile devices throughout their lives, it only makes sense that we should design mobile learning platforms and course content to be easily transferrable from school environments to professional settings. If students know they will need to use these tools to build their careers in the future, they will be more receptive to them now.

As an added bonus, it will be easier for them to continue their learning journey post-graduation.
10. Provide input to software and hardware companies.

Frequently, mobile applications are developed for business and entertainment rather than for education, forcing teachers to adapt the education system to fit the technology. This is why we need to provide input to both hardware and software companies to develop appropriate, multi-purpose mobile technologies that meet the needs of various sectors.
11. Spend more time explaining content than creating it.

A lesson on mathematics can be developed and validated by experts at one educational organization and placed on the Internet for everyone to access rather than having millions of teachers around the world developing the same lesson. When multiple teachers develop the same lesson on a topic, it is a misuse of human resources and a waste of teachers’ time. We should spend time tutoring students rather than duplicating the development of learning materials.
12. Support your own professional development.

To really achieve our mobile access goals, teachers need to stay informed. But this doesn’t have to be your district’s responsibility. You can become an active tech user yourself, following education blogs, or you can simply spend a few hours each month, reading new work from various research journals. However you choose to stay tech savvy is up to you, but you do have to be committed.

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