Forcing Mobile Learning On The World

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forcing-mobile-learning-on-the-worldForcing Mobile Learning On The World

by Terry Heick

In education, we tend to think of mobile learning as learning in classrooms with tablets and smartphones. And that’s part of it.

Students being able to untether themselves from desks is an extraordinary development that brings with it all kinds of possibility. The benefit of mobile learning thus far has been primarily personalization. Students that can move and access content on individual devices can have that content personalized for them in a just-in-time, just-for-me context. But we stifle the potential gains of technology and mobile learning when we simply shift the tether from the desk to the classroom walls.

This is only the beginning of how students will eventually use technology to inform their work and study. It’s true that mobile learning can solve the problem of creative spaces, but that misses the point of mobility–to go where you want, when you want, to be with who you want to be with to do the work you believe needs to be done. And to further combine local resources and spaces with digital networks and communities to do your best work.

Our current thinking that huddles groups of students in small rooms in mason-block buildings is based on problems of technology and assembly that are no longer problems. This likely sounds like education dreaming, but only because we’re stuck in old thinking patterns. Yes, it’s true that a 6-year-old can’t grab his tablet and hop on his big wheel and ride down to Starbucks to “think.”

Clearly we need systems (of some kind) to manage how we build literacy skills in children. Past that, compared to what’s possible in learning, schools–in their current form–quickly lose their credibility.

We Create What We Believe We Need

Our current social structures don’t lend themselves well to the whole idea of mobile learning because they’ve never had to.

We don’t need to hunt anymore because there are groceries and restaurants. We (literally) don’t make room for apprenticeships and creative learning spaces for children and ways for teens to meaningfully connect in communities because we have schools. Which is as crazy as it sounds.

There will be a (perhaps extended) period of adjustment as we rethink the physical spaces in the large buildings we call schools, and how they relate to the communities around them. Technology will create this opportunity, but it will be up to society–which may start with leadership from the schools–to manage the inevitable challenges of this kind of change and make it all sustainable and hunky dory.

In truth, the same applies to game-based learning, project-based learning, and so many other trends that our “clients”–parents, families, organizations, and businesses–don’t understand. Because it is not technology, but rather the communities and their inherent problems, creativity, and “human resources” that are the sleeping giants in education.

In the video below, Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, explores this idea through the lens not of learning, but work. His take is that in work, productivity is not the solution but the problem. We’ve taken an industrialized approach to our work, which has damaged our creativity, innovation, and trust. (To the point where over 71% of Americans claim to be unhappy with their work–which is a staggering number.)

Forcing Mobile Learning On The World

  • ZITE Reader

    I lost interest when reading the first sentence of the fifth paragraph. Ironic that a statement on literacy is grammatically incorrect.

    • terryheick

      Thanks for pointing out the typo. Fixed now.

    • gypysy

      Grow up. Pointing out a grammatical error stops learning and growth. Your comment was designed to make you feel superior. The attitude that you are better than the speaker/author will ever be is precisely what shuts students down. This is an old school approach to education and learning. Would I prefer a grammatically perfect world? Not on your life. I value the free flow of ideas, mistakes and all.

  • Not Impressed

    I’m disengaged at work because I can not share?!?!? Hmm

    • terryheick

      I think the speaker might say that the lack of collaboration, socialization, and “cross-pollinating” mobile learning enables might allow for different kinds of work altogether.

  • Rachael Bath

    Thanks for this post. I will write a blog post about this tomorrow. :-)

    A great eye opener that I had to stop and pause throughout because my parents and I began discussing the possibilities in our current employment to be able to work from home and the personal discipline it would take to successfully do this.