U and ME…

2 06 2006

Some researchers in the field of mobile learning refer to “ubiquitous learning” (meaning “everywhere at once”). They refer to the ability of a learning tool, resource or technology to be available to a learner everywhere they go – although it might only be deployable on a very specialised platform such as a PDA equipped with GPS (e.g. http://cnm.open.ac.uk/projects/prolearn/mobiles/m02.html). The paradigm for ubiquitous learning is that if you have the right gear, you can then access your learning anywhere.

It’s a nice idea, but the risk of “u-learning” is that many (if not most) “ubiquitous” approaches rely on data connectivity either via mobile phone (GPRS) or wireless data networking (802.11a/b/g), both of which require expensive hardware and considerable ongoing costs for mobile bandwidth. Unless the hardware is supplied to a group of learners, and the costs of connectivity are paid for, there’s a real risk that not everyone in a learner group will have the resources available to access the learning opportunity or resource, making for a potentially inequitable situation.

Other multi-function mobile devicesIt’s for this reason that I prefer to focus on making learning resources deliverable to, and usable on, a range of devices (mobile or otherwise). For example, a video resource can potentially be viewed on a PDA, a Video iPod, a normal desktop computer, or even many mobile phones, making it accessible to a wide range of learners with varying preferences or opportunities. Bearing in mind the strong similarities in human, technical and pedagogical best practice between mobile (m-) and computer-based (e-) learning, I like to think of “ME-learning” – a learner-centric approach to the deployment of flexible learning, in a way that makes it accessible, cross-platform compatible, and equitable in terms of its ability to be used by learners of widely varying socio-economic statuses and digital literacy levels, on the widest possible range of delivery platforms, both computer-based and mobile.

By making learning opportunities accessible on a wide range of platforms, a ME-learning philosophy facilitates a personalised learning experience (the “ME” in ME-learning), such that a learner can access learning on their choice of preferred mobile device, or on a normal desktop computer if that was the preferred or only available option.

Ultimately, the best solutions will combine both U and ME approaches: accessible by the widest range of learners, on the widest range of platforms, and available everywhere. It’s certainly possible to create persistent ME resources (stored in a mobile device’s memory) that can be carried everywhere with learners; but it may be some time until we see data connectivity to a wide range of mobile devices at a price that makes it a reasonable option for the vast majority.


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2 responses to “U and ME…”

    6 06 2006
      Anne Paterson (13:06:43) :     

    The ME-Learning concept is a good approach for providing resources so learners can vew them in a personalised way.

    My interests are around learner-generated media which demonstrates achievement of outcomes and assessment activities e.g a video of a beauty student doing a manicure posted to a blog, maybe commented on by other learners, maybe critiqued by the learner themselves.

    15 06 2006
      mlearning (13:12:44) :     

    Hi Anne,

    Thank you – that’s a fantastic idea for using blogging to support learning. I’d imagine an approach like that would provide learners with the opportunity to record their work online, have learners interact with each other (and others in the wider professional community), and could also provide evidence for assessment.

    It’s great to hear your ideas for innovating with Social Web tools!