Reflections on MLEARN 2008!
I noted the phenomenon of passive learning once more (lectures with powerpoint slides) being perpetuated even though we were in the realm of mobile learning and plenty of opportunities for interactivity, connectivity and meaningful practical activities. My recommendation would be for future MLEARN 2008 organisers to make the most of the mobile technology the delegates are all talking about and demonstrate their power for the conference innovatively. Another recommendation would be to NOT fill the entire day with keynotes and breakout papers (once again passive learning) but to enable far more interactivity and networking. Perhaps take the delegates to a museum or other point of interest that at least uses the mobile technology. (I have seen plenty of that evidenced in the other part of my travels.)
On a more positive note, I would like to comment also on the phenomenon of community learning in a ‘family’ of like minded people that transcends cultural differences. My recommendation for improvement would be to enhance the experiences of delegates my making the best of that ‘third place learning’ and ‘group collaborative learning’ by generating more discussion opportunities and greater exchange of ideas to be captured innovatively using mobile devices.
On a social note the events provided for us in the evenings were superb – the interactivity at the Ingenuity Museum was well accepted and on the final night we enjoyed a self-guided tour through the RAF museum at Cosford, then dinner in Hangar 1 entertained by a Big Band in the Glen Miller style, complete with white suit coats and choreography. Lots of dancing (one of my favourites activities) and lots of fun. More of that please at the next conferences. MLEARN 2009 location was announced at the end of the conference but as I was already on the motorways heading back to London, I missed that. Check the news on their website at: mlearn2008.org
Many interesting and practical papers were presented (again death by powerpoint) but some stood out for me:
Use of PSP playstations for primary school children in a school for the deaf; and for secondary school students studying Geography. Ingeneous and innovative employment of these devices to suit the very young child (as young as 3) and to suit the type of learning style preferred by students who are disengaged with traditional classroom activities. www.longwill.bham.sch.uk
Use of handheld devices for learning about the medical terminology in use for nurses in aged care facilities. See information from the University of Surrey at: www.surrey.ac.uk (Note: Surrey was my family’s home county in England in the 1940’s.)
A rollout of several thousand handheld devices for the enhancement of learning opportunities across a broad curriculum – a system wide implementation of Mobile learning in Wolverhampton.
The funding of several hundred thousand pounds for teachers in 30 projects to investigate and implement a wide range of handheld devices to enhance learning in primary and secondary schools across England in the MoLeNET project. Some remarkable results from a six month project where high percentages of embedding of mobile learning practices was experienced. This project will continue with further funding in 2009. Note: some serious funding, eg more than 500,000 pounds for one of these projects in 2008.
A full copy of proceedings will soon be available on their website but I do have a printed copy already if you are interested in any details. I’m thinking of attending the 2010 MLEARN which will be held in Malta.
My brain seems to be back in work mode now after attending this conference – I’ll need to switch off for a while as we’ll be in serious touring and shopping mode again over the next few days in Dubai.