I attended an M-Learning/M-Libraries Seminar on Friday 22 January at Massey in Palmerston North, given by Professor Alley of Athabasca University, Canada.
These are just my thoughts and not a complete breakdown of the session. For the session outline see the pdf on the Massey Library site.
For the uninitiated (from Wikipedia 🙂 ) “The term mLearning, or “mobile learning”, has different meanings for different communities. Although related to e-learning and distance education, it is distinct in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices. ” Basically it’s about using a mobile device such as a cell phone, iphone or ipod touch to access the web, and other resources that have been optimized for viewing via such a device. The point is that you can access these resources, anytime, anywhere, on a bus or a train, for as long or as little as you want. Usually the resources are between 5-15 minutes long, so they are learning ‘bites’ rather than a whole module’s information.
Professor Alley who gave the seminar was from the University of Athabasca which is Canada’s open university providing tertiary education for students at a distance. They had implemented some pilot mobile learning initiatives including second language learning materials that could be utilised from mobile phones. Prof Alley’s powerpoint slides will be up on the Ako Aotearoa site shortly.
Professor Alley stressed that there was a “sense of urgency” with the application of mobile technology to learning and libraries. He insisted that mobile learning was happening *now* and that if we didn’t begin to implement this ourselves we would be left behind.
He said that third world countries were overtaking some industrialized nations because they were skipping the desktop computer and going straight to mobile devices, for example nations in Africa and South America. Even places like Macedonia which had complete wireless coverage of the country via satellite. And the Middle East he claimed was very keen on m-learning especially to enable females’ education. No choc fish for guesses why it would be popular there.
This brings me to my next point, that IT infrastructure was crucial to m-learning and m-libraries. Prof Alley seemed to be unaware of the constraints within NZ on this issue. Overseas you pay per month for unlimited data plans whereas in NZ you pay per minute or text. This would need to change for serious uptake of m-learning/m-libraries in NZ.
Prof Alley encouraged NZ to form a m-learning association with collaboration among all interested parties, and he also said that the third m-learning conference was being held in Brisbane in March 2011 for those interested.
And for those who haven’t seen it, Prof Alley supplemented his talk with several video clips, one of which some may have seen before. But this one is of Patti Maes presenting at TED, presenting the future in wearable mobile devices and their application: