“Mobile Learning is dead… or maybe, it was never truly alive to begin with.”
The comment came from one of the speakers on the panel discussion. I was one of six panelists invited to speak on a Google Hangout public broadcast. It was interesting to see the comment pop up on the private chat box, which only panelists and moderators could see on the back-of-house “broadcast” screen. The public chat box, or better known as “comments thread”, was on a separate screen. Being a veteran Adobe Connect user, and (at that time) a novice Google Hangout user, I found the dual chat box format rather clever, but initially confusing. Adobe Connect utilizes a stacked tab-system to separate private chats from the public ones. Much more intuitive, I thought.
“Very true… mobile learning is definitely a misnomer!”
Someone else on the panel had responded. I scrambled to check names. Who had said what? It was tough keeping abreast with the live broadcast discussion, and the behind-the-scenes banter. I eventually ignored the private chatter and focused on being an attentive participatory panelist.
But those comments haunted me after the broadcast was over, and continued to gnaw at my subconscious days after.
“Mobile Learning… never alive to begin with.”
“Mobile Learning… definitely a misnomer!”
Why did Mobile Learning never kick off? What is the definition of Mobile learning anyway? How does one actually engage in Mobile Learning?
The term “Mobile Learning” is such a cliche. “Learning” we all know. It could involve any of the three domains (Blooms, 1956) – Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor. “Mobile” became a buzz word in the 1990’s with the advent of mobile phones @ cell phones. But the combination of the two words only recently made its big debut in the academic world, when Apple first launched the iPad in 2010. Overnight, everyone who was an anyone was talking about how “Mobile Learning” would revolutionize the world.
It’s been three years since iPad 1.0 first hit the market. Countless tablet PC’s, Android mobile phones, and not to mention multiple versions of iPhones and iPads later, sadly, we still do not see a world revolutionized by “Mobile Learning”.
“There is definitely a lot of learning content available through mobile devices nowadays, but do people actually learn when they are mobile-on-the-go? I think not,” I recall one of the panelists commenting.
I fully agree.
I don’t see too many people engaging in cognitive, affective, or psychomotor online activities on-the-go. Sure, there are a sprinkling of people whom I know who listen to audio-books, a couple of techno-savvy botany students whom I know use their iPhones to look up on Wikipedia whenever they happen to see a plant they don’t recognize, and I only know one person who listens to DIY exercise audio recordings. But overall? Who is truly mobile and learning?
The thought kept haunting me…
One fine night about two weeks after the panel discussion, I suddenly woke up at 3am. The haunting words had gotten the better of me. I woke up and could not go back to bed. It was then I decided… I would embark on an experiment!
As mentioned in an earlier blog, I have always been a proponent for Action Research, and especially partial to the Ethnographic Participant Immersion Methodology (Wolcott, 1973/2002). What better way to learn about “Mobile Learning” than to explore, indulge, and immerse myself in it? In addition, I am a true believer of Discovery “Binge” Learning, so, half-cooked efforts would not suffice in my books. Thus, I decided that I would aim to (eventually) build my stamina to go fully 100% mobile, in all three domains – cognitive, affective, and psychomotor – but in order to do so, I would need to prime myself first.
My personal natural dominant learning domain is my Affective Domain, with my Cognitive Domain coming in a close second. I always perceive holistically first, before allowing my thinking cap to kick in. Sadly though, having grown up as an asthmatic kid, my Psychomotor Domain has always been lagging far behind. Luckily, being an incorrigible type-A personality, I learned (through the years) numerous coping mechanisms to overcome my physical deficiencies, including developing a spicy hot personality to counter my pint size height and indulging in low impact x-sports such as scuba diving to achieve mind-over-body control.
So, this new goal I gave to myself – “True Mobile Learning” – would need careful pre-planning and pre-training.
To be truly “mobile” I would need to be fit. Why not? I’m not getting any younger, and what better excuse to force myself to pick up jogging. I imagined being asked, “Why are you jogging?”, and my answer would be, “It’s all in the name of Action Research.”
Yes. Sounds good. I liked that.
And that… was how it all began. A haunting thought, eves-dropped from a private chat box during an online broadcast, festered in my subconscious for weeks, and surfaced spontaneously at 3am, on a totally random unimportant day.
I have since then started jogging daily. Each time, I bring my iPhone with me – ear plugs, Pandora, 3G data plan and all. So far, it has been quite enlightening. I have noticed that “learning” does occur, and I am excited to share what I have learned so far. However, I decided to wait till I had jogged more than 10 times before I started blogging about it (to ensure that this was not just a passing fad). In any case, my efforts reached day-10 yesterday. So, from today onwards, I will chart my “Mobile Learning” escapades in this blog.
Link to pilot post in this series.