From writing short novels on your mobile (cell) phone in Japan, to the location driven craze of mobile apps like FourSquare in cities around the world from Sydney to New York. Being mobile isn’t just a fad, it is a passion and phenomenon. It is about accessibility that we love so much.
Accessibility is a broad term sweeping up many affordances of mobile devices. It could be giving a student a chance to access information no matter their location. On the way to or from their place of study, or even sitting at any café with wifi. This could be as simple as a poll, completing a reading, or replying to an online discussion post. Mobiles in this way extend the learning beyond the physical four walls of the classroom.
Accessibility could also entail having access to your education regardless of the time of day. Once I started using online resources that have a timestamp on it, I realized the varied times that students would post things. In Japan, it was mostly late evening or early night and in the UAE students often post things late in the evening or past midnight on occasions.
Simply having access to this information is another affordance of our latest mobile technology. Students with any smartphone or tablet computer (and yes of course even laptops) can get access to information they may not have in that time or location. Students want to clarify or know something right there and then? They can.
Having seen the mobile phone phenomenon in Japan first hand and experiencing now the ability for men and women of the UAE to do everything one handed, as their other hand is using their phone, I realize that educational institutes should take a proactive stance of incorporating mobiles into our students education
In my teaching of ESL, I’ve always believed that learning takes place both in and out of the classroom. In Japan, students would study and complete all homework but wouldn’t interact or use English outside the classroom. In Abu Dhabi, local Emirati students do interact with English speakers (often non-native) but very rarely study or finish all homework. The answer to me is in their hand. I’m generalizing a number of language learning theories here but the more language that the students are receiving, using, or interacting with, the chances are increased that acquisition might take place or the better the chances of learning in English.
Ever heard about the interactive Othello performance by ACU? (http://www.acu.edu/promise/innovative/othello.html) They encouraged the audience to bring their phones and to keep them on. The actors were back stage sending updates or giving scene summaries to aid understanding. We can use this in our favor. I am thinking of times when a university lecturer could scaffold during a lecture for some first time ESL students where they get given pieces of useful information, definitions, or websites to follow up on. I’ve got to admit that even I would want that sort of information during some of my old undergrad lectures. For other university lecturers, they could keep students motivated by providing useful articles or sites with Twitter.
Original post April 3, 2011 on http://www.digitalemerge.net/#/being-mobile/4550084290