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I’ve been thinking about Mobile Learning again today.

I was asked if I’d be interested in proposing a workshop for a ‘Shaping the Future’ event to be held in Qatar next year. Well yes I would, but what is it they are looking for? To me, a workshop is something which participants can become involved in – but I know from previous experience that working in different countries can present interesting challenges when it comes to using technology.

So, do I need a mixture of easy hands-on and discussion? If so what’s easy whilst remaining valid?

I’ve always been of the opinion, with all uses of technology, that the basics must come first. Without an understanding of aerodynamics, a pilot cannot fly an aeroplane and in the same way, unless a teacher understands the basic theories of learning and how to adapt them, he or she cannot hope to accommodate mobile or ‘e’ learning.

Mobile learning means many things to many people. Sometimes we have to dissect the two words.

  • The device itself may be mobile.

Tools such as cell phones, handheld games machines and handheld media/entertainment devices can all be utilised for learning activities. These devices are fairly ubiquitous and very few learners do not have access to at least one.

  • The learner him/herself could be mobile.

Learning often takes place outside the classroom or in the workplace itself. School based learners might be asked to conduct some ‘homework’ research, which would utilise both his or her mobility alongside the device’s mobility.

  • The learning activity might be mobile.

The teacher may plan activities that take learners on an exploratory tour of local features or local history, using GPS/Internet enabled tools as a guide. They may employ ubiquitous 3G connectivity to share resources on or from the Internet.

So do I start with the basic assumption that the participants understand basic learning theory? Or, that they understand the various connotations of the word mobile? I suspect that the old adage ‘to assume is to make an ASS of U and ME’ should rule here!

I will therefore consider a proposal which assumes nothing, expects a lot and prepare myself for a lot of stress 😉

Quote:

I try to fix all of the session’s activities, tool-use and techniques to Blooms Taxonomy. This is the taxonomy of thinking skills which aims to raise learners’ achievements through simple knowledge acquisition, comprehension of that knowledge and its application (lower order thinking skills – LOTs) – through analysis, synthesis and evaluation (higher order thinking skills – HOTs). There are lots of reasons for doing this, but my main reason is that Bloom’s is a recognisable theory, one that should/would have been addressed during Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and therefore be an understandable foundation we can build upon.

I suggest to my participants that each learner will progress through the taxonomy’s stages at varying speeds and with varying success; often having to return to a previous level (in a cycular fashion – which fits nicely then, with Bruner’s spiral curriculum model: e.g. “Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned.” from: http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html) where they begin their learning journey again. I emphasise that ‘they‘ the teachers, trainers etc. ARE THE experts at this and that ‘they‘ are the creators of activities designed to allow learners to climb (cycle?) through the levels.

I iterate, time and time again that the ‘m’ technique and the ‘m’ technology should be the tool and not the master.

From a previous Blooms Taxonomy post: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/

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Blooms

This week has been great. I’ve been able to carry out work that I enjoy and that I know I’m good at.

I thrive on learner feedback and these days my learners are teachers, trainers and people who work most closely with those we might call ‘real’ learners. So; smiles, curiosity, ‘bright ideas’ and enthusiasm for the subject are my reward. I’ve encountered all of these this week.

I delivered two sessions at The Sheffield College for MoLeNET on Tuesday and then co-trained with the delightful Nigel Davies (@e4communities) for NIACE e-Guides in Nottingham on Wednesday.

My MoLeNET presentation was a similar one to that delivered by me last week at The Newcastle College. It dealt with the potential for ‘m’ learning – but for these sessions I doubly interpret the ‘m‘ as meaning mobile AND modern. I try to model ‘m’ activities and techniques throughout.

I try to fix all of the session’s activities, tool-use and techniques to Blooms Taxonomy. This is the taxonomy of thinking skills which aims to raise learners’ achievements through simple knowledge acquisition, comprehension of that knowledge and its application (lower order thinking skills – LOTs) – through analysis, synthesis and evaluation (higher order thinking skills – HOTs). There are lots of reasons for doing this, but my main reason is that Bloom’s is a recognisable theory, one that should/would have been addressed during Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and therefore be an understandable foundation we can build upon.

I suggest to my participants that each learner will progress through the taxonomy’s stages at varying speeds and with varying success; often having to return to a previous level (in a cycular fashion – which fits nicely then, with Bruner’s spiral curriculum model: e.g. “Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned.” from: http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html) where they begin their learning journey again. I emphasise that ‘they‘ the teachers, trainers etc. ARE THE experts at this and that ‘they‘ are the creators of activities designed to allow learners to climb (cycle?) through the levels.

I iterate, time and time again that the ‘m’ technique and the ‘m’ technology should be the tool and not the master.

Occasionally, a colleague will ask me if I am demeaning the workshop participants by addressing Blooms in this way. I most certainly am not – I am often thanked/congratulated for reminding them of this long-forgotten rock upon which their teaching skills are built. Just this week one participant caught me as she left and thanked me profusely for introducing her to Blooms and for making it so interesting. She said that she had never heard of the Taxonomy. I wonder how the ITT team at ‘wherever’ missed that?

I start with techniques for using sms text and for this we use the superb Text Wall supplied by http://www.xlearn.co.uk (£25 per annum – Bargain). Two simple questions illustrate how simple it is to move from knowledge to comprehension, simply by thinking about how the question is worded. A third task (task, not question) shows how sms text can be used to deliver synthesis and evaluation. So – the simplest of technologies is addressing several levels of thinking skill. I then deliver a simple ‘odd one out’ exercise stolen from Lilian Soon (@xlearn). The idea being that the technical skills required to build the task (simply adding words and images to a PPT slide) are the same; even though the two slides require considerably different approaches to the answers (LOTs versus HOTs).

We then move on to Web 2.0 sites and their potential (I’ll return to this in another post), finishing this section with a very practical, hands-on floor exercise (keep ’em moving). Having looked at Web 2.0, I finish with an exercise that investigates the pedagogical use of mobile tools.

Experience has taught me that I cannot rely on there being access to any such mobile tools – and certainly not the variety that I would need to use to underpin my message: So I have laminated sets of cards showing pictures of mobile/handheld tools and a brief description of what they might do. These are accompanied by a handout taken from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet25/cheung.html and participants are asked to consider how they might use each of the tools and to film each other deliberating this. The simple act of being filmed helps them to focus on the achievable and to consider things they might not otherwise have considered.

I felt that both MoLeNET workshops were well received and that lots of ‘real’ learners will now benefit from the teachers and trainers’ newfound skills and ideas. Well done everybody. And thank you Benjamin Bloom.

References:

http://faculty.ccconline.org/index.php?title=Blooms_Taxonomy_Tutorial_FLASH

http://www.openeducation.net/2008/04/11/blooms-taxonomy-and-the-digital-world/

My Delicious – Blooms URLS