Authentically mobile: Designing learning on the move

Five Mobile SystemsImage by via FlickrDr Jan Herrington was a key note at ULearn and started with a good humoured reference to the recent Australian loss in the Rugby World Cup 🙂 She then moved on to showing a photograph of her father’s classroom and what can be deduced from the picture. You could see the teacher standing at the back and all the students were sitting at the desks looking forward. The technology included a newspaper, an inkwell, and a big cupboard full of resources such as maps. She then brought up a picture of a more modern classroom…and there were more similarities than differences. The main difference was what was in the student’s pocket – ie a mobile phone. However, Jan also pointed out that many schools have a non-mobile policy and use words such as not permitted, disruption…and that was just for the teachers.

At the moment there is little use of mobile devices in schools. Jan showed an image of a progressive school (‘Funky School‘) in New South Wales with students working in different spaces and in different ways. She moved on to talk about how getting students to design solutions and resources is a much more powerful way of learning, than reading about it, or answeing questions.

Student Using Cell Phone By the Campus LakesImage by kcolwell via Flickr

Jan spoke about innovative pedagogies that used a couple of mobile devices in 2006/7, and looked at the potential of these devices. The particular focus was using technology in early childhood education. The unit typically was about technologies, or using them, rather than looking at the learning that could be enhanced by access to a number of devices … they were teaching “‘hammer’ rather than capentary”. As part of a rethink they got the students to create a genuine product that they would share with others, and in the process were modelling an approach to learning. The main focus was creating digital stories on the iPod with a very definite authentic focus. The students found the task pretty challenging, but, at the end fed back that they had gained in confidence and were really pleased that they had been involved in completing it.

It was great that Jan then gave some guidelines for designing authentic tasks, and then went through some concrete examples, and how they related to, for example, epert performance. This means access to the way an expert would thinkg and act as well as access to learners in various levels of expertise and sharing of narratives / stories.


About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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