What challenges are we experiencing when incorporating mobile learning into our curriculum?

Employing m-learning and Web 2.0 technologies meaningfully.

For us the greatest challenge remaining after 8 months of m-learning is that fellow teachers, students and ourselves still cannot really envisage and implement quintessential Mobile /Web 2.0 Learning in our educational environment, despite ubiquitous access to materials and connectivity to a learning community via iPads and other mobile devices, which  brings with them an entourage of functionalities.  We are not alone in our fear of failing to map out and foster a new pedagogy which leads to deeper learning and more engaged learners.  Dr Craig Wishart ( Guy 2009: 283) quotes the British based Joint Information Systems Committee on saying  that the most ‘potent challenge’ facing educators today is in embracing new ways of learning by knowing ‘when and how mobile technologies are best deployed’ to meet the needs of individual learners and their learning outcomes. Mayorga-Toledano and Fernandez- Morales ( Guy 2009: 162)echoes Dr. Reuben Puentedura,( designer of the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation. http://sevhandenise.edublogs.org/2012/11/20/the-first-annual-global-mobile-learning-congress-2012-u-a-e/  )that m-learning material must not simply be the conversion of ‘traditional learning materials into electronic formats”.  In other words, the mobile device should not become and expensive course book or worksheet. So, what workflows and learning activities can/should arise from Mobile Web 2.0 Learning? How is MALL (Mobile Assisted Language Learning) (Guy, 2009: 81) different from CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning)? And how can we leverage m-Learning to equip my students with the 21st century skills exhibited in the table below?

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P21_Skills.jpg on 06.02.2013.

How can students make use of enhanced functionality such as the back facing camera and the synchronizing and organization capacity of Camera Roll; iMovies and video recording systems, audio recording Apps such as Sound Note or those available in platforms such as Evernote; and Augmented Reality to increase their noticing of key connections between phenomena and experience eureka moments of new insights and deep learning? How can students use the aforesaid technical functionalities to enhance their meta-learning ( Guy, 2009: 97)?  For example, language students can be sent on a scavenger hunt to photograph key areas of the college such as the students’ car park, teachers’ area, their teacher’s desk etc.  Using the Scribble Press App, they can produce a book to introduce new comers to the campus. On each page they will add a photo and a sentence such as: ‘This is my teacher’s desk’  “This is the students’ locker and cloakroom area.” They can color code their sentences so that the  first noun or possessor  is colored in green, possessive ‘s’ in red, and the possessed object is in blue. In this way, students will become aware of the syntax and grammar of possessive ‘s’ whilst providing a service to their community in that they are creating digital e-books to help newcomers orientate themselves. Developing the book involves visual and kinesthetic learning. Presenting the book to their classmates involves audio learning, visual and kinesthetic learning and well as Howard Gardener’s  visual-spatial, linguistic, and interpersonal intelligences. (http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html) What more can we do to tap into this rich learning environment? How can we engage students in a high level of connectivity through mobile social networking in order for them to really feel the need to use English, to be part of an enjoyable experience?

Coupled with teachers not being aware of what is possible and not teaching in an innovating way, is the students’ ability to adapt to a new form of learning. Even though, students nowadays grew up within the last two decades of the 20th century and are therefore termed as Digital Natives(http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2011/01/20/digital-natives-fact-or-fiction/) , they are not in fact tech savvy due to the socio economic bracket or culture they were born in. In the U.A.E religious parents do not allow internet access in the house and some students themselves shun social networking sites.  Students come to college from a very traditional teacher fronted lockstep learning environment in which questioning belief systems held by elders is considered to be highly disrespectful. They are not encourage to question or think outside the box and so they have not grown up to be educational risk takers (Guy, 2009: 95) or independent learners. Out of the 45 students Denise taught last term in the first phase of the iPad initiative, she identified only 6 as being at ease with independent work, capable of following an extended set of instructions and collaborating in groups without being told what to do next by me, the teacher. Denise gradually tried to increase the number of choices students had, such as what App to work in to meet a specific learner outcome, which App and which mode to record information acquired in: it could be in linear or list writing via Pages or Notes; it could be in a graphic organizer or mindmap using Popplet or Mindmiester; it could be  an audio recording on Sound Note or Audiboo or in the form of a video with key words etc. written  on the board. How the information was recorded and where it was curated, was left up to the student, but scaffolded through a series of choices.  Students did not seem to be able to cope with less guidance and so the idea that they could establish their own learning goals and explore Web 2.0 material to meet their desired learner outcomes, seems an anathema to them, at present. The 6 students identified as really taking advantage of 24/7 accessibility to learning materials showed a marked increase in their exam results and for the first time to my knowledge, the college administration gave some of these students the opportunity to be re-assessed and to possibly skip a learning level and progress two levels, because they had learned so much.


Guy, R, 2009, The Evolution of Mobile Teaching and Learning, Information Science Press, California.

Puentedura R, Founder and President of Hippasus, Speaking at The First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress, Al Ain, U.A.E, 25th September 2012

http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html retrieved 6.2.13

http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2011/01/20/digital-natives-fact-or-fiction/ retrieved 6.2.13

3 thoughts on “What challenges are we experiencing when incorporating mobile learning into our curriculum?

  1. Pingback: Update: Diigo group iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch Users Group (weekly) | ChalkTech

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