Favorite Quote of the Week

“Technology alone can make us neither free nor self-directed. The key lies with the individual, not the institution.” – Ken Carroll

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 12 -- Mobile, Wireless, and Ubiquitous Learning

When I was younger, I remember begging my parents for a phone in my room.  I was a typical teenager (and pre-teen) who loved to talk on the phone and couldn’t imagine anything better than being allowed to do so in the privacy of my own room.  My parents finally gave in.  After that, I began begging for my own private phone line!  Never did get that, though.
I now have a near-thirteen year old who is begging for a cell phone.  I, honestly, haven’t given her request much serious consideration.  What in the world would she need with a cell phone?  She’s not old enough to drive.  She’s not usually out on her own for any length of time.  My perspective has been…there is no practical reason to give her a cell phone.  And, surely it’s not wise (or safe) for my young teenager to have a cell phone….is it?
The articles I read this week, along with the class discussion, may have me singing a different tune – but, I haven’t shared that with my daughter yet.  I’m still not sure I’m ready to take the plunge on the cell phone for her, but I will say that I have learned that cell phones (or mobile devices) are used for much more than just talking on the phone.  In fact, among younger users, it is probably used least for phone conversation (Smith, 2010). 
Mobile learning – this is a concept I thought I understood, but now realize I didn’t fully know what it was about.  Previously, when I thought of mobile learning, I thought of the flexibility it must provide – learning wherever and whenever you want to.  Learning that you take with you! 
But, I learned that mobile learning is about much more than flexibility.  Mobile devices allow for intentional learning to take place within authentic environments.  Think about the student in nurse’s training.  What if his/her instructor provided links or materials, accessible through a mobile device, that can be utilized while participating in on-the-job training. 
The little cell phone – that mobile device – is useful for much more than talking on the phone.  My, oh my, teenagers these days are much more creative than I was.  My daughter will probably be using her cell phone to write the novel she dreams of publishing!  I can’t think of a better way to spend a few spare minutes waiting for her rehearsal time to begin at the drama club meeting. 

Aaron Smith (2010, July 7). Mobile Access 2010. Pew Internet & American Life Project. http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2010/PIP_Mobile_Access_2010.pdf


  1. Lynn,
    I can certainly identify with your desire for a private line into your bedroom as a teen :-) I did the same begging and promises that I would use my babysitting money to pay for it myself if only they would allow it. I too was never given the ok to have my own private line in my bedroom.

    Mobile learning has really taken off in the past few years as cell phone provided a range of services other than just voice-to-voice conversation. I remember when Palm blended their Palm handheld computers with a cell phone and released the Treo. From there cell phones or mobile devices skyrocketed.

    In our district we use a grading system / parent portal that allows parents to see their child's grades and students can access assignments, grades and so forth. There is a feature that allows a teacher to create assessments online. So during class any student with a mobile device (and there are loads more than you might expect)can take the exam online. Students who do not have mobile devices use netbooks which are available so no one is left out. Students love it and teachers like the convenience as well as the assessment is scored and the scores are dropped into the teacher's electronic grade book. Pretty slick!

    Your point about cell phones not being used for speaking conversation is so true. I know that when I hear one of my sons on their cell phone they are either speaking with their dad or official business. Otherwise, their phones are being used for any number of reasons. The days of making your own special ring tone from your favorite song is "old school". :-)


  2. Lynn, maybe you could get your daughter an iTouch if you don't think she needs the phone. With a wireless connection she could use the internet & apps and you don't have to hassle with a monthly phone connection that you don't really need. Just a thought. The iTouch offers a kazillion apps so there would be plenty of things to choose from while waiting for Drama Club - how about Shakespeare Quiz 101?.