At the OU’s Learning, Teaching and Student Support Committee today Rhodri Thomas introduced a paper on a framework for mobile learning. It occurred to me that there are at least four scenarios for the use of mobile learning we need to be preparing for now:
- Some students want to access much of their course content by mobile device. We should be ensuring that all online content is available like this as a by-product of our production processes and it should therefore become ‘cost-neutral’.
- Additional content is targeted deliberately at mobile learners such as podcasts, small quizzes to refresh knowledge of key concepts etc. This could be to make the courses more appealing to certain sectors of the market or simply to provide additional value. Of course this content would be usable by students on their home computers too.
- Students are required to use mobile devices on specific courses where we either supply the technology (unlikely I guess) or require them to buy it. One example might be geology students on a field trip submitting photos of rocks live from their mobile devices as part of an assessment.
- Mobile technology is ubiquitous and we can assume (with some caveats eg prisoners) that everyone has it. It’s not difficult to imagine that in five years time almost everyone will have a mobile phone with internet access, for example, with all sorts of possible new learning opportunities.
The Committee agreed that scenario 1 is a non-brainer and that we need to be looking at the other areas seriously now so that we’re not playing catch-up in five years’ time.