Three weeks ago I put my hand in my bag on the way to work - no phone. Mild panic set in but I managed to persuade myself I had just left it at home. I even created a picture in my mind of it on the dresser by the front door. For the entire day I felt like I was missing something. In the back of my mind I was thinking, what am I missing on my WhatsApp groups and what if I lose all my fitness logs (I have a goal to exercise every day for 2 years and I am dangerously close but I feel like if I do not have the log on my phone, it never happened). The only sense of relief came from my work because as I sat for much of the day at my desk I could see any emails or forum posts from students as normal so I knew I was not missing anything from them. When I got home that night my phone was nowhere to be seen so I got in the car and drove to the station - perhaps someone had handed it. They gave me a number to call - the irony was not lost on me. I have no phone, I pointed out, and so I cannot call. Anyway I drove home, becoming increasingly flustered and found an old phone and pay as you go SIM card. Eventually after various issues I had a functioning phone for calls and texts but no email or social media. I logged onto my tablet - just in case I was missing important work emails…in the two hours since I had left. By the time Monday morning had arrived I had an inbox rammed full of messages and forum notifications that took me half the morning to clear - even though I had regularly logged on over the weekend. The amount appeared overwhelming.
Eventually I decided to go and get a drink of water and I thought I would pass some marked exams to our programme admin team on the way. As I set the envelope down on the desk, I thought it looked a funny shape - I picked it up again and looked inside. It was like being reunited with a dear long lost relative - there was my phone with a pile of marked exams - the battery had died over the 72 hours we had been separated but it was still there - I was almost euphoric.
So you might be wondering what does this have to do with picket lines? Well one of my students asked me if I was intending to strike in the current round of action against the change to pensions and I said I did not have time to strike if I wanted to support my students. I also did not have time to work to contract because I simply have too much to do in any one day to get it all done unless I am working beyond my normal contracted hours. I am not alone in this both in terms of feeling conflict over striking and supporting student and feeling over-worked - it is the case for many academics and many in other sectors as well. One tool that allows me to keep on top of my workload is my mobile phone. I can reply to emails, forum posts, even edit the VLE using it whilst standing in the supermarket, which I regret to say I have done.
I think I should lay my cards on the table straight away; I think mobile learning is a brilliant thing. Whilst it was originally defined in terms of the mobility of the technology (Winters, 2006) it has now morphed into providing the opportunity to "overcome physical constraints by having access to people and digital learning resources, regardless of place and time" (Kukulska-Hulme, 2010). Adams Becker and colleagues (2017) identified a number of technologies in a horizon scanning report and mobile learning was one which had less than one year to go until adoption. Mobile learning aligns well to many institutional level goals including personalisation of learning, building digital literacies and widening participation to name a few (JISC, 2011). It also fits with the increasing demand for learning to be flexible - with high tuition fees students are increasingly working alongside their studies and needing to juggle their commitments more than in other generations. There are various pedagogic frameworks that can be used to develop mobile learning by some of the greatest minds in learning including Diana Laurillard (2002). There are clear examples of how it can be used effectively in key areas such as assessment and feedback from a range of FE and HE institutions across the world. I myself use it to get students involved in lectures and workshops with technologies such as PollEV, Padlet and Twitter, so what is the problem?
"It’s worth thinking hard about the implications of what you’re going to do in the longer term, rather than the short term – because this is technology that’s very much here to stay."
Tim Fernando, University of Oxford
To me the problem is that mobile learning is almost, by definition, without boundaries and herein lies the issue. It is becoming so engrained in our culture that as teachers we should respond immediately and students can engage whenever and wherever they like, that is difficult to set boundaries or to ensure they are respected, in either direction. We expect students to be able to self-regulate but don't explain to them how or why and what this might look like given their individual circumstance, and we, in our keenness to support students often set up and sustain learning dialogue when it is not essential. There are various papers discussing the benefits of feeling connected with other learners (e.g. Peterson et al 2008) including on wellbeing, but to date there is little investigation as to whether it is possible to feel over-connected and how this impacts on both students and staff. Fernando's quote above was not made with reference to wellbeing but surely as learning without traditional boundaries becomes more common we need to give this some consideration.
Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2010) Mobile learning as a catalyst for change (Open Learning, Vol.25, No.3, November 2010, 181-185)
Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking University Education: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. RoutledgeFalmer, London.
Winters, N. (2006). What is mobile learning? In M. Sharples (Ed.), Big issues in mobile learning: Report of a workshop by the kaleidoscope network of excellence mobile learning initiative. University of Nottingham.
Petersen, S. A., Divitini, M., & Chabert, G. (2008). Identity, sense of community and connectedness in a community of mobile language learners. ReCALL : The Journal of EUROCALL, 20(3), 361-379. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0958344008000839 Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/223262522?accountid=1186
11/8/2019 04:36:17 pm
Education is a topic that we are already addressing, but it is still not enough. The government needs to know what we want to accomplish. Of course, they are doing what they can at the moment, but it is simply not enough. I am really hoping that the government can go and change the entire landscape of our educational system. It will take a lot of time before we can do it, but it is important that we start building it.
11/10/2019 06:04:09 am
Monday morning had arrived I had an inbox rammed full of messages and forum notifications that took me half the morning to clear - even though I had regularly logged on over the weekend. The amount appeared overwhelming.
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