I’m working on the syllabus for the m-learning course that I’m teaching this Spring. Since the course is an elective for everyone in it and we will have a small class, I have been debating the best way to structure the course. I’ve decided that we will, as a group, take the first session to plan out our semester.
Although the readings probably won’t change much, the assignments and flavor of the class should meet the needs of the students. Here are some of the different ideas that I have in mind.
This is the first idea that I had in mind. We would engage with the scholarly literature on mobile learning and work, as a class, to produce our own published work. I’m thinking something like an open content e-book released on Wikibooks or a similar site.
We would all write a chapter of The Educator’s Guide to Social Media. Potential chapters would, more or less, follow the course topics:
- a brief history of mobile computing
- mobile technology infrastructure for teaching and learning
- mobile interfaces, usability, and affordances
- laptops, netbooks, tablets and 1:1 computing
- GIS and location-based services
- mobile media production
- mobile games for learning
- understanding and evaluating “apps”
- mobile science and math
- mobile arts and humanities
- mobile social sciences
- conclusions and a look ahead
While the scholarship model would focus on scholarly writing and synthesis, a related format would focus on reading. The reading seminar is the most straightforward, different students would lead the seminar each week, including creating the reading list for their sessions. We would shoot to read about 80-100 pages a week, and to build both depth and breadth in the primary research literature on m-learning.
The design model would focus on designing interactive media for mobile learning. The readings would focus more on the social and cognitive affordances of mobile media, as well as the specific technical capabilities of mobile computing devices. The final project would be a complete design (not implementation) of either an “app” or mobile website, or other (e.g. SMS) mobile learning system.
My research paradigm could actually be split into two different ideas, or combined into two research projects. First, I would like to, as a class, conduct new research into the types of “apps” for learning that are available for ipad and Android tablets. There has been a rush to get these devices into schools, and into the hands of kids. Quite often, people tell me that the kids are learning “critical thinking” or something equally abstract by using an edutainment style app. I propose that we conduct a study of Effective mlearning designs for tablet computers. To conduct this research, we would: a) identify what we consider good designs for mlearning (by reviewing the literature in mobile and other learning sciences), and then reviewing apps that are available through Android markets and the Apple app store. We could gear our study more towards case studies of a few apps, or we might come up with a framework to do some quantitative analysis on the various types of apps for learning that are out there.
The other research idea would ask students to design their own study and to conduct field research with either adult or young users. They could test anything from how kids use touch screens, to how college students use text messaging to collaborate on homework and other school assignments. For their final paper, they would write up their findings in a journal style paper (and/or do a conference style poster).
Curriculum & teaching
Last, but not least, we could focus the course on how to integrate mobile into teaching and curriculum. Each student would have to create a lesson for the other students in the class that deeply integrates mobile technology. They would specify any readings, deliverables, grading, etc. Then, they would teach a class for their peers and evaluate the lesson.
As a final project, each student would create a unit plan (for an age and subject of their choice). Mobile would have to be central—assignments that could not be completed without a mobile device. Also, though, the lessons would have to be good curricula: tied to valuable learning goals, encourage critical thinking, differentiated for different learners, etc.
Those are the ideas. I’m open to feedback, comments, and suggestions for other models, so, let me know!