How to incorporate mobile devices in learning in Catalonia?

Notes from the Perspectives on International Education Seminar: Mobile Learning, organized by the Fundació Jaume Bofill and held in Barcelona, Spain, on September 23rd, 2014. More notes on this event: moblearnfjb.

How to incorporate mobile devices in learning in Catalonia?
Chair: Valtencir Mendes, Fundació Jaume Bofill

Mobile learning: an approximation from the Catalan context
Mercè Gisbert, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

+70% of households in Catalonia have a computer with Internet access at home, almost all of them with broadband connectivity.
Mobile phone ownership is almost 100% of the population.

So, we can state that, in most cases, connection to the Internet and mobile connection to the Internet is “not an issue” — there are exceptions, of course, especially when it comes to the quality of mobile connectivity.

Thus, there’s a real opportunity to use mobile phones for both accessing information and communicating in matters related with education and learning.

If physical spaces define or determine learning, can we rethink our learning spaces to adapt them to new ways of learning enhanced by mobile technologies?

On the other hand, new generations do use technology pervasively. But, do digital learners (digital natives, etc.) exist as such? Are they digitally skilled? Is the same thing being digitally literate and being digitally skilled? New generations are sure digitally literate, but being skilled requires specific training that most did not have (yet).

Mobile learning necessarily leads us to the debate of open content and open learning.

We need new rules of the game: online reputation, bullying, violence, sexting, lack of privacy, etc.

Education in the 21st century
David Atchoarena, ICT in Education, UNESCO

Today’s learners live in a knowledge-based and globally interconnected society, largely driven by digital technologies. To acquire 21st century skills, students should be empowered especially as self-directed learners.

There are unique benefits of mobile technologies for learning:

  • Facilitate personalized learning: active learning; use of ICT to socialize and informally learn; life-long learning.
  • Provide immediate feedback and assessment: more feedback; formative assessment; valuable information to parents and teachers; provide (technology enhanced) guidance to learners in unprecedented ways.
  • Enable anytime, anywhere learning: new times and places where learning had been inappropriate or impossible; constant access to information and communications; hybrid models.
  • Situated learning: most meaningful learning usually happens outside the classroom; geo-tagging, image recognition; bring real experiences into the classroom; connect teaching with one’s own lives.

What to do?

  • Create or update policies related to mobile learning. And not only mobile specifically, but ICT-enhanced learning in general.
  • Train teachers to advance learning through mobile technologies.
  • Provide support and training to teachers through mobile technologies.
  • Create suitable content.
  • Ensure gender equality for “mobile students”: men and women feel different about technology, and this can cause differences in adoption.
  • Guarantee connectivity.
  • Strategies to provide equal access for all.
  • Promote the safe, responsible and healthy use of mobile technologies.
  • Raise awareness of mobile learning through advocacy, leadership and dialogue.

Discussion

Joaquín Gairín: There is quite a broad agreement on mobile learning, learning and ICTs, etc. The problem is that we do not do anything about that because there are many reluctances and resistances against change. Unless we identify and address these reluctances, there will not be any advancement on mobile learning.

Nati Cabrera: most of these resistances have been identified, including their source. One of the main reasons for not advancing is that there is not a state deal to design and coordinate long-term educational strategies.

Mercè Gisbert: we should not forget that learning —not teaching— is a collective responsibility, and not only the school’s. Unless we become aware of that, there is no way that we can change the whole framework.

Jordi Musons: we have to move out of our comfort zones, and help others to.

Pilar Soro: we need to add other “technologies” in the classroom, like arts, or corporal expression. It is the mix of different technologies that will make a change.

Ismael Peña-López: we keep on talking about mobile learning when we are meaning mobile teaching, or mobile-enabled education system. We should definitely move from an education system towards an learning platform, and, thus, from mobile teaching to ubiquitous learning. It is then that we will find out that the problem is not (or the main problem is not) technology, or even skills, but the system itself. E.g. the problem with mobile assessment, or flexibility, is not whether Moodle renders well on a mobile phone, but whether and how the facilitator will be there for the learning during a Saturday evening.

Miquel Àngel Prats: it is not about mobiles, but about resistance to change. And we have to be aware that it is not only about teachers, but also about the boards of directors of the schools and families. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to be empathetic and understand how other actors feel about these changes. On the other hand, we need evidence of successful cases that can be used as examples to follow.

Evaristo González: we have to be patient and help others in their transition into new practices. And practice is the word. We have to speak from practice, from experience. And one has to be bold and daring.

Antoni M. Romero: this is an old story, the story of the computer in the classroom, digital whiteboards, etc. We have to go beyond that, beyond a specific technology. We have to go beyond technology. We have to face global change. And face it by piloting, assessing and scaling.

Eduard Vallory: it’s systemic change or nothing. If we do not change the whole system, it will be impossible to replace just a piece of it. And part of this system relates to non-cognitive skills, which now come to the front row in importance.

Jordi Vivancos: we have been dealing with learning about technology (e.g. learning to code), or learning from technology (e.g. digital handbooks), but the challenge is on learning with technology. And the context is the change in the concept of information and knowledge: what is now information and what is now knowledge, what are their natures. And the thing is that information now is abundant and ubiquitous. Thus, we need to reflect on the notion of information and knowledge before we go on talking about education.

Mercè Gisbert: we should leverage the potential of ICTs in education to provide data and evidence themselves on their own performance. Learning analytics, as a concept, is an interesting one to explore.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2014) “How to incorporate mobile devices in learning in Catalonia?” In ICTlogy, #132, September 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4259

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About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.