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.


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.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (X). ICT in Education (I)

Notes from the Fifth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2010, held at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, on September 9-10th, 2010. More notes on this event: ipid2010.

Virtual realities on the periphery: towards an anthropology of e-learning and Development
Izak Van Zyl

In South Saharan Africa there have been a few e-learning ventures — Khanya, MELISSA, Life Project — to strengthen educational capacity and encourage grassroots participation. But can we really measure the adoption or the impact of such programmes? How do we perform a social synthesis of this context? What are the narratives, the experiences?

The research will have an anthropological perspective of the previous ventures, incorporating other case studies (RE-ACT, PICTURE) and will hence perform an ethnography.

Argument: in interacting through digital media as a sociocultural practice, communities have begun to fashion “virtual realities” with have been significant in configuring modern forms of identity, participation, collective belonging, etc.

The dissertation will argue for an inclusive practical framework in which to adopt e-learning design, particularly given peripheral virtual realities, being the aim to localise social and cultural paradigms at the heart of ICT4D: an anthropology of e-learning and development.


Tim Unwin suggests exploring e-learning literature to frame the research.

Ismael Peña-López suggests exploring distance learning, web 2.0 ethnographic studies and storytelling.

MLearning: an Inclusive Approach
Alamdar Khan

The MKFC learning model is based on Opit LMS plus online social and communication networks. The reason to use the mobile to provide e-learning is because most students live in remote rural areas of Pakistan, have scarce access to the Internet, but the penetration of mobile phones is very high.

The research will focus on collaboration, ubiquitousness, efficiency and quality of education. The goal will be to see how an hybrid learning model can enhance interactivity, inclusiveness, flexibility and accessibility.

The methodology will be based on a two-part online survey to the students: an online questionnaire and skype meetings and interviews.


Matti Tedre: if one of the results of the research is to build a model of m-learning for development, will it be a technological model? a pedagogical model? a financial model? The suggestion is that the research should be focusing on just one of these and not try to catch all. A: The project is just a part of a whole programme where a multidisciplinary team is covering all the different aspects.

Heli Haapkyla: How is it that the pedagogical model is based on mobiles, but the researcher explains that there’ll be a social networking site component that will take place online. A: This is the general model, now used in Sweden and the idea is that it can also be applied in Pakistan in a hybrid model (SMS + online where available).

Ismael Peña-López: How is it that we assess an m-Learning project and the questionnaire and interviews are on a web survey or via VoIP? A: The project has actually partnered with local schools that have Internet access, and they are collaborating in all the stages of the research, including assessment and online surveys and interviews.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)

Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (IV). Thecnologies and mobile technologies

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

Extrending WiMAX coverage for providing Quality of Service in wide rural areas of developing countries
Carlos Rey Moreno

EHAS Foundation promotes the use of wireless technologies for e-Health in Latin America.

Health Care Centres are the reference point of many Health Care Posts, but the later are very far from the former. So, how to coordinate action?

Characteristics of the target areas:

  • Isolated or hard to reach
  • Low income
  • Lack of constnat power supply
  • Trnsmission of voice is paramount

Solutions based on:

  • Wireless communications, as it is hard to wire the area
  • License-free frequencies
  • Low power consumption
  • Low cost of operation

Cellular technologies (e.g. 3G) can only be applied in urban areas due to coverage. Satellite is expensive. Thus why WiFi or WiMAX.

Though WiFi is quite low cost and easy to apply, the usage of voice does require higher quality technologies, hence the usage of WiMAX: allows for long distance links, grants quality of service, etc. The problem being that there are few experiences with WiMAX in developing countries. On the other hand, WiMAX is more expensive and difficult to implement than WiFi. So, how to improve quality while making the whole system sustainable?

The proposal is to build a hybrid architecture that takes the best of WiFi and WiMAX: 802.11e EDCA in the access tier, and 802.19-2009 in the backhaul tier. Another optino being the usage of WiMAX Relay Mode (IEEE 802.16j), which is compatible with fixed WiMAX devices.

There are parallel projects that focus in transferring not only the technology but in training the end-user in their management and, actually, its improvement. A network management system is also being developed so that the project improves in self-management, autonomy and sustainability. This knowledge transfer — besides technology transfer — is made in partnerships with local institutions like governments and the local health care system.

There’s also an ongoing work with simulations that enable testing before final implementation.

Factors influencing the adoption of mobile phones among the farmer in Bangladesh: theories and practices
Sirajul Islam

What is adoption? It is not diffusion, but the decision of a group or individual to make full use of an innovation. It is about the users deciding about how and when they will use a specific technology.

Research objectives: understand relevant theories and models of the technology adoption process, develop hypothetical model and test it, identify the adoption factors relating to other technology and mobiles inparticilar, and explain the factors pertinent to rural Bangladesh.

Relevant theories of technological adoption

  • Diffusion of Innovation, Rogers (1995)
  • Theory of Reasoned Action, Schiffman & Kanuk (2004)
  • Theory of Planned Behaviour
  • Technology acceptance model, Davis et al. (1989)

Factors of adoption of technology: age, gender, culture, income & household, occupation, education, agroecological…

Own model, specific for mobile phone adoption:

  • facilitating conditions
  • awareness, social influences
  • demographic factors
  • individual factors
  • perceived ease of use
  • tech-service attrributes
  • perceived usefulness
  • behavioural intentions
  • actual use

The use of mobile phones in education: Evidence from two pilot projects in Bangladesh
Ahmed T. Rashid & Mizan Rahman

The second millennium development goal as a background: the importance of education in development. ICTs a key solution?

Why mobile phones? m-Learning attractive because mobile phones:

  • Most ubiquitous
  • Specially good “leapfrogger”
  • Not juzt voice but data transfer

Theories of mobile learning:

  • The role of mobile in improving access to education, the basis of distance education. Rural and remote areas where communication is barrier; mobility/portability breaks barriers of time and space; reduction of substitution cost (e.g. less travel); flexibility.
  • The role of mobiles in promoting new learning, how mobile phones can transform education. Learner centred, because it is participatory, customizable; learning with understanding, accessing specific information; situated and constant learning that occurs outside classroom.

Investigate how mobile phones alone (no blended learning, though lab controlled) could be used to introduce interactivity, and copare it to face to face and sitance education with SMS enabled questions. Test outcomes similar, though some evidence of enthusiasm among.

Determine whether mobile phone supported distance education could serve as effective modality for teacher training. Findings indicate that there is very little evidence between study and control groups. Lack of English competency and technological problems being the main problems found. interaction between trainers and trainees which possibly facilitated new learning.

Conclusions are not conclusive. Mixed outcomes in terms of both facilitating access and promoting new learning, though there are signs that it could be possible.



Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)