M-learning On The Go in the Nordic countries
So one might conclude the broadly designed conference ON THE GO – MOBILE TECHNOLOGY for use in learning which was arranged by FLUID (the association for flexible education in Denmark) together with NVL and the eVidencentre. It gave a highly interesting exposure to the development and the many projects which clearly show that m-learning offers a chance for pupils and course participants as consumers to become producers. The conference kept a high speed and almost all presentations were illustrated by engaging YouTube clips which held the auditorium active the whole time.
The conference took place in Copenhagen on May 28-29 comprised two parts. The first day was dedicated to lectures and presentations. During the second day’s study visits to companies and authorities the participants got the opportunity to see and hear different stakeholders tell about their activities.
It became evident for all that m-learning offers big development opportunities. This goes for all parts of the education system. Adult learners can gain much from this new development as long as they are guided in creative use by interested teachers and encouraging institutions.
Judging from the conference Denmark seems to have taken a leading role in the m-learning field in the Nordic countries. Curiosity concerning mobile applications in education, broad mobile use in the population, authorities with rich initiatives and project money at disposal seem to be driving factors.
Diversity and creativity
Lisa Gjeddes introductory overview gave a good first understanding of the field. In her presentation she defined the concept m-learning and a number of other connected special expressions. She also gave a picture of where the development in the field is today. She then presented the common Nordic project “m-learning environments” in which primary schools in Finland, Sweden and Denmark made comparisons between three different mobile learning platforms. One conclusion of many was that screens with touch functions are preferable. Typical m-learning applications such as learning games, short quizzes, simple sound and picture production were also commented. More about Lisa’s presentation can be learned here.
Taking a position that mobile learning can be an ”agent of change” the National IT and Telecom Agency has supported eleven interesting projects of which three were presented at the conference. The reports of these projects can be found at www.itst.dk.
The first of these projects was presented by Jörgen Asmussen. He had given his teacher training students at VIA UC in Aarhus the task to present their reports from a practical school training period as podcast like films. A summary of the project and its results can be read here.
With many illustrative examples from Second Life, Facebook etc. Lis Faurholt from University College South gave an account of how colleges are challenged when digital immigrants (born in the 50ties) teach digital natives (born in the 80ties). More of Lis’ presentation can be read here.
The third project was about how use of mobile telephones can motivate and help to succeed with life style changes among young people. It is both about how to make the youngsters aware of their food and the amount of it, and also the need of regular physical activity. That it is successful Jakob Teilmann from the company Mobile Fitness showed. The presentation can read here.
In a quick and well illustrated account of current trends on the m-learning market Johan Winbladh from the Danish Radio gave a broad picture of the development. One of his many conclusions is that right now it is the social networks which are drivers of the development. More about the other nine trends can be read here.
A very good account of the international use of m-learning was presented by NKI’s Aleksander Dye and Truls Fagerberg. Here it was concluded that Great Britain is widely ahead of other countries in the use of mobile applications. They have clear strategies which have given results in implementation at many levels. As a general conclusion of the whole phenomenon of m-learning NKI has found that it returns the flexibility to distance education which to some extent was lost when web based learning only could be used through PCs. With today’s mobile units people can study eg. when they are travelling. More about the NKI presentation you find here.
An illustration of the leading position by Great Britain was given by Geoff Stead from the company TRIBAL in Cambridge. In a number of examples of courses and other student support activities in m-learning format, he showed his company’s many and varied innovative solutions. This mainly dealt with modules and mentoring support for groups of participants with earlier weak schooling. More about this you can read here.
That it is also about challenging the fantasy was the point made by the last contributor. The strength in fantasy and creativity among users of m-learning applications was shown by Kettil B Magnússon from the telecom company Skipti from Iceland. Now it is also crucial if schools are ready to meet the challenges. Link.
It is easy to get access to the documentation from the conference. All presentations are reported in longer summaries here at NVLs website. There are also links to which the presenters have referred to that can be found under the links for each parts above. Many of the slides are in English or bilingual.
All presentations are now available for download at the FLUID website www.fluid.dk in pdf format. It might be necessary to register in order to get access to them later.
Articles and photos: Erica Sahlin