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Mobile apps and learning – #OPCO12

April 30, 2012


The Horizon Report 2012 reports states that:

“Mobile apps are the fastest growing dimension of the mobile space in higher education right now, with impacts on virtually every aspect of informal life, and increasingly, every discipline in the university. Always-connected Internet devices using 3G and similar cellular networks, imbedded sensors, cameras, and GPS have proved to be a feature set with hundreds of thousands of applications. Apps that take advantage of recent developments in these tools, along with advances in electronic publishing and the convergence of search technology and location awareness, made this category of software enormously interesting in a higher education context. Higher education institutions are now designing apps tailored to educational and research needs across the curriculum.”

There is no doubt that the number of mobile apps are increasing rapidly as the following images show, taken from the Cool Infographics Blog Gallery.

You also might want to look at some other infographics I found surrounding the topic mobile apps.

But does the increasing number of mobile apps have a bearing on education?

The diagrams and graphics I found on mobile apps use oppose the Horizon Report. People use their mobile for a lot of things, games and text messaging, social networking, but it seems that they are not necessarily using it for educational purpose.  Sure Maps/Search, news or social networking can be used in an educational context, as well as watching videos, but I am not sure if those wo did the research had that in mind.

                  (click to enlarge)

However, the Horizon Report 2012 sees a great potential of mobile apps in learning.

“Mobile apps embody the convergence of several technologies that lend themselves to educational use, including annotation tools, applications for creation and composition, and social networking tools. GPS and compasses allow sophisticated location and positioning, accelerometers and motion sensors enable the apps to be designed and used in completely new ways, digital capture and editing bring rich tools for video, audio, and imaging. Mobile apps encompass it all, and innovation in mobile device development continues at an unprecedented pace.”

The report continues to say that:

“The potential of mobile computing is already being demonstrated in hundreds of projects at higher education institutions.”

Having the chance to visit some colleges and universities in South Carolina already 2003, I can confirm that they are state-of-the art when it comes to technical equipment. Almost 10 years later our school(s) is still far behind,  regarding e.g. aktive whiteboards.  All classrooms had whiteboards in the US schools and they were used extensively and not only for watching some videos, like I often experienced it, mainly because of the lack of according software. Well, coming back to mobile apps.

 Most students, not to say all students, own mobile phones, so why not making use of them in school?

Personally I have two problems. First, mobiles are forbidden in our school, as in many other schools as the chat from last time session revealed, second how could I include mobile apps pedagogically purposeful   in my teaching?

Below one last infographic 😉 which I find quite interesting, especially the part ‘Schools are cautious …’

from Educational Technology Guy blog.

The first issue is no real problem, because as a teacher I can permit the use of mobiles in my class, but so far it was only occasionally used for a quick search. Which brings me to the second issue, how can I include mobile learning in my teaching and what apps can I use for my subject health and care? Probably I am not creative enough or probably I am still pondering about the added values of mobile apps. A search could be done in one of the computer labs, watching a video or listen to a podcast is also more comfortable done in a computer lab, so what is the added value of a mobile app that cannot be achieved otherwise? That is the main question I am pondering on, but without any results so far.

Looking at this years program for the iMedia – an advanced training course for teachers regarding new teaching and learning with new media – shows that there are few presentations on mobile apps. The few mobile apps mainly address geocaching or digital maps or the programming of apps, as well as how to secure my smart phone that it does not spy on me. Besides that several presentations focus on iPads and their use, but I think that is still a long way off before all students are equipped with iPads.

Hence, I am still in quest of innovative ideas for the pedagogical sound use of mobile apps that truly bring an added value to teaching and learning. I would appreciate if anybody could share their ideas with me.

From → #OPCO12

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