Mobile Learning 2008 – Review

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IADIS Mobile Learning 2008 – Conference Review

Heloisa Candello
Doctoral Candidate, University of Brighton


Last month I went to the IADIS International Conference on Mobile Learning 2008, which was organized by the International association for Development of the Information Society in Algarve, Portugal during 3 days (April 11/13). We had plenty of time to get to know other during the conference in a very nice hotel surrounded by colourful natural beauty. In the first day of the conference a little city tour was provided followed by a traditional dinner at Fábrica do Inglês, animated by a Folklore Group. Some of us tried some steps after a good Port wine and tasteful food.

It was interesting to see that the greater part of presented studies was focused on learning rather than devices. The opening speech was exactly this: Dr. Graham Brown-Martin (founder of Handheld Learning – UK) emphasizes that people have focussed their attention on the technology rather than learning. By this he means that there is a notion that low specifications and low cost devices will provoke changing in teaching methods and therefore learning. However, children are familiar with other devices that could be used to enhance their educational experience. So it’s necessary to think about a new generation of learning that lets children use the tools they are most comfortable with to match their learning style. One of the papers that illustrated this issue was the paper called ‘Learning through treasure hunting: the role of mobile devices’ by Kevin Walker (London Knowledge Lab) and his colleagues. They analysed the interaction between mobile technology and children in non-school context. As a result, they attested that children are able to construct meaning using mobile devices and are strongly motivated to do so.

In the field of formal learning, Malcolm Andrew presented a study that looked at using video podcast for undergraduate students. He concluded that technology is not yet established enough to expect pervasive use of mobile devices to view this type of material. Another perspective of mobile learning was given by Irene Karaguilla Ficheman and Roseli de Deus Lopes (University of Sao Paulo) in “Mobility in digital learning ecosystems” that won the best paper of the conference. They examined mobile learning, from the learner’s point of view, with a focus on mobility in physical, conceptual and social spaces in addition to mobility of technology.

In the perspective of collaborative learning, Immaculada Arnedillo- Sanchez (Conference Program Chair – Trinity College Dublin) drew attention to a methodology to support creative collaborative learning on a multimedia digital narrative on mobile phones. After conducting a study with over 200 participants, she identified that this methodology makes it possible to reduce the time overhead of Digital Film and Video-Production as well as enabling all the participants of a group to synchronously assist in all stages of production. Talking about video-based mobile learning, Lisa Gjedde (Aarhus University) presented a study of a learning environment that was relevant to the needs of truck-drivers in movement. Based on action research with design interviews she highlighted that the use of blended learning (mobile and personal presence interaction) in the introductory stages of the process was needed to support users and so, a lack of adaptivity was found when some fundamental concepts were not clear to users. Inside this perspective, Angeliki Antoniou and George Lepouras (University of Peloponnese) recognized the museum as a lifelong learning institution that can take advantage of mobile technology. They presented some advantages for the use of mobile phones within the museum environment rather than other mobile technologies such as: users should get, store and take along the information, they can use their own device which they already familiar with and reduce the resources necessary to implement and maintain applications and also minimise maintenance expenses. Moreover, they suggested the use of adaptive systems to enhance the visitor’s activity in learning and visiting style and also the use of 7 categories that should be assist designers to consider visitor needs and types of users.

Other initiatives could be seen in games, collaboration learning, use the cross-platform and social interaction in mobile learning. Some reflections about mobile learning definition and relations between it and society could be found. Overall, collaboration learning and how to use mobile learning to improve education were the main issues. So, the challenge of the field is to pay attention to user expectation in order to enhance learning environments.

Many thanks to our visiting blogger Heloisa Candello for this very interesting and comprehensive review of the IADIS Mobile Learning Conference 2008. Heloisa is a PhD student at the University of Brighton and her doctoral research is on interactive technologies. She has been looking at ways to explore the graphic interaction design issues involved in viewing video with other media on cultural mobile guides. See her blog here.