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Mobile Learning Myths

4 common myths surrounding mobile learning are:

  • the idea that mobile technologies might somehow be inappropriate or too difficult for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities
  • the belief that all young people automatically understand new technologies and require little or no training to use them
  • the expectation that allowing the use of mobile technologies, particularly mobile phones, in schools and colleges will make it difficult for teachers to control classes and encourage inappropriate behaviour by learners
  • the belief that expensive, portable equipment provided to learners, especially the young and/or disadvantaged, will be broken, lost or stolen

The experience of MoLeNET projects is:

  • mobile technologies can make as significant contribution to supporting and assisting learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and in some cases will transform both the learning experience and the lives of these learners.  For more information and case studies see the Go Mobile! publication produced by LSN in collaboration with JISC TechDis
  • The experiences of several MoLeNET projects suggests that not all young people are the “digital natives” Prensky has described (saying, for example, “Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.”  (Prensky, M, 2001)), nor does this “native” status mean that young people will need little or no support when using mobile technologies for learning.  Projects said:

“Many of the Geology students who received an HTC Advantage PDA were unable to make effective use of them as they were not aware of all of the devices capabilities”

 “We came to this project with an unspoken belief that young learners would innately understand how these devices worked, we quickly came to understand that, while they can use them well on a superficial level, more demanding tasks stretched their knowledge of the technology”.

“The time and cost required to train the students on how to use the devices was an unforeseen issue.”

  • When introducing mobile learning, teaching staff often raise concerns about the risk of classroom management or behavioural problems. Where these topics were raised by MoLeNET phase one project managers in their final reports it was in the context of expected problems which did not occur, e.g:

“Classroom management of the devices proved no to be as problematic as we had envisaged.  Most students behaved sensibly and made productive use of the device during lessons”

“Classroom management may need to be stepped up to avoid misuse - but it was found during our project that the best way to avoid misuse of the devices during class was to give the learners something interesting to do in the first place.”

  • Mobile technologies are by definition very portable and are often of high monetary value, they are desirable objects which can easily be resold if stolen.  Investigating the levels of damage, loss and theft experienced by MoLeNET projects provides useful information for educational providers who need to know that investment in mobile learning is a sustainable.  Institutions also have a duty of care towards their learners and staff and, therefore, need to feel confident that encouraging the use of mobile device does not put people at unnecessary risk.   The experience of MoLeNET projects has mostly been very positive, i.e.

8 of the 32 MoLeNET phase one projects did not experience any damage, loss or theft

In total less than 2% of approximately 10,000 handheld devices purchased were damaged, lost or stolen.

In phase two, less than 1% of all devices purchased were damaged, lost or stolen.