Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (V). Fernando Moreira: A Blended Mobile Learning Model-Context Oriented (BML-CO)

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

A Blended Mobile Learning Model-Context Oriented (BML-CO)
Fernando Moreira, Associated Professor at the Universidade Portucalense, Portugal

There is a difference between “traditional” mobile learning and “real” mobile learning: the real thing requires not only migrating content from one platform to the other one, but a change of attitudes, methodologies, goals, etc.

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In-class use of mobile technologies: Students:

  • Focus their learning on areas of weakness.
  • Diminish misunderstanding.
  • Enhanced learning.

In-class use of mobile technologies: Teachers:

  • Identify sudents’ misconceptions, challenges.
  • Adapt teaching practices.
  • Enhanced assessment and feedback.
  • Enhanced teaching.

The problem, though, is that we have theorized about traditional learning, e-learning, blended learning, but not m-learning. Thus, we need a pedagogical theory for mobile learning, and one that takes into account the different types of content that a mobile device can display and how this content should be made available to students.

To do so, context is very important. Bahaskar defines context as any information taht can be used to characterize the situation of learning entitites that are considered relevant to the interactions between a learner and an application. In other words: when, where and why.

A recent investigation by Bahaskar himself shows that audio is mostly used when walking, video when being stationary and photo while in group. Related to the place, video is more used at the classroom or hotel, etc.

The context will also define the technological constraints and/or the associated costs of a specific m-learning model.

m-Learning contents will be based in short texts that will indicate the theoretical concepts that will be studied, practical examples and statements of problems to solve. Image/video will be mostly tutorials and audio be used in small podcasts.

The m-learner is not stationary, so the content has to be adapted to their changing situations.

The model uses Moodle with the Mobile Learning Engine extension.


Ismael Peña-López: Is the blended mobile learning model compulsory? If yes, how do students feel about having their teachers constantly “invading” their own lives/cellphones? A: The model is compulsory, but we’ll have to wait until the end of the implementation to know about the level of acceptance of the learning model by students [it is made clear later that this is (a) but an aditional layer which actually makes mobile access non-compulsory and that (b) students decide whether to join the model or not].

Julià Minguillón: What if people do not have hi-tech cellphones? A: Everything in the course/model can be followed either on an m-learning basis or an e-learning basis.

Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol: What happens when mobile devices are not used on the move, but from fixed places? Evidence shows that mobile devices are actually “portable” devices that are carried on from one place to another one and then used there, not in itinere.

Q: What kind of content is it used? A: The idea is to produce new content for the students taking the m-courses.

Julià Minguillón: Why using an LMS and not a social networking site on top of the system? Why using a centralized system that hinders the advantages of decentralized learning that m-learning provides? A: This is definitely a possibility. In its first phase, the LMS will be chosen because it is a more familiar and controlled environment, but the future is totally open.

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