24 March 2012

Mobile Tech, Nicky & Language Acquisition - IATEFL/Glasgow 2012

Although IATEFL 2012 has just ended, I cannot help but still include a highlight which is increasingly significant to educators - how M-Learning can be integrated into one's daily practices. 

From the round table event, I would like to briefly highlight Nicky Hockly's contribution. Nicky Hockly is the Director of Pedagogy of The Consultants-E and together with Gavin Dudeney, has made E-Learning truly accessible to educators world wide. 

One of the challenges educators today have is how to manage students' constant dependency on their mobile phones. In many educational institutions, students are not allowed to use their mobile phones in classrooms, which frankly, leaves teachers facing a losing battle because students will always find a way to have their mobile phones with them. And ... why not?

Learning is about change. Educators who are able to embrace young people's interests and habits are the most motivating teachers, for they can guide students to learning instead of "switching off" in class. 

In regard to mobile learning, Nicky points out that M-Learning is regularly associated with mobile phones but that this is a misconception - mobile learning includes devices such as the mobile phone, but also iPods, cameras and even gaming consoles. 

The 2nd misconception is how often M-Learning is understood to be learning "on the go", "on the move". M-learning can indeed be understood as learning outside the classroom, but can equally be brought into the classroom and integrated in class activities. 

The 3rd myth that Nicky clarifies, is how when educators think of M-Learning, their thoughts turn to Apps. Yes, there are great Apps which enable learning, but M-Learning is much more than the use of Apps. 

When going adopting M-Learning in one's practices, there are however, practical considerations to bear in mind:

* Does the teacher want to use M-Learning on the move?

* Does the teacher want to use M-Learning in the classroom?

It is not an option of either/or; both approaches can be used in equal measure. 

For instance, if one is going to use M-Learning on the go, Nicky suggests these activities for students:

* podcasts

* dictionaries

* flashcards for vocabulary

On the other hand, among other classroom activities, Nicky suggests that these are simple for teachers and learners, engaging them inside the classroom:

* students record themselves for speaking tasks

* use of mobile phones for presentations

* students can use their mobiles for pair work

If on the one hand, educators need to reflect on which type of mobile device their students are going to use in class, educators also need to consider what type of mobile content will be used. 

Nicky explains mobile content as:

Push Content - e.g. do teachers send content to students? Do they send quizzes, polls, etc?

Pull Content - e.g. are students encouraged to find their own content, for instance, podcasts?

As with the use of other digital tools and platforms, there needs to careful pedagogical thought when adopting M-Learning as a learning tool/approach. 

Are learners going to consume content? In other words, will they be using Apps, podcasts for instance? Or will students be producing content by creating audio, videos, mindmaps and other content?

Again, Nicky suggests that it is not an issue of either/or as both possibilities are open to educators and can be both integrated into the curriculum.

Educators need to take all this into perspective when making choices.
They can opt for a strategic use of mobile devices by integrating them into the wider curriculum or take a more discreet path, using them mobile devices adhoc. Most significantly, M-Learning needs to be appropriately and practically integrated into the curriculum. 

Further references:

E-Moderation Station - Nicky Hockly's blog on all that concerns E-Learning/M-Learning

N is for Nicky - Nicky on Communities of Practice, Infusion, Collaboration, Networks and more

The Intangible - more on Nicky Hockly's professional profile 

Digital Literacies - Nicky explains more on Digital Literacies

Do You Facebook? - An excellent presentation by Nicky Hockly at TESOL Arabia 2012

I hope you enjoy this stimulating and enjoyable panel discussion with Nicky Hockly, Agnes Kukulska-Hume,  and Lindsay Clanfield, among others, 

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