View 1 | An Introduction to mLearning - MDDE 601

by Andre Gallant
Tags: mLearning

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This first VIEW discusses my first course in the MDE program, and in particular the second project due for that course, which served as my introduction to mLearning.

In writing this assignment, I believe I have touched upon the following MDE competencies:

3. Communication Technologies and Networking

3.1. Use a variety of communication and document sharing tools to create, reflect, and communicate with others.
3.2. Analyze and evaluate the various applications and implications of these technologies.

3.4. Compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of these technologies in various distance education contexts.

3.5. Apply these technologies in distance education and in real-life instructional contexts.

4. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

4.1. Write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose (e.g. assignments, essays, published documents, and theses).
4.2. Construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally, through a variety of techniques.

4.3. Justify and defend your ideas orally and in writing in meetings, forums, seminars, exams and other contexts.

4.4. Support the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring, moderating, or demonstration activities.

4.5. Participate effectively in collaborative group activities..

4.7. Work cooperatively with diverse groups and individuals both within the university and/or in the workplace.

4.8. Organize, and convey your ideas effectively through a range of communication skills and work collaboratively and in teams.

5. Research

5.4. Critically review literature both broadly and in-depth.
5.5. Formulate questions and reasoned arguments, leading to rational conclusions.

5.6. Summarize and synthesize information with a view to pursuing deeper understanding.

5.8. Critically analyze the issues and discuss the wider implications affecting the use of information.

Reflection on Competencies

In order to collaborate, my teammates and I began a discussion on the best tools to use for on-line work-sharing. We discussed using a wiki and just passing documents to each other using e-mail, but after a short while settled on the idea of using Google Docs as our on-line collaboration tool (3.1, 3.4). The main advantage we felt this tool gave us was the ability for synchronous real-time edits and the advantage of being able to export our finished work directly to DOC format (3.2). We went on to use Google Docs very effectively, vindicating our initial choice (3.5).

Obviously, this being my first collaborative project, I faced several hurdles. The first was getting to know and understand my teammates (4.7, 4.8). Later on, by agreeing to share final edits I feel we effectly kept a fairly uniform style (4.1) throughout our writing and offered logical and ordered ideas (4.2). After presenting our assignment, we were further required to moderate a week-long forum discusing it with our classmates (4.3). Throughout this week, I, along with my teammates, effectively answered questions in a clear and timely manner (4.4, 4.5).

Being a literature review (5.4), this assignment required my teammates and me to decide upon the worth of the research included and argue for its implications (5.5, 5.8). This meant, throughout our reading and discussion, that we had to try and find the implications of our own analysis so that we could present our findings to our classmates in a coherent manner (5.6).

MDDE 601 - A First Look at mLearning

My students using audio/video for an oral English assignment - To have a Christmas party in English and post it online

A first look at mLearning

Well begun is half done! This old adage works perfectly as an introduction to the first project in my portfolio. As I started the MDE program at Athabasca university, I'd had little experience with distance education (DE), other than one disappointing attempt at learning through audio-conferencing in high school. And so I wasn't so sure where to begin with my own studies of DE. After all, how does someone with no experience (or a negative experience) decide where to start, or more importantly, where to focus.

I mention focus because DE is a very wide field, and, particularly at the graduate level, I was hoping to find a particular interest (or two) within the field that might motivate me to continue. Motivation had always been a problem for me, study-wise, and with my negative past experience I was apprehensive.  But it wasn't even halfway through my first course that I found my first area of interest: Mobile Learning (mLearning).

This assignment, the second in the MDDE 601 course, was a group collaboration dealing with the use of Podcasts from iTunes University as a means of mLearning. It is a simple literature revue, shared between 4 student-writers, and as such may appear insignificant in the grand scheme of one's studies. Except that it wasn't; at least not to me.

This assignment, along with the next one in the MDDE 601 course (see the third VIEW in this portfolio) inspired me to consider mLearning as a key means of teaching in my current post. To make sense of that, I'll need to introduce some background. I teach at Huizhou University, in Huizhou, China. It is a small undergraduate university with no current DE program. As such, it has been a continuing struggle for me to integrate my DE learning from the MDE program into the face-to-face environment I work in every day. But mLearning fits like a glove.

Essentially, that's because students here have practically universal access to mLearning playback devices, be they in the form of mobile phones, or in the form of mp3/mp4 players. Using that knowledge as a starting point, I have managed to offer audio/video content as part of my spoken English and listening lessons in the form of mLearning, and have also coaxed the students to create video content using their mobile phones, all to great effect. In fact, by asking them to create mobile content, I have, for the first time since I started teaching at Huizhou University five years ago, been able to confirm, without following my students around, that they are in fact practicing their English lessons in between weekly classroom sessions.

In this regard, mLearning has been a real game-changer for my students and me.



04 January 2017, 9:32 AM
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