The mobile reigns, and lets learn with it

Perhaps best known for his work in digital game based learning, Marc Prensky highlights the prevalence of mobile phones, and considers why and how mobiles might be used to learn almost anything! Posted in Innovate Journal of Online Education June/July 2005 1(5).

Prensky breaks down the capabilities of phones using feature segmentation, and notes what could be possible for learning. Features are split into voice, text or short messaging service (SMS), graphics, user-controlled operating systems, downloadables, browsers, camera functions (still and video), and geopositioning. He also refers to newly emerging features such as fingerprint readers, sensors, and voice recognition, and highlights hardware and software add-ons such as thumb keyboards and styli and plug-in screens and headphones. Even just written as a list, the power of mobiles starts to become clear, and this article suggests and points to learning uses for many of these features.

Just one example: rather than worrying about cheating, "adjust the rules of test-taking" and redefine "open-book testing as open-phone testing, ...thereby encouraging, rather than quashing, student innovation" and put phones to educational use by allowing students to retrieve information on demand during exams.

Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks

This entertaining article from the Harvard Business Review outlines some principles of social network formation in a corporate environment. It highlights the importance of inter-personal interactions and informal (though work related) relationships. Although the author is discussing day-to-day, presumably mainly face-to-face interactions, there are similarities to building learning and working networks online. For instance, during the European project ENSeL (Engaging Networks for Sustainable eLearning) we have been investigating the partners perceptions of being part of a learning network which is almost entirely online. Similar characteristics were deemed important for the networks success - familiarity, building up strong relationships, trust - and informal social interaction was seen as vital enabling these attributes.

Read the full articles at the Harvard Business Review, and find out more about ENSeL at the project website.