Mobile Learning and Knowledge Co-Construction (PhD study)

“Challenges and Opportunities Regarding Knowledge Construction in a Ubiquitous and Mobile Learning Landscape”

Andreas Olsson

The way youths of today interpret and interact with the world has changed dramatically during the last couple of years. Nowadays information, discussions and other Internet mediated content like video clips, blogs, wikis and images are omnipresent for many of us and those resources are just a swipe on the smartphone or tablet away (at least in Scandinavia; and many countries in Europe, USA and Australia). Still, at least until now, many schools has established policies that ban the use of mobile devices during classes and in many ways much of our school environment looks astonishingly alike the classroom of our self or even our parents (reference required). But it is also important to learn from the past in a study like this. In a historical perspective, from time to time there has been an over-reliance to contemporary technology that often implicitly has toned down the role and importance of the teacher in the classroom. This fact is obvious in a quote from the famous researcher Tomas Edison whom 1922 stated that:

“The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of motion picture…where it should be possible to obtain one hundred percent efficiency” (cited in Cuban, 1986 p.9).

The society has gone from an industrial society and a school system where authoritarians had a central role (Selander, 2009) to a society where information and distribution of information have a significant role and a school system with a non authoritarian approach. The flexibility in school has increased both for teacher and for learners as the curricula’s has become more vague and open for own interpretations, which in turn could be an argument for a mobile learning approach.

Taking the above mentioned into consideration, it is important to further investigate how the use of mobile devices affects learning in different contexts and in different learning environments. The main question of this study is therefore:

  1. RQ 1. Does the knowledge construction among student groups change when the concept of mobile learning (mobile devices) is implemented in formal and informal settings, if yes, to what extent?  
  2. RQ 2. Does the use of mobile technologies and the notion of ubiquitous learning affect the role of a teacher in a formal learning context, and if yes, to what extent?

The scope of this study encloses a wide variety of ages and type of schools like the Odder project in Denmark were the compulsory school will be studied, mainly from a teachers’ perspective but also from the horizon of the pupils.

A second study is planned to aim for the pre-school teacher program at Umeå University which will be of great importance to grasp and understand the students’ perspective when implementing mobile technologies, both in the role as students but also in the role as “soon to be” pre-school teachers.

Finally, the a third study will be conducted towards younger children (age 3-6) and how an implementation of a mobilelearning approach affects the daily pedagogical activities from the perspective of the teachers.