Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What mobilities means for mobile and e-learning

Love Is On The Move MSc Reading Notes


Would a focus on bodies change how you currently think about e-learning? Why or why not?

How do I currently think about e-learning? I think of it as learning traditional topics/courses/content etc but mediated by technology. So the technology allows different ways to interact with the material, and with each other. It allows the use of different modalities to present material. The tech allows the building of communities outside of the formal community of the classroom/course.

I think that e-learning, as an online activity shifts the sense of identity and self (even if unknowingly). It disembodies the self, and enables it to shift around different places and spaces, and allows the forging new new aspects of the self.

So, I have thought about e-learning in the traditional sense of minds meeting minds - in the sense of an ‘encounter of intellects mediated by tools’.

The focus on bodies as inhabiting created spaces changes that view. The use of mobile tech to access learning materials also means that the space of learning changes depending on the place the learner is at physically - this space may have to be negotiated with others, differently to the negotiation of space that takes place in a traditional lecture theatre or classroom. There isn’t the segregation of space and social interaction, but the lines are blurred, and the space can be reinterpreted or recreated - the flow of information is altered in online spaces.

‘Learning is not just an encounter of intellects mediated by tools, but is a bumping into of bodies in spaces as part of ways of knowing in motion.’

This enables a more ontological relationship with technology, rather than one that considers learning from an epistemological point of view. Learning becomes intrinsically linked with the space of learning, the mobile device that is being used, or the computer that is being used. The sense of self and identity of the learner is therefore re-written contextually - their identity is one of a learner in a particular space or set of spaces, interacting with other learners, and course content.

The self is made mobile as a series of traces in mediated spaces.’

In this sense the standpoint of mobilities is a phenomenological one - it considers learning and the relationships of learners from the point of view of how they see and interact with the world, their emotions and feelings. This phenomenology is different to that of the student in the classroom or the lecture theatre. It is a different type of relationship to learning.

Looking at the body rather than just the technology, or the outputs of technology forces us to consider people as placed in a culture and society - they have their own history and narratives, and memory, and bring that to their learning. It is a more holistic approach, and less deterministic. They are not simply led by technology, or applications or software, or content, but form a part of the learning experience - they become signified by the technology, as well as having their activity mediated by it.

Currently when we talk about mobile learning, what we talk about is devices - it is very device-centric. There is discussion of mobile pedagogy, and of design for mobile learning, but even then it is in terms of the devices and how they work, and where they can be used. They are still thought of in terms of ‘the encounter of intellects mediated by tools’ rather than bodies in spaces.
photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc

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