Posts Tagged learning theory

Situated Experiences – Connecting to a Learner’s World

My previous post builds a foundation for constructivist learning and shares a few ideas of how technology can be used to enhance this type of learning. But we can expand the framework and think about how to use mobile technology to connect the activities that learners are in engaged with every day.

All learners bring with them a personal context that influences how they engage with new information. Mobile technology therefore must be flexible enough to allow them to connect their understanding of this new information to their personal context (both on and offline) and build their knowledge in different ways.

Looking to Falk and Dierking’s theories of learning in museums, they suggests that mobile technology find ways to connect to a learner’s social groups. Active learning is as much about discovering new information as it is about sharing and discussing it. Social media sites are one way to support sharing of information in social groups.  And with the use of mobile devices, learners stay active in the learning process by allowing them to participate in their own time frame. Additionally, Falk and Dierking suggest that mobile learning must help to support learners’ interests both online and offline and support their motivation for accessing the information in the first place.

The motivation for a learner accessing information and staying engaged with learning activities is incredibly fascinating. I will venture further into this topic in my next post, looking at intrinsic motivation and “gamification” of educational content.

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How can mobile technology, programs, or platforms be used to encourage engagement and allow learning to happen?

Albert Einstein once wrote, “Everything has changed, except our way of thinking.”  Reading this quote, I can’t help but reflect on how quickly technology, particularly mobile technology, is advancing in our lives.  According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one-third of Americans own a smartphone and that number is increasing rapidly.  (In fact, it looks as though another report has come out Monday that would put that number around 42%).

Unfortunately, I’ve found many instances where educational spaces are  slow to shift their thinking (and even slower to action) about how to utilize new technology to promote learning.  Instead it is used in a cursory way; rather than being a tool to enhance learning, it just becomes a toy.

I’ve also heard the concern that using mobile technology in informal learning spaces promotes a “heads down, minds off” attitude.  Agreed!  It can be a distraction if the resources or activities are not there to encourage active thinking, reflecting, or responding to what is being learned.

Therefore, the question that I hope to answer is “How can mobile technology, programs, or platforms be used to encourage engagement and allow learning to happen?” 

In the next few posts, I will discuss my research of learning theory that defines how students learn (mostly in informal learning spaces, which has been my focus) and how technology impacts their learning.  By exploring these theories, I hope to give some context to our understanding of what learning should look like.  This will allow me to outline a theoretical framework in which to build from and answer the question of how we can use mobile technology to enhance the learning experience.

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