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Ubiquitous Devices, Ubiquitous Learning and Ubiquitous Education May 29, 2010

Posted by Editor21C in Directions in Education.
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from Jorge Reyna

The way people learn is changing and it will change continuously due to new emerging technologies. Learners now have the choice to decide when, where and how they learn. These days it is easier, quicker and cheaper for users to access, create and post content through the mobile web. These web technologies offer many opportunities for learners and learning activities. I do believe that our mission as ‘next practice’ educators is to provide the resources to ensure ubiquitous learning is encouraged within our teaching units in our education programs.

Learners need to be able to access content on campus and also in their social spaces, such as coffee shops, gyms, work, and bus stops. They need to be able to access that learning using a device of their choosing, such as a laptop, netbook, smart phone, iPod, or iPads. It is in these places and spaces that social learning and collaborative learning can take place in an active manner.

Sometimes people believe that mobile learning is an individual activity. Mobile technologies such as 3G and Wi-Fi allow groups of learners to work together in a mutually convenient location, such as a cafe. There are many opportunities for learners to access learning wherever they are. Connectivity and mobile devices allow learners to access learning when travelling by train or bus, but also when waiting or queuing. Many may not consider a learner learning at home to be engaged in mobile learning, but that learner is still making a choice about how, where and when they want to learn. They may have chosen to come to the university, or meet with their peers in the library, or a café; however, they have chosen to learn at home. Mobile does not necessarily always mean ‘moving’, but simply engaging in the flexibility of mobility.

Employers will have a special interest in mobile learners who are able to access learning at a time and place to suit both the learner and the employer. A learner able to access learning at the office can save on time and travel costs and make it easier for employers to “release” employees for learning opportunities. We live in a world that is changing dramatically, a world in which the traditional barriers of time and space no longer apply. Are we ready to accommodate our pedagogical approach to the ubiquitous learning revolution?

Personally I believe that ageing occurs when we close our minds to new technology due to fear of the unknown. This is natural, especially in these times when it is getting hard to be up to date with the latest technologies. This can create anxiety in people as they feel they are behind new technologies. The key here is to identify the potential applications that can be used within our teaching units and to find valid references in journals/conference papers that give us a sign these technologies can be embedded in educational settings.

Next practice is discipline innovation, and this allows us to be creative and to break barriers to give our students a better way to learn. Technology itself is not learning, it needs to be supported by a pedagogical approach. Technology will never replace a good teacher; it will simply make that teacher able to reach more students and to deliver knowledge in more effective ways that suit student’s lifestyles. To watch a visual representation of this please visit the video I developed about ubiquitous devices, ubiquitous learning, and ubiquitous education (http://www.vimeo.com/9258419)

Jorge Reyna is an E-Learning Technical Officer and PhD candidate in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia


1. Susanne - May 29, 2010

Jorge I would love to hear more from you about the affordances of new iPad in education.

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