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Do we have the competencies to integrate mobile learning?

imageThis is one of the reflection exercise questions posed during week 2 of the Instructional Design for Mobile Learning MOOC (#idml13 on Twitter).  Honestly, it's a bit of a loaded question!  On the one hand, it's a bit of an impossibility for anyone to have all of the competencies necessary to effectively integrate emerging of future technologies into teaching and learning practice.  At least, it is if you are viewing the question strictly from the technological competencies standpoint. 

As teachers, we're always going to be playing catch-up as new mobile technologies (including devices and apps or applications) are developed.  We're going to be at even more of a disadvantage because each successive year will bring students to our doorsteps (either real or virtual) for whom the technologies are more and more transparent (because they've been using them practically since birth).  


On the other hand, it's not that difficult a thing for an already competent and enthusiast teacher to have the right mix of competencies to effectively integrate mobile learning strategies.  It all depends on how you look at things, and what you are trying to accomplish.  No, not every teacher will have the requisite technical competencies to develop and deploy mobile learning platforms, programs, or even their own apps or reusable learning objects.  But any good teacher already has what it takes to leverage the affordances of mobile devices to increase student participation and learning!  Teachers are a resourceful lot who have always had to make the most out of whatever resources they have at hand.  Leveraging mobile devices in teaching and learning is not like capitalizing on other technologies that have been hyped for their educational potential throughout the years.  Radio and film did not become the new norms for mass education, bringing the finest minds and educators in the world into every classroom at once.  TV and educational VHS and DVDs also failed to accomplish this.  Never mind the lack of interactivity associated with those one-way communications media -- let's face it, there's just so much prep work involved for teachers to actually make use of those technologies.  And, yes, they do turn your learners into passive zombies!  Mobile devices are different.  If you use a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach, then you can leverage free technological tools that your learners are bringing into the classroom with them.  As a teacher, you don't necesssrily even need to know how to use all the bells and whistles on these gadgets.  You don't even need to plan out exactly which tools your students will use on their mobile devices.  No, what you need to do is give your students a learning goal (or, better yet, negotiate a learning goal with them), provide them with inspiration and support, and then get out of their way and watch what they accomplish! 


Do we have the competencies to integrate mobile learning strategies?  Of course we do!  They are the same competencies that good teachers have always displayed.  Be creative and willing to draw on whatever resources you have at hand--including the ones called mobile devices that your students already bring with them (hey... let's face often can we guarantee that our students will all bring their required learning resources!).  Be adaptable to change.  Be not afraid to unleash your students to achieve on their own terms.  And be willing to be inspired and to learn from your students every bit as much as you hope they learn from you!  Mobile learning is not about jumping onto the newest bandwagon or technological craze.  It's about realizing that technology finally allows us (teachers and learners) to do what we've been trying to do all along more efficiently and with more resources at our disposal!

By: Robert Power
Posted: May 5, 2013, 2:50 pm