The massive growth in mobile technology in recent years has seen the significant potential for mobile learning starting to be realised. The increasing pervasiveness of smart phones and tablet devices is providing new opportunities to deliver learning in more interactive and engaging ways.
However, mobile technology is developing at a rapid pace and the best methods to deliver learning in a mobile context are still evolving. Key challenges in this area include:
- How can existing educational content be reused and enriched to support more interactive and engaging learning experiences on mobile devices?
- How can the huge resources of multimedia content that are available on the open web be used to supplement and extend existing mobile learning?
- If rich and varied multimedia content is available to learners on their mobile devices, how can their individual learning needs be supported to give them the appropriate content at the right time?
Here at the Learnovate Centre, we are examining these challenges in mobile learning within the ALMANAC project. ALMANAC is focused on the delivery of a new personalised learning app for tablet devices. The app provides learners with a way to create rich, engaging magazine-style learning experiences.
- The magazine-style experiences are composed dynamically using existing educational publisher content, which has been sliced and analysed to determine its type and meaning.
- The learning experience is further enhanced by supplementing the publisher content with appropriate multimedia content from the open web such as YouTube and Wikipedia.
- The learning needs of individual learners are supported through personalisation. Depending on the learner’s specified prior knowledge of the topic, appropriate pedagogical strategies are applied to ensure learners receive content that addresses their specific learning needs.
We plan to trial the app in a “flipped classroom” scenario where students can use the app to research topics prior to going to class. This frees up class time for the teacher to focus on consolidation and group discussion, leading to the development of higher order 21st century skills. This trial will provide detailed findings about the practical use of personalised mobile learning in real-world educational environments.
About the Author: Eddie Walsh holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin. He is a technology lead at the Learnovate Centre and a research assistant in the Knowledge and Data Engineering Group at TCD. Eddie has worked on a number of research projects in the area of technology-enhanced learning.