The increasing diversity, availability and functionality of mobile and wireless technologies over the last four or five years has accelerated the proliferation of pilots and trials in mobile learning. But the evaluation of these has been methodologically and ethically flawed and consequently substantial and sustained mobile learning has not happened. These technologies are also transforming many aspects of society including ideas of communication, discourse, community, culture and ethics. Mobile learning is uniquely aligned to contribute to this transformed society but only once evaluators understand the ethical challenges. This chapter is important because it addresses the issue of the ethical evaluation of mobile learning.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Mobile Learning: Originally any learning delivered, supported or enhanced by mobile and wireless technologies and now the learning associated with societies where these technologies are increasingly conspicuous.
Evidence-based policy formulation: The notion that policy should be based on evidence rather than for example professional expertise, political ideology, public opinion or religious faith.
Ethics: Any prescription by a culture of how things ought to be or ought to be done, expressed on a spectrum from legal and regulatory frameworks to social disapproval.
Evaluation: The activities intended to assess the value, worth or benefits of a pilot, trial or intervention in the light of the values and aims, perhaps only tacit or vague, of stakeholders such as policy-makers, funders, managers, developers, teachers ..... and hopefully learners and their communities.
VLE: virtual learning environment, aka LMS, learner management system, a system such as Moodle or SAKAI that supports the delivery of educational materials, discussion and assessment.
ICT: Information & Communications Technologies: narrowly, computers, their networks and peripherals; broadly and in a developmental context, includes also phones, videos, radio etc.