Audio Active: Discovering Mobile Learner-Gatherers from Across the Formal-Informal Continuum

Audio Active: Discovering Mobile Learner-Gatherers from Across the Formal-Informal Continuum

Andrew Middleton (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jmbl.2011040103
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This paper challenges the dominant perception evident in the literature that mobile podcasting is primarily a medium for knowledge transmission. It describes why and how mobile audio learning can be facilitative, active and integrated, and how it can involve diverse voices, including those of students, in ways that usefully disrupt didactic pedagogy. Audio is described as an active learning environment, capable of supporting connection to the real world around education in which students are able to act as autonomous learner-gatherers. The paper responds to concerns raised by Ciussi, Rosner, and Augier (2009) that some students are disinterested in podcasting and uses a scenario-based design methodology (Carroll, 2000) to describe and evaluate six innovative applications. It concludes that mobile audio can be understood as an active medium capable of richly and meaningfully engaging learners.
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Ciussi, Rosner, and Augier (2009) in their study of students’ interest in using podcasting on their mobile devices identify two myths in the literature: firstly, those students who have grown up with the Internet are uncomfortable with, or unaware of, podcasting; secondly, that the much vaunted idea of “‘learning anytime anywhere’ is ...something of a myth” (Ciussi, Rosner, & Augier, 2009, p. 95). Importantly, they question whether these findings would be true in situations where podcasts are integrated into an active, learner-centred pedagogy. Building upon this, this paper presents a view of mobile educational audio that is designed to be learner-centred, active and integrated, and challenges approaches to educational podcasting that see it as a technical extension to existing learning environments, suited to information transmission.

This paper describes the use of educational audio in terms of its capacity to change modes of engagement across the formal-informal learning continuum, especially in ways that heighten activity, authenticity and learner-centredness. Ciussi et al. (2009) suggest that knowledge construction and knowledge sharing offer two contexts for effective learning with mobile audio. This suggestion is explored using a scenario-based design methodology (Carroll, 2000), a method that allows the curriculum designer to imagine, describe and evaluate pedagogy.



General academic access to digital audio production is relatively recent. Its use, therefore, should promote innovation, especially in addressing the needs and expectations of learners in the Digital Age, and society in general. Areas of audio innovation include the user-generation of content, the growing appreciation of mobile learning and exploration of less formal methods of learner engagement. These ideas are explored here to provide background to the evaluation of a set of six mobile audio scenarios.

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