Exploring Learner Identities through M-Learning: Learning across Regional and Knowledge Boundaries

Exploring Learner Identities through M-Learning: Learning across Regional and Knowledge Boundaries

Ruth Wallace (Charles Darwin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-882-6.ch017
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Learning is about making connections: connections from the known to the unknown through interactions and dialogue; connections between people’s ideas and identities. Participation in learning is informed by an understanding of participants’ connections to understanding of themselves and their membership of different groups. The engagement of disenfranchised learners is supported by the opportunities for learners to participate in learning experiences where their knowledge is valued and they are partners in co-producing knowledge and materials. Mobile technologies have considerable potential to support disenfranchised learners to participate in creating and defining a space where they belong in formal education settings. M-learning provides opportunities for learners and educators to be active agents in learning, share their own worlds and perspectives, and together create and recreate their understandings of the world and their own place within it. This chapter analyses a range of learning programmes that have utilised m-learning to engage disenfranchised learners in regional areas across Northern Australia. The author argues that m-learning is more than a tool to engage learners, it provides an insight into understanding how people learn and develop strong identities as learners. The discussion demonstrates the potential of m-learning to engage with ways of knowing and representing knowledge in ways that build strong connections to broad and diverse learning and knowledge societies.
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M-learning uses a range of emerging technologies, consequently m-learning is continually being transformed as technology and its uses change. The uses of technology have developed with the technological advances and, as Kress and Pachler (2007) note, the incorporation of a range of devices into many peoples’ social and cultural practices. Consider the impact of changes in battery size, voice recognition, touch screens, digital photographs and being able to beam files on your use of use of mobile technologies. M-learning has been described in terms of the mobile devices and software used in learning, tools that are available for immediate interaction in educational settings without physical restrictions; tools that are personal and pervasive (Kukulska-Hulme 2005). That is not to say there are no physical restraints, consider impact of battery life or being out of range of telecommunication services. As mobile technology is further integrated into daily life, people’s expectations of their capacity to be available and fully functioning increases (or tolerance of being non-functional deceases). Mobile technologies’ use is being integrated into social and cultural practices of a range of societies. Mobile technologies include digital media in common use such as digital cameras, audio recorders, mobile telephones, personal media devices (such as iPods), laptop computers, smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging (Kukulske-Hulme 2005) wireless modems, and through sharing audio, visual and text files.

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