ELI 2006 Spring Focus Session

Smart phones, cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, Pocket PCs, Tablet PCs, and other handheld devices are increasing opportunities for mobile communication and interaction. Mobile devices promise

  • ubiquitous access,
  • freedom from traditional space/time constraints, and
  • flexibility.

Without question, today’s learners have embraced mobile technologies. For example, nearly all college and university students own cell phones, and the world’s estimated 1.5 billion mobile phones are three times the number of personal computers. Beyond the sheer numbers, many of today’s phones have the processing power of a mid-1990s PC.1 Because of that processing power, available applications include SMS, podcasting, games, beaming, and geocaching. Video and television are already available on mobile phones.

As wireless networking and mobile devices proliferate in our daily lives, educators are being challenged to consider how mobile devices contribute to learning. Mobile learning promises to extend convenience and access—and to foster alternative practices such as podcasting and augmented reality.

ELI’s 2006 Spring Focus Session brought together IT professionals, faculty, librarians, administrators, and learning designers to better understand mobile devices and mobile learning. We investigated questions such as:

  • What is mobility? Survey current mobile devices as well as their application and use.
  • Why is mobility significant? Review what we know about lifestyles, learner preferences, and technological directions. Consider the projections for mobility, technologically and socially. Explore how mobility relates to the principles that underlie successful learning.
  • How is it being used? Participate in demonstrations and discussions of mobile technologies and mobile learning.
  • What are the implications for teaching and learning? Explore the implications for colleges and universities, such as infrastructure, policy, faculty development, support, and assessment.
  • What will the future look like? Consider what mobility and mobile learning might be like in the next five years.

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