Connecting dots of digital learning

OER in the Mobile Era

Mobile learning is no doubt one of the converging trend in Ed-Tech for the next several years. Open Educational Resources (OERs) repositories should adapt their features so their contents can be accessed from mobile devices.

elearningeuropa.info has published a report :

OER in the Mobile Era: Content Repositories’ Features for Mobile Devices and Future Trends

This paper summarizes recent trends in the creation, publication, discovery, acquisition, access, use and re-use of learning objects on mobile devices based on a literature review on research done from 2007 to 2012. From the content providers side, we present the results obtained from a survey performed on 23 educational repository owners regarding their current and expected support on mobile devices. From the content user side, we identify features provided by the main OER repositories. Finally, we introduce future trends and our next contributions.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) not only comprise learning objects(LOs), course materials, content modules and collections; likewise, include tools for creating, delivering, using and improving educational contents.

LOsThe term OER was first used at a UNESCO conference in 20021. Previously, Koper (2001) had proposed a meta-language that allows to codify (see Figure 1) the pedagogic values of learning objects as units of-study, associating each element of content with information describing its instructional strategy. Chitwood & Bunnow (2005) defined LOs with five characteristics: small units of learning, typically ranging from 2 minutes to 15 minutes; self-contained, each learning object can be taken independently; reusable, a single learning object may be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes; can be aggregated, learning objects can be grouped into larger collections of content, including traditional course structures; are tagged with metadata, every learning object has descriptive information allowing it to be easily found by a search.

The advent of mobile technologies and the boom happened in 2007 with the birth of smartphones have boosted new ways of interaction. These mobile devices are equipped with capabilities (text editor, audio recorder, video recorder, sensors, internet access, apps, etc.) that facilitate enormously the possibilities to create, publish, discover, acquire, access, use and re-use of educational resources. By mobile device we do not only refer to cell phones, but also to tablets, MP3s, MP4s, game consoles and portable computers. Mobile devices play an important role in lifelong learning. Lifelong learning includes a variety of different educational scenarios and contexts in which learners operate (Tabuenca, Ternier & Specht; 2012) and mobile devices should be a ubiquitous access point to OERs stored in content repositories.

In the last years, the usage of mobile devices has grown in many application fields of the education. Contents are mobile and LOs have evolved to Mobile Learning Objects (MLOs). OERs are stored in repositories facilitating efficient search, retrieval and re-use among different educational communities. There are existing works aiming to provide personalized learning contents based on variables supplied by our mobile devices. The work from Su, Tseng, Lin & Chen (2011) summarizes research on adapted mobile content delivery based on mobile capabilities, learners’ preferences, and network conditions.

OER repositories must do their best to provide suitable mobile contents. So far no clear work was found synthesizing how OER repositories are adapting to the mobile learning paradigm and the facilities they are providing. The contribution of this paper is giving an answer to these questions: which is the position of OER repositories after all these changes?; how are OER repositories and mobile devices coexisting?; did content repositories take the speed train of mobile computing?; how do OER owners adapt their portals to the mobile era?

This literature review has resulted in the following different ways for learning contents to be allocated by mobile devices, namely, GPS, compass, Wi-Fi, RFID, infrared, barcode, Bluetooth, text recognition and image recognition. Moreover, 3D virtual environments supported by mobile devices have been implemented in order to facilitate learners to explore and search LOs within OER repositories. Mobile accelerometer gestures are able to control the object in mobile apps to navigate learning resources in repositories.

The study results illustrate how much the OER repositories are in a significant need of being and staying informed about the state-of-the-art of mobile applications since the majority of them have no idea of what app could be suitable for accessing content. In fact, repositories believe that proving an app would increase the access rate to their repositories. This study highlights functionalities that repositories could include in future apps. Mobile apps have become increasingly popular across the users and the repositories need to react on this new user demand.

There are several great examples studied in this research, and it also pointed out the future work, do read the full report for details of implementations.

Note: The elearningeuropa.info portal is an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture, aiming to transform education through technology.

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Categorised in: Mobile Learning, Open Educational Resources

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