Secrets of Mobile Learning Failures (#mlearning)
Secrets of mlearning failures: confronting reality, from Research in Learning Technology
Centre for Teaching and Learning, Auckland University of Teaching, Auckland, NZ
Having implemented and evaluated over 35 mlearning projects in a variety of contexts in higher education over the past 6 years the researcher is ready to share the untold secret: not all mlearning projects succeed! This article critiques three of the researcher’s mlearning projects that can be classed as ‘‘failures’’ and compares them to successful projects to draw out critical implications for mlearning project design and implementation to avoid common pitfalls leading to potential project failure.
This article uses the researcher’s six critical success factors identified across the 35 mlearning projects to evaluate these three projects, and concludes that projects resulting in ‘‘no significant difference’’ in pedagogical outcomes are the result of attempts to shoehorn old pedagogies into new technologies. Lecturer professional development and sustained collaborative support are critical to fostering new pedagogies utilising the unique affordances of mobile devices.
Social constructivist pedagogy
The goal of the research that surrounded these projects was to explore the potential of mlearning as a catalyst for enabling social constructivist pedagogy. The research was situated within the context of the establishment of a new institutional elearning strategy (Cochrane 2010a) named the ‘‘living curriculum’’ that was effectively based on social constructivism.
Even when educational technology projects are described as successful often the results and impact of such projects reveal ‘‘no significant difference’’ on pedagogical outcomes. In contrast to the majority of mlearning projects, the researcher has been interested in transforming pedagogy from teacher-directed towards social constructivism using mlearning as a catalyst to enable student-generated content and student-generated learning contexts.
Critical success factors
Critical reflection upon the design, implementation and outcomes of the researcher’s 35 mlearning projects have led to the identification and refinement of six critical success factors for mobile web 2.0 project implementation (Cochrane 2010b; Cochrane 2012):
(1) The pedagogical integration of the technology into the course and assessment.
(2) Lecturer modelling of the pedagogical use of the tools.
(3) Creating a supportive learning community.
(4) Appropriate choice of mobile devices and web 2.0 social software.
(5) The need for technological and pedagogical support for matching the unique affordances of mobile web 2.0 with social constructivist learning paradigms.
(6) Creating sustained interaction that explicitly scaffolds the development of ontological shifts, that is the reconceptualisation of what it means to teach and learn within social constructivist paradigms, both for the lecturers and the students. The use of a structured and sustained intentional community of practice around each project was found to facilitate these ontological shifts.
Community of practice
This section outlines three examples of ‘‘failed’’ mlearning projects and critiques them using the researchers ‘‘critical success factors’’ as a framework. In all three of the illustrative cases the main failure was to not establish a supporting COP including all of the key lecturers involved in the projects. Creating a truly collaborative partnership between educational technology stewards or researchers and course lecturers well before implementing pedagogical change with students is one way to support lecturer professional development and buy-in.
Potential outcomes of COP supported mlearning projects for the participants include:
. Participation in an authentic COP.
. Development of a professional eportfolio.
. Publication and sharing of a peer reviewed research output based on their experience and the resultant changes in their pedagogical practice and the impact of these changes on their students’ learning.
. Development of new assessment and learning activities enabling student generated content and student-generated contexts via student-owned mobile and web 2.0 tools.
Sharing the valuable lessons learnt from failed mlearning projects can successfully informed the design and implementation of future projects. Read the detailed analysis on the three examples for a deeper understanding of each context. Last week, Ignatia/Inge de Waard also pointed to another paper from Thomas Cochrane covering different case studies. Enjoy !
Note: The journal “Research in Learning Technology” is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License.
Photo credit : Wallyir