Transformative Learning and Self-Motivational Learning Enhance #mLearning
The results of an investigation into the connection between mobile learning (mLearning) and interactive design processes through the adaption of transformative learning and self-motivational learning were presented in the chapter of “Interactive Learning Strategies for Mobile Learning”(by Anthony Ralston) in the open licensed ebook “Increasing Access through Mobile Learning”(published by Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University, 2014).
The author argues that the integration of both transformative learning and self-motivational learning as methodologies can enhance the learning experience of the user in a mobile environment. Both transformative and self-motivational learning approaches, when integrated with mLearning, can offer opportunities for exploration, assessment and self-examination (Brock, 2009; Mezirow, 2002).
On its own, transformative learning (Brock, 2009; Cranton, 1994) is seen as a valued process whereby the learner can come to new knowledge or analytical connections between concepts. Combining this process with mLearning can be especially beneficial to a learner.
Transformative learning, as seen by Brock (2009), involves the realisation of a new concept and then connecting that to make a change in a person’s life. As the literature shows, this process of transformation is currently lacking in mLearning.
The concept of transformative learning began with Mezirow (2002). It was described as a ten-step process whereby cognitive aspects such as exploration, assessment, self-examination and planning are part of the experience. Whether this act of transformation occurs over time or in a single moment is debatable according to the literature, but it is safe to conclude that transformative processes can yield many positive results, from group discussions and self-reflection through to autobiography (or journaling).
According to the literature, little has been done to fully replicate the ten stages of transformation, although the author notes that reflection is a key element in the transformative process. Cooper (n.d.) points out that Mezirow (1981) has strongly defended self-reflection as one of the key steps in education. For a student to achieve self-reflection and change, challenge from the instructor plays an important role in helping the student gain a greater awareness of the world around us. How one interprets the world and experiences can also be seen as part of the reflection process necessary in portfolio development (Cranton, 1994).
Christopher, Dunnagan, Duncan, and Paul (2001) link their research to Mezirow as an author of authority on transformational learning approaches. Again we see this theme of self-reflection being brought forward as the cornerstone in any transformational learning dichotomy. The premise in this learning approach is based on helping students assess their perspectives on life through educational pursuits.
Boyer, Maher, and Kirkman (2006) reported that, when one is teaching in a mobile environment, using self-directed techniques associated with transformative learning enables students to increase their ability to delve deeper into the subjects at hand. The transformative environment, when supported by an instructor in the online environment, can have positive effects on student beliefs, preconceived ideas, and ability to act on new ideas.
Transformative learning can lead a person to make fundamental changes in his or her view of the world through self-reflection. These changes can in turn change a person’s life and lead to increased self-awareness and awareness of how one’s previous assumptions have constrained his or her world view. The reported outcomes of transformative learning include a new sense of empowerment, increased self-confidence, greater compassion and greater connections to others.
The main concept that forms the foundation of the argument here is based on the relevance of both transformational learning and self-motivational learning as theories that could be used as the vehicles that further facilitate learning in a mobile construct. With respect to self-motivation and learning, the evidence suggests that there is greater potential when mobile is partnered with motivational learning. One could agree with authors who define motivation as that which brings about greater awareness on the part of the learner.
A study by Roeser and Peck (2006) based its inquiry on the question, “What is self and what relation does self have with motivation and self-regulated learning?” They used the Basic Levels of Self (BLoS) model, as it is a more comprehensive theoretical framework that looks at persons, contexts and their dynamic interactions.
The authors also point to other literature that often frames self-regulated learning as an active participation of learning through the organisation of “emotional, cognitive, and environmental resources” (Roeser & Peck, 2006, p.121). The concept of the self is integral to research in the areas of motivation and self-regulated learning. The authors state that there are still questions as to the meaning of self. “Self” can be acquainted with motivation, but intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are often present in the learning context. There is evidence of extrinsic tendencies, and in fact the students are only motivated by the grade or outcome. To a lesser extent, intrinsic motivation arises in students and the inherent desire to learn contributes to self-motivation.
Self-assessment as it relates to self-motivation (Donham, 2010) entails being able to review personal performance and use internal criteria to determine what we need to know and what we don’t need to know. This aspect of meta-cognition and awareness is necessary for someone to attain self-assessment. The role of the teacher is integral to shaping the abilities of the students to become self-reliant and helping the students become aware of what they know and how to make adjustments for themselves. If we then apply this approach of greater teacher involvement to mLearning, motivation and the willingness for self-assessment increase dramatically so long as the infrastructure is integrated into the curriculum. The attributes that Donham (2010) points out with self-assessment and its connection to self-motivation show merit on their own, but it is only when these theories are overlaid on an mLearning model that the opportunities for elevated performance could be greater.
Usually once an assignment is completed, a student will move on to the next assignment without review or reflection by an instructor. Missing this opportunity to engage the student in self-assessment or self-motivational activities is a lost learning opportunity. The act of reviewing previous work and completed work is integral to self-motivational learning and one that can contribute to a better experience for the student.
In short, self-reflection and the connection to transformative learning, self-assessment and the connection to self-motivation are important considerations in designing mobile learning. How teachers, or instructional designers, design the learning experience are crucial. We want to see learners gain a sense of empowerment, increased self-confidence and self-reliance, greater connections to others, the ownership of their learning through mobile learning. Do we design the learning experience that helps build up this capacity?