Handheld Learning meets mLearn 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bob Harrison on Friday, 26 October 2007
/bob-harrison.jpgThe first time I presented at a mobile learning conference was in 2002 at the first mLearn organised by Mike Sharples at Birmingham University and about 50 of us shared a variety of mobile learning experiences and perspectives.

My presentation was entitled “learn to go” and featured 12 Toshiba laptops in a heavy trolley that I had to take up to the presentation room in the lift!

Now even I would have to agree with Graham that I would have had difficulty convincing the audience that this pedagogical development could be described as “Handheld”

The intervening years have seen mLearn visit London, Rome, Capetown, Banff and Melbourne as well as the growth of other mobile learning conferences and mobile learning featuring on the programme of many mainstream ICT and e-learning conferences worldwide.

They have also seen rapid technological developments, a plethora of new personal devices on the market, increased accessibility and bandwidth, raised learner expectations, the explosion of social networking and a growing interest from Government and National agencies concerned with education and training about the potential mobile learning may have to assist them in their own strategy implementation.

The conferences have tended to specialise in a particular dimension of mobile learning whether that was research and theoretical, technical and technological, pedagogical and practitioner or corporate and commercial.

/mlearn-hhl2008.jpgHandheld Learning 2007 successfully became a fusion of all these ideas and brought together the worlds largest gathering to explore the potential and share ideas about the future of mobile learning.

The support of the DCFS and BECTA is a powerful affirmation of the progress Handheld Learning has made since that early first get together at Goldsmiths College in 2005 when we could not all fit into the space available.

The fusion of ideas in the workshops, the inspirational keynotes the stimulating pre-conference workshops and the encouraging attendance at the Kaleidoscope special interest group meeting all provided strong and compelling evidence that mobile learning is fast moving from the “margins to the mainstream” as my friend Geoff Stead has been predicting for some time.

I would have loved to have attended more of the breakout sessions but whilst I am getting to grips with mobile learning being able to be in two places at the same time is proving more of a challenge.

The emergence and continued development of mobile, handheld and portable learning is critical to other developments such as Personalisation and more importantly the Building Schools for the Future programme.

There is no doubt that devices will continue to come and go and learners will always want the latest device and wireless networks will be the norm in all towns, cities and the countryside.

/stelarc.jpgWill we see a convergence into one device or divergence to multiple, yet interconnected, devices?

Will developments in embedded and wearable technology accelerate the decline of the PDA?

Will the $150 laptop make the transition from developing to the developed world?

The advantage of Handheld 2008 “this time, it’s personal” 13-15th Oct, is that not only will these questions be addressed but as mLearn will return to these shores it will create the world’s largest and longest focus on mobile learning ever!

I wonder whether that trolley is still around?


Handheld Learning 2008

mLearn 2008

About the Author

Bob Harrison is a teacher and tutor for NCSL as well as a Consultant with the DfES Improvement Group.He also is Education Adviser to Toshiba Information Systems(UK) Ltd and is advising consortiums working on the BSF project. Bob was recently presenting at the 5th World Conference on Mobile Learning in Canada and whilst in North America spent a day at Stanford University with staff responsible for the Stanford Virtual High School Project. He is writing in a personal capacity and can be contacted on www.setuk.co.uk


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Last Updated ( Friday, 26 October 2007 )
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