The 15th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning
(mLearn 2016), was held at the University of Technology in Sydney, 24 to 26 October. There were five parallel sessions in the MLearn2016 Program
. The mLearn 2016 Proceedings
are available as a PDF file. Here is a summary of my notes
from the event:
Professor Shirley Alexander
, UTS Deputy Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the delegates and talked about the UTS Bachelor of Technology and Innovation
(BTI), being introduced next year. This is a general degree in
technology, suitable for those going into business. I am skeptical of the idea of a BTI as the 21st Century
replacement for the arts degree. BIT graduates may end up like arts graduates: well
educated, but not qualified for any real job.
Assistant Professor, Curriculum Studies at
University of Saskatchewan described applying a frame model of learning (Koole & Ally, 2006).
, then talked about the teaching of teachers of indigenous languages in the University of Saskatchewan's Certificate in Indigenous Languages
Asked about the relevance of song in language learning, Kevin pointed
out that chant and song enables the learner to stop worrying about how
they pronounce. Also the repetition in the song helps learning, as well
as being culturally significant. This reminded me of Dr McComas Taylor
, at ANU's Teaching Sanskrit
online with chanting.
talked on "A Theory of Enhancement of Professional Learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pre-service Teachers in Very Remote Communities through Mobile Learning
". He pointed out that
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a much lower completion rate
than the general population. The Community Based ITE program,
specifically for students in remote areas, has an even lower completion
rate than other forms of education. Philip has devoted his PHD research
to finding if mobile devices can improve completion rates. Also he mentioned the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation
I suggest that addressing the needs of remote students can assist all
students. If we make courses flexible enough for the remote students,
these courses will also be better for city and campus based students. Philip was awarded top paper at the conference.
Anthony Chung from mobileLearning
gave one of the more practical and less academic (in a good way)
sessions on "How does a Mobile Platform Address TEQSA and Other Regulatory Compliance for Online Courses?
". Anthony went through some of
the TEQSA requirements
and how these could be facilitated with mobile devices. What was
interesting about mobileLearning's approach is that they provide mobile
interface to the institution's native educational applications, rather
than replace them. The idea is to make it easier for students and staff
to do what is educationally useful. One example is to encourage the
student to engage with the learning. This can be difficult where a
Learning Management System (LMS) design for static desktop pages is
used. The mobile interface can make it easier to access the materials
The AGM of the International Association for Mobile Learning
(IamLearn), was held in conjunction with the conference. Because I registered for the conference I received a
year's membership. One
initiative is that a new website will allow members to add content
directly, rather than emailed to an officeholder who then puts it up.
This is something other organizations might like to try
from Telstra Corporation talked on "Personalised Learning, mEducation
and Partnerships". Susi spent most of the time describing research on
education Telstra has funded over the last few years. This research
sounds well designed, but does not tell us, as educators, anything new.
So I asked Susi how Telstra could help improve education. In response
she cited something called "Telstra Smart Learning" and presented a use
case of a student named "Ferris"
having an "enriched learning experience". Susi also mentioned a center to be established in Sydney for education. It might be useful for Telstra
to instead showcase some of the work in their muru-D startup accelerator.
Norman Wildberger and Joshua Capel presented an excellent live
demonstration of "Higher Education Practice Online Tutorials and
GeoGebra as Mobile Learning Tools" used for teaching mathematics at
UNSW. However,what seemed to be missing was a business model to support
the high up-front investment to produce such material.
talked on "Higher Education Practice Using a mobile Moodle app in an
online physics course". This shows
an approach to education which focuses on ensuring that e-quality
education can provide quality education, backed up by solid research.
Professor John Traxler
University of Wolverhampton gave the last keynote on "The Role of
Education in Identity Transformation and Acculturation". Professor
Traxler challenged the assumption that m-learning (and education in
general) was a culturally neutral boon for developing nations. Rather
than telling us a canned answer, this was a presentation asking
questions, which was refreshing.
Professor Traxler is concerned about a Western European view of
education and technology being culturally imposed on others. However,
this might also be a product of that culture.
, USQ, talked on "Using Offline Personal Devices to Enable Access to Higher Education in Prisons" for the Making the Connection Project
Louise pointed out that lack of Internet access is only one factor
limiting e-learning in prisons; also there is limited access to
hardware, limited prior education of the students. She explained that
USQ had decades of experience in teaching prisoners. USQ has a special
server for providing materials to prisons and a way for materials to be
loaded to portable devices.
Some of what USQ has done would be useful, more generally for students.
For example, a problem with webinars is where students have inadvertent
left their microphones turned on.
I suggest that the off-line features could be built into Moodle and the
Linux operating system, allowing the approach taken by USQ to be made
available world-wide at no cost.
, York University
talked on "Encouraging Faculty Development Through
Micro-Credentialing". This presented a good overview of the mechanics of
recognizing small units of learning with "badges". However, what is
also needed is a way to motivate university academics to learn to teach
and undertake activities which award such badges.
I suggest that
university educators should follow the approach used by nurses and
computer professionals in Australia to enhance their recognition of
their profession. This could include draft policy for universities and
government to require and recognize teaching qualifications of
university academics. Also they could suggest changes to university
ranking schemes to give teaching quality the same weighting
as research output.
Koole, M., & Ally, M.
(2006, April). Framework for the rational analysis of mobile education
(FRAME) model: Revising the ABCs of educational practices. In International
Conference on Networking, International Conference on Systems and
International Conference on Mobile Communications and Learning
(pp. 216-216). IEEE. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICNICONSMCL.2006.103
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