This is the second installment in a series of interviews Mobl21 is conducting to get in-the-classroom feedback on how mobile learning and technology is being viewed and used.
This week, Mobl21 talks to Michael M. Grant, Associate Professor of Instructional Design & Technology at the University of Memphis.
Mobl21: Please tell us a little about your role at the University of Memphis and the objectives you are trying to achieve in this role.
Michael: I am an associate professor of instructional design and technology in our College of Education. Last summer, I began working with our Tennessee Board of Regents’ mobile learning initiatives, where we were exploring the use of Apple iPads and other mobile technologies in workforce development and higher education teaching and learning.
Mobl21: What level of technology sophistication do your students experience in their classrooms?
Michael: I typically work with three types of students.
Preservice teachers: These students are completing a degree in order to teach children and have technology experiences for personal productivity and entertainment, but often struggle with how to integrate technology to support student learning and how to use technology to support their own learning.
Graduate inservice teachers: These students at the Masters and doctoral levels often have many years of teaching experience, and they are looking to make their teaching more relevant for the 21st century. They are interested in maximizing technology to support their teaching and their students’ learning.
Graduate students: I work with graduate students seeking degrees in instructional design. As part of our program, these Masters and doctoral students receive extensive experiences with designing and developing sophisticated elearning and interactive instruction. These students also have the deepest understandings of theories of learning and models of instruction.
Mobl21: When or how you did you first realize that mobile learning could be implemented in your classrooms?
Michael: In the field of instructional design and technology, mobile learning is the most recent evolution of integrating technologies to meaningfully support teaching and learning.
In the spring 2010, I began to participate in a number of webinars and workshops about using mobile computing devices, like cellphones, iPhones, and other smartphones, in classrooms and on college campuses. I felt that the pervasiveness of these devices was continuing to grow. Likewise, both K-12 students and college students already owned many of these devices. The cellphones and smartphones were integral to their lives. Subsequently, I decided to invest a significant portion of my research to explore how we could leverage these devices to support formal and informal teaching and learning. I also decided to spend a sabbatical semester in Fall 2010 dedicated to understanding, researching, and testing mobile learning opportunities. I spent a considerable amount of time testing ideas, speaking with other experts in mobile learning, and presenting about what I’d learned. One of the areas that I have been attempting to explain is mobile learning and how that might be different from mobile learning environments.
Mobl21: Please tell us about the mobile learning projects you’ve implemented so far.
Michael: When MOBL21 was very new, that is during June 2010, I decided to pilot my first project with students. I was teaching an online course for inservice teachers and library media specialists on ways to integrate the Internet into teaching and learning. (You can view a presentation I gave on this pilot student at Slideshare.net.) I created a unit on virtual schooling and mobile learning, which was one of nine units in the course.
I collected data about the pilot with a survey and with online discussion board posts.
Mob21: Can you share some of the results you’ve experienced with mobile learning?
Michael: As a result of the work in this pilot and my discoveries during my sabbatical, I’ve have given a number of other presentations, as well as written about mobile learning. You can see a number of these below:
• Mobile learning: What is it? What does it look like?
• Using mobile devices for teaching and learning
• Why mobile won’t matter
Mobl21: What made you choose our application then?
Michael: With MOBL21 students were able to access the course content with an iPod Touch, iPhone, or the Adobe AIR desktop application. Interestingly, the desktop application was one of the reasons that I was so interested in using MOBL21. Because this was a graduate course, I wasn’t convinced that all of the students would have the mobile devices necessary to access the unit. So, the desktop application was a certain backup option.
Mobl21: How did your students feel about the m-learning project and its results?
Michael: The students were extremely positive about their experience, giving the content and the application high marks in instructional quality, ease of use, and convenience. Interestingly, the students ambivalent about whether this type of unit could replace an online unit and about whether they spent more time on this type of unit compared to others in our course.
Mobl21: We understand you will be initiating another m-learning project soon using Mobl21. How will this project be different from your first one?
Michael: This project, which has already begun, will be targeted at senior-level graduate students in instructional design and technology. The content will be about rapid prototyping and rapid elearning. This project, like the previous one, is a take on creating a complete unit of study for mobile devices. Unlike the previous one however, this project will also include a pretest and posttest in order to measure knowledge gains. Plus, I added additional open-ended questions to the survey in order for the students to comment on their experiences and challenges with the unit.
Mobl21: Why did you choose Mobl21 for this second project?
Michael: I chose MOBL21 for two reasons. First, I wanted to negotiate the content in the online development environment. I wanted to know what content would be appropriate, how the learning content should be chunked into smaller units, how to organize the content, and how to format the content for small screen sizes. Second, because my students are learning to be elearning developers, I wanted them to experience MOBL21 as cutting-edge technology. Many schools, colleges, and companies are considering informal and formal learning opportunities for their students and employees. MOBL21 represents a high quality option for creating and deploying instruction.
Michael M. Grant is an Associate Professor of Instructional Design & Technology at the University of Memphis. His most recent research and consulting has begun to look at how teaching and learning changes with mobile computing technologies, as well as how to support faculty and students implementing mlearning.
He is currently working with the Tennessee Board of Regents as the primary researcher for their statewide mlearning initiative.
He can be found online at http://viral-notebook.com & through Twitter @michaelmgrant