Mobile City and Language Guides â€” New Links Between Formal and Informal Learning Environments pp85-92
One of the major challenges in second and foreign language education, is to create links between formal and informal learning environments. Mobile City and Language Guides present examples of theoretical and practical reflections on such links. This paper presents and discusses the first considerations of Mobile City and Language Guides in language centres, upper secondary schools and universities. The core concept of Mobile City and Language Guides is geotagging. Geographical locations can be geotagged either through GPS or by marking positions directly in, e.g., Google Earth or Google Maps. Students or teachers can add various kinds of information to geotags: Photos, audio, text, movies, links, vocabulary and various language tasks. This allows the student, in self‑defined learning contexts, to down‑ and upload location‑based materials with his or her mobile phone, for immediate or later processing. More and more students are able to afford mobile phones with multimedia and broadband Internet. The potentials of user‑generated mobile‑ and web‑based content are increasing. In these years, the internet is moving from the so‑called Web 1.0 to the more user‑centered Web 2.0, i.e. Weblogs, YouTube, Google Maps, MySpace, FlickR, etc. In an educational context, Web 2.0 represents an interesting development of the relatively monologue Web 1.0, where traditional homepages often only allow minimal interaction with the site content. This paper investigates the opportunities that Mobile City and Language Guides seem to give second and foreign language students to learn from informal, location‑based, experience‑based and authentic materials; and discusses how language centres, upper secondary education and universities can involve informal learning contexts through student use of mobiles with broadband and Internet technology supporting second and foreign learning. Mobile City and Language Guides is only of several possible mobile and Internet‑based language educational scenarios. The challenge for the future, therefore, is to develop and implement new, meaningful and exciting scenarios that strengthen the linkages between formal and informal learning environments.
Keywords: second and foreign language education, formal and informal learning, broadband mobile technology, web 2.0, geotagging
Our paper reports findings from a two‑phase deployment of iPod Touch and iPad devices in a large, urban Canadian school board. The purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of the infrastructure required to support handheld devices in classrooms; the opportunities and challenges teachers face as they begin to use handheld devices for teaching and learning; and the opportunities, challenges and temptations students face when gaining access to handheld devices and wireless networks in K – 12 schools. A mixed method approach was used: online survey, monthly professional development activities with teachers, collected samples of lesson plans and student work, and regular classroom observations. Phase 1 findings (exploring only the use of the iPod Touch devices) suggest participants (students, teachers, and IT support staff) preferred a range of devices for a variety of commonplace tasks. They indicated they would select the iPod Touch for recording voices / sounds, listening to podcasts, and playing games. They preferred a laptop for searching the Internet, creating media, and checking email, and they selected paper or traditional options for drawing, reading, and tracking work / maintaining an agenda. Sixty percent had never used the device prior to the project. Despite that surprising finding, 70% of respondents felt it took less than hour to become familiar with it. However, this question did not probe comfort levels with the syncing / charging, iTunes’ account management side of use, and herein lay a challenge. In order to use personal devices in school settings, the school / district needed to create a common iTUNEs account and dedicate a computer to sync, share, and organize applications (apps), content, and system settings. This common account formed a “digital commons” of sorts; a place where participants had to negotiate what apps to share and permissions and access protocols. Participation in the commons required an ongoing exploration of what digital citizenship meant in classrooms and how this impacted teacher’s work, parental responsibility and changes in disciplinary approaches for administrators. Year 1 of Phase 1 yielded a wealth of data. Specifically, the iPod Touch devices were well received and well used by the majority of participants in the elementary and junior high settings. The high school students and teachers were more critical, as both appeared to struggle to find educational uses for the devices. Further, high school students initially appeared to “resent” the intrusion of school issued personal devices. Phase 2 continued to work with the Phase 1 participants and added the deployment of the iPad devices in three additional schools. Probably the most interesting finding was the lack of familiarity of these devices by all the participants. We anticipated many would have owned similar devices and be proficient in their use – this was not the case.
Keywords: mobile technology, personal devices, digital citizenship, ICT deployment, ICT infrastructure