(I am way behind in posting from MOOC. It is time to make up for lost time….)
Setup for the Live Presentation:
The first full session of MOOC #change11 was presented by Zoraini Wati Abas on “Mobile Learning at the Open University of Malaysia.” Things got off to a very rocky start when the presentation software crashed. After the crash, everything moved to a new service, but unfortunately many participants, including myself, did not get word of the move until after everything was finished. At least there was a recording of the session.
One of the most interesting statistics shared was that in Malaysia when the project was launched in 2009 there are 26 million people, but 28.9 mobile phones. A poll of the students revealed that 98.9 percent had mobile phones. The project studied the use of Short Message Service (SMS) to enhance the learning experience. Initially five categories of SMS were developed: forum, content, tips, motivation and course management. Of these five, those related to course management proved most useful, while tips and motivational messages proved least helpful.
There is no question that mobile phones are ubiquitous throughout the world and this makes them a prime platform for delivery. However, I was expecting more about how participants did work via mobile connections, but instead the presentation was primarily about using SMS to support students in current courses. This made the SMS more of an add-on, rather than a core component of learning. As indicated by the pilot research, course management messages concerning announcements and reminders were most useful. On the other hand, delivering content and working on assignments is more problematic given today’s mobile phone. While smart phones are more versatile than those used in the study, it will be the proliferation of tablets with mobile connections that will be the real game changer. This platform allows both the consumption and the production of work. Abas does address these issues in the section where she talked about the shift from pushing messages to pulling resources. Until that happens the SMS route is more of a support to learning, rather than a tool for mobile learning.