Looking Over Your Shoulder: Mobility and Learning

Mark Milliron Catalytic Conversations Civitas Learning Space

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This will be a quick Blog today – I just want to get this idea out there for some dialogue. As most of you know, I’ve been doing a good amount of work on the New Generation of Learning project. As part of the conversations I’ve been having with educators surrounding new technologies and learners from different generations, we’ve been exploring mobile learning technologies—everything from Blackboard’s recent purchase of NTI to the rapid expansion of iTunes University. I plan to do a lot more writing on this topic soon, but the following mobile learning example is just so interesting, I wanted to get it in the ether. The bad news is I didn’t get the name of the faculty member that shared this idea. So, if you’re reading it and it’s you, just let me know so I can give the proper attribution. She was an English professor just putting her toe in the water with using mobile learning. She gives writing assignments that include graded draft review stages of each paper. Now, instead of written grading for the draft reviews, she records MP3 files of her responses as she’s reading the paper (in essence a mini podcast for the student). For example: “I really like the introduction—nice use of metaphor. The second section needs some grammatical clean up. You might want to think about the dragon imagery—is it too intense for this topic? And what about a stronger transition here in the middle . . .” She still gives them a grade on the draft stage, but her feedback is all in the voice file. She then sends the podcast to the student (I think through the Learning Management System) along with the grade. According to her, the students flipped. They loved having this mobile, in-depth feedback. She loved literally being able to talk her students through her impressions. They told her they often began their rewrites immediately, listening to the recording on their iPod as they worked on the paper at the coffee house. “It was like having you over my shoulder the whole time,” one student told her. They reported how much more personal the feedback felt – and how it seemed so much more encouraging. This is such a simple, yet useful strategy for leveraging mobile learning tools—particularly in feedback-intense disciplines like writing. I’m sure it’s not new. I just loved how it’s being applied with today’s technology. Just thought I’d share!
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