The Evolution of Mobile Collaboration

Mobile Collaboration OER

What is mobile culture?

The rapid adoption of mobile technologies and social media “has deeply influenced the thinking, communicating and working of entire generations” (Fisher & Baird, p. 3, 2006). The way people access, store and retrieve information has changed and collaboration and communication through social media has become ubiquitous in our society. In a mobile culture there is considered to be little difference between virtual and in-person collaborative spaces.

Why is mobile collaboration relevant in education?

Today’s students have adapted to the onslaught of information and are accustomed to digital multi-tasking and expect their digital reality to be integrated into education (Fisher & Baird, p. 4, 2006). Increasingly versatile mobile technologies “coupled with more valid and reliable learning theories, are revolutionizing the way we teach and are altering our notions of what it means to learn and live in a post-industrial globalized world” (Wankel & Blessinger, p. 2, 2013).

Mobile collaboration not only opens new opportunities for educators to connect, but also supports constructivist learning principles through increased connectivity. Mobile technologies allow students to learn in a more authentic and relevant context, anywhere and anytime. Many studies also site that student motivation and interest in education is increased through the appropriate use of mobile technologies. Education models that do not incorporate the highly collaborative and expressive potential of mobile technology platforms may not be adequately meeting the needs of students who have grown up in a highly connected world.

What is mLearning?

Collaboration is a key component of effective design of online learning environments. The definition of mobile learning (mLearning or m-learning) can differ slightly. There are several important factors that are consistent throughout the literature. Mobile learning allows students to use technology that is already part of their everyday lives in an authentic, flexible and intellectually rich educational context (Fisher & Baird, p. 6, 2006). mLearning is considered to be flexible, and is an effective way to foster individual engagement and group collaboration across traditional boundaries and barriers (Wankel & Blessinger, p. 7, 2013). mLearning design principles include flexibility, mobile access to information and the creation of a community that is student centered and collaborative.

What is the future of mobile collaboration?

Mobile Serious Gaming affords opportunities for students to create, collaborate, reflect and provide feedback to their peers. Scratch is an excellent example of a mobile game that encourages collaboration and has been seen to motivate student participation.  Mobile Serious Gaming has received much attention in recent years due to their ability to engage learners and motivate them to create their own original work.  Thus, this generation of Serious gamers will likely go on to develop the newly emerging field.

Mobile collaboration also affords opportunities to develop cultural awareness and sensitivity. According to Eristi (2012) and Ertmer et al. (2011), students who participate in cross cultural collaboration using Web 2.0 technologies improve their cultural understanding while developing communication skills that are considered valuable for current and future employment opportunities. This cultural collaboration spans all age groups and can be introduced early on in elementary years.  Such collaboration proves tremendously useful for the Social Studies classroom as well as in the field of EFL.

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