Using Mobile Technology to Create Flexible Learning Contexts


This paper discusses the importance of learning context with a particular focus upon the educational application of mobile technologies. We suggest that one way to understand a learning context is to perceive it as a Learner Centric Ecology of Resources. These resources can be deployed variously but with a concern to promote and support different kinds of mediations, including those of the teacher and learner. Our approach is informed by sociocultural theory and is used to construct a framework for the evaluation of learning experiences that encompass various combinations of technologies, people, spaces and knowledge. The usefulness of the framework is tested through two case studies that evaluate a range of learning contexts in which mobile technologies are used to support learning. We identify the benefits and challenges that arise when introducing technology across multiple locations. An analytical technique mapped from the Ecology of Resources framework is presented and used to identify the ways in which different technologies can require learners to adopt particular roles and means of communication. We illustrate how we involve participants in the analysis of their context and highlight the extent to which apparently similar contexts vary in ways that are significant for learners. The use of the Ecology of Resources framework to evaluate a range of learning contexts has demonstrated that technology can be used to provide continuity across locations: the appropriate contextualization of activities across school and home contexts, for example. It has also provided evidence to support the use of technology to identify ways in which resources can be adapted to meet the needs of a learner.

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