Research on Mobile Learning

Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, Nov 19, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

One of the issues I have with academic research in education is that a great deal of time is spent arguing over definitions, drawing distinctions and creating terminology, and almost none explaining phenomena or identifying causes (it's almost as though educational researchers today reject causation as equivalent to behaviourism). Case in point: this summary of research on mobile learning offered by Graham Attwell. We get, for example, "John Cook (UK) develops the idea of mobile phones as mediating tools within augmented contexts for development." We have "Diana Laurillard (2007) has highlighted the mobility of digital technologies in providing 'opportunities for new forms of learning because they change the nature of the physical relations between teachers, learners, and the objects of learning.'"We have "Margrit Boeck (2010) says mobile devices are: making learners mobile." We have "Nial Winters (2007) suggest[ing] we have to address three mobilities in mobile learning – learners, technology objects, and information." And more, of that ilk. Nonsense! Not in the sense that it's all wrong, but in the sense that it's all meaningless. Call me a positivist if you must - but please, no more conceptual schemes, terminology, or definitions.
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