Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
Discussion of Roger Schank's prediction of the demise of the mobile phone for learning in 2010. He writes, "E-learning will not happen, at least not seriously, on mobile phones. Why not? Because it takes time to learn something." He argues that "staring at mobile phone for an hour makes my eyes hurt." There's that, but I would add, on a mobile phone, time is money - sometimes big money. I think he is essentially right, but let me add some subtext and subtlty to the discussion. Learning is often done through reading and creating, which are typically done on large surfaces in a stationary environment. Narrowing our focus and trying to work on a phone-sized screen will not likely ever be as effective. But for audio and even video, a device like the iPod Touch works really well. Learning can be supported through audio and video, which means the phone can play a role. But this role is limited in two major ways: first, it's mostly passive, as we watch or listen; and second, it's slower, because audio and video are linear and flow at a static rate (though I really like the 'speed-up feature' on the Touch).

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Nov 25, 2020 5:26 p.m.