Designing learning opportunities for mobile devices is becoming fashionable, and slowly but surely takes off to be taken serious. New mobile devices like the iPhone or the N95 have much improved browser capabilities and therefore provide a platform for a good student experience. Additionally, connectivity beyond WAP has enriched the presentation and communication possibilities.
Mobile devices, however, are different to desktop and laptop. This does not only refer to limited screen estate. Designers need to take a whole new approach – not just redesign web content for smaller screens. It is best to take mobile devices as a totally new medium of delivery. Built in technologies like cameras, WiFi, text and mic can support contextual interactivity and networked learning. Designers of mobile learning, therefore, should see-hear with their users’ eyes and ears.
Rather than resizing your content to fit and work on mobiles, it is best to take advantage of what mobile technologies really stand for: contextualisation, personalisation, localisation.
I was invited to a workshop for this interesting project, in short called VCSE. I struggled a little with the terminology and the scope in the beginning, having difficulties understanding what was meant by Virtual Campus and by Sustainable Europe. More accurately it reflects a subject network of university departments involved in Sustainable Development studies.
Sustainability is a big issue all over Europe and concerns virtually every part of our lives and our environment. Their short explanation of sustainable development went like this:
“Only creating development would mean that we could now live a good life, but already know that our children will suffer for it – natural resources such as fossile fuels will have been exhausted. On the other hand sustainability without development is not enough either as this means everything remains as is – and it can’t!”
VCSE establishes a network of university departments as nodes for local and regional networks, each of them with their own speciality, e.g. water management or energy. These hubs are then interconnected Europe-wide and offer students remote study options.
There is nothing particularly new about it, but it is good to see that university studies link up and share expertise across borders for the benefit of students and professionals.
HEFCE has announced GBP 5.7m of funding for projects opening up quality resources for teaching and learning in Higher Education. I cannot help feeling the irony of yet another junk of money being thrown at something that has yet to prove that there is demand.
After the Hewlett foundation funded MIT and the OU with substantial multimillion grants for their respective Open Course Ware initiatives, this looks like another attempt to stimulate free sharing of educational resources and courses. But, why should it be any more successful and sustainable than previous versions?