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Mobiles are the key to the learning of the future

07 September 2009 Open Universiteit Nederland

In today’s class room mobile phones are seen as a nuisance, but they can be the key to a new, personal way of learning. Says prof. dr. Marcus Specht of the Open Universiteit Nederland in his inaugural dissertation on Friday 11th September 2009. Today’s learners - of all age groups - use their mobiles in nearly all their daily activities. Mobile media enable learners to access information and learning support whenever they need. “The students of the future will demand the learning support that is appropriate for their situation or context. Nothing more. Nothing less. And they want it at the moment the need arises. Not sooner. Not later. Mobiles will be a key technology to provide that learning support”, says prof. dr. Marcus Specht, professor for Advanced Learning Technologies of the Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC) at the Open Universiteit Nederland. Digital nomadsMore than 50% of the world population use a mobile phone today. In the Netherlands almost all children of 15 year old have a mobile phone. Digital natives (those who grow up with computers, internet and mobile devices) use mobile media as tools for informal learning and for everyday living. This influences the way they communicate, live and learn. The key question is what this use of mobile learning tools means for learning. In other words: how can we unleash the power of contextual effects with ubiquitous technology for learning. It calls for a rethinking of education with its classical educational settings. As a start to answering this question, Marcus Specht has developed a conceptual model to describe patterns of contextual learning support with mobile media. He presents this model on 11 September 2009 in his inaugural address entitled 'Learning in a Technology Enhanced World' at the Open Universiteit Nederland in Heerlen.

Side by side

Mobile technology changes the way we learn, it can augment our capabilities to connect with others, it enhances our physical environment, it enables new ways of learning at school, home, and at work.

Marcus Specht claims that the technology enhanced world is not a constraining factor for introducing learning support, but a real enabler for instructional designs of the future. However technological innovation and educational paradigms should develop side by side. Education providers, innovators of technologies and instructional methodologists should collaborate to enhance learning with technology. This will mean in some instances a drastic change of the educational systems and organizations we know today. It also means that in some instances new technologies, being invented or used for education today, will be hyped, fade away, or probably used for something completely different in 20 years.


The inaugural address is part of the symposium Mobile Learning in Context and begins at 16:00 h.

The symposium highlights several important aspects of mobile learning like personalization, contextualization, accessibility, informal learning, and nomadic learning support. The goal is to provide researchers and practitioners a new vision of technology enhanced education with contextualized mobile learning.

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