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Category Archives: mobile

Overview

Since March until mid-April, the Advisory Board (AB) of the Horizon Report: iberoamerican edition has been working collaboratively, first through a wiki and later in a face-to-face meeting in Puebla, México, to select and identify those technologies, challenges and trends with a greater potencial throughout next 5 years in iberoamerican Higher Education.

The 14th, 15th and 16th of April, Puebla became the scenario where took place the final vote of the emergent technologies. Collaborative Environments and Social Media are the ones considered to have a greater impact in less than a year. According to the results of the vote, Open Content and Mobiles will be adopted in a time horizon of 2-3 years. Finally, in a long term (5 years), Augmented Reality and Semanteic Web are forseen as the main promises for education.

After the meeting in Puebla, a report with the list of selected technologies, examples of use, as well as main challenges and trends of High Education in Iberoamerica will be written. The final document is expected to be presented in the Summer Conference of the New Media Consortium that will take place at the beginning of June 2010.

The Horizon Report Ib. follows the same methodology as main Horizon Report editions. The process is structured according to Delphi Technique. It’s a very oriented technique in which participants have to answer a set of questions in order to identify those emergent technologies with more impact on learning, teaching and creative inquiry. Through a two round votations, the general list of emergent technologies is reduced to 12, and later to a short list of 6 technologies.

The Horizon report: Iberoamerican edition is an initiative of the eLearn Center, UOC and The New Media Consortium.

Some impressions

  • Despite the technological approach of Horizon Reports, discussions in the iberoamerican edition tend to focus attention on issues related with pedagogy and methodology of use. Personally, I was happy to hear those reflections. Probably, it’s impossible to develop a pedagogy before adopting a technology. However, institutions (and nobody in general) can fall in the trend of adopting new technologies just because “they’re cool”.
  • Process is important. Something I’ve learn from the Horizon Report: Iberoamerican edition is that questions not only guide but can also determine answers. What do we ask and why? The way the vote was organized had an important effect on the final selection of technologies. Delphi technique is interesting, but at some point it would be important to be more flexible. The same questions and methods doesn’t work for everyone.
  • Too much diversity in a single report. Talking about Iberoamerica is the same as referring to a huge diversity impossible to include in “the same box”. Personally, I feel it’s very difficult to take a picture that captures the implementation of emerging technologies in Higher Education in Iberoamerica in a single report. Giving voice to all parts is certainly a challenge.
  • The notion of digital natives is starting to loose strength. Mark Bullen would be happy, finally young people are not seen as a group of geeks who create fear among older generations. Possibly they’re more used to technology, but it doesn’t mean they’re more efficient in searching for information, collaborating, filtering information… in one word, learning.
  • Technology, alone doesn’t change anything. On the contrary, it can easily generate new dependencies. I don’t want to mean we shouldn’t adopt technology. Currently is part of our lives, so it’s necessary to develop competencies and a digital literacy. However, I wonder if emphasis shouldn’t be put on critical thinking rather than on the tools we use.
  • Some of the selected technologies imply values and ways of being completely opposite to the logic of capitalism. The idea of promoting collaboration and content exchange (through open content) is really exciting and promising. However, a mainstream adoption requires something else than simple access to technology. Are we ready for this?
  • Despite the final product being a report, there are very interesting materials, opinions and exchanges in the wiki of the project. Of course it can take some time to read it, but… it’s the best way to acquire a deeper insight of the project.

The balance of the meeting in Puebla was positive. It is true that many things need more discussion and reflection, but in general participants of the Advisory Board left the room feeling they had learned something. It has also been a starting point for the creation of a community of experts, from Iberoamerica, focused on the educational applications of emerging technologies in Higher Education.

Let’s see what happens, but at least right now future looks promising.

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The appearance of new mobile, portable, wireless and always connected devices seems to radically transform the way we communicate, work and learn. These new products are labeled under the expression “ubiquitous computing” and they are also considered as the result of an era in which mobility plays an increasingly significant role in the computational experience.

As it has been stated in several editions of the Horizon Report1, Mobile Media is seen as an emerging trend full of possibilities in very diferent fields, specially in education. Currently, digital Mobile Media devices are incorporating many new technologies which allow the introduction of Augmented Reality applications, the use of geopositioning systems as well as other actions such as mapping and geotagging. As far as location is considered a key aspect because it adds a layer of meaning, we should distinguish a subcategory of Mobile Media: Locative Media. Locative Media fosters the importance of place as well as the social interactions that happen there. Despite the use of mobile technologies, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), laptop computers and mobile phones, in locative media projects the focus is kept on the meaning and social impact that these technologies may have on the space in where they’re used.

“Locative media is many things: A new site for old discussions about the relationship of consciousness to place and other people. A framework within which to actively engage with, critique, and shape a rapid set of technological developments. A context within which to explore new and old models of communication, community and exchange. A name for the ambiguous shape of a rapidly deploying surveillance and control infrastructure.” (Ben Russell, 2004)

How does mobile communication affect the notion of place? Shall we talk about informational territories as André Lemos suggests due to the amount of informational flows that resizes the physical place by adding new informational layers? Is the digital space replacing the physical one as the first becomes a place for meeting and participate? How can/do Mobile technologies affect learning? Should schools and universities embrace these new technologies in order to incorporate them in formal educational systems? If so, how and why? What’s the criteria for deciding when to use Mobile Technologies for Learning purposes?

As it happens each time an emerging technology is detected, myths and promises about the potential benefits these technologies may have for education start to appear. For instance, Mobile Learning seems to encourage participation and collaboration. Despite the need of a deeper research in order to analyse how and why Mobile Learning Technologies can become collaborative tools, it’s necessary to determine what kind of skills and competencies users should acquire in order to be able to use these technologies efficiently.

The introduction and use of New Technologies doesn’t make us more critical, responsible and “reflexive” As users, we also need to reflect about the implications of the use of any technology, in this case Mobile Technologies. What is supposed to be learnt through these technologies and for who is the benefit of that learning?

1 The Horizon Report is one of New Media Consortium (NMC) best known publications about global emerging trends and technologies in education. The NMC  is a non-profit international consortium lead organizations specialized in learning and dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and technologies.