Mobile and Social are the obvious next steps in education – but are we doing this?

I was watching Steve Wheelers video on How will we learn tomorrow? and one of the things he said leapt out at me.  In the past 10 years the major trend affecting education was every student having a smart phone and being on social media, and this has the potential to enable lots of social learning opportunities. (I have paraphrased massively).

Now this makes sense to me, the fact that we all have access to the internet whenever we need and can also connect with and share thoughts with our friends/colleagues/classmates at any time is a complete transformation compared with how the world was 10 years ago (and even more compared to 20 years ago).

My question then is are educational institutions engaging with this?

I just wrote what I thought we should be telling all students but my institution is not recommending anything yet.  A quick Google search of social media tips/advice for students pulls article after article telling them what not to do (drunk pictures etc) and a few more advanced telling them about cultivating a professional profile to help get jobs, but using social for learning?  Pretty much nothing.

How about mobile  well students are definitely using their mobiles but are we providing courses designed for them or encouraging them to use them for education?

Where mobile is used in the classroom it can generate newspaper headlines as in this one found by +James Clay  but as he subtlety points out in his post, the teacher is doing what James was recommending people do 10 years ago.

Some educators such as +Laura Gibbs are encouraging their students to go social, sharing their work and dancing across the digital spaces.  The problem then comes when the students take a different class – Laura’s institution locks the instructors into Desire2Learn and offers no social spaces.

At my own institution, we have recently added a support forum to all engineering courses. Because our VLE has a mobile app this does allow students use mobiles to post and be notified.  Ok so its discussion forums and not true social as its limited to a individual classes, but its a good precursor and because its faculty wide it does mean that when our staff get G+ (all our students have it and I have high hopes of staff getting it by summer) it should be possible to persuade a few staff to try social.

So to answer my own question – individuals certainly are, but education as a whole really isnt.

My next question is – do we just wait and hope that education adopts these trends or is there something we can do to speed up the process?

By Cartmanland (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cartmanland (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

(the old argument of students not having access is pretty much over with smartphones available on tariffs as low as £10 a month)


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