Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Issue 2014-3- IAmLearn 2014 Highlights, Holiday Wishes and Sailing into 2015

IAmLearn Members Share Resources and Opportunities

Gender Matters with Mobile Learning

Reported by Ronda Zelezny-Green, M.A., MScPhD candidate, University of LondonU.S. Fulbright Scholar

In 2010, I first started researching the potential links between gender and mobile learning. In 2013, I was the first ever presenter to speak on gender and mobile learning at UNESCO. Now, nearly five years after beginning this journey of exploration, it feels like the specialist field of gender and mobile learning has finally arrived: UNESCO has dedicated its entire Mobile Learning Week 2015 theme to this critically under-explored topic.

But why does gender matter to broader field of mobile learning? When most men and women hear the word "gender", they assume it is only referring to girls and women, or working to take over the male population completely. Both ideas are false yet such assumptions do a great deal of damage for those who wish to engage in gender work that helps provide social transformation for women, men, boys and girls. This column was thus created to serve as a forum for engaging with the topic of gender and mobile learning in order to help promote gender analysis and awareness in the design of mobile learning interventions. What follows is a description of how I got my start in the area.

Having taught in Africa, Asia, and North America during the time (2005-2009) when we all witnessed the incredible rise in access to mobile communication devices, I at first never considered how they might be used for learning. While studying during my first Master's degree program, I discovered some of the existing work on mobile learning from academics like Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler and became hooked. 

By 2009, girls' education had become a passion of mine because of my experiences as an educator with female youth in a diverse range of settings, and I was also a graduate of a women's college in the U.S. I had the opportunity to observe how girls are systematically silenced in curricula, classrooms and in their societies more broadly because of prevailing social mores, and also saw how they were more or less guided to careers thought to be more appropriate for someone of their gender. Such issues have plagued systems of education for ages, to be sure, but there has been a significant amount of work done to help redress these issues as well.

My experiences as a teacher and my new found awareness of mobile learning led me to explore the potential links between gender issues and mobile learning, including how mobile learning might be used as a tool for the empowerment of the female populace, in partnership with their male peers. It is important to acknowledge that gender work with the goal of social transformation cannot be done without men and boys since women and girls live with and interact with them on a daily basis and they are change agents in their own right - even for issues that may not affect them directly. 

As I performed meta-analyses of existing mobile learning literature, I noted that there was scant work done with gender issues despite the increasing evidence of some of the positive outcomes of mobile learning. I believed it was important to engage in this space to better understand the potential and pitfalls of gender and mobile learning work - especially because the number of mobile learning interventions is on the rise, even in developing contexts. If investments were going to continue being made in mobile learning, I felt it was imperative to understand how such interventions might impact the intended beneficiaries, and girls and women in particular, since it is often said that mobile learning can facilitate opportunities for those who are denied or prevented from having consistent access to education, and females are most acutely affected when it comes to such access.

Going forward, this column will highlight gender and mobile learning topics, drawing on articles published bi-monthly in the newsletter I founded, the Gender & Mobile Learning newsletter, which is now known as the Gender & Mobiles newsletter, and published in partnership with Alex Tyers. I hope you'll click-through and have the opportunity to learn about something that might help you in your own work - don't let the "G" word scare you!

Mobile Learning Events

Using to Learn -  Learning to Use

Reported by Dr. Birgit Schmitz

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are of growing importance to the future of our children. STEM is all around us; and the technological age further reveals this. As this is a matter of growing importance, children should be prepared and able to use applications and technology. They need to have sound knowledge about the mechanisms involved in order to participate in society, which concurrently implies an increased knowledge on the chances and fallbacks of using digital media.

MINT: School in the Age of Digitization in Berlin, December 3/4,  hosted a  conference for educational professionals in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (MINT: School in the Age of Digitization). The conference with 290 registered participants left aside the topics usually related to individual STEM subjects and instead, it focused on a more general and currently pestering problem in German schools: the reluctant use of digital media. Results from the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) have startled Germany. ICILS asks how well students are prepared for life in the information age, and aims to answer several key questions about students’ computer and information literacy (CIL) and its contexts. Results were presented last week and they showed that German schools could use a boost. Regarding the use of technology in educational practice, German schools are lacking behind, ranging somewhere behind Slovenia, Chile and Lithuania. And they are not necessarily getting better according to the ICILS study. For about 30% of learners the level of CIL is weak (competence level I and II). Asked about the use of computers within STEM classes, the study revealed that 41,7% of pupils in their eights year of schooling have never used a computer in computer science classes.

The discussions and presentations that span at the conference revealed some of the problems. The predominant obstacle is the missing technical equipment, the lack of practical concepts, high value content and the low personal competence in effectively using technology in classes. Teacher training and education at universities is lacking behind. Media education and media didactics is far from being anchored within the university curriculum. The teachers that attended the conference reported that they were struggling with very practical issues like destroyed hardware and cheating.

By now, technology is predominantly mobile and talking about computers usually refers to the use of smartphones and tablets. By now 88% of German pupils between 12 and 19 year-olds possess a smartphone and almost 50% of them have an Internet flat rate, which use 81% of 12-19 years-olds to access the Internet on a daily basis (JIM Study, 2014). Thus, for using technology in the classroom pupils do not even rely on a stable school network. Results from the JIM Study further reveal that teens are online for 192 minutes on an average day. Computers and the Internet are used for 51 minutes per day on average as tools for school activities.

Several lighthouse projects exist that were presented and that demonstrate the use of mobile media in STEM classes such as the examples by the Leibniz University Hannover for example. There were examples for using the interactive whiteboard in chemistry ([Leibniz University, Hannover) or for using smartphones and tablets for physics (physics.move)related training has little or no importance for teacher training in Germany, which is assumed to be one reason for teachers’ ambivalent stance towards the topic and it very often tends towards objection.

Prof. Dr. Birgit Eickelmann from the Institute for Educational Science at the University of Paderborn who coordinated the research project in Germany together with Prof. Dr. Bos from the Institute for School Development Research at the TU Dortmund concluded concluded that the use of technology in schools could be boosted by providing state-of-the-art hardware, service infrastructure and technical support as well as teacher training for example, this way strengthening teachers’ self-efficacy regarding the use of computers in classrooms. Furthermore, the use of digital media needs to be linked to pedagogical aims. Finally commitment is vital. Using digital media in classes should be seen as normal. There should be no need to argue the use of digital media in classrooms. But NOT using digital media in classes should be argued instead.

A core problem remains - that of unclear and restrictive regulations in using, adapting or sharing media for educational purposes. Providing media under the license of Creative Commons is one possible pathway that allows maintaining high quality standards. Also, OER is regarded a door opener that leads to competence in using media.
Teachers’ personal competence as well as their technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) needs to be developed and strengthened focusing on subject related use of digital m/: edia (combining mobile devices and whiteboards, activating, interactivity, visualizing subject related topics). The various lighthouse projects are vital and function as role models for a new digital era. However, focus should be on large-scale projects comprising all teachers and all subjects making use of the potentials digital media provide in order to illuminate the base.

Further readings:

International Computer and Information Literacy Study

International Computer and Information Literacy Study 2018

Fraillon, J., Ainley, J., Schulz, W., Friedman, T., & Gebhardt, E. (2014). Preparing for life in a digital age: The IEA International Computer and Information Literacy Study international report. Cham: Springer.

The IEA International Computer and Information Literacy Study International Report

Fraillon, J., Schulz, W., & Ainley, J. (2013). International Computer and Information Literacy Study: Assessment framework. Amsterdam: IEA. 

International Computer and Information Assessment Framework

Pedagogical Media Research Centre Southwest (Medien-pädagogischer Forschungsverbund Südwest; mpfs)


2015  Mobile Learning Events

Creating Mobile Medical Education-Successful Implementation in Practice

June 18, 19, 2015

This workshop in London will provide a foundation for the concepts and practice of mobile education but it will also provide a good foundation for any other field.  Participants will benefit from reviewing and developing strategies for driving the introduction of mobile learning programmes.  Various themes will be presented and discussed based on current practices acrosss different medical schools in the UK and abroad.

For more information visit: 

mLearn 2015 Cruise  

14th World conference on mobile and contextual learning

The mLearn 2015 conference will be held on a cruise ship during October/November2015.  The theme of the conference suits the cruise theme wonderfully, namely: “

"The mobile learning voyage: from small ripples to massive open waters.

The International Association for Mobile Learning (IAmLearn) is the custodian of the mLearn conference series.  mLearn is the leading annual international conference for researchers, policy makers, educators, developers and solutions providers in the fields of mobile, ubiquitous and contextual learning, and learning with emerging ambient and wearable technologies, attracting participants from more than 60 countries.

IAmLearn ( each year invites tenders and proposals to host the mLearn conference in the following year.  During 2014, three institutions joined forces to submit a tender to host mLearn 2015 in South Africa.  The North-West University: Vaal Triangle Campus (NWU: VTC) represented by Prof Herman van der Merwe, Unisa, represented by Prof Tom Brown from the Institute for Open & Distance Learning (IODL), and Midrand Graduate Institute, represented by Dr Johan Freysen, will be organising and hosting the mLearn 2015 Cruise in October/November 2015. Herman, Tom and Johan also organised the 4th mLearn conference in Cape Town, 2005, where the Association was born. Ten years later we bring the conference back to South Africa.

Some of the benefits of attending the mLearn 2015 conference:

mLearn 2015 will provide researchers, academics, industry practitioners and commercial vendors all the benefits of participating in one of the premier international conferences and being exposed to the exciting and rapidly growing field of mobile and contextual learning. 

mLearn offers unrivalled opportunities for networking with key academic and commercial contacts.

mLearn is the only conference endorsed by the International Association for Mobile Learning (IAmLearn), a membership association which promotes excellence in research, development and application of mobile and contextual learning.

The mLearn conference series has an established relationship with the official journal of IAmLearn, the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL). This is the leading journal in mobile learning, indexed in Scopus and PsycINFO and included in the ACM digital library.

Sea’ you on the cruise!

e hope that you are able to explore and create your own stories from your 
Mobile Learning  Resources

Resources collected and compiled by Nicole Berezin, Doctoral student

The Open University launches mobile tool kits to engage budding young scientists 

The Open University is supporting young people around the world to develop practical science skills as it unveils a new open crowd-sourced science platform today. Developed in collaboration with Sheffield UTC and supported by social investor Nominet Trust, the nQuire-it platform includes the Sense-it app, the first open application to unlock the full range of sensors on mobile devices, so that people of any age can do science projects on their phones and tablets.

From today, missions on the nQuire-it platform include creating a noise map around a city or school, identifying clouds, measuring the fastest lift in the world, exploring strange mirrors, and finding creative ways to measure the height of a tree or building using a mobile phone.

The Sense-it app is the first to exploit the full potential of already existing sensors in mobile devices, turning users into instant scientists by transforming smart phones into scientific instruments of discovery with their light, sound and acceleration sensors or gyroscopes, allowing them to record and measure data, like magnetic field, proximity and light. The Sense-it app is linked to the nQuire-it platform to allow users to share their findings instantly.

As concern grows that students are increasingly turning away from science in the classroom The Open University has collaborated closely with 16-18 year old students from Sheffield UTC, to ensure the missions and format of the nQuire-it platform are relevant and engaging.

Citizen science has been growing in popularity in recent years, but until now the public have generally been invited to collect and contribute data to scientists, but not share in the thrill of scientific discovery. The nQuire-it software transforms the scientific experience for users as they are able to link to and interact with a diverse range citizen science projects, receive instant feedback on how sensor recordings from their mobile phones relate to other users’ data, and allows users to design and propose their own science investigations.  

Professor Mike Sharples, The Open University UK says, “The Open University is a leader for innovations in learning technologies that break down barriers globally. Alongside our open courses, we are developing a new range of practical science activities to help people design investigations, explore their surroundings and share their findings. The nQuire-it platform puts science into the hands of people around the world.”

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust says,  “The nQuire-it platform offers open tools that help young people to become citizen scientists, engaging with and helping to solve big science problems. This is a great example of how technology can help to redesign traditional approaches as these nQuire-it tools allow young people to contribute to genuine scientific practice as part of an online open science laboratory. Nominet Trust is excited by the potential of nQuire-it to inspire a new generation of scientists.”

For more information visit

About nQuire-it

The nQuire-it platform is a research and development project funded by Nominet Trust, and coordinated by The Open University in collaboration with Sheffield UTC.

nQuire-it have developed three types of missions:

Win-it missions set challenges with prizes for the winners. Each challenge needs a creative response. Some missions involve science experiments, e.g., ‘Suggest an astronomy observation using the Open University’s PIRATE remotely-controlled telescope'. Others tackle everyday problems, e.g., ‘Propose an imaginative way to attract bumblebees to gardens’.

Sense-it missions make use of the Sense-it mobile app to collect and share data using smartphone sensors (e.g., accelerometer, gyroscope, light, sound). For example, ‘What is the fastest lift?’, the Sense-it app can be found in Play Store here.

Spot-it missions allow you to capture images and spot things around us, such as strange signs and unusual uses of English.

nQuire-it software is open source so anyone can join or create missions for free. They can invite other people to join their missions by using your Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts. The most successful missions will get the chance to win prizes such as money rewards, vouchers or even to have their observation made on the PIRATE telescope in Mallorca.

About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has around 200,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

The OU is rated in the top ten of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2013/14 it had a 91% satisfaction rating.  Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) The Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC and has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to co-producing prime-time series such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, Britain’s Great War, I Bought a Rainforest and Business Boomers. Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which received 5.2million unique visitors in 2012/13, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded more than 66 million downloads.  For further information please visit:

About Nominet Trust

Nominet Trust is the UK’s only dedicated Tech for Good funder. The Trust believes in harnessing the power of digital technology to improve lives and communities.  

A UK registered charity, Nominet Trust brings together, invests in and supports people committed to using digital technology to create social and economic value. Nominet Trust has invested in hundreds of projects since its inception, providing business support as well as financial investment, seeking to connect projects to prospective partners who can help increase their reach and impact.

Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for the smooth and secure running of the .uk Internet infrastructure.  Nominet believes in the positive power of the internet, and with the money generated from the registration of web addresses ending in .uk,, and, Nominet is proud to be able to fund Nominet Trust’s work.  

Moving Forward

As we conclude 2014 and plan for 2015, we send warm thanks and appreciation to all of our members who contribute to our worldwide community. Please encourage fellow colleagues and business associates to explore our resources at

Our commitment to  IAmlearn members worldwide includes building and in turn extending our expertise to learning communities worldwide.  Please let us know how we can continue to improve and enrich this resource.  

We would like to invite you to contribute your ideas, articles, resources, and other submissions you wish to share through future issues of the IAmLearn newsletter. Email your submissions to Agnieszka Palalas ( and copy Nicole Berezin ( and Birgit Schmitz ( Thank you.

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