Here at ProfHacker, we love our mobile devices, whether iPhones or Droids or other. But there are still plenty of classrooms where these devices aren’t even welcome, and even when mobile devices are embraced, they are often used in uninspiring ways–as replacements for textbooks, access tools for learning management systems, or new interfaces for edutainment. There is so much more potential that is just being explored.
Last week, I attended a conference dedicated to imagining that future: Mobility Shifts in New York, part of The New School‘s Politics of Digital Culture conference series. The week-long event offered an opportunity for conversations on the range of possibilities emerging from mobile devices around the world as tools for learning experiences in and out of the classroom. The conference addressed three themes:
- Digital Fluencies for a Mobile World
- DIY U: Learning Without a School?
- Digital Learning Projects Globally
These themes built on the “Learning Through Digital Media Experiments in Technology and Pedagogy” collection (which is also a noteworthy example of open review) which offers a number of ideas for digital media, mobile and otherwise, in and out of the classroom. The accompanying “Digital Learning Tool Kit” includes a useful list of software tools.
With sessions involving dance, robots, augmented reality, and other participatory learning, Mobility Shifts embraced a playful vision of the future. The conference even included a location-based mobile game, Mobility Ops, that was itself inspired by the conference themes: the idea (take on the role of spy and snap photos of other conference attendees to gain points) hearkens back to campus games of Mafia. But as Mobility Shifts was scattered over an entire week, a thousand attendees, and several different buildings along a few blocks of New York City, the challenge was increased dramatically.
There were a number of inspiring projects presented throughout, and there are already some great notes and ideas coming out of the week. Here are a few posts that capture some of the ongoing dialogues:
- Doug Belshaw blogged throughout the event including thoughts inspired by a number of the sessions and keynotes, such as Wikipedia, Matthew Gold and CUNY Commons, and Cathy Davidson (interview here)
- The Scrapyard Challenge Workshop at Mobility Shifts brought participants together for hands-on time with discarded hardware
- Richard Hall took notes on Mobility Shifts and Student-as-Producer and shared his In, Against, and Beyond the University session notes
- WITNESS brought a timely message of video advocacy–here’s a great write-up on their workshop
- The Local Interventions project encouraged participants to record videos responding to the ideas of the conference
- The Twitter hashtag, #MobilityShifts, and the iDC mailing list offer ongoing backchannel conversation on these topics
As the Mobility Shifts team recorded either audio or video from all of the events throughout the conference, even more of the conference should be available later. I left the weekend excited for the possibilities of a future where undergraduates are participants in building their own class texts, where learning is understood to be a natural part of any environment, and perhaps even where the term “digital native” is overthrown for a better understanding of teaching our students to be digital creators and innovators–and yes, even where games are an established part of the classroom. The upcoming Digital Media and Learning conference promises further dialogues as these projects grow in scale.
Do you use mobile technology in your classroom? Were you part of Mobility Shifts (in person or virtually)? Share your experiences in the comments!