Mobile Learning

Image: 2014 - (L) Alexander Hayes wearing the Memoto Camera and (R) Michael Coghlan wearing the Microsoft SenseCam

For as long as I have had an interest in technology, there has been this recurrent discursive that it is in fact something that disrupts the way in which we learn, that it should be excused for its rudeness by which it interrupts an educators "flow", that those bearing such technologies should excuse themselves from interjecting amongst what is a pantomime led by the font of knowledge - the teacher.

You will notice I used the term 'bearing' in the paragraph above the focus of a mobile networked ecology doesn't differentiate between hand-held, pocket deposited, head worn or any other of mobile accessible combination for a networked technology.

So I began thinking of it differently around 1998 when I first began using mobile phones to communicate with base stations, regarding the whereabouts of myself and what was happening right there and then at a time when everything was in analogue. It was a revelation to conduct my work activities using a CDMA signal and start thinking of being a network sentinent, a being with an ID number rather than Alexander Hayes, Academic Tutor, Education Officer, PC Officer and the soft cell information gatherer for social workers.

To me it seemed that mobile technologies opened up the internet to being 'on' the person rather than separate to them, that finally we could as humans connect in what I termed to be a 'mobology' - a mobile ecology, whereby each node in the network had the capacity to contribute, to collaborate and ultimately to control what was happening elsewhere in real time.


I started using the #tag of #mobology everywhere I went and soon it became synonymous with me, a digital identity through which I could capture, tag and ultimately pull forward data in time, that by using search engines that our history was as much technology mediated as it was futures driven.

In early 2000 I started using the CDMA mobile phone I had issued to send messages to other users who had the same handset and by 2002 - 2003 to use SMS messaging within an educational context - communicating with students in live time using SMS portals to engage in activities either controlled by SMS or respondent to SMS messaging in return.

Inspired by the works and thinking of Howard Rheingold and his SmartMobs project I began directly encouraging an 'always on classroom' where I told my students it was cool to preference their mobile interactions in my classroom over that of my scheduled fact the mobile technologies soon became the focus of all activities of the curriculum.

By 2004 I was engaged in an Australian Flexible Learning Framework project ' TxtMe' ' - - that was examining the manner within which seemingly disengaged students used messaging or at least what we had intended to try and influence. At that time I engaged with the TALO network and started thinking through the concept of 'educative arrangement' whereby instead of thinking of educational institutions as the centre or locus of learning that in fact learning had become distributed by the very nature of the internet.


Very Illich driven, therefore an educators role was nothing other than another node in an educative arrangement - that learner led educational experience allowed for experts or leaders in the field to interact with learners in a networked context rather than a localised context.

By 2005 I was out in the great Sandy Desert of Australia 'seeing' -

I expanded further on that concept of educative arrangement to be more likened to 'architectures of participation' which I spoke to here -

By 2007 I was leading initiatives that explored the notions of mobile learning ( in the hand and in the head) as what became popularly known as 'mlearning' engaging and interacting with people worldwide on these notions of networked mobile hybridity.

As they say the rest is history. I began using Facebook in 2007.

Repeatedly trying to break the damn thing.

Mobile learning became synonymous with learning when PDA's gave way for flip phones and Web 2.0 brought forward a zillion floppy names, apps and a multitude of ways to socialise. 

The term 'mobology' resonates clearly for me as a stage in my life where everything that I interacted with became life-logged...but that's another chapter in it's own right.