Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Nomadic Learner

We attended class last week at the local Panera to simulate being nomadic learners. We ate, enjoyed wi-fi, and learned. Although, I will say that we didn't really have to simulate nomadic learning. Most of us do it all the time. We learn anywhere, anytime.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, learning anywhere, anytime is becoming easier. But, Bryan Alexander (see article link below) says there is another reason that fuels anywhere, anytime learning.
But mobile machines become personally intimate; they are held close to the body—in a purse, on the lap, in a pocket, on the floor next to the user. Their screens are easily hidden from prying eyes. Emotional investments increase, even with shared devices. Michele Forman, the 2001 National Teacher of the Year in the United States, notes that her high school students became very attached to their wireless laptops. They significantly increased their personal writing and composition. Such machines become prosthetics for information, memory, and creativity.
Perhaps the growth of mobile devices, public wi-fi spots, and technology use in schools is blurring the line between what people have traditionally thought of as learning and what learning really is. My response to that is - it's about time! If I see (or hear) one more movie clip, commercial, or song lyric that depicts learning as students in rows with teacher pointing finger, I think I will scream! While I know that still exists, I think learning gets a bad rap from modern media. As we discovered in our class last week, learning is so much more. Students have these devices, so let's teach them to learn with them. One of my goals as a teacher is to inspire life-long learning. I think that job is now easier with the help of mobile devices and widespread wi-fi access.

Here are some of my recent examples of learning anywhere, anytime:
  • I learned a lot about the economy by listening to podcasts in my car this week.
  • I read blog posts and newspaper articles on my iPod touch while in a waiting room with wi-fi access.
  • I looked at resources posted by friends in Facebook while sitting in my grad class at a break.
How have you taken advantage of learning anywhere, anytime this week?

Recommended reading:
Going Nomadic: Mobile Learning in Higher Education, by Bryan Alexander
Breaking the Barriers of Time and Space: More Effective Teaching Using e-Pedagogy, by Peshe Kuriloff
Lectures on the Go, by Brock Read


nickysam said...

The nomadic learner is defined not by the gadgets and devices that they carry, but by what they leave behind. Nomads learners don’t carry documents because they know that they can access them online when they get to there destination.

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Brent Jones said...

Education right now is lagging social use of technology. Most teachers over 40 do not leverage technology enough. I'm 57 and see the old paradigm of 1 teacher with 30 students all day long. We can and must break this by having kids learn on the Internet.

Brent Jones said...

Have you used Twitter to link students who do NOT yet know each other. A college teacher said it completely changed the interactions among students.

Heather D. said...

@nickysam - That is an interesting way to look at it. And so true! I hardly even use my flash drive anymore.

@brent jones - I agree. Education is far behind in utilizing the technology we have available for learning. I hope that the small group of educators that realizes this will continue to make the needed changes. No, I have not used Twitter to link students yet. That's an interesting outcome. Thank you for sharing!