Monday, 11 March 2013

A5: Tablets and personal learning environments: The disruptive technologies are already here

Brian Whalley
Queens University Belfast, UK

MOOCs are 'flavour of the month' but discussion generally relates to 'delivery mode', 'traditional' lectures and accessibility. Little consideration is given to how recipients/students gain educationally during the process. Traditionally, we consider students in a lecture theatre and working in an educational space (home, library). Tablet computers (especially when 'connected') add a new dimension to the entire educational domain, adding flexibility of learning. We look at Personal Learning Environments developed with, and enhanced by, tablet computers, smart phones and their educational roles.

Tablets, 'apps' and 'the cloud' can be viewed as disruptive educational devices; tablets will soon replace laptops and desktop computers in most learning environments through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Consequently, tablet+app+cloud combinations allow small tutor-based alterations in learning provision to become major changes in student involvement and engagement in their education by adding flexibility and enhaning education by TEL. For example, personal response systems can be run from tablets with little institutional expense but high levels of student/tutor flexibility.

This adaptability, through the use of diverse, and inexpensive, apps can be be accommodated within a constructivist-connectionist paradigm (but which does not have to be MOOC-related). Tracey's Informal Learning Environments can be contained within this viewpoint. In general, as students move towards tablets-smartphones) for educational and social/leisure activities, tablets allow small changes to 'improve' students' education. We discuss how educational institutions, publishers, exam boards and tutors need to adapt and transform traditional educational materials, methods of delivery, assessment and feedback.

The paper examines some of these changes with examples of educational 'devices' that need consideration. Although we consider tablets as disruptive technology, when linked to TEL and imaginative educational they become adaptive and 'Anti-Fragile'. Our experience in using tablets in 'fieldwork' show that they can be used anywhere and have application to most of the conference themes.

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