Context in Mobile Learning

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Context-aware mobile learning


  • 1.Context in Mobile Learning
    Mike Sharples
    Learning Sciences Research Institute
    University of Nottingham

2. What is context?
How can context-based technology support learning?
Are there learning benefits from context-based technology?
3. What is context?
that which surrounds us
that which weaves together
Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
4. Mirrors a distinction in human-computer interaction between:
context as a shell that surrounds the human user of technology
context created by the constructive interaction between people and technology
5. A shell view of context
Data filtering and integration
Data filtering and integration
6. A shell view of context
Learning as knowledge acquisition
Technical issues of information filtering and data integration
7. An interaction view of context
Learning as social knowledge construction
Technical issues of modelling interaction over time
8. An interaction view of context
Context is adynamic and historical process
to enable appropriate action (learning)
constructed through interaction between people, settings, technologies, objects and activities
9. Modelling context
10. How can context-based technology support learning?
Learning through exploration of context
Learning through connecting contexts
Learning through engagement and reflection in contexts
11. CAGE at Nottingham Castle museum
12. CAGE system
Navigation in a conceptual space through physical movement
Location-based content delivery
Ultrasound tracking system
Context awareness:
which painting?
how long?
been there before?
13. CAGE Architecture
User profile
User input
14. Visitor study
Baseline: normal visitors
Control: visitors with printed guide
Experimental: visitors with handheld guide
15. Observations
Paper guide promoted a more rigid pattern of movement
Visitors with the PDA were more likely to move around the gallery according to what interested them
16. Interface challenges
Navigation by physical movement through a knowledge space
Keeping the user in control
Balance between manual and automatic functionality
17. MyArtSpace
How to connect learning in museums and classrooms?
Service on mobile phones for enquiry-led museum learning
Students in pairs create their own interpretation of a museum visit which they explore back in the classroom
They view multimedia in context, create images, sounds, text, notes
Automatically sent to personal website
3000 children in three museums
18. Prepare enquiry in the classroom
Create and collect in the museum
View and share in the classroom
Present a personal perspective
19. Summary of findings
The technology worked
Photos, information on exhibits, notes, automatic sending to website
Students spent longer (90 mins compared to 20 mins)
Supported enquiry learning
Encouraged children to make active choices
Connected school and museum
Need for more teacher preparation
Managing the amount of collected material back in the classroom
20. OOKL
Commercial service from MyArtSpace
21. PaSAT
Learning through engagement and reflection across contexts
Custom software to author and run location-based games
Laptop server, PDA clients, GPS positioning, wireless-LAN
22. Web-based authoring tool
PDA client with GPS positioning
23. Build-IT game
Choose the best locations for 3 new buildings
Have to be at the site to estimate
Factors to consider:
Minimise Cost
Minimise Risk (e.g. environmental impact)
Cost and Risk both vary depending on location and size of building
24. Factors that affect cost and risk are visible in the environment
Slopes cause flood risks
Micro-sites for learning
Soft land needs more expensive foundations
Being outdoors in the environment is part of the game
Houses nearby lead to planning objections
25. Initial results
Highly engaging
Engagement and reflection outdoors
Structured learning
Need more support to use data gathering tools and strategies effectively
Need more connection back to the classroom
To share and present results
26. Successful context-based learning
Learning through exploration of augmented physical space
Inquiry learning that connects formal and non-formal settings
Cycle of engagement and reflection across contexts
Creating location-based micro-sites for learning
27. Creating context
Traditional classroom learning is founded on an illusion of stability of context, by setting up a fixed location with common resources, a single teacher, and an agreed curriculum that allows a semblance of common ground to be maintained from day to day. If all these are removed, as may be the case with learning in the mobile age, then creating temporary islands of relatively stable context is a central concern. In this respect, the historic construction of context, the process by which we arrive at current understanding, assumes greater importance.
Sharples, M., Taylor, J., & Vavoula, G. (2007) A Theory of Learning for the Mobile Age. In R. Andrews and C. Haythornthwaite (eds.)The Sage Handbook of Elearning Research. London: Sage, pp. 221-47.
28. Credits
MOBIlearn IST Framework 5 project
Systems design by Peter Londsale
Funded by Department of Culture Media and Sport
Evaluation team: Peter Lonsdale, Julia Meek, Paul Rudman, Mike Sharples, Giasemi Vavoula
Systems design by The SEA
PhD project, Peter Lonsdale


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