A Sociocultural Ecological Frame for Mobile Learning

Authored by: Norbert Pachler , Ben Bachmair , John Cook

Handbook of Mobile Learning

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415503693
eBook ISBN: 9780203118764
Adobe ISBN: 9781136311536


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The increasing normalization of mobile devices in everyday life, including the lifeworlds of young people, raises questions about their potential for learning. Attempts to appropriate media from the world of work, as well as everyday life, have a long tradition in education and tend to be discussed under the guise of ‘technology-enhanced learning’. A certain degree of optimism has tended to surround new media resources – be they from mass communication, such as video, or from business, such as the computer – and their meaningful integration into teaching and learning in schools. Of course, the question of whether new media resources are appropriate for school has long been debated: do media really enhance learning, or, in view of their rootedness in entertainment, do they actually subdue the educational rationale for learning? It is not easy to formulate an answer, because there exist no general educational principles for media use, owing to the societal and cultural character of media, technology, learning and education. For this reason, we propose a line of argumentation that defines mobile devices such as mobile phones as cultural resources. Mobile cultural resources emerge within what we call a ‘mobile complex’, which consists of specific structures, agency and cultural practices (see Pachler, Bachmair and Cook, 2010). These specific structures, agency and cultural practices of the mobile complex are in perpetual flux. The mobile cultural resources of the mobile complex are becoming integrated into schools’ institutionalized learning bit by bit. In the following, we will discuss two interrelated fields: the first is the sociocultural field, which considers the mobile complex; the second is the educational field, with its focus on learning as meaning-making and as appropriation of cultural artefacts.

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