mLearning: Where does learning occur?

Palalas positions mLearning as contextual (spatial and temporal: outside of the classroom, into the real world for mediating learning), requiring new approaches, methods and frameworks that cross the boundary of formal and informal learning.

And to borrow from Rob in a previous discussion: “Your device is an access point. The information you found on Google is the supporting resource that you accessed, because the device enabled you to. The mLearning encompasses why you needed the information, how you accessed it, and then what you did with those resources!”

I have two examples of mlearning to share:

1. Museum activities

The first, I’ve mentioned previously using iPads and smart phones with apps in a museum setting.

Why: This is a blend of formal and informal learning, an informal activity with curriculum linkages directly supporting what is being taught in the classroom (i.e. indigenous studies, human rights, genocide, Holocaust, global issues, Canadian constitution and law).

How:  A scavenger hunter app for self exploration and Socrative app for answering questions and polls

What they did with those resources: Using a scavenger hunter app for self exploration following a list of clues to identify and find objects or content within museum exhibitory and Socrative app for interpreters to create polls and pose questions to students during activities to generate discussions, with time for reflection afterwards, and later to post the results to generate further discussion.

2. Way finding

Last year while taking the bus to work, I observed two Syrian refugees, a man and a woman, interact with a local woman. They were new to Winnipeg and the man had a basic understanding of English, his partner had far less. The man used his smart phone to access a map to assist him in way finding: transit routes and city map. He spoke English with the local woman, but used his smart phone to translate English to Syrian by having the woman speak into it and Syrian to English to further communicate with her. He shared the translation with his partner. He was able to communicate with both the local woman in English, with the assistance of translation, and share the translation with his partner, and was to able to identify how to get to their destination. He was able to speak and use the translation app, along with his map/way finding app to identify how to get to their destination.

Why: 1. To find their way to their destination and 2. to broach a language barrier

How: 1. Used a map/way finding app to identify how to find their destination and 2. used a translator to communicate to assist in way finding

What they did with those resources: 1. Found their destination and 2. learned how to communicate and take in information

Both anecdotes are different, but they were both outside of the classroom and in the real world, both required put learners in positions requiring new approaches to learning, and both used approaches of formal learning in an informal learning context.

“Do you think that mLearning lends itself more to informal learning opportunities and experiences than formal learning opportunities?”

I would argue mLearning lends itself to both and crosses both. As Palalas says mLearning provides “opportunity of seamless connectivity between both formal and informal learning episodes and experiences”.

mLearning is flexible, provides the learner with mobility, can move outside of the classroom, allows for self-discovery, and allows for social interaction and communication, and allows for acquiring and building new information.


At the museum, we started some early prototypes using augmented reality (AR). The mobile app features the use of AR from the tower using a panoramic and a 3D model of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Bentwood Box containing offerings from residential school survivors was developed.

Some of my proposals included developing AR apps for mobile to profile the history of Winnipeg and to commemorate historical events in support of grade 7-12 curriculum and for self-discovery and guided public tours. Winnipeg has many landmarks within close proximity of the museum that would allow for self-guided and guided tours.

  • The history of the Forks — Indigenous rights (First Nations and Métis), language rights (French)
  • Women’s Suffrage — women’s rights and the Constitution — 100 years, 2016 (Manitoba) and 2019 (Canada). I envisioned a play at The Burton Cummings Theatre (then The Walker Theatre) to reenact the Mock Parliament, 1914
  • Canada 150 — because all federal government institutions are mandated to commemorate Canada Day and Canada’s 150th. This could be tied in to Indigenous rights (First Nations and Métis) — 150 years, 2017
  • The Winnipeg General Strike — labour and workers rights — 100 years, 1919. I recommended piggy backing on the annual guided tours and staging an reenactment of some of the key events



About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
This entry was posted in EDTC0560, mlearning, Mobile Technologies, Museums and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to mLearning: Where does learning occur?

  1. Pingback: Edtech Trends | Jim Hounslow's Blog & ePortfolio

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