User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Mobile Learning: Learners As Informed Consumers, Creative Producers, and Active Participants

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Children and young people are using their own mobile devices – Pods, iPads, netbooks, laptops, and smart phones – to be consumers and producers of digital content, and to be active participants in online communities.  They are doing so as part of their day-to-day lives outside of school as leisure time activities.  They are familiar and comfortable with social networking and using a variety of apps via their devices.  The 2010 Nielsen’s Teen Mobile Report reported that “94% percent of teen subscribers self-identify as advanced data users, turning to their cellphones for messaging, Internet, multimedia, gaming, and other activities like downloads.”

When educators leverage this informal learning by giving agency to the students to use their mobile technologies AND by providing the structure and skills for their use within more formal educational settings, motivation and learning is increased. (Learn more about Agency and Structure, see .)  By bringing these experiences into the classroom, consumption of content becomes more informed, production of online content more creative, and participation as global citizens more active and directed.

Informed Consumers. Learners are consuming real time and constant news with Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other newsfeeds via their mobile devices. In more formal learning environments, learners can be given the agency to access this information and provided with the skills to make informed and critical decisions as to its relevance, efficacy, and credibility.

Creative Producers. Young people are taking pictures and creating video using their mobile devices.  Pulling out mobile devices during real world photo-ops is commonplace.  Although many young people have the desire to produce media that is creative, attention-grabbing, and has high production value, many lack the knowledge and where-with-all to do so.  When this desire to produce media enters into a mobile learning environment, the education setting can provide a combination the right instruction; and apps for planning, filming and editing.  Learners-as-producers not only increases the potential for creative and higher quality media, but also additional avenues for them to develop and showcase their content-related learnings.

Active Participants. Mobile technologies have provided digital access to many who do not have access via computers and in-home Internet.   This includes lower SES individuals from developed countries as well as those in third world countries.  This anytime, anywhere, and with almost anyone capability makes mobile learning ripe for collaborating globally and developing global stewardship.  It levels the educational landscape permitting communication and collaboration between diverse groups of learners.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

One Response

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  1. Well done. I think it important to note that just by virtue of having access to mobile devices, doesn’t make the learner an informed consumer, a creative producer and an active participant. In terms of difficulty, it seems that it is most difficult to be an informed consumer followed by creative producer. Students still need guidance and coaching on how to do these three things. My original thought on skimming this article was “where is critical thinking”, and then after reading more carefully see that critical thinking is not only required to be an informed consumer, but it’s just as much required to be a creative producer and an active participant. Thanks for your work!


    July 29, 2012 at 3:31 am

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