To what extent do mobile technologies enhance individual and group learning? Art Maps aims to explore this issue in relation to users’ understanding of and engagement with artworks in relation to place.
Mobile learning (or m-learning) commonly refers to learning occurring through the use of mobile devices such as mobile phones, laptop and tablet PCs. The term ‘mobile’ is normally associated with the technological device, rather than with users, although the assumption is that learners are continually on the move and that, as research advocates, almost all learning occurs in complex social environments outside of formal education (Sawyer, 2006).
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recognises that valuable learning takes place within formal settings, as well as informally everywhere and at all times (Werquin, 2010). So, learning is intended in its broad meaning as a pervasive process happening anywhere and anytime (e.g. school, workplace, museum, libraries, gym, etc.). “Today, individuals inhabit simultaneously as part of their lives multiple learning spaces: work, non-work, family, leisure, social networks, occupational networks, social engagement and manifold channels of news, information and communication, not to mention physical and global mobility (actual and virtual), burst open the possibilities for learning” (Jackson, 2011: 23).
The pervasiveness of new technology seems to have augmented the pervasiveness of learning as a spontaneous and informal process. With or without technology though, if the focus is on the mobile learner (and not simply on mobile devices), we argue that mobile learning happens each time that we engage in a mobile learning activity: pupils studying on the bus to school, commuters preparing for a meeting during their trip to work, etc. Extensively, m-learning is “any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies” (O’Malley, et al., 2005: 7).
Art Maps espouses the concept of m-learning as the conjunction of mobile learners supported by mobile technology. Over the course of 2012, mobile applications will be developed allowing people to relate artworks to the places, sites and environments they encounter in daily life, as well as to record and share their memories and personal responses to the places associated with the artworks.
The emotional dimension is crucial to achieve meaningful learning and the association between artworks and location supports the activation of learning processes from real situations (Guazzaroni & Leo, 2011). Learning can be enacted by a given situation, but it can also create a dynamic context where social and material (e.g. technology, artworks), elements offer continual interaction within the environment. The learner is situated “within an environment from which the senses continually receive data that are interpreted as meaningful information and employed to construct understanding. […] The common ground of learning is continually shifting as we move from one location to another, gain new resources, or enter new conversations” (Sharples, et al., 2007: 230).
Within Art Maps, the public will be able to experience ‘learning in mobility’ through ubiquitous connections with familiar or novel environments augmented by digital resources (e.g. images, information, comments). Thus, the usual conversation with physical space will be enriched by new layers of meanings offered by the artworks and associated public responses.
Guazzaroni, G., & Leo, T. (2011). Emotional Mapping of a Place of Interest Using Mobiel Devices for Learning. Proceedings of Mobile Learning 2011, (pp. 277–281). Avila (Spain)
Jackson, N. J.(2011). Learning for a Complex World. A Lifewide Concept of Learning, Education and Personal Development. Bloomington: Authorhouse
O’Malley, C., Vavoula, G., Glew, J. P., Taylor, J., Sharples, M., Lefrere, P., et al. (2005). Guidelines for Learning/Teaching/Tutoring in a Mobile Environment - MOBIlearn Project Report D4.1. University of Birmingham: MOBIlearn IST Project
Sawyer, K. R.(2006). The Cambridge Handbook of Learning Sciences. New York: Cambridge University Press
Sharples, M., Taylor, J., & Vavoula, G. (2007). A Theory of Learning for the Mobile Age. In R. Andrews, & C. Haythornthwaite, The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research (pp. 221–247). London: SAGE Publications
Werquin, P. (2010). Recognising Non-Formal and Informal Learning: Outcomes, Policies and Practices. OECD Publishing.