Earlier in May I was invited to give a keynote presentation at the TxtTools Conference Lets Talk about Txt Conference which was being hosted at the University. TxtTools is a system that enables mass notification of students (or users) via text messaging. It can also enable you to post text messages to a predetermined number to ask questions in a lecture or other large event.
This got me thinking about texting in education and mobile learning more generally. My keynote was entitled “will mobile learning save or destroy education?” and it dealt more with mobile learning in a wide context rather than texting. Even though I say it myself it is a rather neat use of prezi and I’m quite pleased with that! There has been much debate recently in the media about whether mobiles should be banned in classrooms, Michael Gove is particularly robust on this. But surely this misses the point? Granted mobiles can be used for bullying but by banning them aren’t we just trying to exert control on the classroom in a very Victorian way, whereas we should actually be changing learning to accommodate new technologies?
So this leads me back to texting. This is not really a new technology and what was interesting to me was how I associated mobile learning with the ability to access the Internet and especially social media rather than texting. Texting seems to be to a rather obsolete technology now. It means you have to know an individuals number whereas if you use Twitter or Facebook you can just search for them. And why would you want to text which could only reach a limited number of people when via twitter your audience is potentially limitless?
My own explorations of mobile learning with students, limited as they are, focus on the use of social media. I would see asking for their mobiles so I could text them an invasion of privacy somehow. And indeed see my own texting as much more personal. I guess there is some use for texting in terms of mass communication in times of emergency and so on but I think this is a technology that will not be around in 10 years. And I don’t think that texting is a particularly strong pedagogic tool, whereas the potentials for mobile learning definitely are.
I think my keynote raises three questions
- what does mobile learning mean to you?
- do you think social media is replacing texting?
- do you think texting has any place in learning?