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Monday, November 28, 2011

Reality Television-Inspired M-Learning: “Life Is Our Laboratory” Approach

Effective design for mobile learning courses requires a major shift in how one thinks of the learner's relationship to the content. Interactivity takes on a whole new dimension, as students create content to share and critique in close to real time. The key is to avoid sending students down a path where they will be more or less duplicating what the others have done. They need to be able to apply their knowledge and skills and to process them so that they make sense in real-life applications or simulations / scenarios.

One must keep in mind, too, that the new iPad, Kindle Fire, and other e-readers mean that students are likely to be able to read texts on the fly and develop more robust, course-related content more easily and conveniently than in the past.

Where does the student create content to upload and share "in the wild" with their mobile device (tablet, smartphone, handheld)? What are the best methods of sharing?

Protected social networking

Discussion prompts

Research repository (a thread in a discussion board area, or a location within social networking sites)

Shared photos / media

Portfolios / Final Projects / Lab Reports - (portfolio sites -- can use Faceb00k-type social networking for sharing collaborations)

Interviews / Observation: can be a combination of audio, video, graphics, and text files which can be uploaded within an LMS or in a dedicated social network site

Presentations (PowerPoints / KeyNote slides, potentially animated using captivate)

Implications for Instruction

Student-developed content is exciting, dynamic, and encourages interaction; it also encourages creative development of content.

  • Originality is paramount. Avoid plagiarism.
  • All students must be mindful of the fact that fellow students' work may or may not be accurate; just because it's on the web (posted in a site) does not make it credible; nor are all the links and resources necessarily reliable. It's a great opportunity to practice critical thinking skills.
  • Students will need clear guidelines re: size of files and where to upload.
  • Content guidelines – be sure to let students know what’s not okay.
  • Privacy issues when gathering information and sharing information
  • Social Construction of Reality – what is real? Who decides?
  • Simulacra okay? Use faux persona, etc. when dealing with actual persons / places / products could be too sensitive.

Reality TV-inspired Mobile Learning

Psychology / Sociology

Example: Real Housewives of (fill-in-the-blank)

Your own: Social Relation Drama


Example: History Channel programs

Your Own: “History Needs a ReDo!”

Go to historical sites and ask tough questions / debunk and challenge current beliefs. Find out what most people think.

Biology / Animal Behavior

Example: Fatal Attractions (When pets become predators/ exotic pets turn on their owners)

Your own show: "Biting the Hand... Can You Trust Your Companion Animal?" (Chronicle the life of your own pet … is there any reason to start fearing your own Siamese cat, Chihuahua, Laborador retriever, pit bull?)

Earth Science / Environmental Science

Example: Swamp People on the History Channel (

Your own show: Meet the Frackers – show different sides of the controversy surrounding hydraulic fracturing in shale gas wells

Criminal Justice

Example: Steven Seagal - Lawman

Your own show: Quirky Laws! (Research laws that are on the books and which reflect the life and times of communities in transition. Do they apply today? Why? Why not?)

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