Mobile phones are the new learning tools of the future

Major international research programme on Life as learning

Mobile phones are the new learning tools of the future

Mobile phones look set to become an important new learning tool for the future. One of the projects under the umbrella of the Academy of Finland international research programme Life as Learning (or LEARN for short) is working on theoretical models and practical applications that will facilitate the use of mobile technology in learning. In charge of this project is Professor Jari Multisilta from the Tampere University of Technology (Finland): he says that the aim is to develop palmtop computers, communicators and videophones for different learning applications.

The project will be creating theoretical models of future learning that will be tested in different situations primarily by university students. Business companies are already closely involved in the project, and this cooperation will certainly be continued. In the business context mobile technology provides a valuable tool for on-the-job training. A good example, Professor Multisilta says, is having the maintenance instructions for a paper machine sent by mobile phone to the machine operator:

“This way you can create a learning situation that is independent of place. The ultimate goal is a digital learning culture”, Professor Multisilta believes.

In all there are 17 projects under the Life as Learning research programme. Among the topics addressed in these projects are learning in different kinds of learning environments, future learning, the changing role of the teacher and learning as a social and cultural skill. A total of EUR 5.1 million has been earmarked for programme implementation in 2002-2006.

LEARN also involves corresponding programmes from Great Britain, Norway and Canada. In addition, discussions are underway with Holland, France and Germany.

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