In the AMULETS project we are exploring how teachers can develop and implement novel educational scenarios combining outdoors and indoors activities that use ubiquitous computing technologies together with stationary computers. These types of activities provide new opportunities for children and teachers to review and to continue the learning experience in the classroom, thus supporting different aspects of learning such as exploration, discussion, argumentation, collaboration and reflection.
Recent advancements in mobile, wireless and positioning technologies combined with contextual computing are contributing to the development of new mobile applications and services. The rapid adoption of sophisticated mobile devices and applications has created new social tools for people to connect and interact; changing the ways we communicate and collaborate. In the context of this paper we will refer to these technologies as Ubiquitous Computing Technologies. Educational environments are being subject to these changes providing an opportunity for curriculum development that can use these socially based devices for supporting different aspects of learning and teaching. Mobile and wireless technologies enable the opportunity to interact in new ways with the physical world as they allow allocating computational power and interaction away from the limitations of desktop computers. From this perspective, learners are given the opportunity to collaborate in new and interactive ways within the physical world, as well as the physical world can be augmented through digital technologies.
Young Communication is supported and partially funded by the Knowledge Foundation and is a collaborative project including Blekinge Institute of Technology, Kalmar University and V�xj� University, with V�xj� as the co-ordinating university. Head project co-ordinator is Lennart Axelsson at the Department of Teacher Education, V�xj� University.
Since last year, we have conducted three different trials with children and university students. The first trail took place in June of 2006 in an elementary school while the second trial occurred the following December, in the town square with the same school. The third trial took place between April and May 2007 and we collaborated with the teacher training program at our university.
We argue that the design of innovative mobile learning activities should be guided by collaborative learning scenarios in context supported by mobile and ubiquitous technologies in authentic settings. To support this claim, we have developed a conceptual framework that can be used when designing novel mobile learning scenarios. This framework provides the designer with opportunities to tackle the challenges of designing for Mobile Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (mCSCL) and Mobile-Learning (mLearning) environments. These contextual collaboration modes serve as a bridge to connect children working with the same activity context in distinctly different locations, as well as they served also as a tool to support authentic learning activities
Our explorations into collaboration in context evolved over the three trials we have conducted so far. In the Bergunda School trial, the students worked in groups in the field. In the second trial at the V�xj� Square, we introduced the co-located subgroups collaborating in different locations scenarios while the collaboration was mediated by mobile technologies. In the third trial, the teacher students rotated between the outside and the inside activities, thus providing all students with learning experience at the different locations. Based on the assessment of these trials and the post activities, we have learned that the users placed high value on the collaboration aspects of the learning activities and the need to develop easier forms of communication for collaboration in context using mobile and ubiquitous technologies. Coming research activities include the continuation of our efforts within the framework of a new international project exploring the use of mobile devices for game based learning and field studies in natural science, math, and physical fitness supported by mobile applications.
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