Community Place-Making using Unique Mobile Applications

Concurrent Session 10

Brief Abstract

A novel pedagogy titled "Place: Discover, Imagine, Change" will be outlined. The collaborative mobile-learning process includes elements of inquiry and discovery in blended spaces; mapping and documentation using locative media; gamification; and knowledge building and sharing. These can be used in diverse communities with regard to their unique cultural heritage. 


I have an extensive background in educational research in Computer Science and more than twenty years of international experience in developing technology-enhanced STEM learning materials, as well as in supporting and mentoring computer science teachers, instructional designers, and educational researchers. I have taught during these years a variety of courses in mathematics, computer science, programming, educational technology, and research methods both at the undergraduate and the graduate level. I earned my doctorate in computer science education from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Between 2004 and 2007 I participated in TELS - Technology Enhanced Learning in Science - as an UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow. After returning to Israel in 2008, I received a tenure teaching position at the Kibbutzim College of Education and joined the department of B.Ed. in computers and IT as a teacher and later an acting head. Since 2010 I have been teaching in M.Ed programs in Educational Technology, Educational Leadership and Math Education. Since 2011, I have also been leading the establishment of the new B.A. program in Community Information Systems (CIS) at Zefat Academic College. Currently, I am heading this unique program designed to integrate IS technological and societal knowledge as well as to focus on organisational uses of IS. The students come from diverse and multi-cultural backgrounds, and the program seeks to prepare them for successful careers as part of 'the start-up nation'. As an active educational researcher, I have taken part in research collaborations like the Innovative Pedagogy Network, the Program-By-Design project (using Racket programming language), the MOOC research group, and the research group on collaborative learning in a global world. At the bottom of these various study and research areas rests the idea of innovation in general and pedagogical innovation in particular.

Extended Abstract

The presentation will outline a novel pedagogy based on collaborative mobile learning, developed and tried out within the context of cultural, geographical, and archaeological heritage in three different communities of learners in Israel. The integration of the Internet, new media and mobile technologies into learning has enabled new possibilities of interaction between the individual and the community as well as between the community and its environment. Consequently, the processes by which cultural heritage is reconstructed has changed. These processes now include not only teaching about the place in which the community operates, but also communal actions and learning activities within the place. Such learning may be constructed of game-based activities, building on the knowledge of the place by the participants, and going on to what is termed as place making while combining digital and physical elements of the environment and focusing on both preserving its unique values and thinking about the future of the place.

The elements of the pedagogical process are based on the results of a prior research which aimed at constructing a 'uniqueness profile' of mobile applications for learning. While many studies focus on learning with mobile applications as part of using a broader technology-enhanced learning toolbox, the research focus was solely on those learning processes and learning outcomes that are made possible only when using mobile apps, and defined a ‘unique mobile application’ as an application with potential added value when integrated into a learning environment, which would not be feasible using non-mobile desktop systems. Such benefits are also unattainable in traditional outdoor learning environments, when no digital technologies are involved. The results emerged through a gradual qualitative analytic process and include five emergent themes of uniqueness of mobile apps in three levels: the micro level focuses on interactions and includes (i) interaction with the device and (ii) interaction with the environment. The intermediate level focuses on activities and includes (iii) location-based learning and (iv) supporting any learning environment. The macro system level includes (v) applications as part of a complex system. Common to these emergent categories is the experience of learning in blended spaces. This primary pedagogical principle leads to additional principles such as embodied cognition, the device as a discovery machine, and open playful design.

Taken together, these pedagogical principles draw an overarching uniqueness profile of mobile applications that supports deep understanding of the environment in which the unique mobile app operates. These principles should be treated not just as a list, but also as a structure in which the components are placed layer upon layer so that each layer serves as a base for the next, and all are made possible by applying the founding principle of blended learning. One implication of the uniqueness profile is the importance of environmental context (physical, human, and virtual) in the design process. Learning designers, teachers and students alike should understand not just the affordances of the mobile technology, but also the environmental ones. Through participation in such mobile-enhanced activities, learners not only discover the place they live in but might also contribute to actually changing it.

The presentation will bring a few example activities that can be implemented in diverse communities in collaboration with schools, higher education institutions and cultural institutions.