The institutional perspective

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Vision and infrastructure


Vision

An overarching vision for personalised and differentiated learning will in most cases be built on previous investment in e-learning. Mobile and wireless technologies will extend the reach of that investment and foster increasingly personalised learning approaches. The vision should be linked to:

National strategies. Mobile technologies can be deployed effectively to widen participation, embed basic skills, including ICT, and to address the priorities in national e-learning strategies.
Internal strategies. Use of mobile and wireless technologies can be linked to benchmarking data, to internal self-assessment reviews, and to institutional strategic aims in order to establish appropriate targets for departments, faculties or sections.
Resource development and management. The development of a learning-rich institution will require the generation or redirection of financial and human resources into supporting technology-mediated learning. On a smaller scale, IT or network management policies will need to address the balance between network security and access to learning resources via personal mobile devices.

Infrastructure

Mobile and wireless technologies bring clear benefits to an institution, but there are also elements of risk to be found in the instability of emergent technologies and in planning for innovative practices in a rapidly changing technological environment. The following points need to be considered in planning the introduction of mobile and wireless technologies:

Sustainability. Use of mobile technologies and wireless networks may be advantageous to an institution aiming to increase learner numbers. More widespread personal ownership of 3G mobile phones, PDAs or tablet PCs could also transfer purchase and maintenance costs from institutions to learners. Mobile devices are rapidly superseded, but sustainable pedagogies do not always require the most sophisticated devices.
Scale. Wireless and mobile technologies can first be deployed in niche areas, where the gains and drawbacks can be experienced with less impact. Subsequent wider implementation will involve senior management in coordinating a drive towards innovative practice. Institutional managers need to assess the degree of innovation that can be supported.
Implementation. IT and network managers, who have responsibility for network security, procurement, interoperability and maintenance of software and hardware, are key players in a holistic plan. Others who need to be involved in an 'action-force' approach are learning technologists, ILT/e-learning development coordinators, advanced practitioners and those with responsibility for learning resources and estates.

An example

A case study, Changing to a wireless worldfrom Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College shows how wireless connectivity can be used in teaching and learning, how management of learning can be made more efficient by the use of mobile and wireless technologies, and how the same data can be used to provide personalised support for individual learners.