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Mark Gaved, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

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Mark Gaved
1 February 2015

My research has focussed on contextual and mobile teaching and learning, considering the value of learning in authentic situations and environments. I have been involved in a range of projects:  supporting mobility impaired students participating in geology field studies (Enabling Remote Activity project, at The Open University, UK); enabling school children to carry out personally relevant environmental inquiries in their cities (the Personal Inquiry project, part of the UK based 'Teaching and Learning Research Programme'), and exploring how recent immigrants to the European Union could use smartphones for language learning and helping with social and cultural inclusion when out and about in their daily activities (MASELTOV, funded by the European Commission). I have recently started work on a small project exploring how smartphones combined with beacons might support location-specific language learning in smart cities (SALSA: Sensors and Apps for Languages in Smart Areas), building on the MK:Smart project that is currently underway in Milton Keynes, England.

Mobile devices (particularly smartphones and tablets) are personally owned and familiar devices for an increasing number of people and are changing the way adults and children learn. They enable learning to take place anywhere, and at any time; taking formal and informal education out into the world, but also bringing powerful mobile devices into the classroom. This creates opportunities for teaching to change, enabling teachers and educational designers to develop learning activities that take advantage of the mobility of both the devices and the learners. Mobile learning is not just about devices, but what people can do with them. We can make use of the sensors built into devices (such as cameras, microphones, and navigation receivers), their internet connectivity, and the power of the social networks of the learners to share and create knowledge. 

Making learning mobile has enabled students to study in a range of environments from the classroom, to field sites, to home, and back again; engaging with learning when most effective. However, this approach also bring challenges – technical, pedagogical, and ethical - that we must be aware of. Not all learners have access to smartphones, tablets, or laptops; students bringing devices into classrooms may be distracted and change the teacher's role, and mobile-informed learning activities must be carefully constructed to be led by good pedagogy and not driven by technology.

My research, on a range of UK and EU funded projects from 2007 to the present, has explored these opportunities and challenges in a range of domains, from informal to formal learning environments, school children to university students and adults in work related environments. I have carried out a range of practical studies ‘in the wild’ using mostly qualitative methods to understand how technology supported systems might enhance teaching and learning, and reported in a range of peer reviewed papers, presentations and conferences, and other public events.

 I  am attending the workshop because I would like to understand the similiarities and differences between the research environment  I am familiar with (the UK and Western Europe) and in Kazakhstan. I'd like to learn about the cultural, social and technological dimensions the other workship participants explore in their work. I'm looking to build contacts with other researchers to share ideas, and develop collaborations. An emerging aspect of my research is mobile assisted language and cultural learning, and I am hoping this workshop will give me the opportunity to find out about other researchers’ work in this area, and find opportunities for future collaborations.

Plus I am really excited to have the opportunity to visit Kazakhstan! :-)

For more information about me, visit my university home page.

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