15 September 2020

PLAN FOR THE TECHNOLOGY YOU HAVE AND WILL USE

You have identified your learning goals and mapped those onto realistic time constraints, now what? Maybe you do not consider yourself a techy. Maybe you don’t have enough devices for your program or classroom. Good news: MML doesn’t require the newest, fanciest mobile devices, or any at all. Instead, the goal and main challenge of MML is to connect people to learning. Just as with time, the point of considering tech is not just to demand more, but to make plans in accordance with what you have and want to use. Consider that there are a wide variety of tools available to you. Some are things, some are relationships, some are ways of doing things. Since the focus on mobile tends to be about devices like smartphones and tablets, it is worth pointing out that you can get started with pencil and paper alone. Rich learning activities can be produced with greatly varying levels of access (Table 1) to advanced technologies.

Incredible locative experiences have long been afforded with paper maps. Indeed papercraft should not be forgotten. Envelopes coded to open at various places can add authenticity and mystery to a locative design.2 Technology that can be found in most library storage closets (old cameras, audio recorders, and the like) or that which is ubiquitous among your audience (texting to contact learners or have them ping you) can be appropriated with intent. Even as your designs scale in the advanced technologies they make use of, you do not need a full classroom set of smart devices; if some students have devices (sometimes this strategy is referred to as BYOD bring your own device), you can group learners or use the devices you can provide to fill in gaps of access. Also a combination of advanced and simpler tools can be used together creatively (one notetaker with a clipboard, a photographer with a camera, and a navigator with the smartphone).

Navigating your local landscape of access can help you find a way to make MML part of your pedagogical toolbox in many situations That said, there are specific features of the technological landscape worth paying attention to directly. The two main ones are hardware and internet access. Look for their mention in the chapters that follow. Most of our authors have found unique and inventive ways to put together the logistical pieces necessary to get their ideas off the ground.

As above, hardware can refer to a large category of things. But as you plan and look forward, we are talking about smartphones, tablets, and (for the moment) iPod Touches. There are two dominant software platforms: iOS and Android. While it is important to pay attention to this fact apps are frequently available for only one platform or the other, and Taleblazer is the only design tool used by our authors available on both iOS and Android—too many good ideas have been halted by insisting on cross-platform compatibility as a credo. Pay more attention to the ecology of devices available and desirable in your situation. For example, if you are having students explore a neighborhood, a bulky tablet may be unwieldy and feel out of place. In such situations smaller devices may be a better bet, even if that means relying upon those owned by participants rather than those provided by a school or program.

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