Mobile learning communities: creating new educational futures

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Texas Libraries]On: 25 November 2014, At: 13:02Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Education for Teaching:International research and pedagogyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20

    Mobile learning communities: creatingnew educational futuresPaul Bowen aa Institute of Education , Manchester Metropolitan University , UKPublished online: 20 Jan 2011.

    To cite this article: Paul Bowen (2011) Mobile learning communities: creating new educationalfutures, Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, 37:1, 111-113

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607476.2011.540908

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  • Journal of Education for Teaching 111

    Mobile learning communities: creating new educational futures, by PatrickDanaher, Beverley Moriarty and Geoff Danaher, New York and Abingdon,Routledge, 2009, 224 pp., 22.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-415-99159-9

    Over the past 20 years there has been a significant number of academic publicationsabout the education of travellers which has reflected serious research attentiontowards groups often marginalised or ignored by policy-makers. Mobile learningcommunities is an ambitious and thought-provoking addition to this established liter-ature taking a broad international perspective and is clearly a useful text for thoseinterested in comparative education. The complex and varied lifestyle of travellers isexplored and they are viewed as valuable learning communities in their own rightfrom which educational systems of sedentary societies can learn.

    The book is heavily based on Danaher, Moriarty and Danahers own empiricalresearch evidence from the period 19982003 which was predominantly acquired byoral interview. A variety of case studies are drawn upon ranging from Australiancircus people to Dutch bargees. The main focus appears to be on showground andcircus people and perhaps more emphasis on European Roma migrants would havebeen welcome given their numerical importance and tendency to find it more difficultto access formal education. The book is underpinned by very extensive references toresearch work about diverse mobile communities across the globe such as, the Bakkar-wal people in the western Himalayas (Rao 2006) and this approach is innovativecompared to previous publications which have often taken a predominantly Europeanfocus.

    This is a clearly structured and user-friendly text with good use of sub-headings.Each chapter includes explicit sections on Implications for the future of mobile learn-ing communities and Implications for broader educational practice which clearlyindicate the key themes of the book. An additional feature is that each chapterconcludes with Questions for reflection which would be very useful for promotingdiscussion amongst students or teachers. Although three authors have been involvedin this work, the chapters are generally similar in terms of style and readability. Whilsteach author has taken responsibility for a particular chapter, they have all beeninvolved in contributing to the others and this strategy has clearly worked effectivelyin providing overall coherence.

    The book explores a number of themes relevant to both mobile and sedentarycommunities. Chapter 1 focuses on networks and partnerships which mobile commu-nities may be involved with such as the traveler education support services in England,whilst Chapter 2 emphasises how the informal context in which mobile communitiesoften learn is very conducive to lifelong learning. Chapter 3 considers technology inrelation to mobile learning communities highlighting how certain groups such ascircus performers have traditionally been involved with various technologies. There isdiscussion of how technology can support learning but there could be more focus here,for example, on how any digital divide between mobile and non-mobile communitiesmight be addressed. Technology is interpreted in broad terms to include such areas asculturally relevant resources for travelers but greater emphasis could be placed on thepotential of computing technologies for supporting mobile groups. The key issue ofglobalisation appears in Chapter 4 which highlights how this trend has significantlyaffected traveller communities by making them increasingly aware that they are partof a much wider community. Whilst globalisation can be seen as threatening to the

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  • 112 Book reviews

    cultural identity of travellers, it is argued there are optimistic grounds for improvingtheir educational access.

    Building on previous discussion, Chapter 5 looks at the implications of the knowl-edge economy for mobile communities which can be surprisingly complex. Interestingcontrasts are made between traditional Romany Gypsies who have tended to resistintegration into the knowledge economy and an example from Australia whereeconomic growth led to labour shortages and the influx of a mobile workforce fromthe Pacific islands. It is emphasised how the flexibility and adaptability of mobilecommunities are valuable assets but that state power is such that they are often dictatedto by sedentary learning systems, underpinned by formalised knowledge and qualifi-cations which are not easily compatible with traveller lifestyle. The discussion aboutimplications for schools and other educational institutions is refreshing and highlightsa real strength of the book, which is an emphasis on the need for formal educationinstitutions to design packages and accommodate themselves to routines and proto-cols of a culturally diverse and geographically dispersed student population(104).

    Whilst recognising that illiteracy has been a feature of traveller groups, Chapter 6interestingly refers to how some groups such as circus people possess various litera-cies and values beneficial to the wider community. There is a fascinating discussionof multiliteracies (Cope and Kalantzis 1999) and how some categories such as spatial,animal, geographical, artistic, mathematical and musical are often a real strengthamongst travellers. For example, insightful comments are made about the value ofcircus skills and arts which can inform curriculum areas such as drama or maths.There is detailed discussion of the politicised and controlling tendencies of literacy asseen in schools and, moreover, how the focus on literacy standards and performancerelative to other demographics can be counter-productive for certain Traveler groups(124). Chapter 7 is a perceptively written exploration of three interlinked conceptsapplicable to mobile communities namely risk, capacity and sustainability. Similarlyanalytical in outlook, Chapter 8 engages with the concept of marginalisation whichhistorically, has been a defining feature of traveller communities appearing in variousforms such as alienation from school systems. Contrasts are made between howtravellers may access the school system, the UK, for instance, favouring inclusionwith support staff whilst special schools have been provided for bargee children in theNetherlands. The book interestingly points out how these notions of specialisation andinclusion have much wider educational implications beyond traveller children.

    The conclusion provides an effective synthesis and one focus here is looking atspecific ideas on how new educational futures for mobile communities might look;one that is genuinely pro-nomadic and anti-sedentist (177). Specific examples fromacross the globe are provided showing considerable diversity and reflecting differingcultural contexts. Common elements are identified such as consultation and partner-ship, flexibility and innovation and challenging state educational structures. Discussingnew educational futures is a challenging task. However, this aspect could have beendeveloped more explicitly throughout the chapters. What would these new educationalfutures actually look like in practice?

    Overall this is a very stimulating book which will appeal to a wide audienceincluding teachers, teacher educators, mobile communities, policy makers and univer-sity students. The content is extensive encompassing education, schooling, culture,politics, globalisation, distance learning, sociology and technology. It would be a veryvaluable text at university but also has much relevance for experienced teachers in

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  • Journal of Education for Teaching 113

    terms of the conceptual challenges highlighted, encouraging critical thinking about thevery nature of education and formalised systems such as schooling. Whilst travellershave been traditionally marginalised and often seen as a problem, this book seeks toraise questions about the nature of education systems like schooling which continueto fail significant numbers. Mobile learning communities effectively demonstrateshow the learning experiences of travelers can inform new educational futures whichin itself, is a vibrant and growing area of academic research.

    ReferencesCope, B., and M. Kalantzis. 1999. Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social

    futures. London: Routledge.Rao, A. 2006. The acquisition of manners, morals and knowledge: Growing into and out of

    Bakkarwal society. In The education of nomadic peoples: Current issues, future prospects,ed. C. Dyer, 5376. New York: Berghahn Books.

    Paul BowenInstitute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

    Email: p.bowen@mmu.ac.uk 2011, Paul Bowen

    DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2011.540908

    Achieving your masters in teaching and learning, edited by Mary McAteer, FionaHallett, Lisa Murtagh and Gavin Turnbull, Exeter, Learning Matters, 2010, 186 pp.,17 (paperback), ISBN 9-7818-4445-2149

    This book is described on its back cover as being a core text for all those taking thenew Masters level qualification in Teaching and Learning MTL, I will explorewhether it indeed merits this claim. Before doing so it is worth reiterating that MTLis indeed a new qualification and one which may well have an uncertain future intimes of financial retrenchment. Therefore, whatever its merits, this book is written fora readership which is currently very small, initially only newly qualified teachers(NQTs) in national challenge schools are eligible to apply to the MTL, and may disap-pear within a few years.

    Chapter 1: About the master in teaching and learning (1) provides the reader withbackground information about the MTL; how it fits in with the TDA Strategic Plan20082012 (1); explores the structure and design of the MTL and poses an answer tothe question what are the benefits of the MTL? (7). As you can imagine the answerprovided is unashamedly positive as one would expect in a book specifically writtenin order to promote MTL. More challenging questions about MTL could be dontNQTs working in national challenge schools have enough to cope with without beingasked to do a MTL? and does the MTL reflect political whim rather than practicenecessity? If you wish to explore answers to the questions just posed you will haveto read elsewhere, as this is a practical guide rather than philosophical tome.

    Chapter 2, Getting started on your MTL, offers the reader practical advice abouthow to start the research process; the type and structure of modules; assessment andprogression; critical thinking and reflective practice; educational enquiry; academic

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