a recent buzz word related to development at work — mobile first, or more specifically mobile first design — is today a key consideration for content providers and technological solution builders as mobile devices are everywhere, and these devices serve as one key source through which we consume contents around us. but, is mobile first the sole consideration, where learning is concerned? well, how about this — if there’s a first, there’s a second? mobile first certainly does not mean mobile #only; so what’s next?
any discussion of technology and learning (or ‘digital learning’ some would prefer), it is always #ThinkAffordances — what is your design/objectives of learning, and how can technology (e.g. feature/function/tool/app/platform) enable your desired learning design? those of us who have experienced it would agree with me that chat (aka instant msging; e.g. WhatsApp), and even fb wall post+comments do not quite afford deep discussions that lead to rise-above of ideas. expressing individual’s ideas is easy; but to build on each other’s ideas, extend the ideas, improve on the ideas, counter-propose arguments, provide different perspectives, many of these acts of co-creating a common meaning is lost within the scrolling messages. in short, fb wall post+comments set up do not afford deep (digital) learning, currently.
so, what does? discussion forums (DF) do afford deep learning as described above (of cos, i will propose that knowledge forum (KF) is specially designed for this and is thus good-er). however, DF as we know it traditionally (oh btw, it’s a 20+ yr old technology), does not go well with the idea of mobile first design. the way discussions’ organised on screen traditionally, including threading, quoting, branching off, referencing back to other posts, is difficult to automatically fit on screens while displaying the discussions in way visually good for participants or readers of discussions. DF, in order to become mobile-first needs a rethink of its good old interface.
the term DF still invokes a tool-centric perspective. taking the affordance perspective, we can, and should examine what are the affordances of DF (and even KF) in enabling deep learning, and create them within existing mobile-first friendly solutions. in the process, DF as we have experienced it, may become a past, and it’s perfectly fine from a technological advancement perspective. the affordances of DF lives on.
going back to the fb wall post+comments idea, how can we improve it to afford deep learning per DF? first, we will need to invoke the concept of sub-walls (cf. discussion threads; sub-forums), where there can be more than one walls (cf. fb). and here’s probably a list of ‘requirements’ i would like to see:
- there can be any number of sub-walls as a learner chooses to maintain.
- to create a new sub-wall, one can select any existing post from the main wall or any sub-wall (together with existing likes, sharing info and comments), and pipe it into the new sub-wall.
- each sub-wall has an unique identifier (e.g. a URL) that enables one to link back or to point to it in any post, comment in any (sub-)wall.
- sub-walls will be arranged in reverse chronological order by default; and so are the posts and comments within.
- one are allowed to pin any sub-wall, or any post within it, so that it is always on-top.
- one can create and add a title/topic for each sub-wall to indicate the discourse topic to other participant/viewer.
- one can define and add tag(s) to a sub-wall to facilitate personal classification, search and retrieval
- everyone can add comments to any contents within a sub-wall
- when adding a comment in sub-wall, one can upload images, documents, media, hyperlinks as part of the comment
- visually, one should be able to easily identify any sub-wall that contains a new activity or reply/ to him/her; the ‘new’-ness visual cue is individualised and user-specific.
- visually, within a sub-wall, one should see up to 3 levels of hierarchical nesting for comments to a post. this hierarchical view allows one to easily identify the relationship among comments and to focus their attention over selected comment(s) as desired.
- participants will receive notification of new comment added to a sub-wall to enable them to return to continue the discourse (viewer can choose to follow and be notified too)
to end off, #mobilefirst (design) is not #mobileOnly (design); learning sciences folks can do wonders with computing folks when the two groups pool their brains together (:
to end off x2, finally, may i wish my Muslim friends:
[afternote] a note for self, it took 5 hours for this post to be first mooted in the morning while flipping newspaper, to connecting it with an idea@work, to typing and organising the ideas, to finally publishing it to the www & fb. now, who says learning (online) is fast? not for the slow-learner-me definitely (: