In this talk, Gavin discusses the potential of mLearning as a sustainable solution.  

Date: 9 October 2016

Link to the recorded talk:

Over the past twenty-five years or so, our profession has undergone a series of soft assaults from educational technologies (EdTech), beginning with computer rooms and the first truly multimedia computers, running through early Internet experiments and on through the age of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), Web 2.0, the 'social web'; and more. And today we find ourselves in the 'mobile era'. But how can we be sure that this technology - unlike many of its predecessors - will remain in our arsenal long enough to justify institutional expense - both from a financial point of view, and in terms of investing in CPD and teacher support?

In this session we will look at ten reasons why mobile and handheld learning (mLearning) - whether on an institutionally-led basis, or as part of a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) initiative - may have a greater chance of success than any other technology we have implemented in the past. Over the course of those ten points, we will examine mLearning through an institutional lens, and through the lenses of both the learner and the teacher, in order to judge whether mLearning is, finally, the EdTech solution we have been waiting for.

About the speaker:

Gavin has worked in education for the past 24 years, as a teacher, materials developer, IT manager and web/user interface designer and his blend of pedagogical and technical skills has taken him around the world for a variety of organisations including International House World Organisation (, the British Council ( and others - helping them to bridge the gap between their training and teaching portfolio and their technical needs.

Until the end of 2003 he held two posts: the first as Head of the New Technologies Department at International House Barcelona and the second as Lead Developer for the online training centre Net Languages. In 2003 he set up The Consultants-E with Nicky Hockly. He is a past coordinator of the IATEFL Learning Technologies Special Interest Group and also past editor of the SIG newsletter. In 2007 he was elected Honorary Secretary of IATEFL, and in 2011 became the first Chair of the Electronic Committee (ElCom).

His company TheConsultants-E works primarily in online teacher development and training and their Cert ICT course won a British Council ELTon in 2007. Among their other courses they also offer the only online Cert IBET course.


After taking our conferences, I was always thinking about how to make some changes in my own piano classrooms (to children and young teenagers) and let them reflect out some new ideas brought from these advanced tendencies. Last week, I think one successful (I am not very sure if it was successful, just a new beginning) should be changing attitude about students' mobile phone and other devices applied into classrooms.

Today, I have taken a little bit time to review this talk again - still very exciting - about some presentations and texts. I found some arguments and discussions all about whether digital devices applied there would block educational functions or motivate them - they were taken among participators ourselves and between we and presenter. Some participants - from India, turkey and me from china have all picked up our fears about some facts that digital devices would influence the effects of classrooms - students would lose their interests in learning contents themselves, but some attentions would be attracted to other issues such as mobile games or social networks. Some teachers also feared about if students recorded their lessons, then after them, they made contrasts with other teachers'; or even worse, some ethic issues would be caused, and educational institutes' secrets would be lost, if unappreciated critiqued online. Then, relationships would be broken among teachers themselves and teachers and students. These are really quite emergency problems faced by lots teachers and students. We don't want things finally turned bad, but somehow felt very hard to make the designs whether or not to ban.... After taking Gavin Dudeney's presentations, analysis about his experiences, our follows and discussions, some pressures have been reduced and our fears can be released, somehow. If you want me to use some key words to summarize his suggestions, I would say: teachers' deductive guidance integrating with App applications (as for homework or tests) focusing on classrooms' special features are very necessary and would give us some possible solutions.

A new change stated from that day – and just a beginning:
After getting back from our virtual continuing developing conferences, I was thinking very hard about some issues in this field according to my practical conditions. You knew, practical conditions and resources in local are somehow limited. Then, how could I make good usages and really contributed to my boys and girls. Depending on the special features of piano tutorials and some instrumental and musical courses themselves, recording hands shapes, techniques and skills and teachers' languages by applying students' mobile phones (some smartphones) should be still a good way for students' repeatedly reviewing and learning, when making the departures from teachers and back home without necessary monitoring. I used to fear about some unnecessary issues occurred rather than fine art itself, which I cannot deal very well but trap myself in. I liked my boys and girls and I also need to protect ourselves. You know, instrumental classes have their own special features from traditions – family-tutorials-oriented and usually one-to-one in piano-room in order to improve the effectiveness’s. Video and audio recordings’ inventions somehow open a new door for improving teaching effectiveness’s, accordingly, but.... After this conference, I thought we still needed to trust our students and ourselves - yeah building some confidences of ourselves. It's not to say we fear then we don't do and lose ourselves in old fashion. Before recording, as teachers, I need to give some deductive guidance - as telling them clearly that the aims of making them are all and only for their soon obtains of techniques and skills themselves without any non-educational purposes. I think students and their parents could understand this point well, after hearing our talks. Then, mobiles gave us some other conveniences in checking homework. In the middle of a week, usually, students felt a little bit lazy and lost interests in playing and exercising. Here, giving a call (or in the future a video-call) and even hearing one or two plays of melodies; then giving some encouragements to them. This is a support of their self-training. Furthermore, in classrooms, we can specially give a taught about how to self-research and self-make their own digital learning materials only for themselves - what kind of techniques, skills and languages they can record by themselves and what shouldn't be necessary etc. Teaching them ethic issues, giving some guidance and motivating them to think more about how to digitally learning well - these are what we can really do. If a ideal atmosphere of digital era can be constructed in the far future, our next generations can live under sunshine - no online cheating, no net-work damages and virtual threats. How a beautiful day...! I knew there is really a long way we need to take. As teachers and teachers educators we should take. Oh, sorry, day-dreaming so far away!

All in all, this is just a new beginning. Indeed, every day we are touching digital, but with ignorance. Depending on conditions in local, we can try to make some changes or make some plans in education, depending on our own abilities. If one does a little bit, then another does a little bit, and another and then... our kind hearted dream should have the possibilities to be true, I think. If students and courses 'really needed', yes, we can do our 'own cans'!

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