ETEC 523: Mobile and Open Education


Despite how rapidly mobile technologies have penetrated every aspect of our existence, the mobile revolution has barely begun. Our imaginations simply can’t keep pace with the potentials of the technology. The central critical challenge of ETEC 523 is thus:

“Just because something related to education can be accessed on a tablet or mobile phone, is it automatically exemplary of mobile and open learning?”

The answer, of course, is no, but then what does “exemplary” mean? That’s what we explore in this course. It is a lot about context, experience, autonomy, and identity. It is a moving and emerging target.

More formally, ETEC 523 is an experiential immersion, conducted on mobile devices, in the proven and emerging potentials of mobile technologies and open design principles for learning. One focus is proficiency with the theory and strategy of mobile education through collective critical analysis of global mobile culture, technologies, and pedagogy. A second focus is an exploration of open education, flexible learning, and other dimensions of education being driven primarily by mobile networks and lifestyles. Appropriate to these concepts and apace with the rapid evolution of mobility, every cohort flash-creates a unique curriculum, and scholarship happens within an open process of peer review and publication.

ETEC 523 is instructed by David Vogt, who has been conducting open, collaborative innovation in mobile technologies since before there were smartphones or apps (sounds like forever, but it is just more than a decade)! Take this course if you’d like to participate in the birth of the future of learning.

Learning Objectives

In ETEC 523 you will:

  • Gain a broad critical and practical understanding of existing and emerging mobile potentials specific to teaching and learning.
  • Acquire durable skills relevant to the analysis and design of mobile and open education environments and experiences.
  • Apply your new skills and creative abilities to the curation of mobile learning systems in flexible and traditional contexts.
  • Contribute individually and collectively to current scholarship and professional evaluation of mobile and open education.


ETEC 523 deliberately explores and experiments with mobile and open learning, so it occurs in an open WordPress blog rather than the closed confines of the UBC Canvas LMS. You can access the ETEC 523 WordPress site here.

The course employs participatory scholarship (you are co-researchers, not students); collective curation (everyone actively authors, reviews, rates, and recommends content); regenerative curriculum (every cohort self-selects and authors their own curriculum, building upon the work of previous cohorts); and open publishing (your work will be published live to the web). Students will be encouraged to experience the entire course on their mobile phones and, when this fails, to try their tablets, and then their laptops and desktops. A direct understanding of the current limitations and potentials of various media are essential to the learning here.

ETEC 523 begins with a 4-week trek into the Mobility Wilderness, followed by a Movable Feast (an 8-week team-driven exposition of select topics within mobile and open learning), and ends with a week-long Mobile Forum (students forecast the future of mobile and open learning).

Readings & Resources

ETEC 523 emulates real life within an open stream of research and analysis we call the “Knowledge Mill”. All of the products of previous cohorts is immediately available, along with leading market research works and pertinent academic literature. You may explore the ETEC 523 Knowledge Mill here. No additional textbooks are required.

Assignments & Assessment

The course is assessed on four facets of participation:

  • An individually-published Analysis of a technology, application or program at the forefront of mobile and open learning (25%)
  • A team-published¬†interactive Open Education Resource providing an analysis of one of the selected Frontiers Poll topics (25%)
  • An individually-published Forecast giving details and impacts of some future mobile and/or open learning technology of interest (25%)
  • A Participation Portfolio (25%) summarizing other contributions to the course.

Your major works will be professional in context, not academic – they will be authored to serve an open, global audience of education professionals like yourself. You will be able to distinguish yourself via creativity, critical thought, mobile design, and mobile presentation.

Minor course topic, activity, reading/resource, and assignment details may change from year to year.