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Mobile learning and immutable mobiles: using iPhones to support informal learning in craft brewing

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter


Publication date2014
Host publicationThe design, experience and practice of networked learning
EditorsVivien Hodgson, Maarten de Laat, David McConnell, Thomas Ryberg
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319019406
ISBN (Print)9783319019390
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameResearch in Networked Learning


This chapter presents two case studies of the use of iPhones in informal learning practices in craft brewing. We trace how a smartphone is entangled in practices and how an informal learning network is assembled. We consider this assemblage through actor-network theory (ANT) describing the origins, applications and intersection of this approach with educational research and networked learning. Using a multi-sited ethnographic methodology and focussed-ethnographic fieldwork methods, we follow connections from participant observation in the home breweries to online forums and media. These are illustrated through thick description and images of the situated use of iPhones in two home breweries. From this fieldwork we draw three implications. Firstly, how those formal educational settings can productively learn from the situated use of apps to support calculation, simulation and recording of data in these informal practices. Secondly, how aspects of Marsick and Watkins’ (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 2001(89), 25–34) model of informal learning as haphazard and unrecognised are less helpful than a more nuanced and context-sensitive theorisation. Finally, we consider the challenge of ANT to conceptualisations of the epistemology and ontology of networked learning and question the anthropocentric view of agency and narrow views of mediation advanced therein. We suggest that learning assembles an actor-network and reconfigures it with that learning distributed across its heterogeneous elements rather than residing in the human learner alone.