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MMA – synchronous or asynchronous?

One of the long established understanding from many educational tech researchers about elearning is whether the media is “asynchronous” or “synchronous”

Prof. Diane Laurillard in her book “Rethinking  University Teaching”  on page 146 even defined that :-

Synchronous – where particpiants are together in time, communicating through text, audio, or video via a network;
Asynchronous – where participants use the system at different times. Tutors and students can engage in 1 on 1 conversation via email, audio link, or desktop video or more usuakly in a many to many conversations.

But with the advent of technology and phenomenal growth in the use of Mobile Messaging Applications (MMA) like Whatsapp, BBM, SnapChat, Line, WeChat, etc. Does this understanding – this rule of thumb still hold water ? and with its features which can support both Synchronous and Asynchronous communications methods, it is now the time to revisit whether there is such a clear distinction between synchronous and Asynchronous communications.

Study contradictions, meaning and texts in mobile learning

Having been intrigued by Activity Theory (AT) – I was able to find some literature that actually goes deeper to investigate the type of contradictions.
It has been said that “Contradictions” is AT’s basic principles, by way of the subject identify differences in the task, and reflect upon with teachers and the learnt “outcomes” has somewhat deviate from the original planned outcomes.

Some literature of the Contradictions in Activity Theory

Gedera, D. S., & Williams, P. J. (2013). Using Activity Theory to understand contradictions in an online university course facilitated by Moodle. International Journal of Information Technology & Computer Science10(1).  can be retrieved at the following


From – introducing a perspective of Activity Theory

Historical roots and underlying assumptions

The immediate conceptual roots of activity theory can be traced to Russian/Soviet psychology of the 1920s and 1930s (footnote 2). During that time theoretical explorations in Russian psychology were heavily influenced by Marxist philosophy. A collective effort of a number of prominent psychologists, most notably Lev Vygotsky and Sergey Rubinshtein—which effort also involved much disagreement and even open conflicts—gave rise to a socio-cultural perspective (understood in a broad sense) in Russian psychology (e.g., Vygotsky, 1978Rubinshtein, 1946;Rubinshtein 1986).

The main conceptual thrust of the socio-cultural perspective was to overcome the divide between, on the one hand, human mind, and on the other hand, culture and society. As opposed to most psychological frameworks of that time, the perspective considered culture and society generative forces, “responsible” for the very production of human mind, rather than external factors, however important, that merely constitute conditions for the functioning of the mind without changing its basic nature.

The work based on the socio-cultural perspective produced a number of fundamental insights. Some of the most important contributions were as follows:

  • Vygotsky’s universal law of development, according to which human mental functions first emerge as distributed between the person and other people (i.e., “inter-psychological ”) and only then as individually mastered by the person himself or herself (i.e., “intra-psychological”), and
  • Rubinshtein’s principle of “unity and inseparability of consciousness and activity”, according to which human conscious experience and human acting in the world, the internal and the external, are closely interconnected and mutually determine one another.

Aleksei Leontiev’s activity theory (footnote 3) emerged as an outgrowth of the socio-cultural perspective. The theory employs a number of ideas developed by Vygotsky, Leontiev’s mentor and friend. It is also strongly influenced by the work of Rubinshtein, a major figure in Russian psychology and a long-time colleague of Leontiev’s (Brushlinsky & Aboulhanova-Slavskaya, 2000). Arguably, activity theory also features some other important influences which are more difficult to discern, such as the framework developed by Mikhail Basov (Basov, 1991). The basic assumptions of activity theory are the same as those underlying the socio-cultural perspective in general: namely, the assumptions of the social nature of human mind and inseparability of human mind and activity.

At the same time, Leontiev’s activity theory is not a simple imprint of all these influences. As discussed below, while the theory incorporates?a variety of ideas developed by Vygotsky, Rubinshstein, and others, these ideas have been revised and elaborated upon by Leontiev to form his own distinct and consistent conceptual framework.

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This is extracted from

CITERS Hong Kong University 2014 Research Forum

This is the 2nd year I have participated as a researcher presenting my working papers or finished paper. I personally really like this and CITE (short for Centre of Information Technology in Education) has been really generous and often invite scholars and world renowned experts from around the world in E-learning, MLEAR, Educational Research, Social Media, Digital Literacy and even privacy. I have seen first hand academics right here in HK and understand their research, giving me new perspective and an rare moment of opportunity to network. These opportunities if you join enough is almost equivalent to attending 3-4 conferences in a year.

Anyway, my paper(s), two of them has been accepted. One of them is what I have submitted previously for assessment at the program that I am enrolled in. Another paper is something I am working on for my doctoral thesis and this year I have also proposed a workshop in using OpenClass for managing all kinds of flipped learning activities.

Paper # 1

Service Learning with the use of mobile technologies in Higher Education

Paper # 2

“A study of awarding credits for completing pre-class activities in flipped learning model at City University of Hong Kong  ”

Workshop – A 50 Minute workshop

“Using OpenClass to manage flipped classroom activity, data collection and other activities”

Google Keep as one the simplest note taking + voice annotation tool

Check this review from LifeHacker, It’s FREE, backup to Google Drive, Android native – fast ! Wow !


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3 SIM cards for receiving 3 calls & SMS

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An Android phone that can accept a custom build native application. Android is basically a small linux machine and with 3 SIM cards, that is a simple SMS / GSM Modem pool on its own with connectivity to connect to WiFi and a host server. This will enable a lot of applications to be further developed in the Education, Promotional Event and Exhibition management.

My submission to HKU CITE 2014 Research Symposium

Last year I have submitted just 1 paper in Mobile Learning to the HKU CITE 2014 Research Symposium. This year, my plan is to be a bit more aggressive and to do 2 papers and 1 workshop at

There are compelling reasons to : firstly, in one of my research paper that I did as part of the coursework at Lancaster University’s PhD Program, I did a grounded theory study on the use of flipped learning activities and awarding marks / grade and in that study, I was using the platform which I have developed. I felt that not only should I share my research findings about the relationship of the flipped learning activities and awarding marks, there is a need for me to publicise widely to many of the instructors and lecturers who have real needs for uncomplicated learning technologies (as simple as a few clicks and copy n paste ) to build and handle a learning activity (flipped or not-flipped). The fact of the matter is that it is essential for the lecturer to be able to effectively use his time in helping students to understand and engage in the learning process.

In essence, I will be hoping to present a paper 15 minutes in flipped learning title :

A study of awarding credits for completing pre-class activities in flipped learning model at City University of Hong Kong 

and to conduct a 50 minutes workshop title :

Using OpenClass to manage flipped classroom activity, data collection and other activities

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Last and not least, I am hoping to present another paper titled :

Service Learning with the use of mobile technologies in Higher Education

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Mobile Learning x Service Learning = Mobile Service Learning ² or MS Learning ²



Finally I had a clear morning to read through some of the previous research work by other scholars in Service Learning and also to combine the Activity System theory by Engestrom to create a proposal – in response to the questions raised by the RPg program leader at University of Wolverhampton.

MS Learning ²

How to write a grant proposal video

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