Sociocultural ecosystem

Learner’s relationship to their mobile phones is a very personal one.  The nature of that relationship involves beliefs that have evolved over time, and beliefs which are shared by varying levels of social organization.  Any use of MALL is going to be entering a web of beliefs about teaching, learning, language, privacy, innovation, authority, respect, gender, creativity, morality, the past, the future, and so on.  The following questions point to beliefs in a given sociocultural setting.  An ethnographer might ask the following questions to uncover the beliefs which impact a given use of MALL.

Beliefs that have developed across…

Long time scales

(millenia, centuries, decades)

Medium time scales

(years, months)

Short time scales

(weeks, days, minutes)

Local groups

(peer groups, families)

  • What materials are inappropriate?
  • Who has the right to learn?
  • Are men or women’s education more important?
  • What kind of future will learners have?
  • How should teachers cultivate respect?
  • How should teachers handle failure?
  • How does socio-economic status affect our access to mobile devices?
  • Do learners discriminate against each other (and themselves)?
  • Who do learners want to see their phone screen?
  • What is popular among learners’ peers?
  • What is the coolest phone?
  • Who should learners sound like?

Medium-scaled groups

(communities, minorities, organizations)

  • Which variety of a language should be taught?
  • What amount of privacy is expected?
  • What should students and teachers know about each other?
  • What skills are most important in a language?
  • Who must be consulted about innovations?


  • How correct must I be when I speak?
  • Who can fix technology problems?


Large-scaled groups

(societies, nations)

  • What is a teacher’s job?
  • What is language?
  • Whose responsibility is technological development?


  • What skills are of critical interest?
  • How innovative are teachers supposed to be?
  • Where is money being allocated?
  • What fears do we currently have in our society?
  • What content should be banned?
  • How do we account for censorship,  surveillance and safety?