We have easy access to a vast amount of information from different sources, including cutting edge scientific research. But how can we make sense of this information? Even students leaving the university often lack critical thinking skills; no wonder if you consider what is important for critical thinking: You have to challenge assumptions, evaluate arguments, integrate controverse information, mind alternate explanations, consider other positions, and come to well-founded conclusions. Critical thinking requires skills, sensitivity, and inclination.
We live in a complex, highly individual world. Formal training programs can give us the basics or specialized skills, but we have to learn within our own worlds -- be it at work or in our private lives. Thus I think that learning by reflection is crucial to adapt and prosper today. However, learning by reflection is not easy -- we need to monitor our experience, notice when critical learning incidents occur, access our experience without bias, analyze it, come to a workable conclusion, and implement it.
I think that mobile media can be used to support these psychological processes in our individual worlds to help people to reflect on their experience and enable them to learn from their past to improve their future.
I think that science should make an impact and that one impact is behavior change. It is not easy to change behavior, but there is a whole research field of persuasive technology which I find very interesting.
While there is a lot of formal education in school and beyond (university, training, job), I am more interested in informal settings. I started with learning in museums (from a psychological perspective) and continue to be fascinated what you can do if you make offers and try to catch and hold the interest and motivation of visitors. I think that museums should be taken seriously and not be misused as a testing ground -- however, they are also ideal places to test an intervention. The visitor is free in his or her decisions yet the setting is more or less controlled. And with today's mobile media, what is the world but a kind of museum where information about the things you see, hear, feel, or otherwise experience is the touch of a button away.
I think that these settings have a lot of potential that will be used in any case, so why not use it for something that actually helps the person grow?
I still amazes me what is possible with today's mobile devices. A hundred years ago nobody would have believed it -- the wealth of data, processing power, and analytic functions that is "always with you", connects you with the world, can be individually customized, and can even react to the context you are in.
Still I think that the power of these devices is vastly underused. Apps are developed that are often not related to psychological or pedagogical theories (or if so, only the 'basic' ones like operant conditioning). I think there is so much more possible and I like to make a contribution in this regard.