Friday, February 24, 2006

Video Ipods & ideas for Mlearning content dissemination

Last week, I travelled up to Wellington with my daughter to settle her into a university hostel. Young Joanna is embarking on a four year degree in design. I will miss her because we have a good mother / daughter relationship. But another reason I will miss her will be because she is the source of much of my learning as a digital immigrant. Both my children have been avid users of digital technology. Jonathan my son, is our in-house IT expert. One of the reasons may have been that they were both introduced to computers as toddlers. So, apart from a succession of computers from the Commodore VIC 20 onwards, we have lived with a procession of game consoles / game boys and then a progression of mobile phones and ipods.

As a going away present, we provided Jo with sufficient money to upgrade her 4G Ipod to a video Ipod. During the inter-islander ferry sailing from Picton to Wellington, I had the opportunity to have a play around with the video Ipod. She only had one sample video on as videos take up lots of memory. The rest of the Ipod was filled with hundreds of photos of friends, a few of home , several dozen photos of our dog, Arthur and thousands of songs.

What struck me was the clarity of the photos & the absorption of watching the video (with earphones attached for sound) on the small Ipod screen. Sound quality was also sufficient to block off the conversational noise of the other passengers sitting next to us. The 60G memory on the Ipod is currently unavailable on any current mobile / smart phone on the market, but smart phones like the Treo 650 have SD card add ons. So in the not too distant future, mlearning content could be disseminated not only as podcasts but also as vodcasts which are downloaded on to SD cards. Vodcasts could also be stored on mini disc, like the ones that play on portable play stations (PSPs). We can then post vodcast on SD cards or mini discs with content to be covered. Our students insert these into their mobile phones to play them when they need to access the information. Note that the prime function of PSPs is for playing games. However, they are now a good example of a convergent piece of hardware as they also have WIFI access to the internet, can be used to store and display photos and able to also store and play music.

My ideas for dealing with the dissemination of content to mobile phones is starting to firm up. There are many viable options, many of which are not quite possible on mobile phones as yet. However, I think that the vodcasting option should be attainable in the next 2 – 3 years. 25 years ago, I bought my first computer – the VIC 20 (5 kB RAM but only 3.5 available to user & 16 kB ROM). This year, I am about to purchase a Treo 650 (23MB non volatile memory & it comes with a standard 128 MB SD flash card – but I will probably upgrade to 1GB). What will the next 25 years bring?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Web 2.0 applications for educators on pbwiki

Over the summer break, I had a play with using pbwiki. Learning by doing is what I do best so I transferred a draft of a document I started putting together late last year. The document lists the many Web 2.0 applications that are turning up on Techcrunch and other blogs that I follow. I have sorted the applications into categories like blogging tools, collaboration & knowledge sharing, multimedia audio, visual and collation, mobile applications including MoSoSos, Wikis etc. Although the site is still ‘in the process of being constructed’ it now easier for me to follow what all these applications, tools, platforms are for and how they may be usefully applied by educators towards improving learning opportunities for their students. Another pbwiki site provides a good explanation of the applications & theories behind social software.

pbwiki has shown up on several blogs written by techie educators and it seems to the wiki that is especially recommended for use by primary school level students. So I applied for a password and started up a wiki on Web 2.0 applications for educators. The set up process took all of 2 minutes. Learning how to use the wiki took me a few tries but once I worked out how to get text to be underlined, bold, boxed and hyperlinks to display, I was away. This took about half an hour relying only on the instructions provided by pbwiki. Over the last couple of months or so, I have copied & pasted my original document on to the wiki. So if you would like to help maintain the wiki, just email me & I will email you the password providing you with editing rights.

At the moment, pbwiki does not have a mobile option but I can see a similar platform being build up for eportfolios to be delivered to a repository. We will need the following:-
  • a WYSIWYG text interface,
  • a simple way to upload pictures and
  • perhaps a set template for where things should go.
  • a mechanism for signalling that an update has been made by the student and then emailed to the tutor will also be helpful.
  • be mobile phone friendly to use
  • ability to not only archive but re-collate / organise content

Many of the content / knowledge sharing and WIKI tools that are listed in Web 2.0 applications for educators are possible candidates. I will need to work out a way to evaluate these tools with apprentices. Apprentices will need to upload photos & input text into their eportfolio using their phones. I can then evaluate the process with them to see how they easy or user friendly the software was to make use of. From my point of view, I will need to look at how reliable and valid the evidence collected in the eportfolio is towards completing the required unit standard.

I will need to think this through & then present a research proposal to the powers that be to see if CPIT will agree to the evaluations taking place. If anyone out there knows of a free application that will do what I have just described in the paragraph above and has worked with and evaluated it’s potential, please let me know.