Wednesday, October 25, 2006

mlearn2006 day1

Had a very busy & productive first day. Several enlightening presentations led to a few ‘light bulb on’ moments for me. Also met several interesting people during the wine & cheese on Sunday evening, so one of my objectives to network is a short way towards being met.

First impressions are that there are more papers on mobile phones this year. There was also more work on the use of location based mobile learning being presented with variants on geo-caching / treasure hunting / links to google maps (but no one has mentioned frappr as yet), tagging plus locational social linking (ie you tag that you are interested in mlearning and when someone with the same tag is near you, both of you will be texted) and barcode recognition cum location specific technical information (ie if looking for specific article in store/warehouse, the barcode will generate not only the items name but any important precautions for handling the article etc.).

The day opened with a key note from Mary Lou Jepsen, one of the directors for the $100 laptop / a laptop for every child project. I enjoyed the talk as it again showed how much can be done when there is a concerted effort combined with support from suppliers and various funding bodies. Their timeline is to release 5 million laptops to 5 countries by mid – 2007 and then 50 to 100 million laptops in the following year! The laptop features many innovations that including an improved screen that is cheaper to produce but is still viewable under sunlight conditions.

I attended the following sessions:-
Marguerite Koole from Athabasca University session was on the comparison of various mobile learning devises. It gave me some good evaluative points for choosing mobile learning devices for distance learning. Also an interesting Venn diagram bringing together the aspects of flexibility, portability, usability and student learning needs to encompass the social, physical and cognitive dimensions of mlearning.
Dr. David Metcalf from Walden University and Nova Southeastern University gave an interesting overview of renaissance mlearning – making the best use of existing mobile applications in new ways. These included using bar code readers for workplace learning (walking into a specific area or scanning a certain product produces formative assessment activity), CMA codes and their uses in treasure hunt type scenarios and access to technical information that includes the use of blogs to keep technical information up to date.
Then a session by Glenda Nalder & Alexis Dallas from Griffith University on personalizing mlearning to individual learner needs.
Followed by a lively session from Adele Botha, on the Mobiled project. Using a mobile phone to create a Wiki textbook on science principles by South African secondary school students. As there were 54 different models of cell phones, the textbook was constructed using SMS and then later brought together by the students on to a wiki set up on wikispaces.
The session by David Whyley & Terry Russell reported on a large scale implementation of PDAs in primary schools in Wolverhampton, UK. David made a very interesting remark about the first cohort of students born into the 21st century starting school this year (it would have been 2005 for many young Kiwis). We need to think about whether education in the 21st will now prepare young people for their working lives in the 21st century. Their project – Learning2go seems to have been successful in engaging young people in to doing much of their own learning with good examples shown of student work that exhibited good understanding of basic principles using the tools provided with each student’s PDA.

My presentation was one of 6 slotted into the last session for the day. All went well and good questions were generated with several people staying back to have a chat. I think the use of Web 2.0 applications will change the way they will approach mlearning and lead to more interesting work on eportfolios.