Thursday, October 16, 2008

Handheld learning 2008 day 3 - school project showcase

Again several sessions going on so I made the choice to attend the Schools showcase to better understand what is going on in the school sector in the UK. Although there is a dependence on using PDAs in many of the projects, the advent of netbooks means that many of the handheld projects now have greater transferability across to other hardware platforms.

The session was started off with Tony Parkin with encouragement to check up the ICT Register to find schools working on various projects.

First up, Stephen Quayle presents a session on using Mediascape to promote PLTS frameworks based on work from the Foulston City Learning Centre. This project includes 80 primary schools & 14 secondary schools. The project provides students with activities to complete during ½ day visits to ‘stately homes’.

Asif Anwar then talks about using the bluetooth feature on mobile phones for resource swapping at Birkdale High School. Students developed resources using & shared these with each other leading to better engagement not only with their phones but to greater engagement and enjoyment with learning.

Philip Griffin presents the mobile classroom & PIC learning project from Radstock Primary School. Nokia N800 tablets, desktops & the Uniservity Learning Platform were used to work on a ‘choose your own adventure story project’. Learning was personalised, learners set up their own assessment criteria & had the opportunity to be creative, self-directed & practice & learn many important skills.

Using the PSP as a learning device at Birmingham East City School is presented by Richard Healey. The PSP was not only used in the classroom but also on field trips and homework activities.

Handheld 2008 day 3 - emerging technologies 2

Stayed with the ‘emerging technologies’ session this morning although there were several other potentially interesting sessions.

Session started with Lt. Alex Smith from HMS Collingwood on using PSP in the armed forces to help ratings learning weapon engineering principles training unit. Makes use of rapid authoring using Lecturnity to allow for quick production of emedia & etests. These are then loaded onto PSPs for sailors to use when they are on deployment overseas & on ships / submarines etc. The Promethean Activ xpression keypads were used as a demonstration of one way to use this product. The keypads are an upgrade of clicker technology & have a phone keypad so that text messages can be posted along with the usual multiple choice type responses.

Michael Kasloff from Wireless Generation on mCLASS: Reading 3DT which provides teachers with a device that guides them through their work with primary students in the US of A. This allows real time diagnostic and decision making to be made by teachers on the progress students are making with regards to learning how to read.

John Trinder from the University of Glasgow on using mobiles in & out of the real world. This is a project to look at linking the virtual (eg Secondlife) with the real world via mobile tools (PDAs). Existing bridges between the two worlds include twitter, email, streaming video & RSS feeds. Interlife is a project to bring students studying ICT together on Secondlife & this project works on providing the ability to use mobiles to link with & interact on Secondlife.

Dr. Alan Beecham from Education Bradford on the 4 years experience of using handhelds in secondary school classrooms. 10 devices used over the course of the projects moving from PDAs eventually to Asus eee netbooks. This tracks a change from constructivism to connectivism, pedagogy to heutology. Instead of spending lots of time on constructing & then reflecting, we should spend less time to construct & reflect more on what has been put together.

Jan Lepeltak & George Plakke from the NHL University in the Netherlands on VEENQUEST which is the use of handhelds in a Frisian nature park. This was adventure game developed for year 8 – 10 students to explore the environment (including taste, touch & the use of pH papers) & the environmental issues related to a national park.

Gareth Frith, University of Leeds on mobile learning & assessment for university work based practice which was completed with 5 universities across 16 health care sectors. Mainly PDA based at the moment where by the tutor creates an assessment, the student reviews material & completes the assessment & results can be linked to students’ eportfolios.

Steve Bunce, Epict (European Pedagogical ICT licence UK) on empowering educators to become competent with ICT in education. Compulsory modules include being able to locate & incorporate online resources, use & create interactive learning materials, concepts of electronic communication & collaboration plus ICT & strategic innovation plus 12 electives to choose from. Steve took us through the learning journey he took while doing the gaming module. Interesting suggestions & hints on how to make use of games in education. Also mention of using R4 cards to put other types of media on to the Nintendo DS.

A busy morning! Use of PDAs seem to have migrated to netbooks, a very viable method of setting up a group of networked computers within a classroom without the limitations of a fixed computer suite environment. The sessions took place using the Promethean Activ Board, which provided some really interesting teacher friendly tools (like ruler, protractor) the use of only ONE pen & ability to for student work to also be easily displayed as compared to the Smartboards we have at present. A couple of things I will need to follow up with out IT people at CPIT.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

handheld2008 day 2 afternoon - emerging technologies session

A variety of sessions to choose from this afternoon. There are panels on ‘re-imaging teaching in the 21st century’, using game consoles in teaching & learning, virtual worlds & social networks & a MoLeNET showcase.

I decided to attend the ‘emerging technologies & new practices’ sessions which focused on practioners /researchers & developers reporting on their projects.

Mark Robinson facilitated the sessions.

Richard Crook on ‘praise pod’ which is the use of technology to provide appropriate praise to all people in order to motivate them towards greater excellence. A ‘praise pod’ is set up to allow students in schools to record videos when they have completed something good (via a interview) & then the clip can be emailed etc to parent’s phones.

Tony Vincent presents tips for podcasting which are also summarised in an ebook. Examples from Radio WillowWeb (7 year olds make a podcast about set topics) & our city podcast (students share information about their city with others). Planning etc will take 80 – 90% of the production time of a podcast. A source for Sound effects.

Mark Van’t Hooft & Thomas McNeal from Kent State University on students as content creators. The GeoHistorian project uses mobile phones & QR codes to take photos, videos & record audio clips about an historical landmark in their local area. Livecast or qik is used to stream the video straight to these sites. Then mobile website creators can be used to showcase the pictures etc. Winksite is used to create QR codes to direct user cell phones to the mobile website. Will need to try this out.

Lilian Soon an independent elearning developer, on ‘using gadgets to empower students with disablilites’ provided many ideas for the use of handheld devices. She started out with using SMS in 2003. Then using PDAs which have been a great tool to help less able students take photos & record audio of learning activities which can then be used back in the classroom to create their own content. At Hull College, there is the use of head cameras cum asus eee to record student evidence of automotive mechanics. A good example of using mindmaps to link various pieces of evidence to create one collective area. Mobile phones now used to collect evidence, use Bluetooth exchange of files, simple quizzes & flash cards, as a media player, QR codes to link to web sites & moblogging. Using SD cards to store photos etc. on Nintendo Wii to help students with improving motor control or use the puzzle function to make up a jigsaw or use cut & paste to do matching or labelling exercises (from an ppt. slide) plus use the pictochat function on the Nintendo DS. Also able to load flash cards with photos, text, videos or music.

Jocelyn Ford Morie from University of Southern California Institute of Creative Technologies which is sponsored by the US Army to use current technology in creating better learning for soldiers. The example used was to enhance critical thinking skills using case studies on a web based training system called AXL Net (army excellence in leadership). This was delivered on ipod classics & nano although PDAs, game consoles & the iPhone were also evaluated.

Paul Quinn, Harefield Sports academy on using PSPs to help Watford football scholars, elite gymnasts & other athletes. PSPs have been used to upload powerpoints to allow students to revise work, revise work using quizzes which will run on the PSP and review their own sports performance using the video playback function.

Sally Drummond from William Angliss College in Melbourne on ‘engaging youth in mobile learning’ with the ‘turning point project’ which was presented at last year’s mlearn in Melbourne. Students used mobile phones to create videos that would be presented on the iHubs sited around Melbourne. Students used Bluetooth to interchange information between mobiles & between mobiles & PCs. The Bluezone technology has many possibilities to push content out to Bluetooth capable mobile devices.

John Traxler on an overview of mlearn 2008. One theme that came about was the sense of community that is now forming around the mobile learning research committee. Highlights for him included Diana Laurillard’s & Yrjo Engestrom’s presentations that inform mobile learning theory, Vanessa Pittard & Jill Attewell on whether the evidence for mobile learning taking place has actually taken place. There was a growing number of technologies & systems & more case studies which also raised more challenges. Mike Short & Marc Prensky provided the bigger pictures of where technology might take us.

A very rewarding afternoon. I picked up lots of interesting ideas to try out when I get back to Chch. especially another look at potential mobile blogging / mobile website creation sites as the last time I checked them out (over a year ago) many would not work with NZ telecom providers. Also to check out if possible to revive work completed 3 years ago on evaluating game consoles for use in teaching & learning at CPIT.

handheld 2008 day 2 morning sessions

Day 2 of handheld learning 2008 starts off cool & cloudy. Last night, I attended the Handheld 2008 innovations award. A very interesting evening as it was great to see so many enthusiastic people working on bettering learning for their students. Many of the practitioner awards for primary & secondary schools went to ‘small’ schools which signals to me that the use of game consoles, pdas & mobile phones still attracts novelty value & is being used mainly by early adopters.

The days starts with short presentations from the various sponsors and then continued with Graham Brown Martin (conference chair) providing a short overview of how Handheld learning has developed including continuing the tradition of showing how ‘handheld learning girl’, Andrew’s 3 year old daughter is interacting with technology (a Nintendo DS). He also provided statistics from the BBC to encourage the concept of learning through play, 99% & 97% of girls between 9 to 16 play video games. Handheld 2009 to be held in London at the beginning of October.

Opening address from Andrew Pinder, the chair of Becta firstly covers the objectives of Becta. One major focus is to encourage the effective use of technology, in the hands of good teachers to improve learning outcomes for all learners. Various government policies to assist access to both hardware & connectivity for the most deprived learners was presented with a call to all suppliers, providers & educationalist to assist the initiative.

This was followed by a presentation from Steven Berlin Johnson. Steven covers some of the concepts presented in his book ‘Everything bad is good for you’ along with an update of what has happened since the book was published & the reactions that this book has brought up. Steven provided a great story about how the book came about (through his interactions with his nephews when they started to play Sim City together). He provided an engaging (mainly aural) presentation on the ‘sleeper curve’ which is how popular culture in the form of handheld games(Civilisation, Zelda), TV shows (Lost as compared to Gilligan’s Island) interactive web (what fans have build up around Buffy the Vampire Slayer including organising f2f meetups for fans), complex information (world of warcraft screen, Spore), social networks (blogs, wikis etc.) leads to cognitive learning that is actually difficult to actually teach (& often never assessed!).

After morning tea, dana boyd took the stage. She began her presentation about the role of educators in helping young people learn how to think. Introduction of technology does not equate to learning. Therefore educators need to understand what technology is currently available, what it is, how to best make use of it etc. She continues with an analysis of social networking sites, how they are constructed, how young people use them, what young people do on them, the customs inherent in posting, inviting friends, how some practices evolved etc. Four properties that young people bring to social networking included persistence, replicability, scalability & searchability. The dynamics in working with social networking sites include the need to deal with an invisible audience, a collapsed context (ie not distinguished by time, space, social mores), a convergence between public & private. Mobile technology brings with it the concepts of de-locability, knowledge dispersal (ability to read and add to various perceptions of ‘facts’), learning skills via learning the technology & ease of access to information. A thought provoking presentation which confirmed some of my thoughts about social networking & informed me more about how & why young people make use of technology.

Laurie O’Donnell, director of learning & technology for learning & teaching in Scotland ended the morning’s session with a presentation on ‘putting philosophy into practice.’ Compared 2 philosophies on teaching & learning with philosophy A as being the present situation whereby education can be fixed, technology drives change, teachers can be fixed, learners are the future workforce, innovation is good, success should be measured & the curriculum is not consultative. Philosophy B posits that education is a long term investment in the future, technology enables, supports & accelerates change, teachers are supported professionals, students are more than just the future workforce, curriculum is developed with guidance & support from teachers, innovation must also be scalable & sustainable & success is measured via wider term benefits.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

handheld2008 pecha kucha sessions

This was to allow for quick 6 minute 40 second presentations where presenters had present 20 slides with each slide timed to show for 20 seconds..

First up, JaquelineBatchelor from Cornwall Hill College in South Africa on teaching grade 11 human anatomy using mobile technology. Need arises from the context currently occurring in South Africa.

Then Geoff Stead from Tribal on a ‘where are the mobile learners? ‘Covering the three levels of learners & how mobile maybe able to meet especially the first two levels.

Next, Adele Botha from Meraka Institute on using mobile phones to help students revise & learn maths concepts. Text messaging costs high but bandwidth is low! Mxit which is a South African company that allows instant messaging to take place. So math homework available since Jan. 2007 from 2 – 8pm Sundays to Thursday to revise grade 12 maths.

David Metcalf provides a quick background of the projects at the University on Central Florida plus a plug for the next mlearn conference at Orlando at the end of October 2009.

Ian from Highvale Secondary at Glen Waverley in Melbourne presents the pocket PC project at the school.

James Clay from Gloucester College on myths & legends about mlearning. There is a need to put an emphasis on relationships between students & teachers as content is pervasive. Also need to allow users to use their own devices, the college needs to be the one to offer ‘content’ that will be compatible with student devices.

Tony Vincent from Nebraska on Twitter & microblogging & potential uses in education. Sharing sites, hints, keeping in touch with what others are doing, archive information for own use etc. Advantage is ease of access from a range of devices to send & receive. Education twitter equivalent at edmodo.

Merryl Ford from Meraka on MobilEd & bridging the digital divide. Uses the capabilities of mobile phone & matching these to ways in which mobile phones may be used to provide for better learning opportunities in a country where there is over 90% ownership of mobile phones amongst young people.

Tony Vincent again on ipod touch & iphones. Some good hints on how to get the most out of your iphone including how to set up web pages on webapps. Also lots of software including games that can be potentially useful for education via iphone downloads (not all are free).

Ron Edwards on Second life, providing examples of uses in simulations, virtual world meetings, data visualisation, mixing virtual & physical communities, virtual world classrooms, augmented reality (mobile), first person virtual reality, etc.

Then a quick one from me on the CPIT mobile learning / mobile portfolio project which generated some interest & questions.

James Clay back with podcasting & vodcasting which has been part of the Mole Net project. With some good hints on what to use (Windows sound recorder, Garageband, Audacity, Quicktime – for video as well). Imovies, moviemaker, Microsoft photostory for vodcasts. Gabcast to use your mobile phone to capture voice. Use RSS to subscribe.

Gavin Cooney from Learnosity on using voice to complete oral assessments. Currently trialling in Ireland to assess oral Irish as Irish is now a compulsory subject at all levels of schooling in Ireland. Also includes use of SMS daily to revise plus the opportunity to converse with a chat robot.

Mark Kramer from the University of Salzburg on Mobilmundi: emploring the impact of current & emerging mobile technologies on higher ed. There is a need to ensure that mobile technologies enhance communication & interaction between individuals & communities.

Heliotrope on Prelude (a game of discovery) that can be useful in teaching soft skills. Starts first with an analysis of ones own strengths & weaknesses, moves out to the class, community etc. so that a holistic viewpoint can be developed.

David Williams on Helping Learning is a website that enables students to make contact with a teacher who may be able to help them with work via Skype. Free to use by both students and teachers.

Last one on was Steward Smith from University of Manchester on 'engaging tutors'. If tutors do not use the technology than students will not reap the affordances provided by any form of technology assisted learning.

A good recap of some of the papers from mlearn2008 but also a good spread of ones I missed plus a few new ones to think about. The Pecha Kucha concept is good for the start of a conference as it brings up a wide range of topics very quickly & allows participants to recognise presenters so that future networking during the conference is facilitated.

mlearning2008 extras

Slight frustration at not being able to get to all the sessions due to two or more interesting sessions being presented at the same time or overlapping. A trawl through the conference proceedings reveal the following :-

James Cook from the London Metropolitan University on ‘appropriation of mobile phones for learners’ which was on how mobile phones are made used of by people to assist them in their daily lives. The paper uses socio-cultural frameworks & will have relevance to my work on mportfolios.

Jackie Haigh & Chris Dearnley from the University of Bradford are about to undertake a survey to identifying the student attributes that impact on mobile learning. They plan to find out what aspects of the student profiles & learning practices promote or discourage sustained use of a mobile device as a learning tool both in work based and university settings.

Andy Pulman from Bournemouth University reports on an evaluation of using Nintendo DS along with software around ‘brain training’. Findings include that mobile devices are ‘personal’ and help to develop familiarity, expertise and confidence in users. Using a Nintendo DS has proved to be a reliable & robust form of mobile learning and it has identified the potential of portable game consoles as a platform to help with the development of numeracy skills.

Adele Botha & Madelein van der Berg from Pretoria & Steve Voston, John Kuner from Stanford University present examples of their students’ work. Students created videos that reflected the culture of the country & city they lived in to share with another group of students living in a different country. Student work was archived in Vox.

Many of the poster sessions were of interest too. Of note were :-

Canberra Primary School a ‘future school’in Singapore in a project led by Nadiah Abdul Hamed in making use of mobile learning via UMPC / netbook tablets to extend learning opportunities for their students. The teaching & learning framework includes preparing students to be attuned, global & discovery learners who are able to integrate their skills & use these in a ethical manner. This is a laudable goal supported by sound pedagogy & research. It will be interesting to visit this school in the next couple of years as they implement their project right across the school.

Of the various companies / advertisements etc. that were displayed, the following will need to be further investigated.

Using playstations in education was a brochure I picked up. There was a session on the Friday morning which I was unable to attend. The brochure highlighted learning objects available on the playstation that would be useful in education. The playstation supports audio, internet access, has video & photo capabilities, text messaging & is able to access a wide range of file types including word, excel, html & txt files.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

mlearn2008 day 3 last day

Then I attended an eclectic mix of presentations in the ‘mobile learning, mobile knowledge & mobile societies strands.

Starting off with Dan Passey (Lancaster University) on using mobile technologies to convert ‘digital natives’ to ‘learning natives’. A gap analysis is used to detect learning domains that may be considered in encouraging better learning. Domains are mega-cognitive, cognitive, meta-cognitive, motivation, social & societal. A large number of affordances that supported learning were compared so that affordances that are well supported, poorly supported or not supported by mobile learning were presented. Activities that support learning should therefore be ‘snap & show’, ‘review & reflect’, ‘think forward’, ‘listen to my explanation’, ‘this is what I’ve done & how I have done it’ and ‘tell me how I could improve this’.

Followed by Thom Cochrane’s presentation on the mobile trials at Unitec began with a Vodaphone TV advertisement that has been running recently in NZ. The overall concept is to use access to web 2.0 via Nokia smart phones to collate the evidence of learning and to organise their learning (Gmail, calendar etc.) & to construct an eportfolio using Vox. Moodle is used to hold supporting material for the students. Evaluations from students indicate that students were receptive to the use of mobile tools to provide evidence of their learning.

‘How informal is mobile learning’ by comparing mobile VLEs & mobile PLEs was the topic of Wen Pin (Ben) Chen and David Milliard’s (University of Southampton) presentation. Firstly, there was a comparison between VLEs & PLEs. The key difference is that VLEs place control of learning on the teacher & PLEs on the learner. A four dimensional model of formal learning (why, where & when, who & what & how) along with whether the learning is teacher, student led or negotiated is used to analyse the papers presented at mLearn2007 to see what types of mlearning is currently taking place. Only 3 of the 17 papers presented fell into the formal learning environment therefore mlearning supports informal learning.

The day’s formal presentation sessions ended with Christopher Plimmer from Switzerland who investigated the area of workbased mobile learning to find answers to the question ‘How can mobile devices be used to support employee learning processes’?
Scenarios of the use of mobile learning in the workplace were presented to research participants to find out how feasible the scenarios were. Guidelines that were distilled included the need for content that would be just in case but well integrated into the work that needed to be completed, opportunities for social interaction that included coordination, coaching, collaboration and reflection & the production of learning sequences.

The afternoon was taken up with the AGM of the Association of Mobile Learning.

Conference ended with handover to mlearn2009 which will be in Orlando, Florida under aupices of University of Central Florida. Plus forward information for 2010 which will be held in Malta (organisers are the University of Malta).

Friday, October 10, 2008

mlearn2008 keynote from Yrjo Engestrom

The day started with a much anticipated keynote by Yrjo Engestrom who discoursed on the new patterns of mobility and learning which he terms as ‘wildfire activities’.

The presentation started with a ‘reconceptualising mobility’. Current definitions of mlearning tend to still be ‘content determine’ which does not necessarily reflect what takes place in the lives of the learners or the changes in society. He uses the example provided by Kris Gutierrez who posits that there is an official script of the educator and an invisible counter-script of the learner. There often collide but if we are able to to hybridize these two scripts, we have powerful ‘third spaces’ of learning.

A definition of wildfire activities & why are they important was then presented. Wildfire activities are non-linear & multi-dimensional with an emphasis on sideways trajectories & boundary crossing. This is in contrast to the standard explanation (eg Lave & Wenger) which moves novices from the periphery to the centre. Wildfire activities have immerged from very recent observations & studies on on-line social networking, open source movements & peer to peer sharing. These are examples of social production.

He provides examples of activities like skate boarding, birdwatching & participation in relief disaster relief as activities that are difficult to categorise. These activities offer little monetary reward, legal protection or institutional support. They require heavy expenditure of time & energy. They carry high risks of failure, trouble of authorities and even physical harm. They are discontinuous & persist over time. They are dispersed & distributed yet they are somehow coordinated. There is a quick adoption and creative use of up to date information & communication technologies. They are not only wikinomics, or just social networks ie they are not dependent on the web.

The metaphor of ‘communities of mycorrhizae’ was then used to explain the wildfire communities which are hybrid, poorly bounded, & where the centre does not hold. In contrast, craft communities are relatively close & stable & dominated by tradition and the traditional authority of the master. Mass production communites are governed by rules which are relatively transparent & has a known authority

He follows through with a hypothesis on learning in wildfire activities. These activities are examples of horizontal learning that cross boundaries & “ties knots between actors operating in fractured & often poorly charted terrain.” The learning is often subterranean and self-reflective. The learning is high stakes, often requires quick improvisational adaption and it is holoptic control (individuals have access but no single node of control).

Book – From teams to knots: activity theory studies of collaboration and learning at work, provides more reading on the concepts introduced in his presentation.

mlearn2008 day 2 afternoon

The afternoon keynote was from Vanessa Pittard who is the Director of eLearning Strategies at BECTA on assessing the value of mobile learning : the evidence challenge. Very few schools actually making use of the potential of wireless (access of Wifi) & mobile learning. There is a need to provide evidence that using mobile technology would enhance learning. Generally, teachers need to be convinced that using any form of technology will provide for better learning without having to invest more time. There is evidence of success in various mlearning projects in the UK. Of note is the McFarlane (2008) report on the Wolverhampton based Learning2go project whereby there was an improvement in boys ‘writing’, exam revision & games based practice.

Stayed in the’mobile learning, mobile knowledge & mobile societies’ strand this afternoon. There were two rooms with presentations in this strand, so I hopped between rooms.

First up was Christopher Murray (University of Leeds, School of Medicine) on capturing transformative learning using mobile devices. Digital stories were created by first year medical students of their first patient visit. The ELGG platform was used to collate the photos etc collected using PDAs. The taking of photos of the experience & creation of their digital stories provided the impetus for students to face transformative attitudinal changes required of them as future health professionals.

Mlearning initiatives in the British army was then presented by Major Roy Evans. iPods were used to learn Iraqi by soldiers posted to Iraq. The Nintendo DS lite console was used to provide remedial numeracy learning to new soldiers and work based learning for upgrading soldiers’ skills & knowledge.

Then attended a session on evaluating mobile learning by Giasemi Vavoula (University of Leicester). Six challenges in evaluating mobile learning are presented. These are capturing learning content across learning contexts, mobile learning outcomes, changing ethics, technology, seeing the bigger picture and formal or informal learning. A three level framework (micro, meso & macro) & 3 stages (design, implementation, deployment) can be used to assist in measuring the six challenges.

Day ended with Gill Clough from the Open University on informal learning amongst geocachers:mobile & web 2.0 technologies in action. Data was gathered via public domain data from geocaching website, web survey with recruitment via geocaching forums and a case study of 5 of the survey participants. The entry trajectory of novice geocachers was studied. Geocaching sites are social networking sites which allow the geocaching to share their finds & to learn more about the site via links provided by other people. This is then an example of how technology can now be used to enable collaborative forms of knowledge to be formed.

mlearn2008 day 2 morning

Another busy day begins with Mike Short’s keynote on ‘communications – anywhere, anytime? Mike is vice-president for research & development at Telefonica Europe. He provided a good overview of current and future uses of mobile. Some stats include - 4 billion mobile phones now being used in the world. 95% of 15 – 24 year old Europeans own a mobile phone. Users adopting new habits including social networking, microblogging, personalised consumption & user generated content (prosumers). More powerful & enabled devices. Digital content will continue to grow & be fully stored (2 zetabytes by 2011!) with a challenge being presented of how to search all the data. 2010 all UK phones will have access to mobile email.
for information on GSM usage.

Followed the ‘mobile learning for all’ stream for part of this morning.

A very interesting presentation from Inge De Waard from the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Belgium speaking on how to integrate gender & ethnicity into mobile courses. The Institute had a history of providing mobile learning courses to tropical countries. However, a survey of the course content revealed that many of the physicians were white males & the patients female / coloured. A checklist was therefore presented to be used by both instructional designers & subject matter experts to bring about the correct visual appearance that would help to intrinsically motivate mobile learners. However, encouraging content developers to use the checklist was a struggle.

Followed by Guiditta Azzini (Universita della Svizzera Italiana) on smart mobile school- work. This featured the evaluation of a three year mlearning project based around cell phone use. Included were pre-apprenticeship courses & electrician apprentices. Flash based multiple choice questions were used. Usage rates increased just before exams & classes with teachers who encouraged the use of cell phones retained high interest.

Geoff Stead & Jo Colley (Tribal Group) presents a session on authoring media using mobile rich resources. This presentation focused on the three levels of learner engagement (low entry threshold, no major buy in) shallow or supplementary learning (learning materials & consistent devices), focused and deep learning (bold teacher, Web 2.0 collaborative. Examples of level 2 learning objects were presented in early primary, literacy (speaking & listening skills for migrant workers), fast food workers’ written communication skills, skills audits for workers, disenfranchised school students & student generated mobile surveys.

Moved across to the ‘mobile learning landscape’ session to catch Marguerite Koole (Athabasca University) on using MobiGlam (UMLAUT-M). MobiGlam (from the University of Glamorgan) allows Moodle access through any Java – enabled mobile devices. The project was evaluated using Koole’s frame model and Drons’s (2007) transactional control theory. Although participants found that mobile access was not an important factor & useability assessment of the platform was low, there was support from the students for institutional wide provision of SMS notifications and mobile access to content.

Then a paper from Mohamed Ally (Athabasca University) on using mobile learning to bridge the distance for adult learners which is based on work by Karen Stauffer a masters student. Mohamed started with an overview of the transition from being family / one on one to become being based around religious, education & business. However current social changes have moved us back into the possibilities for one on one learning again in classrooms / workplaces without walls and countries without boundaries. Mobile technology is one way to provide one on one learning anywhere, anytime. This studied access to course material using the students’ own mobile devices which ranged from smart phones to run of the mill mobile phones and even a playstation! Over 90%of the students agreed that access to study materials via mobile devises was useful for their study. An intelligent agent in the form of a java script senses what sort of device is making a request for download & then sends the file in the correct format to display on the various sized screens & OS of the devices.

Shifted across to the ‘mobile learning, mobile knowledge & mobile societies’ stream to catch Mick Mullane( Yorkshire Coast College) on using mobile learning to support voc. ed. This featured a good presentation of an interesting application. SMS service (via text tools) are linked to a podcast server by RSS technology. Podcasts can also be accessed via the course Moodle site. Challenges include the cost of downloading the podcasts.

A very busy morning which generated several ideas for advancing the CPIT mlearning project.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

mlearn2008 day one afternoon sessions

The after lunch keynote is from Marc Prensky of digital natives fame. Marc covered the topic ‘Quo Vadis, Mobile’ providing a quick look into possibilities that technology and changes in teaching and learning bring. Pace of change is very rapid & perhaps in 30 years devices will be nanoscale, implanted, multi-sensory, thought driven, personality driven & sentient! Teaching will become more a partnership to prepare young students for the knowledge based economy of the future.

The conference continued & I attended a couple sessions in the mobile learning landscape stream.

First off, Paul Doherty with Deb Polson & Colleen Morgan on students using mobile phones to transform city gardens into dynamic learning games. This was an application of MiLK where design paths lead people through places using mobile phones. Event paths are made up of checkpoints & were originally conceived to be teacher created. However in this project, student teams also created the questions and answers for the various checkpoints during a field trip to the Adelaide botanical gardens. User generated content is an underutilised concept for mlearning. MiLK is a finalist for the Innovation award at Handheld2008. Text votes need to be in by 9th Oct. so vote for this great mlearning tool.

Then ‘evolutionary snapshots of mobile learning landscape’ by Elizabeth Apsden from Sheffield Hallam University provided an interesting contrast to Marc Prensky’s presentation. The mobile landscape of a group of students was studied for two weeks. It looked at how students use technology combined together in to a one day profile. This provides examples of how students access the internet, multitask (laptop plus watch TV), transport their work from home to café to university, read or revise work on the train, surf the web on the train, work with others in café on group project, read in the pub (so not distracted by access to a computer!), have to cope with operating systems that are a barrier & at home where access to the library would be good but the internet also OK. Therefore, people make use of their time in ways which are not always digitally based. Some people need a break from computers & access to the internet in order to reflect, read & create. The presentation also featured future possibilities included audio ebooks, telepresence (video conferencing), solar powered / wireless recharging, flexible / foldable screens, free wireless broadband, access to experts via vidmail, touchwalls, phones / location based embedded in sunglasses & 3D virtual learning spaces.

After afternoon tea, moved back across to the ‘mobile learning, mobile knowledge & mobile societies’ strand to hear John Pettit & Agnes Kukulska-Hulme from The Open University Institute of Educational Technology present on the topic ‘do mobile devises make smart learners?’ The presentation focused on the formal evaluations of a project (also presented at mLearn2007) in which lecturers, administrative & support staff were presented with Qtek 9100 smart phones and provided with support & development to use the technology for their professional development and teaching practice. Results included participants making use of the smart phone for a range of activities. Support included formal qtek club meetings which were useful for most. Challenges included using the keyboard, using the phone & problems with Wifi.

The day ended with session from Cecile Tschirhart, Chris O’Reilly & Claire Bradley from RLO-CETL (Centre for excellence in teaching & learning – reusable learning objects), London Metropolitan University on ‘language learning on the go’. Presentation on two current of projects, RLO-CETL embedding m-learning in various higher ed. courses & MOBILA (mobile phone interactive languages) by providing LondonMet epacks. Flash was used to provide learning objects that would support language learning including audio content, revision activities, quizzes and video clips.

mLearn2008 day 1 morning sessions

The conference begins with a keynote from Professor Diana Laurillard, London knowledge lab. Her topic is – towards a pedagogy – driven account of mobile learning which sets the scene for the rest of the conference. She argues that technology are optimised for business & leisure, not perhaps for education (in the form of guiding inquiry, structuring discussion, adapting collaboration, adapting learner practice etc). Pedagogy needs to be a focus in how technology is made use of to contribute to optimising education and students’ learning. She advocates the use of technology to help capture informal learning that takes place in learning with digital resources, discussions, practice environments, group work /projects, learning through production of design, products, solutions etc. She calls this process the ‘conversational framework’ and continues by making links to how learning can now be enhanced using mobile technologies which encourage cognitive and affective forms of motivation.

Stayed put in the ‘mobile learning, mobile knowledge & mobile societies’ strand for the mid morning sessions as I was presenting in the 11am slot.

Other papers included Christoph Goeth from the University of Zurich on designing tasks for mobile learning. Starts with good overview of how mobile learning links with social constructivist frameworks. Uses a continuum of an engagement framework from transmissive to interactive to explorative learning and provides examples of how mlearning maybe used in each part of the continuum. The mExplorer is a mobile learning game that supports the orientation day at a university. Game involves finding items, interacting with others and orientating themselves to the facilities at the university eg using the library catalogue. Additional information is accessed once each item is found or place is visited.

Richard Kenny from Althabasca University and others from North Island College, Courtenay, Vancouver Island presented on the feasibility of using mobile devises in nursing practice due to changes in health care & models of teaching using Koole’s framework model of elearning. Fields trial were evaluated comparing a small group of 12 students with excess to mobile learning with another group of students without access. Results indicated that nursing students found the ability to surf the web & use their drug database the most useful but the communicating options like audio (skype), email etc. not as useful. Costs involved in accessing web was seen to be a barrier.

Elizabeth Hartnell- Young from the University of Nottingham reported on the use of ‘mobile phones in mainstream schooling : resistance & change. Studying how to bring mobile learning into secondary schools when large number of schools ban mobile phones from the school grounds using Giddens work on structure and agency as a framework. Although the three schools who took part did not allow the use of mobile phones in the classroom, there was already surreptitious use of the mobile phones already! A wide range of ways to use mobile phones in learning was used 24/7 by the students over several months. After the trials, 42% of the students saw a use for their phones in learning compared to 12% before.

Ian Watkins reported on a project making use of Pocket PCs at his school from his perspective as the school principal of Highvale Secondary school in Melbourne, Australia. One objective was to have teachers who have been teaching at the school for many years to share their teaching practice, improve teaching methods, integrate technology into their teaching & making their teaching more student focused. Uses of mlearning included production of vodcasts / podcasts for revision of concepts and mlessons to assist students with study skills.

Debra Polson from the Queensland University of Technology provided background information on the MiLK (mobile informal learning kit) project which involves providing tools for teachers to build mobile learning games. Important to have buy in & agreement from all stakeholders involved before the project is structured. The project / game is successful when the result provides users / teachers with excitement about greater possibilities for future learning applications. MiLK originated via work done on other projects

Great to see many examples of actual mobile learning projects. Almost all the above presentations indicated plans for future projects, investigations and research along with some mention of the pedagogical foundations of the project. This provides good indication that mobile learning has progressed well beyond the novelty phase.

Friday, October 03, 2008

What people in education do with their mobile phones?

I gathered some interesting information by surveying the people I was presenting to in 5 separate presentations over the last couple of weeks. Basically I asked the question ‘ how many uses they put their mobile phone to’. The answers provided me with a snapshot of the current state of play with regards to the use of mobile phones by various members of the public.

The groups included a group of 30 plus CPIT staff (half of which were in management roles), a mixed group of just under 20 educators & industry people at the Tony Bates seminar and three lots of teachers. One of about 30 who were teachers of commerce, economics & IT at secondary schools, over a dozen tutors & support staff from Weltec and 70 plus ITO & polytechnic & private provider tutors from the motor trade industry. In all about 160 or so people.

Almost no one owned up to using their mobile phone for more than 10 things – voice calls and text were universal. The ownership of ‘smart phones’ was less than 10%. Almost all the ‘smart phone’ owners only used the ‘web’ to check email. In comparison, I chalked up 39 that I would use regularly including reading ebooks, playing games, listening to music / podcast, viewing word, excel, powerpoint & pdf files, calculator, converter, surfing web, clock, torch, contacts, memos / note taker, camera, video, anagrammer, to do list, email, SMS, IMS, update blog, calendar / diary etc.

All of which was good from my point of view as I was hopefully able to raise awareness of how mobile learning tools could be put to use for mlearning. Not so good in that awareness of the concept of the mobile phone as a ‘swiss army knife’ has not taken hold at all in the general public awareness. Still lots of work to be done on evangelising the mobile phone as a useful rather than as a pernicious piece of hardware that has to be fed regularly with electricity, where very time you made a call or text, money would have to be involved and which is often the bane of privacy seeking individuals & school teachers.