Monday, December 22, 2008

Reflections on 2008

It has been a busy year! I have learnt much via the mobile portfolios project. Working with the capabilities that ‘cloud computing’ offer has led to many ‘lightbulb’ moments as I come to understand the possibilities for using the many tools available online to enhance learning opportunities for students.

Attending & presenting at both mlearn2008 & handheld learning 2008 provided opportunities to network with many kindred spirits. It was heartening to hear encouragement from many people including Andy Black, Inge de Waard & Tony Bates on the concept of combining mobile with web 2.0 to compile eportfolios. I think that it does take people who have a good understanding of the concepts to appreciate what the CPIT mobile portfolios project is about.

Presenting workshops & papers at many conferences this year has made me realise how far our project is ahead. Especially when we speak to educators who have never looked a bebo page OR to enthusiastic tutors who cannot access web 2.0 sites from their workplace and have to read their student’s blogs at home! OR to teachers from schools where mobile phones are banned and who have never sent a text message. Yet, there is much room for optimism. Most people now have heard of youtube and a large majority have watched youtube videos. Youtube videos have replaced actual video tapes as the main way to entertain students when there is a lull in a theory session! It’s these tutors that I now nab to work with on using web 2.0 tools that require them and their students to become active participators & not just spectators. Students & tutors could make their own vodcasts or podcasts, work collaboratively on concept / mindmaps or comic strips as alternatives to blogging and make better use of the innate creativity their students have to learn together.

So I am looking forward to a couple of weeks of rest & re-creation. Just returned from an 8 day tramp around the Cobb Valley and now looking forward to celebrating Xmas with the family. Then another 3 day trip to Black Hill just before the New Year & a 5 day camping /tramping trip around the Mt. Richmond Forest park at the start of the year. After that it will be a good three to four weeks of thesis writing, working on the final draft J before the 2009 work year begins.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Creating websites / portfolios using mobile phones

Due to the rejection by the TEC of the CPIT / Unitec mlearning project, I need to chug on with work on exploring how to make eportfolios more feasible using mobile phones. The overall project applied for was to use the pilots that Thom Cochrane at Unitec & myself have been running to come up with concrete guidelines for the use of mobile learning in the tertiary sector in NZ. Our concept has always been to make use of mobile phones & to harness web 2.0 sites so that the mobile phone was used as the ‘computer in my pocket’.

Feedback from the TEC was much better this time around. “This is a well articulated application, however the focus is on technology rather than learning, and the best approach to achieving learning outcomes. The outcomes expected from this project are not clear.” However, it still means that I will have to find another source of $$ to continue with mobile learning research next year.

The eportfolio collation of our project has had to resort of desktop computers to access sites like Google pagecreator, vox, multiply and comiq. However, many of our students still have very limited access to desktops. Therefore there is a need to push the envelope with the use of mobile website creators and to evaluate if they may be useful as eportfolio collators & disseminators. Much of this work will also be relevant to content creation on mobile phones so the project will also inform me with regards to how to best make use of mobile phone websites creators in mlearning.

A trawl through google reveals several sites to work with next year. These include ones that need re-looking at like winksite & wirenode and newer ones like mob5, mobiSiteGalore. swiftmob and zinadoo. For a start, some desktop research using a variety of phones to sort out access & usability issues will need to be completed. Once the sites have been sifted through, we will need to trial them with student phones. A basic eportfolio needs to have photos, short video clips and text. We will still link up the student sites via Moodle so that other students and the tutor are able to view individual sites. Technology has moved along rapidly so our project needs to keep up with the play as well.