Friday, October 29, 2010

Adult Learning Symposium 2010 day 2

Today, 3 keynotes followed by one parallel session and concludes with a panel discussion. First keynote from Professor Peter Jarvis who spoke on ‘learning practice: developing the roles of the adult educator’. Although now officially ‘retired’, Professor Jarvis continues to write and research. Contents of his keynote useful in setting the scene for mine later in the morning. He presented a very comprehensive overview of ‘practice’ as ‘learning by doing’ (adaptation, imitation, by instruction, practice, follow thought, exploration and experimentation. ‘Learning practice’ involves practical instruction, experience (novice to expert and the 10,000 hours rule), reason , intelligence, wisdom and reflection. Included defining tacit knowledge. Forming the case for researching practice as practitioner and action research. Implications include concerns about the practice itself, continuing learning, effects of getting older and the practitioner doctorate. Finishing with the quote “we must learn to orientate our thinking, our teaching and our research to the arts (not science!) of practice’.
Next up, Dr. Peter Coolbear from Ako Aotearoa provided a background of the “further and higher education context in New Zealand: Issues, challenges and responses”. He provided a thorough overview of the NZ tertiary sector, covered the critical issues, presented the recent policy reforms and Ako Aotearoa’s role in how tertiary education may move towards in the next few years.
My presentation centred on a teaching practitioner’s perspective on: application of concepts of ‘learning as becoming’ to students’ effective feedback and learning of judgement. Basically, to begin to envisage learning as a holistic process (in apprenticeships as a process of occupational identity formation).  Discuss the importance of learning ‘judgement’ and the role of feedback in learning the skills to be able to ‘judge’.  Underpin with cognitive apprenticeships as a pedagogical approach and provide examples from CPIT programmes (baking, engineering, painting, welding, online learning, fashion design and adult education).
After lunch, I attended the parallel session with Dr. Helen Bound (IAL) on ‘helping learners learn: what do we know and what can we do’. Helen provided a workshop for participants to explore educators’ learning philosophy / beliefs about teaching and learning. Then to compare our beliefs with what we actually do. Proposed a ‘map of dialogical inquiry’ as a means for unpacking whether our espoused beliefs are matched by practice.
Followed by Dr. Soo Wai Man from Singapore Management University on ‘how to align learning facilitation and assessment of WSQ courses’. Presented on a model to assist with the design of courses and assessment activities. Used a series of tables to match course phases with the knowledge, skill and attitudinal (KSA) components as detailed in a CTAG (Singapore version of a NZ unit standard). In each KSA, identify ‘content types’ including fact, concept, process, procedure or principle. Then match the content type to instructional strategy, assess learning and evaluate course.

Last session a panel ‘discussion’ ably chaired by Professor Andrew Brown, where each keynote speaker summarised their perspectives on CET and the productivity agenda: reflections and insights. An overall discussion on aspects of productivity (increased innovation etc.) and concepts of competency, expertise and professionalism. Questions were also taken from the floor and good discussion ensued.
Overall an interesting conference. Picked up several different perspectives for approaching things. Some of these approaches are influenced by the Singapore socio-cultural milieu but many are useful in all teaching / learning contexts.

Adult Learning Symposium 2010 Singapore - day one

In Singapore for the Adult Learning Symposium, a two day event organized by the Institute of Adult Learning (IAL). Just over 400 delegates meeting for busy two days of keynotes and concurrent sessions, all with invited speakers.

The conference opened with a welcome from IAL executive director, Ms. Gog Soon Joo and an official address from the Minister of Manpower, Mr. Gan Kim Yong.

The overall theme of the conference is adult learning skills: productivity and professionalism. The first keynote setting the scene from Mr. Chris Humphries, Chief executive of the UK commission of employment and skills (UKCES) who provided a UK perspective on skills, jobs, productivity and growth. Provided a historical and contemporary overview and the plans for the near future. Focus on meeting the changes to workforce skills due to globalization, aging population, skill needs vs actual skills available etc. Included 5 priorities for world class skills and jobs including creating clear strategy, support economic development in regions and local communities, build employer ambition and capacity, transform individual aspiration and skills and develop more strategic, agile and demand-led skills and employment provision. Integration of these 5 priorities required.
Second keynote with Professor David Finegold on the ‘global race to transform national economies: are skills the issue’. Overview of a research project on the skill development for the 21st century workforce – to compare skill creation systems in China and India. Discussed and compared ‘low skill equilibrium (eg. UK) and the ‘sustainable skill ecosystem (eg. Silicon valley). Implications of globalization (e.g. off-shoring), technology (artificial intelligence, robotics etc.) etc. include having a college degree no longer a guarantee of success, new employment relationship, shift to new talent strategies and forms of organization. Both China and India working on moving from ‘low skill equilibrium’ to sustainable skill systems’, to move from low cost manufacturing (China) to an ‘innovation economy’ by dramatic expansion in research universities. For China major challenges with regards to meeting supply and demand issues, expectations of population towards education, a country without free access to the internet based economy and the impact of the one child policy. India seems to be a reverse of China model, has supply-side constraints, growing gap between have and have-nots and government solution to institute extreme form of affirmative action. India’s solutions may have to be a distinctive Indian solution with potential to draw on successful examples from Indian history.

Dr. Gary Wilmott who was the previous executive director of the ILS and now a visiting research fellow provided another Asian perspective on skills, jobs, productivity and growth with an emphasis on developments in Singapore through their 2010 Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) report. Provided an overview of Singapore’s skill development system and followed with discussion on current approaches and direction. Strategy to date based on comprehensive school and post-school compulsory education system (25% voc ed through ITEs, 40% polytechnics and 25% university). Challenges still exist through ½ million without O levels, growing and rapidly growing manufacturing sector but slow movement in labour skills training, growing number of older workers etc. Need to maintain skills training especially for people over 40 with low school qualifications. Singapore continuing education system developed over last 5 years or so which is industry-led, competency –led, open access, national accreditation system and national training system for trainers. Other countries have developed highly structured competency based training and assessment ‘frameworks’ for qualifications. Challenge is to match qualifications frameworks with what actually is required in the workforce and for the frameworks to be more flexible / agile.

After lunch, a series of parallel workshops ran (2 or 3 sessions). Attended the sessions which had a staff development or industry training focus. First up attended session with Dr. Christine Han and Professor Paul Morris (University of London) and Professor Stephen Billett and Dr. Ann Kelly (Griffith University). The session introduced various options available for the CET sector under the national training and adult education professional development programme. Including a Masters of Arts in Lifelong Learning from the University of London and the Masters of Training and Development from Griffith University. An overview of the CET landscape in Singapore and the Work Qualifications Framework (WQF) commenced the session followed by individual presentations from each of the representatives of the Masters programmes. Most workplace trainers / assessors complete a short introductory programme. The IAL also runs a Diploma programme in Adult and Continuing Education.

In the second lot of parallel workshops, attended the sessions with Associate Professor Michele Simons (University of South Australia) and Professor Andrew Brown (IAL) on enhancing the capability of continuing educational and training (CET) professions.

Michelle presented on a project examining the career pathways of TAFE / VET teachers, trainers and general staff (1095 responses, 955 paper-based and 140 on-line) in Australia (22 public and 21 private RTOs). The continuing professional development (CPD) of these teachers and their career trajectories was reported. Uses career capital (De Fillippi & Arthur, 2001; Bourdieu, 1986) to help understand the various ways these teachers develop. Uses metaphor of ‘know why’ as people who come through industry into teaching with high motivation. Also the ‘know how’ as people who come in with wide skill range. ‘Know whom’ career capital people have good contacts with industry and bring intangible values into their VET careers. Careers tended to be interplay between individuals and institutions (Walton & Mallon, 2004). In general, VET teachers usually a second choice career and not necessarily a long term career, high levels of occupational mobility, unique interplay between industry knowledge, specialist educational knowledge and current industry competency and changing modes of employment, driven by employers for a range of reasons. Engagement with formal, structured or informal (mentoring, job rotation etc.) professional development (PD) was high. However, management tended to be able to access PD which extends their career capital but for teachers, most PD was related to ‘how to do the teaching’ better. Important to try to understand consequences of access to PD and various movements within organisations of teachers into management.

Last speaker for today, Professor Andrew Brown spoke on ‘social research and higher professional planning’. Provided an overview of the IAL research – building capability and capacity; role of completing a doctorate; and professionalism and planning. IAL moving into research in the CET area with commitment to – develop research-informed practice and understand better how CET works in Singapore. Themes of IAL research include learning, work and impact. Discussed PhD outcomes and aspects of ‘transfer’ of the generic skills attained doing a doctorate. Compared outcomes of PhD and professional doctorates like EdD. Introduced the ideas for developing a professional doctorate programme for CET practitioners.

Planning for tomorrow’s panel followed at the end of the day and then a networking session. A long day but a good opportunity for me to catch up on the Singapore / Asian VET / CET sectors, sprinkled with acronyms, different strategic direction and funding structures. Provides a good background for me to springboard from for tomorrow’s keynote.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

looking for android os tablets

Had a busy day yesterday, doing the rounds of the computer shops around Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Lots of Android OS phones but a paucity of Android OS tablets. There was the Dell Streak which only has a small screen and was on the expensive side. Also the Samsung Galaxy Tab which was also expensive. Saw a few Archos 7" and it's smaller 5" cousine, which reminded me more of a PSP then a tablet. Plus also several ipad lookalikes (same box etc.) which were the Woof (for around HK2000), the irobot and a no brand one for (HK1500).

So the market for android tablets is yet to mature. The ones I tried out were generally lacking in responsiveness, the touch screens being a poor experience in comparison with the ipad. Uploading speeds also slower. The shops selling the ipad knockoffs were not that keen to advertise the products, which were generally kept on the bottom shelves and only brought out when I made concerted queries. My mangled Cantonese was understandable after all. Lots of Ipads around and these were showcased in most shops. So the brand conscious and savvy HK consumers have voted with their pockets, purchasing the ipad rather than considering cheaper options. 

Will have a look around Singapore if time allows. The market there is even more conservative so I am not holding much hope for finding many examples of android OS tablets however, always good to see what is the latest in mobile phones and netbooks as well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

mlearn 2010 day 3

The last day of the conference with morning sessions followed by a final social event – a tour of the ancient capital of Malta, Mdina. The day begins with a keynote from Riita Vanska who is a senior manager for mobile and learning solutions at Nokia. She presents on ‘mobile learning for mathematics in South Africa and Finland’. The time seems to be right now to promote opportunities and advantages of mobile learning to various governments as a scalable form of educational delivery. She provided an overview of the South African project which arose through a request from the South Africa presidency to find out if mobile phones could be used to assist with mathematics learning – even without a teacher. A interactive pedagogically sound approach adopted to engage children in active learning and for the learning to be undertaken both in and out of school. Provided details of the technical model (LMS used is Moodle and Mxit interface) and evaluation process of both pilot (400 students) and current project (4000 plus students) which is completed at the end of this year. A video showcasing students and teachers feedback also provided examples of some of the techniques used to deliver mathematics content, quizzes/review sand collaborative feedback. Of note is the change in attitude to mathematics by students, engaging students who have not had much interest in mathematics before the project. 83% access to the material occurred outside of school hours. Managed to obtain free IP access for learners for this project so need to lobby for similar access.

Concurrent sessions in ‘technologies’ and ‘user-centric developments’ follow. As usual, I move between the two. First session from Laurel Evelyn Dyson, Andrew Litchfield and Ryzaed Rahan (University of Technology – Sydney) ‘exploring theories of learning and teaching using mobile technologies: comparisons of traditional, elearning and mlearning’. Overview of theories on mobile learning, learning conversations (Sharples, 2003); Affordances of mobile devices (Herrington and Herrington, 2007); Theory of leanring for the mobile age (Sharples et al., 2007); Socio-cultural ecology of mlearning (Pachler et al., 2010) – all indicating a shift towards learner’s capacity to make meaning, existing uses of mobiles, socio-cultural and technological contexts. Proposes mlearning provides opportunity to move away from didactic / push content model (so no more mlearning as podcasts!) but to student generated content (eg. student vodcast). Student generated content includes learning not only content but learning many generic communication and relationship skills.

Second paper on ‘learning design for mobile and contextual learning’ with Anna Mavroudi, Hadzilacos (University of Cyprus) and Kalles (Open University). In mobile learning need to take into account context awareness – which is a distinctive mlearning process, service orientated architecture (SOA) and IMS learning design (LD) specification. A learning design information model proposed to allow mobile learning to leverage off context awareness.

Then on to the technologies sessions, starting with Mark Gaved representing a Open University UK team on ‘more notspots than hotspots: strategies for undertaking learning in the real world’. Need for a robust strategy as 3G coverage not always reliable – eg. in the UK, 95% 3G coverage refers to population. Therefore options need to be set up for using existing WiFi (eg. school grounds by extending existing network), carrying your own WiFI with you (eg. network in a backpack (laptop and good battery) which are accessed by students using netbooks or similar), 3G mobile network (set up using MiFi or 3G dongles) or work with no network ( eg. servers running on each laptop and do post-synching after data collected). Advantages and challenges of each presented and discussed. So always assume imperfect connectivity, inform participants of limitations and always have a plan B 

Then three teacher development focused ones starting with Nilgun Ozdarma Keskin and Abdullah Kuzu from Anadolu University, Turkey, on ‘ mobile system to support academic training and development’. Focus on providing professional development to academics in the area of research methods. Support was required in all areas of research and required just in time information, assistance with problem solving and research methods selection and data analysis. Mobile learning solution (Mobile academic research support (MARS)) developed to assist with research method and design PD process. 5 modules of content supported with lessons (watch, read/listen/ review) and discussion forum, facebook site, wikis etc. Currently iphone xhtml for all phones android OS versions.

Kevin Burden presents work with Paul Hopkins and Jo Pike (University of Hull) on ‘ identity and professional learning with trainee teachers ‘. Trainee teachers (secondary) provided a 3G phone (iphone) to find out what would happen. Having a mobile phone, changed the conception of / appropriation of identity as a teacher. Students made audio logs, semi-structured interviews also undertaken.

Last paper with Trish Andrews (University of Queensland) on developing a whole university approach to adopting hand-held student response systems (SRS)’. Mainstreaming innovation challenging as failure rate can be high, not often seen as core business, lack of support from managements, failure to create an organizational culture, failure to adequately manage projects and then not review / evaluate within an environment of continuous improvement. For innovations to work, coherent institutional policies, network infrastructure, provision for staff development and support (technical and financial) and pedagogical direction. A structured approach to implementing SRS included 10 question survey, prior desktop research on alternatives and evaluation of capability.

Conference closed with a panel discussion on the future prospects for mobile and contextual learning. Panel convened by Mike Sharples and with Jill Attewell, Agnes Kukulska-Hulmes, John Traxler, Hiroi Ogata and Herman van der Merwe.

Official closing with hand over to Beijing Normal University for mlearn 2011 - 18th to 20th of October at Beijing Friendship Hotel.

I was of two minds about attending this conference as the speed at which mobile technologies have moved and the breath of adoption of mobile devices by the mainstream means the notion of mlearning might not last for many more years. Delivery of learning to students will have to include mobile platforms and mlearning will just be usual learning delivery. However, the conference has been very productive, I have picked up a wide range of ideas and some concepts to take into several proposed projects. It is also good to be part of a community of people who are working towards using mobile technologies to help improve the lives of not only the privileged but who are also willing to use their expertise to assist the many people in the world today who do not have access to education. Mobile technology may offer some solutions. As always, bringing together academics willing to assist and the agencies who need assistance will be the main challenge. Will be interesting to follow how things progress. Meanwhile, will need to proactive and start contributing to the process.

mLearn 2010 day two afternoon

After lunch two sessions of parallel sessions. Firstly two streams running on user centric developments and future directions. First presentation from a group from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and presented by Sobah Petersen on ‘connectedness in practice based education: the why, who what. Based on ‘diary studies’ of teacher students on how students perceive connectedness in a mobile environment. Established the need for trainee teachers to feel connectedness with who they are, what they do and where they are practicing. Technology eg. mobile blogging helped the process.

Second one up ‘embedding moodle into ubiquitous computing environments’ presented with Christian Glahn and Marcus Specht from Open University of the Netherlands. Challenge to move existing virtual learning environment (Moodle) to become context awareness and integrations into a spatial learning environment. Based on adaptation and personalization, orchestrating learning and learner mobility. Adaptation / personalization requires contextualization and adapting to requirements of various devices, systems etc. Orchestrating learning requires understanding of the ways in which tasks, rules, roles and environment interconnect / interface. Need to acknowledge contributions of personal/stationary, mobile and social facets. Building architecture for Moodle to move it into spatial learning includes working through the sensor, semantic, control and indicator layers. A start may be made by making the learner logs more ‘intelligent’ so that learner activity information is more useful. Allowing teachers to configure this aspect, provides even better information. To assist, log aggregators should also check type of device accessing various Moodle activities and a trigger build in to flag relevant times when intervention may be required. Food for thought with this one.
Move across to the user-centric stream. Presentation with Claire Bradley and Debbie Holley from London Metropolitan University on ‘how students in Higher Ed. Use their mobile phones’. Used a platform called Mediaboard to support student groups and texted students ‘learning tips’. Integrated textools where students provide answers while in lectures. A survey carried out to ascertain how students actually make use of mobile phones. Also, tracked by loaning video camcorders to students to record their daily mobile learning use, supported by student interviews. More students now on contract (63% then pay as you go), range of phones diverse and 80% now own smart phones. Almost all phones have colour screens, cameras, video, audio recorders, internet, Bluetooth. About ½ have wifi and 3G. Most students used their phones (blackberry) for a wide range of learning processes including note making, record lectures, photos as reminders, access social networking site, access university systems, share files, saves txt messages as a form of note taking. Need to share this with library staff to update survey of students’ technology use.
Followed by Kathryn Macallum from Eastern Institute of Technology, NZ with ‘ integrating mobile learn into the tertiary environment: the educators’ perspective’. 4 case studies of educators, all technology savvy, of their perspectives on barriers to continuing mobile learning use. Reported on socio-cultural (issues of whose phone is it – ownership, trial and error, shared community), organizational (support), pedagogical (variety and interest) and technological (variety and portability, ease of use and cost) issues.

After afternoon tea, the two streams are technologies and future directions. I stay in the future directions stream beginning with Stockdale and David Parson from Massey presenting ‘cloud as content: virtual world learning with Open Wonderland’. Openwonderland is open source version of ‘second life’ platform to provide ‘developers’ with a place to share ideas and collaborate on projects. Has a series of virtual blackboard in various rooms with appropriate tools to draw ideas etc. Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) provide opportunities to do things which may be difficult to do in reality due to ethics, complexity, difficulty in building, too expensive etc. Evaluations indicate creating a viable virtual world is a major tasks, users seem enthusiastic about the technology is challenging and difficult to know yet if expectations met.

Then ‘remote fieldwork: using portable wireless networks and backhaul links to participate remotely in fieldwork’ presented by Trevor Collins of work with MARK Gaved and John Lea from The Open University UK. Described work with geology students undertaking fieldwork in UK and Nicaragua. Main objective to extend learning undertaken during fieldwork to provide access to students who are unable to get to places which are difficult to get to. Communication toolkit needs to be portable, weatherproof etc. with standard hardware and software (open source if possible). The kit consists of networking (both local and wide area), devices (netbooks, wifi still cameras, IP video cameras, encoders and android phones) and services (LAMMP web, Asterisk VoIP and Prosody XMPP). Examples provided from each of the sites and technical issues discussed.
Next up, Jean Johnson and Jonny Dyer (Inclusion Trust UK) on ‘use of mobile phones to develop learning with marginalized young people’. Young people who are not in education or employment might be between 10 – 40% in European countries. On-going work in adapting on-line learning guidelines to assist with mobile learning delivery to dis-enfranchised youth. Guidelines include a truly personlised and bespoke curriculum, learning has to be fun, a thriving on-line community, student-led project-based leanring, student-led work portfolios, destinations to reflect lifelong learning, NOT content delivery or teaching. Therefore, learn where I like, learn what I like and learn when I like = person centred constructivist learning.

Last paper of the day with Matthew Kearney, Marie Schuck (University of Technology Sydney) and Kevin Burden (University of Hull) on ‘locating mobile in the Third space’. Based on two projects – Mobalogy (community of learners from Higher Ed. Working with mobile devices in Sydney) and Bird in the Hand (trainee teachers and teacher educators in UK). Interest in time-space as fixed spaces, fixed times, contrasted with learning anywhere and socially negotiated time. Third space proposed as space separate from home or work and where social / leisure takes place or in education, space between formal (school) and informal space (museums, libraries etc.). Framework visualized as venn diagram with 3 characteristics of social interactivity, authenticity and customization and wrapped around these are time/space. Interesting concept to think through.

All in a busy day. Good to see and hear the focus of many mlearning projects moving from just pushing content (as per mlearn 3 - 4 years ago) to being much more student / user centric. The move into Web 2.0 and the cloud has accelerated emphasis on student / learner generated content. So now, mlearning, supported generally by pedagogical frameworks reflecting collaborative, problem-based or project-based learning, has matured. Hopefully, this remains the future direction of using technology to enhance learning as hardware, software and humanware come together to become mainstream everyware.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

mlearn 2010 day 2 morning

Day two dawns fine but cloudy and begins with keynote from Prof. Mohammed Ally (Athabasca University) who presents on ‘mobile learning to transform the delivery of education: Are we ready? Provided overview of mobile learning. Currently over 4 billion mobile subscribers with growth mainly in developing countries with younger people most comfortable with mobile technology. People now have multiple mobile devices, using each where most applicable / effective / cheapest. Perhaps in the future, no such thing as mobile devices but communicators embedded into our environment, cloths,ourselves and interact with these seamlessly as they are integrated into our lifestyle – no mlearn as such, maybe embedded communications /learning conferences  Still resistance by educators. professionals and experts but what about what happened with internet use in education? However, our students more accepting and interested in learning on the go. What will the role of the teacher in a world with open access to information? Mobile learning development needs to take into account aspects of social justice. (youtube video).
Call to researchers to ensure mlearning research taken one step further, to help make a difference to the lives of people who do not have ready access to education. Need to help change educations system!!, attitude of educators / managers, lobby for free connectivity, work with hardware/software developers to develop mobile education devices to achieve education for ALL using mobile learning.

Second shorter keynote from Inaki Berroeta , CEO of Vodaphone Malta on ‘how smartphones and data technologies enable mLearning’. Use of mobile phones is higher than PC use, especially with young people. Smartphones have evolved to become the ‘perfect enabler’ with examples including vision learning Provided examples of learning resources developed through partnership of University of Malta and Vodaphone Malta including science based quizzes (sci-roid) and interactive mobile interactive city adventure of Malta. Another example using SMS or WAP in India to help students learn English words – one word a day, at very low costs. (.35R)

First concurrent sessions for the morning divided into two streams of short papers. One on applications and the other on future directions. I pick the ones I am interested in and move between the two rooms.

First up ‘mobile question and answer explorative exercises’ presented by Chris Borgermann with Frank, Siepermann and Lackes. Explains how mashup of game-based learning and mlearning based on questions and answers. Potential of mlearning to provide for interaction, focusing on problem solving with feedback provided. Game-based learning perceived to be fun and may lead to exploration and experimentation. Well-known game concepts tend to only bring about lower level / surface learning, therefore learning game developers need to go beyond. Porting existing elearning to mobile devices also not always successful. Mobile learning should be based on the learners’ mobility (using location-based learning) and not be premised just on using a mobile device. Proposed concept of a ‘treasure hunt text adventure’.

Next up ‘mobile based group quiz to promote collaborative learning’ from Aljohani, Loke and Ng. Presented a descriptive overview of the development and implementation of group quizzes (true and false only) using Nokia E71 – mainly based on text messaging. Mainly a teacher-led approach as teachers input questions but students work in groups to answer questions. Evaluated 3 trials with small groups of students.

Then on ‘mobile collaborative learning’ presented by Chris Borgermann with work from Frank, Kushmood and Lackes. Based on trying to define what is learner/group-centred interaction (passive to active learning) and collaborative or cooperative learning. Learning paradigm changing from centralized, teacher-centred which is static to localized, student-centred dynamic learning. Mobile learning must not be just elearning on the go. Proposes need to cater to learners by changing to a location-sequence-based learning. A collaborative learning system enhances mlearning.

A large group represented by Cindy Kerawalla from the University of Nottingham present on the topic of ‘being a geographer: Role of mobile script inquiry for field trips’. Reported on a case study of secondary students working on a geography project on ‘urban heat) using a variety of mobile devices, laptop, GPS, thermometer and camera supported with relevant software. Students were videoed as they embarked on field trips using a process from Goodwin (2003) to analyse video stills on ‘symbiotic gestures’ and bodily measurements to develop ‘culturally organsed vision’. Process helpful in understanding the processes of students’ understanding of what it is to be a geographer.

Last paper this morning from Norazah Rahman from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia presented a group project on ‘student acceptance of mobile content of the research methodology course’. The post-graduate students are teachers attending a blended course on research methods. Mobile phone content in the form of course notes and access to discussion forum. Findings include acceptance of use of mobile phones as a source of learning content, learning support and course organization (communicate for group work).

mlearn 2010 day 1 afternoon

After long lunch concurrent sessions begin. I hop between ‘user-centric development’ and ‘applications’. First up, ‘social flow in mobile learning’ from Ryu, Cui and presented by David Parsons (Massey University). Raises the question, does mobile learning also mean social learning? Based on Csikszentmihalyi’s work on ‘flow’ – balancing challenge (excitement) with apprehension (fear). Walker (2010) proposes ‘social flow’ where doing things together enhances the experience and dampens anxiety. Can social flow be enhanced with mobile learning? Compared experiences of students (some on solo mlearning, others in collaborative synchronous groups and a face to face group but delayed) to see if social flow occurs. Mobile collaboration increased cognitive curiosity and interest.

Then R. Douch, G. Parker and presented by Jill Attewell on ‘mobile technologies for work-based and vocational learning’. Overview of MoLeNET which undertook mobile learning research and then embedded into educational institutions. Workbased learners’ challenges included limited access to ICT at work/home, workplace not set up for learning, disconnect from college and limited interaction with peers/tutors, collecting evidence can be a chore, impatient to complete theory and low literacy/numeracy, difficult to engage with learning, bored by key skills requirement and assessor visits can be disruptive. Case studies available on practitioner led action research encouraged so that research led to improvement in teaching, learning and outcomes. Including mobile learning tools improved engagement and attendance, retention and achievement. Learning more flexible, relevant and teaching could be differentiated and personalized more often. Quantity and quality of homework and coursework improved. Advantages also to employers, assessors and colleges involved. resources and video resources  available,

Cooney from learnosity on ‘dialing for success in spoken learning and assessments’ firstly used in Ireland to assess spoken Gaelic and run on mobile phones including ipod touch and through Skype. Now scalable and used across Australia and Saudi Arabia as well. Use for spoken formative assessments, spoken self-assessment, spoken assessments practice and summative assessments. Assessments are recorded and available to teachers. Teachers able to generate own questions. In Ireland, increased spoken Gaelic practice for students leading to increase in competency. Future development to allow for peer learning so that students able to speak to each other instead of just running through set questions.

After afternoon tea, another lot of concurrent sessions beginning with mobimaths from a group from Dublin (Trinity College and the digital hub) represented by Brendan Tangley. This project uses smartphones in teaching mathematics in particular to address maths anxiety and to try to improve current maths teaching which is still didactic, behaviourist and assessment driven. Project creates contextualized, collaborative, constructivist learning opportunities for students based on set of standards-aligned maths learning activities and instructional materials.

Then a follow up on a Canadian nursing project I have been following – mobile self-efficacy in a Canadian nursing programme from Vancouver, presented by Rick Kenny (Athabasca University and Jocelyn Van-Neste Kenny from North Island College. Used Bandura’s self-efficacy (magnitude, strength /confidence to perform and generalizability) theory to find out how nursing students were engaging with mobile learning opportunities. Compared distance students and full-time students but only small sample responded to computer self-efficacy (Compeau and Higgins, 1995) questionnaire. Findings indicate familiarity and confidence in using various mobile phones /devices (ipod touch) however will need to repeat the study with a larger sample.

Next up, teachers’ perspectives on implementing science lessons using mobile phones from Ekanake and presented by Jocelyn Wishart from University of Bristol. Study undertaken in schools in Sri Lanka. Support of mobile phone required for teachers’ managerial processes, assisted teachers to link lesson to students’ prior learning and to implement a student- centred approach. Greater student participation, student-teacher interactions and student-student interactions. Challenges presented to students using a range of mobile phones and usual mobile phone technical issues. For teachers, challenges included time required for technical mobile phone support and cost of phones and data. In general, both teachers and students provided positive feedback on using mobile phones to enhance science learning.

Last one today on SCROLL: Supporting to share and reuse ubiquitous learning logs presented by Hiroaki Ogata with work also by Mengmeng, Hou, Uosaki, El-Bishant and Yano from University of Tokushima. How can we record learning experiences as they happen in the real world in anytime, anywhere? Idea of life logging not new (65 years at least!) but currently many apps usable eg. Evernote, 3banana. Aim of learning log project to record learning processes, primarily of overseas students learning Japanese. Based on some studies on ubiquitous learning log object (ULLO) and adapted to create SCROLL which is android OS, running off a web server to allow smart phones the capability of capturing learning on the move (text, photos with location, audio (asking questions of other users). Also allows organization of LO collected as evidence organized in a timeline and also locations of evidence so that the user is aware of these when they return to the same place. Quizzes used for formative assessment. Evaluation using pre and post-test of vocabulary words indicate improvement in recall.

A good start to the conference, good to catch up with various peopled from other mlearns. At least 20% of the attendees have ipads and well over 70% attend sessions with their netbooks / laptops on to take notes. Wifi a bit patchy when many people accessing the net at the same time 

Evening filled with conference dinner which includes a multimedia presentation on the history of Malta - the Malta Experience and dinner. A long but fruitful day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

mlearn 2010 day 1 morning

In Valetta, capital of Malta for mLearn 2010 this week.  Arrived yesterday to a wet and windy Malta. however, over the course of the afternoon, managed to walk around most of the sights in Valetta ( a UNESCO world heritage site).  The walls, several metres thick and at least 10 metres high are an impressive sight. Staying at the cheap Hotel British (room the size of my wardrobe at home) but the Grand Harbour views from the window are stunning – rated 10 plus and definitely better than the ones from the window of the hotel where the conference is being held! 

Conference begins with usual welcome from the conference committee and two keynote sessions. First up ‘conversations en route to learning’ from Prof. Agnes Kuklska Hulme from the Open University (UK). She overviewed forms of communications before, now and into the future. Humans have a innate preference for face to face conversations, so how can technology assist the process? Social networking assists somewhat and increase in ubiquitious computing furthers enhances the process. Examples in teaching include use of Twitter with trainee teachers and students using MXit mobile chat to assist peer interaction. Work by Pask 1976, Sharples 2003 and Laurillard 2002, 2007; provide a start in learning more about the role of conversations in learning. Work still needs to continue as conversations are now many layered, multilogues straddle multiple media, speech acts become artifact; more conversations with self (eg. this blog :); any questions answered etc. Some interesting initiative now emerging exampled by donate your SMS text to research; research data from conversation with self (mobile app mappiness mood monitor); digital jewellery as conversational prop; innovative ways of starting conversations; Perhaps, mobile communication is opening the door for a wider range of communications beyond just text to take place.

Second keynote from Andy Goff, from ConnectED (distributors of Playstation games) on augmented reality in learning. Began by setting the context of education and engagement and the status of augmented reality. Engagement not only with the students but also with teachers and with students using educational content. AR is when real life is enhanced by real time interactive digital media. Showed examples of AR on PSP games, android OS phone. Types of AR include mashup with GPS, accelerometer and compass, marker based tracking using camera reading a marker or markerless tracking.

Basically camera in phone or PSP reads a coded piece of paper and a 3D image comes up onto the screen eg. Shows up organs of body when you hold up a marker superimposed on to the person holding up the marker, or triggers a video to run.  Plus games exampled by eyepet (updated AR tamagochi), second sight – Romeo and Juliet pilot, safety for vocational education in Scandinavia, English heritage (Wroxeter Roman City) etc.and a workplace example with scaffold safety on-job training session. Various projects underway include links to text books, 'questing', accessibility (sign language and other langues) etc. Moving away from PSP, AR needs to move into other mobile devices and include capabilities for image tracking, face tracking, connect with interactive whiteboards, 'lustucru' app on iphone, citroen and BMW, olympus camera, alstom adverts; interactive book which triggers 3D images which you can interact with (move, tilt).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

IADIS CELDA 2010 day 3

Sessions run until 1.30pm today to allow European conference attendees the chance to get home in time for work tomorrow. The morning begins with 4 presentations on the theme of technology, learning and expertise. Attendance is sparse after last night's wine tasting and dinner so the few of us present are doing our best ot support the presenters.

First up ‘future teachers’ reflections on teaching technology: what did they learn from service-learning? From Junko Yamamoto (Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania). Discusses the concept of using ‘community service’ to assist full-time students learning how to become teachers to make use of the skills learnt during the course (i.e. link theory to practice). In this case, to use the learning skills acquired on ‘technology and teaching’. Full-time students were first year students, most of whom have had no teaching experience.

Second up, Andreas Christ, Markus Feisst and presented by Razia Sultana (University of Applied Science Offenburgh) on ‘collaborative language learning as a device independent application'. Use of a multimedia flashcard system (language learning game - LLG) to help students learn a variety of languages. Flash cards are created dynamically and exchanged anonymously between users. Flash cards can be displayed using mobile phones with the software configured to allow the game to run on a variety of mobile phone operating systems. Purpose of LLG is to support learning of new language by increasing interactivity, active learning, confidentially, short time, available at any time and easy to use. Future plans to improve interactivity and also built interfaces for iphone and android OS.

Then Margot McNeill, Maree Gosper and John Hedberg (Macquarie University) on ‘aligning technologies and curriculum: A snapshot of academic practice'. A survey undertaken to find out how much academics were applying 'constructive alignment' (Biggs & Tang, 2007) and whether assessments were constructed at appropriate levels of learning required (as per revised Bloom's taxonomy (Anderson et al., 2001). Findings indicate academics want students to attain 'higher order' outcomes/ capacities but their design of activities and assessments do not align with acadmic's initial direction. Propose need for more intensive professional development to be carried out to support academics to align theory to practice, support staff to utilise technology more effectively and development of diagnostic tool to assist staff to work out whether alignment is occuring.

Lastly – proposing a framework for blended and flexible course design from Timos Almpanis (presenting), Susan Patrick, Ruth Mclellan, Christina Dinsmore, Andrea Faustino and Whysnianti Basuki (Southampton Solent University). Propose a framework for designing blended and or flexible courses based on literature review to asssit with defining the terminology of blended and flexible learning.

After morning tea, concurrent sessions running. Beginning with 'Ementoring in vocational teacher education' by David Lord (University of Huddersfield) and Nele Coninx (Fontys University of Applied Science). Described three projects to e-mentor / e-coach  and support vocational teachers to develop 'technology skills'. Results from these projects and current project also presented. Projects include “Motivate” (Masters level opportunities and technological innovation in vocational teacher education) from Finland, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Portugal and the UK - peer mentoring set up on Moodle platform;  “ASSOCiate Online” (Achieving Subject Specialist Online Communities) initiative, involving the development and operation of an on-line learning resource and network of teachers in the UK - use 'find a buddy or find a professional buddy' as objectives; and "Synchronous coaching" in the Netherlands using a WIME (Whisper In My Ear) device - adapted from sports coaching - to provide just-in-time coaching when required. Findings from these three projects used to help improve the current IMPLEMENT project (IMProving Lifelong learning through E-MENToring).

Then Dirk Iftenthaler and Tobias Schmidt (University of Mannheim) on ' assessing the effectiveness of prompts for self-regulated learning'. Reports on quantitative project to support students' reflective processes using prompts. Findings indicate that supportive information is an important aid for developing cognitive structures.

The need ofr full-featured web-based formative assessmetns in a medical problem based learning curriculum: students' adn lecturers' and theorys' view by Stefan Minder, Felix Schmitz adn Sissel Gunttormsen Schar from University of Bern. Change of traditional formative assessments (student self-quizzes) to a more interactive and provide students with information to allow them to make decisions about adjusting their own learning patterns. Current system does not meet with tutor or student needs. Feedback / findings reveal need for formative feedback to not only provide aspects of learning progress but also be interesting, motivating, captivating and inspiring!

Next up 'an analysis of answer selection patterns from multiple choice items' by Jay Powell (Better Schooling Systems, Pittsburgh), James Berbauer (Robert Morris University) and Vishnuteerth Agnihotri (Test Deveopment Educational Initiatives, Bangalore). Quantative study of how students answer multiple choice items with findings used to improve student learning and teaching practices. An interesting presentation (similar to findings by Nuttall on how students approach assessments). Content knowledge not as important as the acquistion of skills related to working things out.

Last presentation from Nguyen Thinh Le and Niels Pinkwart (Clausthal University of Technology, Germany) on 'analysis of learning curves for weighted constraint-based tutoring systems (ITS)'. Another quantative study based on statistical analysis, to try to understand learning curves as applied to pre-post test comparisons in order to find out effectiveness of a tutoring system.

In all, a good conference which provided the opportunity to connect with a wide variety of research in the cognition area with a focus on technology use.  Interesting range of papers with researchers from a wide range of disciplines and countries. A good way for me to become more familiar with quantitative approaches to educational research and to collect a range of pertinent literature. Also good to range of 'technology' focused papers which have a 'deeper' focus on the pedagogy and theories which underpin practice, decisions made to implement, improve or modify and future planning. Will need to follow up on a few of the presentations and collate some of the pertinent papers to relevant CED staff when I get back to work.

IADIS CELDA 2010 day 2

Day dawns cloudy and cool with intermittent rain. A full day today with various concurrent sessions followed by presentation of Romanian / Timisoaro history, city tour and conference dinner in the evening. Will help me readjust to the change in time zones as it has been a struggle staying up beyond 8pm. Sorted out wifi access this morning, so all go with blogging as each session runs.

First up this morning, Ioana Ghergulescu and Cristina Hava Muntean (National College of Ireland) present their work on assessing motivation in game based e-learning. Began with an overview of motivation theories (good overview in paper) and explained process undertaken to assess students’ motivation to learn through elearning.

First from Catherine Schifter, Diane Jass Ketelhut and Brian Nelson (Temple University, Philadelphia), on presence, Piaget’s stages of development and middle school children in an immersive virtual game environment. An overview on ‘presence’ Goffman’s social psychology theories and Gibson’s perception learning theory – sense of participation and involvement, being in the environment or perceptual illusion of non-mediation. Wanted to find out if ‘presence’ also in younger children as previous work mostly with adolescent and adults. Used Piaget’s developmental stages as a guide including children moving to ‘formal operational’ stage by age of 11. Small sample found some differences between grade 6 and 7 students in how they engaged with a game with grade 7 students more prepared to interact with the problem solving aspects of the game.
Next Hariklia Tsalapatas (University of Thessaly), Olivier Heidmann and presented by Marina Mogli (Elementary School of Portaria, Greece) on Virtual experimentation towards the development of early environmental responsibility skills. Decribed the development and evaluation of a 'game' to help primary school children learn about concepts of sustainability. The environmental game (EnvKids) developed as a Europe wide (Greece, France, Czech Republic and Sweden) initiative. Has three focuses - my home, my town and my planet.

Last paper before morning tea on robot technology and numbers in the classroom with Gunver Majgaard, Morten Misfeldt and Jacob Nielson (from Universities in Denmark). Reported on an initial exploration project using 'cubic user-configurable building blocks' to support the learning of numbers with 6 - 10 year olds including developing understanding of place value, creating large numbers etc. Included demonstration of the cubes (Iblocks) - blocks are lined up and a 'answer' block placed at the end - which will pronounce the number set up (as Danish system of number and place values can be difficult to conceptualise and numbers complicated to pronounce).

After morning tea Ville Karavirta (Aalto University) presented on real world student selected data for education – learning graph algorithms. As with previous presentation, good example of 'making learning visible'. The software developed uses real data (such as coordinates off Google maps and Dijkstra algorithm) - sematic data - and makes the data visual and easier to understand and manipulate.  

Vegard Fleisher Orkelbog (University of Oslo) presented on situated simulation as a learning tool – experiencing Forum Iulium with the iphone (mobile augmented reality). As with two previous presentations, this presents an iphone app, developed to utilise the location function of iphones to provide visitors to an archeological / historical site, access to the background information on the specific place the visitor is currently viewing. Included methods used to assist learners / viewers with matching existing artefacts with the 3D models available in the app.

Then a presentation on the effect of prior knowledge on learners’ navigation of webpage structure with Gokhan Akcapinar and Arif Altun (Hacettepe University). Used concepts of navigation to study whether differences between students with prior knowledge navigated webpages differently. Found difference in that experienced users generally less likely to be linear and inexperienced users tended to follow structure as laid out on learning resource.

Last paper before lunch, exploiting virtual worlds for teachers’ professional development with Kallonis Pavlos and Demetrios Sampson (University of Pireaus). Interesting paper detailing professional development process for teachers. Used concept of synetics - making the strange familiar - to introduce teachers to the opportunities available in using technology to assist with students' learning. Introduced second life by having teachers compare scenarios on learning new skills either through traditional methods or in virtual worlds. Sloodle (second life integration to Moodle) used as platform.

After lunch two papers – first from Sabrina Leone, Guiliana Guazzaroni, Laura Carletti and presented by Tommaso Leo (Universit√† Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy) on increasing the need of validation of non-formal and informal learning. The case of the community of practice of ‘’. Based on a social learning framework (e.g. Web 2.0 - user as a node in knowledge creation). So what kind of learning takes place on Web 2.0 - formal or non-formal or informal?? who gains from learning, individual competence or competences which contribute to social advance? In the EU, guidelines have been provided to 'measure' conpetences learnt through non-formal / informal routes but each EU country uses these guidelines in different ways. A (collating a range of Web 2.0 tools - google docs, wordpress, twitter, facebook, manymoon, dimdim / webed, udutu and smartphones, pdas) Cop (double link COP) for informal learning for evidence based medicine studied to find out role of informal learning. Therefore, important to evaluate how effective has been in promoting and sharing co-constructed knowledge.

Last paper of the day with Nuno Pena and Pedro Isaias (Universidade Aberta (Portuguese Open University) on the ipteaces elearning framework – analysis of success indicators and the impact of student social demographic characteristics. Introduces the use of Invovlement, preparation, transmission, exemplification, application, connection, evaluation and simulation (IPTEACES) as a instructional design framework to help facilitate elearning by reducing diversity in elearning programmes facing a non-homogenous audience (gender, educational background, previous knowledge, literacy, computer proficiency, organisational culture, values / experiences, inexperience in elearning etc.). Support before student begins (student kit) and easily accessible and prompt support (phone or email helpdesks 24/7)required to support all students embarking on elearning. Evaluation of effectiveness also presented. need to explore this one further as it contains some good links between what works and pedogogical theories.
Not presented by paper provides for interesting reading. Belkcem Mostefai, Faical Azouaou and Amar Balla from the National High School for Computer Science , Algeria, on SQAR: an annotation-based study process for the learner’s personal learning. Survey, question, annotation and review (SQAR) is used as a method to help student’s learn concepts. Of interest is the annotation system developed to annotate webpages – WebAnnot as an extension of Firefox. Students who annotated more and build up substantial ‘clouds’ of various topics tended to learn concept.