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.

2 comments:

Robert said...

Thanks for the summary very interesting.

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Jerry Gene said...

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