Friday, October 22, 2010

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.