Monday, February 28, 2005

Evaluating m-learning tools

Helen Barrett has been undertaking an evaluation of various software tools for the set up of ePortfolios. It is a wonderful resource that any one interested in ePortfolios can tap into. However, it is based on a context of using non m-learning technology.

Undertaking a similar evaluation using m-learning tools will be a financial challenge. Not to mention a huge commitment in time. Singh summarises that the mobile system components for mlearning needs to include:-

  • Authoring tools for content capture and conversion to mobile delivery
  • Templates for the development of mobile games and simulations
  • Learning content management system to archive mobile content
  • A learning management system to track the m-learning students

The evaluation of the above will also have to bear in mind how mlearning could fit into existing elearning systems that are already in mainstream use. Some of the existing elearning components may be adaptable for use with mlearning but again, time is required to explore how all of these various components will fit into a mlearning delivery environment.

The evaluation or a suitable device for use by mlearners is made even more difficult by the number of models of smart phones that are being released into the market and the relatively short time span that various phone models are ‘in fashion’. Deciding on a smart phone operating system helps cull down the number of smart phones to be evaluated. The main choice will be between PC compatible OS and the Palm OS. Deciding on a service provider might also help narrow things down more as in NZ we do not have that many to choose from!

For choosing the correct devise, Singh identified eleven different factors to consider including cost, battery life, the size of the display screen, how data can be input into the devise, the processing power available, the storage capacity of the devise, communications options, application development tools and IT support. These factors could form part of a decision matrix to evaluate the various smart phones currently available here in NZ.

Mlearning technology is also in its very early stages of development. This is good from the point of view that any learning that takes place will improve delivery of flexible learning / ePortfolio generation via mlearning. However, it also means that there needs to be a large input of time and effort into learning about how to make the technology work.

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