Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Should we issue a phone?

Back to blogging after a short 'break' and a full on teaching schedule in the first two weeks of the second term. One of the conundrums posed by going into mlearning is whether a phone should be issued to students who will be enrolled on the mcourse.

The interim report from the European m-learning project suggests that participants in the projects were issued with the devices. Although many of the participants were unemployed, homeless and living an itinerant lifestyle, very few of the phones issued were misplaced or damaged.

The advantages of standardising the mlearning delivery tool include:-

  • Common OS for all mlearners on the same course
  • The ability to standardise instructions for the use of the phone to complete various learning related tasks
  • Only one model to deal with from the technical support point of view
  • Easier to source one model and have it sponsored by one phone supplier / telecommunications provider.
  • The need to configure existing LMS to work with one type of phone.
  • Providing all learners with similar capabilities so that all learners can start on a level playing field.
  • Being able to choose the phone that will fit the types of learning activities that the learner profile directs the learning design towards.

However, issuing a specific smart phone for the use of mlearning might be viewed negatively by students. To start with, a substantial number of students will already have a phone, therefore, issuing a phone specifically for the use of mlearning means that the mlearning phone could be seen to be the ‘work’ phone. A number of students I have spoken to about the concept of mlearning are also very reluctant to use their existing phone for mlearning as well. They see their own phone as being a personal item that is reserved for non-work activities.

If we do decide to issue a phone the other decision that has to be made is what sort of phone will be issued? For the purposes of the pilot course, a 2G phone capable of SMS will be about all that is required. There is a wide range on the market and these can be purchased at very reasonable prices. However, my thinking is that we would probably run the pilot using the student’s existing phones. The pilot course will only be using very simple SMS capabilities and issuing a phone that is perhaps inferior in capabilities to the phones that some students already own, will be a step backwards.

However, to move the whole mLearning project forward at CPIT would eventually require us to explore the issues that will be brought about by tapping into the capabilities and possibilities of 3G phones and ‘smart phones’ like the Treo 650


StudyStack said...

You should consider using J2ME as a development platform for your cellphone application since a large number of phones support it. I've written an educational flashcard application using J2ME and many users have successfully used it on their own phones. Visit http://www.studystack.com for more details.

Selena said...

Hi studystack,

thank you for your recommendation. I will check out your website and investigate the J2ME platform. Selena