Wednesday, October 25, 2006

mlearn2006 day 2

Well, day 2 dawned fine and clear, 3 fine days in a row. I have started to look at the mountains surrounding Banff with some longing. However, day 2 brought with it another batch of interesting presentations. Writing this for blog is a good way for me to reflect on the presentations before the next batch arrives tomorrow! I am writing each section of this blog as each presentation takes place. WIFI access to the web is patchy but sufficient for me to search for and insert hyperlinks.

We began the day with a keynote from Dr. Tom Brown from South Africa. He presented the conference with the challenge of whether we are developing mlearning for the present generation or for the generation that is just now coming into the education system. In particular, we should be working at anticipating what future generation’s learning needs will be. He provided a good overview of Netgen learning needs along with developments in mobile devices, new learning paradigms & new challenges for educators.

I attended the following sessions
Designing a digital internet & mobile phone e-learning environment (DIMPLE) is a concept designed by Diana Andone & presented by Dr. Jon Dron from the University of Brighton in the UK. The design of DIMPLE was based on interviews of young people in the UK, Romania, Finland & Hungary. DIMPLE allows transfer of data between mobile phone (including SMS), PC, Ipod on to a learning environment that includes WIKIs, blogs, forums, IMS, VOIP etc. (integrating many Web 2.0 applications) along with usual learning platforms (email, calendar, diary etc). Its a start at developing a personal learning environment (PLE).

Using mobile to improve the quality of clinical nursing education was presented by Richard Kenny & Caroline Park from Athabasca University & Jocelyne Van Neste-Kenny & Pam Burton, nursing tutorial staff from North Island College, Vancouver Island. They described the pre-study that they have taken to support a pilot mlearning project in 2007. They included a review of the literature of the use of mlearning in health care & nursing that found that PDA use has “exploded” – mainly in the use of pharmacology. This was followed by a study of the needs for nursing education to see if mlearning could meet some of the needs that changes in nursing practice caused by a greater need for community care have brought about. A mobile solution was seen to be feasible due to students being scattered across a wide part of the Vancouver area, with many practicing in isolated communities that can only be reached by boat.

After lunch, I attended another health related technical showcase presentation with Maria Parks & Mark Dransfield (York St. John College) on the topic of using moblogging to support health studies students in the UK. They are using moblogging to assist with the assessment of work placed practice in a clinical setting. The project was to see how well mobile phones would work for the task & to see if their anticipated outcomes (reduction of paperwork, electronic record, enhanced relations between tutor & workplace based educators & targeted support for workplace base educators from the college). A video demonstrating how moblogging worked was used to introduce students on how to use a Imate SP5 phone to blog on and flickr. Students had to set up Email, blogger & flickr accounts on the phones. To resolve problems with inputting text using a mobile phone, Bluetooth portable QWERTY keyboards were also offered as an option. students using the Bluetooth keyboards produced fuller sentences (11 pages compared to 3 pages for mobile keyboard) & reflections were in greater depth.

Ilias Lazardis & Matthias Meisenberger from Austria presented eLibera, a mobile learning engine (MLE). This allows multi-media learning to be distributed to almost every Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phone. It works in place of the browser on the mobile phone. The MLE allows content to be uploaded on to the phone. Then while off line, content can be viewed and formative assessments can be completed. Links to mobile WIKIs, blogs or forums and also mobile wikispedia, news, ebooks etc. are also accessible. A very promising application which we will need to try out. It is supposed to work with a Treo 650, so I will need to test this out when I get back to NZ.

Next a session on knowledge transfer in mobile learning presented by Allan Knight from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Looked at mlearning as not just a subset of d or elearning but a form of learning that uses tools that provide mobility, ubiquity & accessibility. Therefore, mlearning can be used to extend interaction, build learning communities & for the transfer of knowledge. However, performance feedback (are they engaged, are they using the content etc) might be missing for the students & the teacher.
Developed a Moodle module called Moodog (a performance based feedback system (PBFS) that tracks student access / participation to various parts of the course. Students are encouraged to look at the graphs on Moodog so that can find out what other students on the course are engaging with.

Last session of the day was on using a SMS based querying system for mlearning. Presented by Dr. Dunwei Wen from Althabasca University. Their premise was to extend the uses of SMS as it was a popular medium in some countries for mobile phone use. The querying system would provide the possibility to allow SMS to be used for searching content or to set up glossaries. Searches can be made from an existing knowledge base or via the internet. This extends the use of SMS beyond its traditional usage & provides a way for students to ask FAQ type questions.

A very enriching day from my point of view. Several ways in which I could use the ideas from several presentations already percolating in my brain. All of them are generally easy to put into place and cost effective.