Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Customised forms on mobile phones

Attended a presentation at the local Vodaphone HQ by Ruth Bruce from the Kinross Group and Craig Wilson from Black Coffee software this morning on their Applications message service (AMS) software. AMS provides the facility for forms to be filled in via mobile phone and sent back to a web based front end from which form templates can be formatted / edited and viewed. Data collected on the forms can be sent, received and shared.

Basically, forms are formatted on the AMS front end. Forms can be set out to allow strings, dates, gauge (slider to allow for input), choice (multiple choice with options for only one or many options), and text box (will allow 160 characters). Forms are disseminated to mobile phones via download by each individual phone with access via username and password. The form framework lives on the phone and data entered each time is sent back to the company that requires the form to be filled in. Photos collected on the phones can be attached to the forms but it means that the messages will be more expensive. More info on the AMS wiki which includes user guide and quicktime movies of how to use the AMS.

There is an annual cost to use AMS based on number of uses, a message cost and the usual mobile phone date usage charges. If you want forms to be formatted for you, there is a one off cost for each form but the AMS seems to be quite straight forward to use and CPIT has the infrastructure to deal with any forms that are sent back in CVS or XML format and should be able to do the conversions ourselves. This platform has many potential uses and since launch 4 months ago has users in the real estate, health and equipment servicing sectors.

From the point of view of our current mlearning project, the AMS is a substantial improvement on using etxt . We will be able to sent out formative and summative questions in a ready to fill in format instead of sending out questions just as unformatted text messages and then students having to text back question number and answer. The question types we use can be increased as entry of answers in simplified using the various form filling formats provided. I can also see a use in using a short standardised from to be attached to each portfolio item that apprentices send in for their assessments that provide details of the photo / video / text file that can then be later collated towards their final eportfolio.
For mlearning in general, short pieces of content which are interactive (ie allows students to enter answers to questions etc) could be downloaded by students for revision sessions, extra information, assignments, formative assessments etc. Forms could also be set up for students who need to fill in reports while they are out on field trips, completing internships / work placements or for gathering of assessment evidence. So AMS will be something worth investigating as part of our ongoing pilot.

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