Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mobile study – multiple choice questions on mobile phones

This site turned up via leonard low’s excellent blog. It’s a site that allows you to put multiple choice questions on to the web and access them via a desktop or a mobile phone. Mobile study proved to be easy to use. It took me less then ten minutes to register and cut and paste multiple choice questions into a quiz. The lay out of multiple choice questions was very easy to set out as well. Questions have to end in a ? and answers are marked with a *. Access via desktop was more or less instantaneous. Access by mobile phone was also easy but the file requires java to be available on your phone to run it.

Both mobile study & wirenode have appeared at a fortuitous time as I am embarking on trying out different ways to deliver formative questions to students’ mobile phones. So we will test all the different permutations to find out which one is most effective from the students’ viewpoint, in particular, the costs of downloading web based multiple choice questions.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wirenode - put up mobile web pages in a flash!

This nifty site came through techcrunch as one of the sponsors for an up & coming crunchnetwork meet in Prague. Wirenode is a website that provides the service for mobile webpage creation. A review of wirenode can be found at centreworks.

It took me all of 2 minutes to register, link this blog, find a name for my mobile webpage , take a quick look at the cool mobile phone emulator to see how the page would appear on a phone & that was it!!

Checked out the site on my Treo five minutes later & it was there. Went back to the wirenode site itself on my treo to see how easy it would be to do set up a page using a phone. Web page loaded up without any problems but could not log in (login key did not respond). I tried again today (after about 4 days) and the login key still not responding.

Despite above, still a very easy to use system & I can see great ways it can be used to support microlearning.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Checked my sitemeter last week & noticed Martin Lindner via the Oxford forum on mobile learning and technologies had dipped into this blog. I followed the links to his blog & then on to the microlearning conference website. The website contains links to the conference proceedings from 2006 and 2007. I have not had time to trawl through all the various presentations and reports but the concept of microlearning fits well into a mobile learning environment.

Microlearning refers to small learning units that are delivered for short learning spurts. They deliver ‘micro-perspectives’ within learning, education and training and provide a way for organising learning material in order for the material to be disseminated in a structured and planned learning sequence. For the moment, microlearning provides for a natural fit with the way in which content may be delivered via mobile devices.

However, the way in which mobile phones and other portable computing devises is developing does not mean that microlearning will always be the way things are done. A history of mobile phones ends with a look at the things that may be available on mobile phones in the future. In some senses, mobile phones seem to be developing technology that tries to replace what we now do on our desk tops. Whether mobile phones will eventually replace desk tops is yet to be seen but small UMPCs like the Asus eee show that the possibilities are there. Whether the majority of uses will engage with small screens and tiny keyboards for all of their computing needs remains to be investigated. But the possibilities are exciting and concepts like microlearning help educators adopt a more flexible mindset towards the delivery of ubiquitous access to learning resources.

Friday, May 09, 2008

myPortfolios presentation

Attended a presentation and workshop by Andy Kirk (from the flexible learning network) on myPortfolios today. Myporfolios tertiary is based on the open source Mahara software. Mahara was developed via funding from the NZ Tertiary Education Commission's e-learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF), involving Massey University, Auckland University of Technology, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and Victoria University of Wellington.

A good range of participants with about ½ from CPIT, TANZ & the secondary, primary and early childhood sectors. Andy went through a good overview including revealing the underlying pedagogical philosophy of myPortfolio as being Kolb’s learning cycle. myPortfolio accepts evidence / artefacts in the form of text and multimedia files and is linkable to blogs, flickr, youtube, rss feeds and social networking sites. Views can be customised for different ‘markets’ that the ePortfolio compiler requires. These views are made up of the artefacts that have been previously collected or linked to. Groups of users can also be networked via myPortfolio.

We all had a chance to have a good play with myPortfolio. In general, processes were intuitive although some of the page names would require tutorials with some students who are unfamiliar with how to upload material on to web based sites. myPortfolio was also visually pleasing to look at. View pages were well laid out and it was easy to move things around so that items were well organised and presented on the viewing pages.

Followup on AMS forms

Had a brief meeting with Ruth Bruce from the Kinross group a couple of weeks ago, to look at enhancements made to the AMS platform for putting forms on to mobile phones. Their newest addition is to allow ‘subscriptions’ to be held on a phone so that entry of common items does not need to be continually repeated but only adjusted as required. An example will be the use of an AMS form that has a partially completed sales order, this order can be updated in the field quickly by changing already entered data rather than re-entering all the data from scratch.

Ruth has suggested that we take up a 3 month trial of AMS. Met with Nick Ford yesterday to look at the possibility of aligning AMS to Moodle. We looked at the WSDL code provided on the AMS wiki plus the various other technical information provided. With input from our elearning networking / database guru, Kristian Thornley, we discussed possibilities and challenges along with the reasons WHY we would use AMS forms instead of what we currently now use.

From our discussion, we decided to run a trial to compare the three possible ways we could sent formative assessment questions to student mobile phones. These would be using the AMS forms, using SMS via eTXT and direct web download of quizzes from Moodle. We will evaluate time taken to download, cost of downloads, usability issues and student preferences. I will work on writing up a survey to evaluate these and fund the student downloads using our CPIT Foundation grant.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Smart Boards

This week, I have been helping Nick out with a large class of keen tutors learning more about how to use ICT in their teaching and learning. One of the sessions was on the Smart board. I had a look at one last year (a stand alone model) and was not overly impressed as the images were slightly washed out as they were projected from a normal ceiling mounted data projector. The board also tended to move when you pushed on it, leading to having to realign it before you were able to use it properly.

This time around, tried out a wall mounted smart board that had a projector mounted just above the board. CPIT now has almost half a dozen installed in the school of science. The images were crisp and the board surface easier to get used to as the board was stable. The notebook functions were well demonstrated by James Jowsey. Of note was the ability to access a gallery of pre-drawn diagrams (clip art) and to be able to manipulate these to form the base from which you could set out a note book page. Especially useful for mathemathics (graph paper, number lines) but also for geography (maps) & science (science apparatus etc.) It is also possible to download the smart book software on to a computer and use the notebook functions just from a laptop or desktop. I will try it out next week on one of my trade maths sessions to see how well it goes.