Monthly Archives: September 2007

Handheld Learning 2007

 Handheld Learning 2007

Just a quick note to let you know that the full program for Handheld Learning 2007 is now online. Go check it out. Looks like it’s going to be a very good conference….


Image Credit: Handheld Learning Conference Logo:

Some Thoughts about Mobile Learning/Learning while Mobile

 As I’m preparing my presentations for Handheld Learning 2007, I’ve been reading and thinking quite a bit about mobile learning/learning while mobile in a variety of learning contexts. One idea that I keep getting back to is that the use of mobile technologies or using digital tools while mobile is just as much about creating and sharing content as it is about consuming it. What really hammered this idea home was a post by Elliot Masie on Learning TRENDS about cell phone use in the London bombings on 7/7/05. In this post, he discusses the characteristics of the low quality videos that appeared online as events were unfolding that made them so worthwhile for viewers (including law enforcement):

* Velocity – How rapidly could the content be captured and shared.
* Scalability – How many “reporters” are created when you expand the sources of content.
* Intensity – In many ways, the video captured on the video phone was way more intense to watch, including the physical reactions of the people holding the phones.
* Context Rich – The content had huge context implications, as it came from people in the midst of a situation. Multiple video phones provided multiple views of the same incidents.

These same characteristics could be applied to the use of mobile technologies for learning:

  • Velocity: the speed in which content is captured and shared for purposes of learning.
  • Scalability: more creators of content means more and potentially richer content. It also means that everybody is a teacher AND a learner.
  • Intensity: what is captured and shared is more real to the consumer/learner, in part because it can be provided in a variety of media formats. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth …
  • Context rich: a variety of viewpoints on a particular topic. This is an important issue when considering that educational institutions have a moral obligation to teach their students how to become active, informed, and critically engaged citizens who can acquire, evaluate, and synthesize information from different sources and can make reasonable decisions based on the information provided.

A good example of how these characteristics can be applied in a learning context and how mobile tools can provide the context for discussion of a topic such as freedom of speech is the tasering of a student at a recent speaking engagement by John Kerry at the University of Florida. A quick search on YouTube turned up a variety of videos of the event, containing either raw or edited footage and a videotaped reaction of the university president at a press conference. A substantial amount of the footage was uploaded immediately following the incident (velocity), by a number of different people (scalability). The raw footage of the event is probably most intense, as it shows what happens, as well as various people recording the event (and their reactions). The edited footage, the university president’s press conference, news clips, AND ABOVE ALL the plethora of  video comments and written ones attached to each video illustrate the potential for context richness.

Obviously, applying the four characteristics of mobile device use to learning also raises some important and not-so-easy-to-answer questions:

  • How much content is too much?
  • What about quality control of content?
  • Who decides what is good/useful/worthwhile?
  • What is the best way to learn the additional skills learners will need to deal with this different kind of content?
  • When should they be learned?
  • What happens to the learning process in general, and as a result, to institutionalized education?

Lots to think about, and I haven’t quite gotten the answers yet….

Image Credit: “1000 mobiles”, Gaetan Lee’s photostream:

Carnival of the Mobilists #92

This week’s Carnival of the Mobilists (#92) is hosted by Abhishek Tiwari. This week’s foci include security and privacy, mobile 2.0, and mobile industry news and analysis. My favorite section is that on mobile 2.0, especially the post by Antoine Wright, “When Web 2.0 Goes Mobile, Things Can Change“, in which he describes the need for Web 2.0 applications to be scalable for mobile devices that have limited capabilities (well, relatively speaking) but do have personal connections. His full editorial on Brighthand is here.

Another great edition of the Carnival…..


Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:

Preparing to Attend Handheld Learning 2007, or the Wild, Wacky, Wireless, and Wonderful World of Mobile Learning

Handheld Learning 2007

I can’t believe I’ll be at the Handheld Learning conference in London in only a few short weeks. Besides having an opportunity to make the quick jump from London to Amsterdam to visit relatives before the conference, I’m really looking forward to the event itself, as it has gotten quite the reputation.

I will be doing two presentations while I’m there, fitting them in with this year’s theme of Learning while Mobile. They are described below. The full program is on the conference site. If you’d like to attend the Handheld Learning conference, register before it is sold out (like last year). Discount codes can be found at Tony Vincent’s Learning in Hand and the moblearn blog.

How to Create 21st Century Learners:

How do we create 21st century learners? This is a complex question that is puzzling educators across the world. As we all know, society has been changing in faster and more complex ways than ever before. Knowledge is growing at exponential rates, digital tools we use are constantly changing, the nature of family and community are in flux, markets are shifting, and institutions constantly have to reinvent themselves.

We are now preparing children for a world that will have jobs that don’t exist yet, tools that haven’t been invented yet, and problems we don’t know are problems yet. The distinction between the physical and digital is becoming increasingly blurred as well.

What should learning in such an unpredictable environment look like? This presentation will provide a brief glimpse of what the not-so-distant future of education might bring, including increased personalization and customization, learning in context, networking, and of course, the role of digital technologies.

Related links: (Map of Future Forces Affecting Education)

Citizen Journalism

In November 2004, Dutch film maker  Theo van Gogh’s body was captured by a passer-by on a mobile phone minutes after he was murdered. The picture appeared on the pages of the Telegraaf, a daily Amsterdam newspaper, and made the news globally. The next month, images n(see e.g. here and here) and videos of the Asian tsunami were available on the Internet within minutes of the waves crashing ashore. When bombs exploded in London’s public transportation in July 2005, citizen reporters were on the scene before the major news networks got there. Almost immediately following the explosions, commuters in the Underground uploaded pictures and video to the Internet, using their mobile phones to capture and transmit the events as they were unfolding.

News reporting as we used to know it is changing. Younger generations are turning away from traditional media outlets in ever-increasing numbers, and instead are using mobile and networked technologies and web-based tools to collaboratively (re)create, analyze, share, and digest what is happening in their world. A new generation of digital storytellers and citizen journalists has emerged, blurring the boundaries between producers and consumers of news.

This session will focus on the implications for education of this trend, including the need to prepare students to actively and critically partake in an evermore global, digital, and participatory culture; an increasing responsibility to teach and learn about how to deal with the massive amounts of information that are literally at our fingertips; and emerging ethical issues such as copyright, privacy versus the right to know, and honesty in editing online content.
It is funny how when we try to predict the future we often end up looking back. In the case of reporting the news, there are strong indications that we may return to a time when storytelling and pamphleteering were vital ways of sharing information and passing it from generation to generation. The only difference is that this time, storytelling will no longer be oral and local, but digital and global.

Related links: (Gillmor’s We the media; the Media Center’s Synapse on the future of news; Annandale’s article in the Thunderbird; and many, many more).

Image Credit: Handheld Learning Conference Logo:

Carnival of the Mobilists #91

I’ve been following the Carnival of the Mobilists for a while now, as a way to get weekly updates on some of the best writing about mobile computing in the blogosphere. One thing I’ve noticed is that the Carnival does not aggregate much writing on mobile computing in education, hence I’ve volunteered to host a carnival that will focus more on that sometime before the end of this year.

In order to help promote the Carnival I’ll keep you updated on when new ones are posted. This weeks carnival (#91) has been online for a couple of days at Tim Trent’s Marketing by Permission. If you haven’t read one of these before, it’s definitely worth a try….

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo,

Map of Future Forces Affecting Education: 2006-2016


KnowledgeWorks out of Cincinnati, OH created a Map of Future Forces Affecting Education last year. I got my hands on a paper copy during a keynote presentation of a National Science Foundation meeting in Washington DC this week. An electronic version and a link to download a paper version can be found here.

It’s an interesting map in that it lists half a dozen external forces that will affect education in the next decade in the areas of family and community, markets, institutions, educators and learning, and tools and practics. With regards to digital tools, it is noteworthy that the focus seems to be on mobile and connected devices, in an environment that favors personalization/customization AND networking/connectedness at the same time.

Another item worth noting is “the end of cyberspace” being one of the drivers of change, meaning that

places and objects are becoming increasingly embedded with digital information and linked through connective media into social networks. The result is the end of the distinction between cyberspace and real space.

This is more along the lines of the concept of ubiquitous computing I’ve written about on this forum before, but one in which mobile technologies definitely worth a role.

Even though the map was created from a US perspective, I’m sure at least parts of it apply to other contexts. It is interesting to navigate through and investigate, both in digital and paper formats.

Crossposted to the Handheld Learning Forum

Image Credit: “Futuristic Space Travel”, Jay Khemani’s photostream;

Mobile Phones, Mobile Minds


Here is an interesting video from, sent to me by my colleague Graham Brown Martin from Handheld Learning in London. It is called “Mobile Phones, Mobile Minds,” and can be found on or google video. The 26 minute video is an amalgamation of the pros and cons of using mobile phones for education. It’s an interesting piece, containing interviews with lots of different people, including students. According to, the video provides

A look at the world of young people with mobile phones, and the impact on schools and education.

Owning a mobile is becoming an indispensable element of young people’s lives, for both teenagers and increasingly primary age children, all around the world.

Are mobile phones a force for good, or an example of technology gone awry? Is it sensible to ban their use in schools or should this device be given a place in lessons and learning?

I like the video because it does a nice job of juxtaposing statements pro and con, without showing a bias toward one side or the other. Some items of note is the discussion of Prof. Yong Zhao from Michigan State (at about minute 20:30) who is investigating classrooms as ecosystems, with everything in it (teachers, students, technologies) as individual species that compete in a sort of Darwinian way. Also of interest are the closing statements in the final minute or so of the video.

While mostly shot in England, this is definitely worth watching for anybody interested in mobile technology and K-12 education. If you watch the video, please post some comments here.