Handheld Learning 2007, Pre-Conference Sessions


I finally made it to London today and the Handheld Learning 2007 Conference. So far the conference has been great, and it hasn’t officially started yet! I attended two sessions this afternoon, after learning how to navigate the underground with two large (and heavy) suitcases. I think they’ve yet to invent escalators in some parts of the city.

Anyway, the first session I attended was called “Mobile Learning Exchange”, hosted by Dan Sutch and Lyndsay Grant of FutureLab. Here are my notes and impressions…

(Link to the slideshow)


FutureLab is doing a lot of project to test ideas. They’re really not that interested in scaling up. As a result, they take on a lot of risky projects and really are able to push the envelope (although I have to say some of these projects would probably be scalable without too much trouble).

One area of research is that of pda-based learning, and the design of evolving and involving learning spaces, as evident in the evolution of learning tools (note that these are listed as sort of an evolution from low to high student control) such as  

  1. Savannah: “a strategy-based adventure game where a virtual space is mapped directly onto a real space. Children ‘play’ at being lions in a savannah, navigating the augmented environments with a mobile handheld device. By using aspects of game play, Savannah challenges children to explore and survive in the augmented space. To do this they must successfully adopt strategies used by lions.” (quoted from the FutureLab Savannah page).

  2. Mudlarking: a location-aware system (to provide relevant info based on location) that involves students while on a tour of a . It’s an evolving learning space in that users tell the story of the location, collect data, and add this information to a tour of Deptford Creek. Mudlarking provides prompts to engage, observe, and communicate (including asynchronously). It’s basically a tool kit to capture individual stories, using micro-maps, sound, video, pictures, drawings, and stories (real, imagined, legendary). This project seems to be similar to Frequency 1550 in that it provides location-relevant info, and engages students to collaboratively create a digital artifact. Mudlarking is different in that it has users add to the existing information so future users can do it. In Frequency 1550 students merely sent information back to their “headquarters”, i.e. the school. Another project that’s similar to this is the RAFT project (Remote Access Field Trips), linking classrooms with locations by sending a few students who go to a location and stream video back to the classroom.

  3. Create-a-scape: aims to offer the inspiration for teachers and pupils to start using mediascapes with the aid of mobile devices, and to provide easy-to-use guides and free software to help make mediascape creation as simple and accessible as possible. One example is the Islington City Learning Center project on digital story telling.

 Another project that could fit in this sequence is MobiMissions (the link contains a nice video), which utilizes the mobile as a locative device and users create location-based missions for others (challenges, puzzles, treasure hunts….), share and play them, and rate and comment on other people’s missions. So far, the project has shown that participants prefer local and social play, playing with others, and sharing phones to collaboratively create meaning. A lot of play happens in social locations, and is static and opportunistic. However, while this project has the potential to support learning through conversations, they stopped early on in the implementation because users had to use the project website. It became clear that there is a need to have immediate conversations, not asynchronous ones. Someone also brought up that the duration of the implementation (5-week periods) may have been too short for the concept to really take hold with its users.

Some of the other projects mentioned included:

  • Fizzees: a digital pet whose well-being depends on its owner’s physical actions, getting at an applied understanding of healthy lifestyle;

  • Newtoon: create/share/play micro games on a mobile; rate games; share via bluetooth; stimulate science talk; use class to home and back;

  • la Piazza; intergenerational learning: impact of physical space on learning;

  • Pleasurable Cities: mobiles to enable young people to become engaged in local decision-making; uses QR code stickers to leave digital tags for others to see and add to;

  • Space Signpost: a user-controlled sculpture that points to objects in space; creates opportunities for incidental learning; location of the learner used as a primary reference point;

  • Smart Learners, Smart Places: creating a live info space uses tiny speckled computers; personal curating of artifacts; linking pre-post-during activities; providing hidden info about artifacts.

Finally, we talked a little bit about how mobile learning doesn’t have to involve mobile technology at all, but that it’s the learner that’s mobile, rather than the technology, a la Sharples’ concept of learning while mobile. Learning is a conversation that happens in different but connected locations.

Lots of great projects, lots of good ideas. One thing that did stand out to me is that FutureLab does not worry at all about scalability issues. I think they should, at least to some extent. Running a lot of small projects to test ideas is important, but at some point the question of more widespread use should be addressed…



3 responses to “Handheld Learning 2007, Pre-Conference Sessions

  1. Pingback: Video Games » Handheld Learning 2007, Pre-Conference Sessions

  2. Pingback: www.hikingforyou.info » Handheld Learning 2007, Pre-Conference Sessions

  3. Pingback: iThinkEd » Handheld Learning Conference, Day One

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s