SIGHC held its first forum at NECC this year. We had presenters from both the US and the UK. Even though I had to moderate the event, I was able to listen in on Tony Vincent as well as David Whyley and Jill Purcell from the UK.
Tony Vincent’s breakouts focused on web apps (and netbooks like the EeePC)
Web apps: platform agnostic, that’s a strength. A lot of people now spend the majority of their time in their browser (I know I do!).
Mini pcs: EeePC ($299 with Linux and Open Office), HP MiniNote, Dell, Tangent MiniPC. There are many netbooks out there now.
Pros: cheap, open source
Cons: battery life, screen size
This seems similar to handhelds/mobile devices in the past. Discussion of screensize, small v. big. Kids are used to small screens and that’s what they want.
Lots of discussion about the hardware, and how it can be used in different situations, like for homebound students. There is an advantage over the use of laptops in that they are cheaper to use/maintain/replace, especially in “high-risk” situations (e.g. with potential drop-outs etc.)
Some discussion about software: Kerpoof: cartoon software (almost teaching them how to program)
Cradlepoint: to use wireless through your mobile phone service. Helps to get around blocked sites, or hotel charges! Mobile broadband speeds.
David Whyley and Jill Purcell Wolverhampton project (Learning2Go)
Implementation: integrating technology and improving pedagogy at the same time.
The device itself does not deliver everything it needs. They look at mobile devices as the 21st century equivalent of reporter’s notepad.
UK context: get lots of money to do their projects: what do you want to spend your money on? Laptops won’t work, will get stolen, especially in areas like Wolverhampton, a very deprived area. Use of technology seen as an additional benefit for the future. Replacement of schools in the UK is going on as well. Technology seems key to that.
Mobile learning goes way back to the hornbook. We are now replacing that same concept with digital tools.
Mobile devices are in Dave’s opinion still very different from something like an EeePC, because it’s a different device you’ll do different things with in different ways (e.g. voice v. keyboard input -> on the go v. you have to set it down to type).
How do we bridge between school life and e-life? Youngsters now have more technology in the home than before. Kids aren’t wowed by technology anymore, or a computer lab.
UK spends lots of money: every teacher has a laptop with a SmartBoard with audio.
• learning platforms for all learners (by Dec. 2008): mobile will be the conduit
• e-portfolios: for assessment
• computers for pupils
• learning beyond school
• engaging parents
Started with Windows, but are looking at different devices (HTC Advantage, Nokia N810)
Motivation is important
Attendance up 32% in mobile classes (as compared to avg city attendance down by 0.5%)
For girls it was personalization of the device, for boys, it was the coolness factor.
Showed video of one day in the mobile life, which was a nice way to show mobile learning by students in different settings.
Use of EDAs
Use of GoKnow stuff
Hook up to SmartBoard (Bluetooth)
Bluetooth for push and pull of content
Integration of mobile stuff with existing systems
Safety and Security: working with parents and help them understand. Naivety issues (kids hacking into unfiltered home wireless and parents not realizing that they should filter that).
Teachers need time to explore v. device market and how fast it’s changing. Therefore, stuck to one OS for now (Windows Mobile).
All in all, this was a great session. Participants had a chance to spend a good chunk of time in discussion instead of listening to talking heads. Even the presenters told me they learned a lot!
NECC logo, NECC 2008 website:
Hornbye Hornbook, from Wikimedia Commons: