Monthly Archives: October 2008

Taiwan Trip, Day 2, Taoyuan County, Hsing Fu Junior High School (Oct. 20, 2008)

Hsing Fu Junior High School (see also here) was the first school we visited on our tour through the western part of Taiwan. Hsing Fu is a relatively large school, and very new (I think it’s been open only about 5 years or so). The design of the school is very open and airy, besides the fact that there is a lot of building in not a whole lot of space. We were welcomed at the gate by the principal and several teachers and ushered into the building for an opening speech, followed by a coffee break and lots of food prepared by students in the hospitality program at one of the other local schools (as we were to find out very soon, we would be eating A LOT during the week).

The highlight of our visit to Hsing Fu were some classroom observations and a tour of the school. We were able to see three classes (two different English Language classes and an English Culture class). The first English class we saw was taught by a teacher using a laptop and projector as well as a voice amplifier, and included lots of practice and repetition. What really stood out was the fact that even though the class was large with around 30 students, not a second was wasted. There were really no discipline issues to speak of, and when several students were asked to come up to the front of the room to write down their answers to some questions, all of the other students used that time to practice their English reading skills as they read a passage from their workbook aloud to themselves.


The second English Language class we saw was taught by Ms. Wu in the language lab. Ms. Wu’s students were part of the APEC Cyber Academy’s ICT Cybercamp this year. Each student has access to his/her own workstation in the lab (with room for about 40 students or so. In addition, Ms. Wu showed me how she can follow what each student is doing from her workstation in the front of the room, and can group students using the same software. It was a nice set up. I actually recognized the room as students had used it earlier this year to video tape some of their interviews. It was nice to get to see it in person.


The last class we saw was the English Culture class, and it was very English, with tea and all. This classroom is set up somewhat like a restaurant/living room and is designed to give students a chance to practice their conversation skills. Local and visiting students participated in an activity together here, and we observed.


The tour of the school was interesting as well, including a walk through the vegetable garden and a scout skills class, which is part of the curriculum in many schools in Taiwan!


Our visit concluded with a great lunch and a group picture (the first of many, many group pictures), and we hopped back on the bus around 1 pm.

Image Credits: My camera (mostly)

Taiwan Trip, Day 1, Taipei (Oct. 19, 2008)


I’ll be starting a series of posts today, reflecting back on a 7-day trip I took to Taiwan last week (Oct. 18-26), to attend the APEC ACA 2008 Conference on ICT and Global Virtual Learning Communities. The trip itself was one of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever taken. As I will chronicle over the next few days, I learned a lot about the educational system in Taiwan as well as the country itself.

I arrived in Taiwan on Saturday night, October 18, after a very long trip. I had really been looking forward to this week, as I was finally going to meet some of the fantastic people I have been working with for the last two years on the APEC Cyber Academy. Of course we went out for a “snack” once we got to the hotel at 11 pm (this, btw, turned out to be a full meal, one of countless ones we would have over the next week).

Sunday was sort of our day off, as most people were arriving on this day. Four of us went into Taipei, where we visited the Nashan Fude Temple, which has the largest statue of the God of Earth in Taiwan and some fabulous art work and views of Taipei to boot. I’ll let my pictures do the talking here:






And my first taste of what a visual overload many cities in Taiwan are. Sometimes it makes your eyes hurt 😉

Image credits: my camera

Carnival of the Mobilists #147

Hosted this week by VoIP Survivor:

This was quite a varied week, so there’s no single theme here for what happened in the blogosphere when it comes to mobile. As it is, I’ve divided this week’s catch into three groups:

  1. Posts relevant for those developing for mobile.
  2. Advertising related, as we have a nice catch of ad related posts.
  3. Readings built around metaphors and associations.

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:

Carnival of the Mobilists #146

London Calling is this week’s host of the Carnival.

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:

Handheld Learning, Day 3, Lord David Putnam

This was the closing keynote of the conference. I really didn’t take a lot of notes because I knew somebody was streaming the talk to the web and I was too tired to take a lot of notes. A few good snippets though:

Europe and US suffer from student disengagement, resulting in physical and emotional truancy.

Digital technology: collaborative, networked, and embedded in communities.

Ability to contribute to and change the learning environment is key to learning.

Right now we are losing! Kids need to be engaged, not just in learning, but also in learning/tech design development. Their concerns need to be heard and considered. We also need to find out what kids do when they are not in school and how that can be used to enhance education.

The future is a race between education and catastrophe.

There is more work to be done on assessment, not on the curriculum. Throwing away the curriculum is like a person without a spine. You can’t walk without it…

Handheld Learning, Day 3, Research Strand

 An overview of the research strand I moderated this morning. We saw and heard about a lot of interesting and innovative projects related to mobile learning.

Mobile Matters

Mark Kramer, Vienna, Austria
Mobile learning foresight: Examining learning now and in the near future.

This presentation mostly focused on the idea that when we look at technology and education, we need to look at broad impacts, and look for example at health and/or social impacts. With regards to learning, technologies allow us to be discursive, flexible, ubiquitous, convenient, everywhere, and adaptive.

Adele Botha, Meraka Institute, South Africa,
Digital literacy for 21st century digital learners

Adele talked about the diversity of her country (including education), and how unrestricted access to technology and information are creating new opportunities but also responsibilities. She sees students who are proficient with technology but tend to be naive. In addition, adults are buying into rules that teenagers make with regards to new technology use. Now more than before, the more virtual you get, the more teens are interacting with and through technology.

The message of this presentation really is that we need to teach kids how to survive in the virtual world [I think this is true anywhere]. Adele compared being in the virtual world to traveling to a different country, and teaching to a guide, not a police officer or immigration official. In both, there are places to go, things to see and do, local customs (think netiquette), what can you take, exchange rates and money, and things to look out for.

Sometimes the two worlds overlap and you get cultural developments, which she dubbed the Silent Revolution, with examples such as the “please call me” culture, the umbrella lady, the mobile tree, and the use of multiple phones and sim cards.

David Cameron, Charles Sturt University, Australia,
Handheld media in the classroom: Transforming practice through drama

A session devoted to the use of drama as a vehicle to engage students in discussions about mobile use (e.g. mobiquette and cyber bullying). David showed a couple of examples, including Mantle of the Expert (simulations, scenarios, what-if situations, with a comparison of drama to video games); an archaeology training unit; and a set-up on Bebo that can be used as a scenario to talk about appropriate use of phones and SMS

The focus here was on engaging students in discussions about technology using technology.


Designing Learning Experiences

Yishay Mor, London Knowledge Lab,
Planet: bringing learning design knowledge to the forefront

Three observations:

1. Acceleration of change
2. Design divide: in design knowledge (need to find ways to share)
3. The void between prophet (too high) and explorer (too low) presentations

Yishay argued for the need to return to design science (Simon, 1969). A detailed description of what design science is and how the Planet project uses stories to create design patterns for problem solving can be found in the presentation slides.

Cathy Lewin, Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University
Transforming pedagogical practices with digital learning companions

Cathy Lewin discussed a mobile project at Holywell High School (Wales), an example of a project that puts more technology in schools to enable teachers to do more. The positives here are the headteacher’s vision that the desktop model is not the right one and that there is a need to design effective learning environments, and the involvement of students in choosing the device to be used (Asus eee PC). The project has just started so there were no real results to report, other than the usual list of challenges.

Rhodri Thomas & Keren Mills, Mobile Learner Support, Open University
Mobile Digiquest: Developing rich media reflective practitioners

A presentation that described the digital initiatives at the Open University’s Digilab with rich media on mobile devices and associated professional development, both f2f and online (blended). The presenters stressed the impotance of mobile collaboration tools.

Carl Smith, Developer, Reusable Learning Objects CETL at London Metropolitan University,
Engineering suitable content for context sensitive education and vocational training (CONTSENS)

An overview of projects that allow users to do real research with mobile technology and control data (scroll, zoom, decompose), to let users do stuff, not just look at data on a device. Carl showed lots of cool examples of what is possible today given the increases in scanning, mapping, and capturing our world; reconstructing the world; pattern recognition; and object embedding.

Teaching and Learning

Megan Smith, Leeds Metropolitan University
Our City, Our Music: using mScapes to map new narratives

mScapes is the use of audio/video/text combined with GPS to create and consume content. Our City, Our Music is an initiative that will yield a location-based music album by June 2009. Other successful examples include adventure games, historical guides, and walking tours. Current technology has its limitations; content needs to be preloaded, and the platform is not designed for interactions between multiple devices. Future technology to be added includes RFID, bluetooth, and infra-red.

Suzaan Le Roux, Cape Peninsula University, South Africa,
Implications of utilising mobile handheld devices in teaching undergraduate programming learners in a developing country

According to the abstract:

This research chronicles the results of the investigation into the integration and use of mobile handheld devices as teaching tools in an undergraduate computer programming subject at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa.  This research also explores the wide reaching implications of utilising mobile handheld devices and the possible advantageous alternatives it can provide to traditional classroom-based instruction in teaching predominantly previously disadvantaged computer programming learners in a developing country.  The relevance of mobile handheld devices in teaching programming, its perceived benefits and the potential barriers to its use are discussed.

In this study the experimental group consisted of 55 programming learners who have been provided with personal digital assistants (PDAs) preloaded with the Basic4PPC application for use at university and home.  This enabled and encouraged learners to design and develop mobile applications in the Visual Basic programming language anytime, anywhere without the necessity of a computer.  Learners reported their experiences through interviews and a survey.

The study found that students want access, and that mobile devices enable access, mobility, and the opportunity to learn at your own pace. Issues included screen size, fragility of devices, stylus input, and the perception that the mobile was not a phone. There was some novelty effect, and long-term research is needed to validate current findings.

Jane Lunsford, Researcher and Lead Instructional Designer, Open University
Mobile media and devices to support students at the UKOU

Didn’t get any notes here. From the abstract:

The talk will consider two research projects designed to investigate how the support provided to around 200,000 students at The Open University (UKOU) might be improved and extended with the use of mobile media and devices, to suit a diversity of study needs.  It will then show how these research projects have led to enhancements in the support offered by Student Services.

Susan Jacobson, PhD, Temple University, USA,
Exploring the expressive qualities of the mobile phone in journalism education

Interesting talk about changes in journalism in the US, a class in experimental journalism at Temple, and how mobiles can play a part in news coverage. The examples provided here included the coverage of elections using an election day moblog, combining the use of utterli and a livejournal blog.

Mobiles are being used by journalism students for traditional news stories, live interviews, prerecorded sound bites, and personal reflections (esp. the latter tends to happen more).

Tools experimented with include a standard blog, google maps, a custom db; and now Ning, which seems to work.  

Handheld Learning, Day 2, Emerging Technologies Session


Here’s a brief description of the presentations in this afternoon’s Emerging Technology session at Handheld Learning 2008 that I participated in.

Richard Crook: Praise Pod
Child Mental Health Specialist: NHS Rotherham

This presentation was about promoting a culture of praise for a 21st century learning community. Seems somewhat familiar to Character Counts in the US. It’s about ICT connecting communities, including parents, local businesses, faith groups, and community organizations. It works by sending families videos of kids doing something good at school, or they can be played on whiteboards in class, etc. Richard showed some nice video examples of how this actually works.

Tony Vincent: For Kids, By Kids: Valuable Tips for Podcasting with Students

Tony’s stuff originated with Willowdale’s Radio WillowWeb in Omaha, Nebraska. The key to podcasting is that the audio/video is a series of files automatically cataloged on the web and downloadable (by subscription).

Podcasts are pretty professional, kids seem to enjoy it. Tony had us listen to a couple of examples of audio podcasts, including Radio WillowWeb and Our City Podcast.

Four phases of podcasting: Pre-production, creation, post-production, publication.

You always need to think about copyright and privacy.

Resources: Slogan4u (slogans), (the YouTube of sound effects)

My presentation on the GeoHistorian project

Link to video (as soon as I post it…)

Lilian Soon: Xlearn project (gadgets empowering students with disabilities) with awesome ppt slides!

Using PDAs for taking pictures and video, and interviewing each other. Advantages: convergence of digital capabilities in one device. Kids learn quickly so they can help each other.

Hull College uses mobiles in combination with headcams, to do stuff with electrical engineering (handsfree technology!).

Joseph Priestley College: use of RedHalo to collect evidence and then create mindmaps to link the evidence together. Also using PSPs for deaf learners to make and watch signing videos.

Mobile phones and QR codes for simple quizzes and flash cards, and as a media player. Also using the calendar and notes functions and Bluetooth exchange of files.

Oaklands College: Students are also using phones for blogging (voice, video, pictures).

Use of Wii and DS: pictures and video on SD card (Wii), health and safety exercises, puzzle function, making a Mii. Use of cut and paste function on DS. Use of PictoChat on DS.

Use a flash card to play video, mp3, pictures (like a hack for the DS).

URLs: http://tinyurl/hhlxlearn

Jacquelyn Ford Morie (USC Institute for Creative Technology): Case-Based Learning with Critical Thinking Skills on Mobile Devices

Training for US military: flexible operating environments and not enough time for training create a need for embedded 24/7 training independent of human instructors, mobile devices, etc.

Use of mobile devices: can maximize  “lost moments” for training, besides the 24/7 mobile access.

AXL Net: Army Excellence in Leadership:

  • Web-based training system
  • Case-based methodology
  • Designed to develop critical thinking and analysis skills

The FORCE: one-click downloads to mobile platform (iPod). Video/text combination (looks like a conditional branching type of set-up).

Paul Quinn: Using the PSP for athletes

Harefield Academy in London for Watford FC “scholars”, elite gymnasts, table tennis players, swimmers…

Use of PSP (10 in pilot, about 30-40 kids have them too). Use of camera for Sports Video Project (are also using for assessment on the PSP). Students can video tape themselves, do frame by frame analysis (immediately), and get lesson information (ppt jpegs).

Mobiles are interfaced with desktops and network for further work on videos etc.

Other resource:

Sally Drummond: New Practices in Flexible Learning

Australian Turning Point Project (mobile film making):

Digital Mini Film Fest for Youth: one minute films shot on mobile phones, displayed on iHubs (kiosks with touch screens and Bluetooth) on the streets of Melbourne (sharing via Bluetooth).

Initial tech and interaction research done on minimum tech requirements as well as use of Bluetooth.

John Traxler: mLearn 2008 look-back

Background: mLearn, IADIS, WMTE conferences, IJMBL journal, and IAmLearn association.

Theory: does our work extend or enhance existing theories of learning or e-learning? Does our work tell anything general or transferable?

Evidence: can we demonstrate something transferable and trustworthy? Are we looking for proof-of-concept, outcomes, or scale and sustainability? How do we evaluate and disseminate? There is a gap between the smaller projects and what large funders (i.e. government) would like to see. We have more technologies and systems and more case studies.

Technology: rapidity, diversity, power. How do we cope with this? What’s the bigger picture? (Mike Short). Social impact of longer-term predictions (Mark Prensky).

mLearn 2009: Florida

mLearn 2010: Malta

Image Credit: My camera