Daily Archives: October 14, 2008

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), soundsnap.com (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 http://yacapaca.com 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: http://www.ictgcse.com

Sally Drummond: New Practices in Flexible Learning

Australian Turning Point Project (mobile film making): http://flexiblelearning.net.au

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


Handheld Learning, Day 2, Laurie O’Donnell

Streaming video files are here and here

Putting philosophy into practice (speech was more of a discussion than a presentation)

Philosophy A v. B

Interesting example of what success in education means: Finland: how safe do you feel on the streets, how healthy are your people, longevity, how many people do you send to jail? It goes way beyond improving test scores or training productive workers. You want citizens, community activists, good parents….

Technology is a catalyst for change, it does NOT drive change. People make changes to make the world better.

How do you pay for scalability and sustainability?

Question on assessment: Assessment person who answered -> we need to provide learners the environment to learn, we can’t just teach them to learn. Assessment bodies are fairly powerless when it comes to developing assessments as they mainly apply the policy that comes from higher up.

  • Implementation with a little help from
  • Politicians (committed to long-term development)
  • Civil servants (who see the big picture and can manage risk)
  • Secure funding (not based on projects)
  • Great people who are doing the right things for the right reasons
  • Resilience
  • Hard work and a whole lotta luck

And of course students …

Image Credit: My camera

Handheld Learning 2008, Day 2, danah boyd

Presentation streamed to qik

Learning in a networked world: we see

1. new technology as the devil incarnate
2. new technology as a panacea

Reality is much more nuanced. Why should we use technology in the classroom and run the risk of failure? Education is about teaching young children to think, but sometimes we get lazy because of standards and testing [true?? Not sure I completely agree here. I think sometimes teachers’ hands are tied].

New technologies are not good or bad on their own, but how they are being used [but technology is not neutral!!]. We need to figure out how to incorporate it effectively into the educational system.

Technology is fundamentally rupturing many aspects of everyday life: networking. It is part of everyday life (a la Wade Roush)

Educators have two immediate responsibilities:

1. know what technologies are out there, who uses them, how they are being used, esp. unexpected uses.
2. teach  how to use technology to understand the world around us. Need to understand how technology is rupturing our lives as we know them.

Learn from young people about the technology.

Social network sites: place where people go online to participate in their social network online (v. social networking = f2f).
1. profile (i.e. a decorated IP address, a digital being online. Putting forth your best foot, and thinking about your audience. Writing profile for yourself and your friends. Originates in bedroom culture: decorate your room to show off who you are).
2. Friends: three clusters: 30-40 friends; couple 100 people (broader peer group); collectors (as many as possible -> mostly adults). Friends are a person’s audience. Friending is socially awkward.
3. Comments/wall/testimonials: space of conversation in complement to other communication tools. Need to look at it as a form of public social rooming, not as just text. It’s social upkeep.

Vast majority of time spent is completely social, keeping up relationships, having fun. Place to hang out online, esp. when considering kids are often constrained to home (parent restrictions, overscheduling kids, a la USA Today article).

Properties and dynamics of sites need to be understood to see if they are appropriate for use, as well as work with kids as to whether they should be using these sites:

1. Persistence: digital trace. What you put online stays there. You have to deal with this.
2. Replicability: making something private public; can lead to cyber bullying (are you dealing with an original or an altered copy? What are complications, repercussions)
3. Scalability: potential for … Avg. blog is read by 6 people. Unexpected scalability and visibility.
4. Searchability: young people are searchable by the people who hold power over them.

Dynamics of four properties:

  • Invisible audiences and how you deal with this.
  • Collapsed contexts of time and space online
  • Convergence of public and private (public is what parents control, private is what youth controls).
  • How are public and private being decoupled from space and time

Importance to teach kids this stuff. Kids learn the coping strategies and social techniques. Adults should help guide this learning process.

Need to understand the properties of the technologies, what they do, and what the implications are of putting them in a classroom situation. You could rupture all sorts of social structures.

Some tools are easier to implement than others (e.g. Ning).

All the social networking stuff is starting to go mobile. Within two years they should all be mobile (like search went mobile): result: more social technology.

What are the mobile properties we care about. They have all of the social media properties with an added notion of (de)locatability. You can be anywhere and be connected (as opposed to having to be in front of a computer). So how do you educate for that?

Learning outside of the classroom (access to info anywhere).

E.g. Wikipedia: most transparent information available (discussion and history). Good teaching tool because you can’t take information for granted. Wikipedia can be used as a tool to show how information is created, what the biases are.

Need to teach a literacy of the world, teach about the structures around us and how to think critically. Goes beyond traditional and media literacy.



Image Credit: My camera

Handheld Learning, Day 2, Steven Johnson

Mark Kramer streamed a broadcast of this presentation to qik.

Everything bad is good for you. Increase of complexity in many media formats: TV shows, Internet. However, cultural authorities are providing a much different message. George Will: This is progress: more sophisticated delivery of stupidity.” (video games, computer games, movies on computer…adults are decreasingly distinguishable from children)

Increasing complexity in pop culture: The Sleeper Curve. Nobody realized this trend was happening.

Content, participation, interfaces.

1. Content

SimCity, Civilization are good examples of this: sim games have many interacting parts, multiple resources, multiple variables you can set. They can teach understanding of how complex systems work: ecology, economic, political. Looking at the fansites, to see what players do and ask, shows this: questions about labor, religion, foreign policy, etc.

To show progress, compare how to play PacMan (simple) to Zelda (content is not interesting, but the kind of thinking you have to do to get through the game; you have to figure out what you need to do on the fly; system thinking -> also needed for our lives; v. reading a traditional novel).

TV show Lost (v. Gilligan’s Island) and the Wire. Complicated show with many characters [I’m surprised he didn’t mention “24“]. Thinking on multiple levels at the same time. Lost’s mysteries: ontological, formal, mathematical, historical, geographical, biographical. Most shows have lived in the biographical sphere. All the other layers have been dropped on this show. We’re now adapted to this kind of entertainment, 25 years ago it wouldn’t have worked. It’s been built more like a video game, with outside of show participation (fan sites). Berlin showed an example of a fan-created map of underground layer in season 2 with annotated visual analysis to explain the map. The map is a conceptual safety net for viewers, it’s a game walk-through for a television show. TV has gotten so complicated that we need stuff like this map.

2. Participation

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: buffyology, Wikipedia entry on Buffy, fan fiction -> extension of the Buffy universe. Buffy meetups (buffy.meetup.com) -> technologies about what you can do on the screen and as an interface with the real world.

3. Interface

People who shape the interfaces that we use are becoming more and more important (goes beyond usability). Because of games we are getting better and better at interpreting complex interfaces. Interfaces are getting so complex that it seems like they may be interfering with the actual game (WoW interface example). Ability to see what is relevant and what isn’t, and being able to adapt to new interfaces. What is more important: those kinds of skills or the ability to do algebra? We’re testing algebra, but not these other skills

[so the big question is: how can we tie these skills to education, not just learning, but education??]

Interface innovations are at the core of many changes: blogger, myspace, youtube. Need to understand these to understand society and to be able to make new interfaces. Compare hypertext interfaces of 1995 (text, blue text, images) to interfaces today such as YouTube. (compare to radio to TV transformation, which is less significant in Johnson’s view; took 35 years to happen). Changes on the web happen much faster.

What does the Sleeper Curve mean for education?

  • We say we live in a short attention span culture, but it’s really not. Think about the time involved in reading a book v. playing a game, v. following a complex show. There is actually a lot of patience out there, if people are engaged in stuff that is designed in a way that will capture people
  • Spore: recreate the history of life. Complex system, participation, amazing series of interfaces. Interface follows the history of video gaming. Why not use Spore for education? Response: because school teaches you to become tolerant of doing very boring stuff….

Image Credit: My camera

Handheld Learning, Day 2, Early Stuff and Andrew Pinder

Day two of Handheld Learning started with a breakfast meeting in which I saw presentations about three handheld implementations in the UK:
Mobile Learning – Trends & Vision
Dave Whyley, Headteacher & E-Learning Consultant, Wolverhampton Local Authority
Plans and Aspirations for Handheld Learning
Alissa Ozouf, Teaching and Learning Consultant – Primary ICT, Luton Local Authority
Handheld Learning at Thomlinson School
Jari Mielonen, CEO, SANAKO Corporation

The main points I took away from this session were:

  • the importance of reliable, wireless connectivity;
  • the importance of getting administrators and teachers to think differently about using technology, to get from the computer lab model to a more flexible, mobile model.


At the conference itself, Andrew Pinder opened the keynotes. He stated that Becta is about bringing about change, because we know it works (with regards to technology and educational outcomes). If you use technology appropriately and effectively and it’s in the hands of the right people you can improve student achievement both in k-12 and higher ed (increases retention at the latter level). Therefore, he called for technology to be used more widely.

Today’s learners are demanding more technology be used in education. Schools are often the only place where they don’t use technology effectively. Many students have better technology at home. 95% of new jobs require the use of technology, and the number of unschooled jobs is dwindling fast. Need to use technology to teach kids! (this situation is very similar to that in the U.S.).

He also said it’s importance to convince teachers that tech works, that they shouldn’t be afraid of it, and convince learners and parents to demand it from schools: Next Generation Learning Campaign. Home access is part of that. So no more: “no homework with tech because kids don’t have access.” About 1 million learners have no access to the Internet in the UK. Spend 350 mil pounds to deal with this problem.

Home access to internet through some kind of voucher system, access does not have to be through a PC, a screen is all that is needed, e.g. maybe a mobile phone. Becta is asking for help and ideas for packages that will work. The focus should be on proper education outcomes.

The plan is to go from 15-20% of schools using tech effectively to 80% over the next couple of years. There is a place for mobile technology as a component of that.

Question: What about collaboration with other countries?

Pinder: we’re trying to gather knowledge from around the world, and we want to work with people around the world. Worldwide conference before BETT, 70 countries so far.

Question: what outcomes will you measure? Also, aren’t you talking about last generation teaching v. next generation learning?

Yes, it’s a teacher problem. It’s an issue of not always having reliable technology and of teachers giving up control to students. There is also a need to improve the infrastructure, as teachers get nervous about this stuff because they won’t know if the technology is going to work. Most young people use some technology very effectively [for what?] but they don’t know how to use it in an educational context. They need help to separate the wheat from the chaff. Parents: 10-15% support kids in their technology needs, but there is a big learning gap. What should parents expect from the education system in order to be able to support kids effectively at home?

Image Credit: My camera