Monthly Archives: February 2009

To Touch or Not to Touch….


Personally, I think the iPod Touch has great potential for teaching and learning, both inside of school and out, and I really like the interface quite a bit. There is something about the tactile manipulating content on the screen with your fingers as opposed to having to use a mouse, stylus, or other input device (Think manipulating the world in Google Earth on a Smartboard with your hands. If you haven’t tried that, you should, it’s pretty cool).

I started by looking up some information about pilot projects at other education sites, and came up with (among the 174,000 hits I got off of Google):

Shepparton High School in central Victoria in Australia : where students used the devices for a variety of things. The most interesting quote from the short article is this one by the project’s lead teacher: “We assume that 14-year-olds are really technologically savvy, but they’re often not.” I think we tend to forget that. Here is also a discusson about a small iPod Touch project at another school in Australia.

Abilene Christian’s ACU Connected Project:  I blogged about this one extensively last week, when I saw their stuff at the Mobile Learning 09 Conference in Washington DC. They’ve done quite a bit in a short period of time, and I’m waiting to see what material they will be posting online from their own conference. I like what they are doing with the iPhone and iPod Touch with regards to communication with students, but I think that what they are doing is much more difficult to achieve in a K-12 environment, especially given the current hesitancy in K-12 for using any technology that allows students to communicate with each other and others outside of school.

In, “An iPod Touch for each student?”, there is discussion of Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill, NC getting iPod Touches. The story is accompanied by  some cautionary commentary by E.D. Hirsch (“”Technique and how-to ideas have taken the place of deciding what it is, exactly, we want these children to learn”) and a few other schools where the device are being used already. This project did get off the ground. Interesting quote from the Business Week article was made by AVID coordinator Chuck Hennessee who said

one of the only negatives he has seen so far with the program is that students sometimes would rather use the iPods than work with each other. But he said that can be a plus, too, because it cultivates independence.”

Other than that, the project seems to be going well.

Some additional interesting sources include:

Tony Vincent has a section devoted to the iPod Touch on his Learning in Hand site.

Kathy Schrock wrote  a short series of posts on her experiments with an iPod Touch (lots of good info here, exactly the type of stuff I was looking for)

Chris Webb’s post,  “Why an iPod Touch in Education?”  with a list of apps and some additional pertinent information.

An iPod Touch in Every Classroom by Kelly Croy, from Wes Fryer’s blog. Lots of odds and ends here.

And of course Apple’s Mobile Learning page,  and iTouch pages.

And that’s just the beginning. It remains to be seen (just like with any other “new” and “disruptive” technology) how quickly the iPod Touches will be adopted in K-12 and on what kind of scale. As I’ve said many times before, schools really need to start a serious discussion about how to integrate the use of student owned devices in the classroom, as it provides opportunities for learning that we currently do not really have (e.g. students in most mobile projects only have access to a device for a limited period of time, e.g. one year, and often only in school). Of course this type of implementation brings about a host of other issues, but that’s for another post …

Image Credit: “Touched” from littledan77’s photostream:

Carnival of the Mobilists #162

The 162th edition of the Carnival is hosted, for the first time, at Technology, Mobility, Usability and other Musings. This has been a busy week for mobilists thanks to Mobile World Congress that concluded recently. While there aren’t many posts about that event yet, there is plenty of other mobile news to read up on!

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:

MobileLearning 09 Conference, Day 2, Closing Panel


The closing panel for Mobile Learning 09 was entitled: Are Mobile Devices an Enabler or Distraction to Educators? The panel included Marjo Brandon, co-founder of Seattle Girls’ School, Dr. Kathy Spencer, the superintendent of Onslow Co. Schools, and Thomas Hutton, senior staff attorney for the National School Board Association. The panel was moderated by Dr. Ann Flynn, the Director of NSBA.

Ann Flynn: NSBA
Important things:

  • Leadership, regardless of technology, and vision
  • Engaging the community
  • PD
  • Innovation in schools by more than a handful of people, it needs to be systemic
  • Building and district level integration of innovation

Marja Brandon: Seattle Girls’ School (grades 5-8) 

  • Integrated curriculum (based on neuroscience research): what makes learning stick? Connected, applied, relevant, appealing.
  • Importance to staying ahead of the curve.
  • Take care of the teachers in all of this: PD

Kathy Spencer: Onslow Co Schools

  • 21st century skills (endorsed by DOPI in NC)
  • 21st century content, tools, environment (mmmm, sounds familiar) 
  • Teachers need the tools to be able to move forward -> opportunity. The tool doesn’t really matter.
  • Importance of recruiting good teachers
  • Importance of teaching appropriate uses of technology!!!
  • Integrity of the work we do.

Thomas Hutton, NSBA

  • Things to think about, not barriers to innovation.
  • Managing the presence of technology in schools
  • Variety of restrictions on cell phones at school
  • Some exceptions, e.g. to accommodate for a disability
  • Abuses of technology are real (every new innovation raises issues), inappropriate picture taking, cyber bullying, threatening IMs…. First Amendment issues
  • Restrictions on 1:1 communications (due to teachers having inappropriate relationships with students, initiated through electronic channels).
  • What happens when a phone is confiscated? Can a school see what’s on that phone (violation of search and seizure? Violation of state wiretapping law (when listening to voicemails on a company’s server)?)
  • Run-of-the-mill concerns have more to do with cheating, distraction.
  • When using students’ own equipment for learning that brings about other issues.
    • Privacy protection
    • At what point do costs that parent have to incur start to look like tuition?
    • First Amendment: private expression v. school “jurisdiction” (private v. public)

Alterations to AUPs?

  • Incorporate tools in curriculum and then covering it in AUP. Making potential issues visible to parents and the community.
  • Separate AUP for Project K-Nect for the use of the cell phones in the classroom. Different AUP for students bringing their own phones (can’t access phones in classroom without instructor’s permission). In a few cases teacher has let students use personal phones to access Project K-Nect materials (so how would teachers be able to monitor those?? Would that be invasion of privacy?)

Making sure everything is grounded in strategic planning, mission, and vision.

Also, what do you do when you are at the end of the implementation and kids move on to the next grade? Same thing happened in PEP. This is an old problem of sustainability. Tech should move with the kids from grade to grade!! This is also an issue from a research point of view when we say we should be doing longitudinal research. We should be following kids over time, not research a different set of kids each year (or maybe do both).

Image Credit: “Capitol Butter”, my camera phone  :)

Mobile Learning 09 Conference, Day 2, Project K-Nect Presentations


A series of three presentations covered Project K-Nect during Mobile Learning 09:

Break-Out Session (Suzette Kliewer, Dr. Kathy Spencer (Onslow Co. Schools), & Crystal Wong (SOTI, Inc).

The project is a process of educating children, not a thing.

K-Nect teacher portal (content, assessment, monitoring), and student system on phones (eContent, IM, blog, assessment, virtual HD); runs in a closed, secure community, only works with people within the program. Student web portal as well (website, blog, etc.)

Teacher can monitor everything that students do (how does this impact student use of phones; does it turn kids away from using the device because there is too much monitoring going on?? How does it affect kids’ use of tech in general? Is it still a division between school and life?)

Math problem sets are real-world applications of math taught in school. Includes multi-media. There is an eContent repository to post links to other helpful sites. IM is used for communication among students and student-teacher (big part of project). Blogs are used for posting solutions to problem, questions, videos, etc., as well as commenting, including video solutions. Assessment for Algebra I. Virtual HD to store video, pictures, etc.

Kids know more about tech than teacher (have heard this many times before)

To be added to the site: teacher can create video and broadcast it out to all kids’ phones.

Examples of actual problems: multimedia intro, students have to explain answers. There’s a help function as well.


Keynote 1: Research and Assessment of Project K-Nect (Dr. Scott Perkins, ACU)

Assessment and Research on Mobile Learning in Education: An Initial Agenda

Assessment principles

  • Multiple methods (objective data and self-report
  •  Multiple perspectives (student, teacher, institution
  • Develop formal (standardized) scales

Increasing student involvement:

  • Who should we ask, how, and when?
  • Survey and self-report only part of the picture

What we know is promising, the seven “good practices” are a great fit.

Empirical demonstrations of impact needed (how do we do this?)

  • Impact on learning
  • Parameters of learning
    • Student reports on effort, time, and competence
    • Objective evidence of achievement and mastery
  • Student and teacher perspectives
  • What we need to do next
    • Fund and routinely utilize formal research methods

Research Strategies

  • Outgrow self-report and attitude 
  • Commit to routine assessment
  • Innovative and long-term research
  • Train and equip researchers
  • Foster discipline-specific applications
  • Organize collaborations and sharing of results
    (I think some of this is already happening)


Keynote 2: Research and Assessment of Project K-Nect : Findings (Stacie Hudgens, PsyMes Consulting)

What is the impact of Project K-Nect on algebra skills? Level of implementation question was added. Level of implementation makes a difference!

Quasi-Experimental one-group pre-post test design (no control group!!).
Data sources:

  • Student surveys
  • Student assessment
  • NC algebra I EOC exam
  • Onsite interviews and focus groups
  • Device data
    • Usage data
    • Problem set info and achievement
    • Quiz performance

Key findings:
Students: n = 89 (51 finished the required assessment and surveys). Small data set!! Spread across 4 schools (10, 15, 16, 10)

Four constructs to measure implementation success (low, middle, high):

  • Building level tech support
  • Admin involvement 
  • Consistent communication with program director
  • Program level implementation within the classroom.

Schools A and B: mid level implementation schools (3 of 4 constructs met)
School C: high implementation (4 of 4)
School D: low implementation (2 of 4; last two constructs only)

Overall change pre to post on algebra I  assessment was 5.4% (ES = .40) -> moderate change.

Achievement by implementation level to control for natural growth etc.
High implementation: ES = 1.5
Medium implementation: ES = .43 and .22
Low implementation: ES = (didn’t get this one, need to check the full report when it is released).

Summary of findings

  • Positive correlation between impl and student achievement
  • Increased student engagement, time spent on algebra, confidence with device and math, utilization, and parental involvement
  • Increased communication between teachers and students


  • Small sample size
  • Limited duration
  • Block scheduling

Need validated instrumentation and methodology from the preliminary year to obtain longitudinal findings.

Elliot Soloway commented that it’s important to go beyond efficacy research; we need to know under what conditions the technology has an impact (i.e. fidelity research).

And also when we say we should be doing longitudinal research. We should be following kids over time, not just research a different set of kids each year.

Image Credit: “Capitol Butter”, my camera phone  :)

Mobile Learning 09 Conference, Day 2, iPhone Project Presentation


Some notes about the iPhone Project at Abilene Christian University, aggregated from the Bill Rankin’s and Brad Crisp’s presentation as well as a discussion I had with Bill the night before:

ACU is a small, private university with about 5,000 students. They’ve done some restructuring of their funding (eliminated dorm labs and landlines) in order to fund the iPhones (they gave one to every freshman this past fall) as part of ACU Connected. Content is delivered to students by way of a secure portal (Safari browser only), built by programmers on campus. There are all kinds of things they’ve been able to do with the iPhones, including attendance (automatic email to those absent), drop box for files and assignments, polling/quizzing, etc. One of the things that Bill noted was that communication between professors and students has increased.

Keys for all of this to work is a combination of access and information.

Comparison to medieval education that was very personal and customized (tutor system). This changed with Gutenberg’s press, that allowed students to all have the same books and eventually led to the factory model of education with standards based education and high stakes testing. The book was initially seen as a disruptive force. It changed government, religion, education. When looking at technologies, people make the same arguments. The iPhone project has sort of changed that again by allowing students to access information that is tailored to their needs.

  • Student social trends: are participating, not just receiving. They’re creating, communicating, assessing.
  • Student tech trends: mobility, connectedness (no more pdas but smartphones), media richness. This sounds a lot like the iPhone: iPod, phone, internet

97% of students at ACU already come with phones. So how does that impact life and learning (video).

Learning paradigms: collaborative, distributed, integrated, evaluative (how to assess information), engaged. CONNECTED

The project was a community vision, not just a faculty/admin led project. Students have been heavily involved.
Early faculty buy-in. 42 part of a pilot group, 5 mobile learning fellows.

Device distribution: 2:1 iPhone (no laptop program at ACU); other schools with laptops see a  2:1 iPod Touch to iPhone preference.
ACU distributed 957 devices to freshmen, 169 to faculty, 182 to staff.

Prelim research has been pretty positive:

Attitude: use of mobile device as part of my college experience is

  • Extremely positive 63%. Over 95% had some positive reaction.
  • Week 3: some drop-off
  • End of semester: about equal. About 90% still favorable. Extremely positive to a little under 50%

Does the device make a difference? iPhone v. iPod Touch. A tale of two devices? Preliminary results only, need to investigate this more.

Preference: iPhone (2/3) v. iPod Touch (1/3). Why?

  • iPhone: want new device, carry only one device, already have an iPod (35, 16, 8%)
  • iPod Touch: more affordable (33%), already have phone service.
  • Stepwise regression showed indicators such as : iPhone more useful; AT&T contract is too expensive; difficult to switch prior contract, …..

How frequently did you use this mobile device this semester?

  • 98% at least once a week. For academic work it was 71%. For entertainment 95%.
  • More usage by iPhone users than iPod Touch. Most are carrying it to class, but not as much used for collaboration or communication.
  • For social activities the numbers are much higher, social activities, socializing, communicate with parents. The device here does matter.

Is the choice of device a matter of cost and will this create two different populations? If so, will this push these two populations further apart? This is an excellent and very important question they need to investigate more, as it is a concern.

Impact on mobile device on

  • Overall ed experience (positive: 82%; negative: 3%)
  • Academic work (positive: 63%; negative: 5%)
  • Social activities (positive: 86%; negative: 2%)
  • Entertainment (positive: 96%; negative: 1%)

Social connections bleeding over into academic work, and how do you measure that?

Impact during class seen as mostly positive.

Social impact: social activities, relationship with friends, and parents.

In sum, overall positive attitude, room to grow in academic area in use and impact, watch the device differences.

Use of tools: not necessarily every class session, but when appropriate.

Built most of the portal locally. Now there is an app store and an SDK.
First step of a four-year plan, they’ve got a long way to go.

It takes time to change the university culture. (hype cycle graph). Example of ipod use at Duke (foreign language yes, calculus, no). One way to address this is the ConnectEd Summit on Feb. 26-27.

Would like to see some results from faculty, differences by discipline (people in theatre and arts are using it a lot, hard sciences use it as calculator and web stuff).

Trying to reimagine the classroom, hasn’t percolated down to all faculty yet. Factory model classrooms don’t work. Metaphor of schools as factory is biggest challenge and impediment to using new technologies. Instead, Rankin used the analogy of Radiohead that released its last album as Garageband tracks,  you mix them yourself.

Importance of community, e.g. for tech support and expertise. Leverage that first …


Image Credit: “Capitol Butter”, my camera phone :)

NECC 2009 Program Now Online

Dear NECC enthusiasts and newbies,


As we ramp up for NECC 2009, we’re especially excited this year to celebrate ISTE and NECC’s 30th anniversary in Washington DC! Browse the NECC site for exciting DC-related events including a trip to Capitol Hill and the Library of Congress! And spend some time on our 30th Anniversary web pages for ways you can share in the celebration by posting your inspirational stories and videos!
Our new blog, ISTEConnects, is your clearinghouse of information on NECC, ISTE, and hot topics in Ed Tech, with enthusiastic conversations initiated by Wes Fryer, ISTE staff, and guest bloggers. From ISTEConnects you can link to many different social networking sites including the NECC Ning, ISTE Communities Ning, Second Life, etc. 

We’re excited to announce Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author and New Yorker staff writer, as our opening keynote this year. Gladwell will deliver a customized perspective on the way intentional practice today influences expert-development of the future. Closing keynote is Erin Gruwell, the inspirational teacher behind the Freedom Writers’ students and movie by the same name. Our Tuesday keynote will be a lively, Oxford-style debate with panelists from many different backgrounds weighing in on a controversial topic facing educators and world citizens. Topic, panelists, and moderator will be announced in mid-May. 

Have you already registered for NECC? You’ll want to check back to the Web site now to view more than 145 Workshops, 18 DC area Tours, and other Special Events for many different tastes. Also now available is our Custom Program Search function that allows you to search for Sessions and Workshops tailored to your individual needs. Once you find those sessions, add them to our Planner to keep your schedule organized.

We know these are hard economic times, so you’ll want to take advantage of our Super Early Bird registration deadline (March 31) if you can. (Other, lesser discounts are available until May 1.) And check out the Transportation link under the Travel section of our site to read about a special Amtrak discount!

Are you interested in participating in our Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions? These are not formal presentations, but opportunities to engage in discussions on topics in your interest area. Join in the planning of the BOF sessions by visiting the BOF group on the NECC Ning.] You must submit your ideas by March 20.

Volunteer for NECC! You’ll gain a conference experience like no other when you volunteer. Not only will you provide a valuable service to ISTE and your fellow attendees, but you’ll make new friends and further your professional network. AND, receive a cool NECC T-shirt!

The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC)
Presented by the International Society for Technology in Education (
180 West 8th Ave., Suite 300, Eugene, Oregon 97401
1710 Rhode Island Ave NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036
 • 1.800.280.6218 •

Mobile Learning 09 Conference, Day 2, Morning Panels


 This post is a brief synopsis of the three morning panels at Mobile Learning 09.

Panel 1: What Is Mobile Learning?

I chaired this panel which consisted of David Whyley, Elliot Soloway, Thomas Greaves, and Mohammed Ally. It was a real treat getting to do this panel to set up the rest of the day. Here are some of my notes to sort of summarize what was said.

In essence, the speakers talked about:

  • what is mobile learning (David). He mentioned terms such as personal, choice, unobtrusive, and nomadic. His best quote was that of one of his students, who called his mobile device a “21st century pencil case full of my digital tools”
  • implementation (Elliot). Elliot made three points: 1. Big change: “the <mobile> computer revolution hasn’t even begun yet” (borrowing from Alan Kay); 2. Sustainability, at last; in that we now have a financial model, mobile generation, and curriculum integration that allow for this. I’m not sure I completely agree with him on this point, but we are definitely getting closer; 3. unique opportunities, or “learning my way”.
  • devices (Tom). Difficult to say if it is the devices, the content….. In any event, Tom’s main point about smartphones was that their use by students is lagging because they are often banned from schools and the hardware is not designed for students.
  • stakeholders (Mohammed). Besides an overview of various groups such as IAMLearn, Handheld Learning, and ISTE’s SIGHC, the key here was the concept of the learnable moment, and the push toward breaking down barriers of time and space by combining online learning and mobile learning.

I tried to recap the panel’s thoughts by calling what’s happening in the field of mobile learning a “new beginning”, with a focus on people (personal, customizable learning heavily dependent on communication and active participation) and change (in technology, cost, access, teaching and learning, curriculum, implementation models).

Panel 2: Mobile Learning and 21st Centurey Skills Development

Moderated by Keith Kruger, the CEO of CoSN, this panel included Tim Magner, the US DOE’s Office of Educational Technology’s Director, Susan Traiman, director of public policy of the Business Roundtable, and Albert Browne, national director and vice-president for education and technology of the Verizon Foundation.

Here is what they said:
Keith Kruger (CEO, CoSN)

Some places ban phones, some places (e.g. Philippines) see it as a connection to resources for learning. We need to have an educational conversation, not a technology education (e.g. 5 hottest technologies in education). What are the skills that are important?

  • 21st c. learning environments
  • Professional development
  • Assessment

Survey by the Conference Board, Oct. 2006

  • What skills are most important when hiring? Work ethic, collaboration, good communication, social responsibility, critical thinking.
  • What deficiencies did corporations see in recent hirings of high school students? Written communication, leadership, work ethic, critical thinking, self-direction.
  • What skills and content areas will be growing in importance in the next five years? Critical thinking, IT, health and wellness, collaboration, innovation, personal financial resp.

Albert Browne (Verizon Foundation)

Skill sets we need are changing: 21st c skills framework (P21).

Verizon Foundation: (free K-12 lesson plans and student materials, by leading ed organizations)

  • Need for new tools
  • Mobile devices provide relevancy
  • 21st c framework adapts to mobile learning systems (gaming, distance, virtual, etc.)
  • Mobile learning makes education ubiquitous


Need to focus on new skills, new devices, new pd

Tim Magner (US DOE, director of OET)

Can’t fix 20th c schools anymore, need to start building 21st c schools (interesting statement, to say the least).
School should not be about information but experience. Currently, students go to schools and listen, go home and practice. However, we need students who know how to apply what they learn. School should be a school-home-community ecosystem supported by technology.

Susan Traiman

Importance of STEM education.

Problem with educational research is who’s funding it. Analogy with pharmaceutical research. Need to be transparent about who is funding what and for what purpose. Need for more legitimacy and credibility.

Panel 3: Why Mobile Learning?

Julie Evans, the CEO of Project Tomorrow, and Carly Shuler of Sesame Workshop discussed their work.

Carly Shuler discussed the idea that even though the media are now different, the questions remains the same.

We don’t pretend that media or a television show can solve the problems of the world, but we do believe it would be a terrible mistake not to use these most influential tools to contribute to the solutions (Joan Ganz Coontz)

Research: Pockets of Potential report (see also my earlier blog post about this report)

Why the study? Ownership of cell phones. Other sectors showing advances in this area include health, banking, politics, and citizen journalism.

Reaching underserved children: see report for e.g. message to phone about letter of the day.

Question needs to shift from whether to use to how and best be used.

Julie Evans: CEO Project Tomorrow.

New data on Speak Up 2008 participants, will be released on March 24.

  • Digital disconnect is alive and well. Gap between how students learn and how they live. Powering down and up. Gaps exist between students and teachers, advanced technology students and other students, between girls and boys, between older and younger students (in activities and behaviors, as well as value statements).
  • How are students using technology for schoolwork besides internet research and writing? Wide range of things: accessing class info, communication, creation of content, uploading info to school portals and other sites (e.g. plagiarism check), gaming, digital content.
  • How satisfied are students with tech use at school? Not very.
  • Major obstacles: school filters and firewalls (5 yrs running); teachers limit technology use; too many rules (can’t use own devices, cannot access communication tools, rules that limit use of my school’s tech).
  • How would schools make it easier for you to use tech?
  • Let me use my own laptop, cell phone….
  • Give me unlimited Internet access.
  • Let me access school projects from anywhere.


A new battleground with emerging tech in education:

Mobile devices: communication (with classmates and teacher!), creativity (play games, create stuff), collaboration (projects, share calendars, share files), productivity (upload and download from portal, record and listen to lectures; reminders/alerts; do research).

What if you could design the ultimate online textbook? Ability to download info to my cell phone.

  • Grades 3-5 (25%),
  • Grades 6-12 (53%)

What tool has the greatest impact on learning (student perception)?
K-12 (for five years straight): laptop for my personal use at school and at home. (but as Julie rephrased it, it’s not the laptop itself , but is function as a proxy. It’s an issue of control over access). Others are mobile devices, gaming, digital media and communications tools…

Views related to technology in schools of administrators, teachers, and parents. Administrators most in favor, followed by teachers, then parents, esp. in the area of engagement.

What is needed besides funding? Equitable access, pd, ongoing tech support, examples of effective classroom practice, district support (53, 49, 47, 42, and 39% respectively)

Key trends to watch: continuing digital disconnects, spectrum of digital native-ness, blend of informal and formal learning opportunities, beyond engagement to productivity benefits, …

Julie closed with this question they asked students:

Imagine you were the president and your goal was to improve education to make sure every student is prepared for the jobs and careers of the future. What would you do? They got 250,000 responses…

Image Credit: “Capitol Butter”, my camera phone :)