Mobile Learning Round-Up, Week 40

I’m getting ready to attend Handheld Learning 2009 in London, so time to blog is sparse this week. Besides the usual stuff, I will describe some of the papers to be presented at the conference’s research strand next Wednesday.

Mobile Learning Stuff:

Kindle is yet to woo users at Princeton University: “When the University announced its Kindle e-reader pilot program last May, administrators seemed cautiously optimistic that the e-readers would both be sustainable and serve as a valuable academic tool. But less than two weeks after 50 students received the free Kindle DX e-readers, many of them said they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices.” The basic gist of the story is that users in the pilot said the devices were clunky, slow, and annotation of texts is difficult and very time-consuming.

Learning through Unions is an interesting post about mobile learning not in a formal educational setting. Definitely worth a look…

According to the Creative Commons blog, the First Mobile Novel Launches in South Africa. I’m not sure what they mean by first, but nevertheless, this is an important development in a country whose adults send 250 million text messages per day. The novel is part of the the m4Lit project, which “has launched the first mobile novel of its kind, or m-novel, in South Africa. Kontax, which follows the adventures of a group of teenage graffiti artists, is made specifically for mobile phones, and is available in both English and isiXhosa. It is being released chapter by chapter on a daily basis,” and includes end of chapter polls, which are quite interesting. As of this post, three chapters have been released, and poll results can be viewed for each chapter as well.

And in a somewhat related story, the New York Times reported this week about curling up with hybrid books, videos included: “in the age of the iPhone, Kindle and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment.” Opinions about this form of reading are still very much mixed, which is to be expected. One thing is for sure, reading a hybrid book is a very different experience than reading a text-only version.

New Brunswick Man Develops Mobile Learning Initiative for Area College. Not exactly the type of mobile learning stuff I expected to see at first, but an interesting story nonetheless.

The courses he developed, known as FlashTrack courses, made their debut in spring 2009 and are delivered to students on a single two gigabyte (2 GB) flash drive. The 15 new flash-based courses are designed for independent learners and prepare students to take a pass or fail examination.

The big advantage here is that you don’t need an Internet connection to do the courses. The downside is that you still need a laptop or some other type of not-very-mobile device to plug in your usb stick!!

Another development by Matt Cooper are “Mobile Option e-Pack courses, which are also designed for independent learners and enable students to use smartphones to download and complete diagnostic quizzes that form part of the regular course work and prepare students to take a final exam.” The main advantage and disadvantage are reversed in this case.

Matt’s courses are right in line with one of the great quotes of the week, by Geoff Stead, who posted that The real benefit of Learning with Technology is all about reach. Getting to learners where they are, when they need it, on their own terms. if you can’t do that with your e-learning you are missing the best bits of the experience!”

In either case, I think Matt hits on something very important with regards to mobile learning, and that is that the “biggest challenge in designing the mobile learning courses is to preserve a way to engage students without staying in contact with them during the course. “It is relatively simple to create a list of assignments, papers, tests and textbook readings for a student, but it can be very difficult to create a stimulating learning experience, especially when the student is working in isolation” he said. “FlashTrack lays the framework for a meaningful educational experience for our students in atypical situations.”


Mobile Learning Research:

The Mobile Campus is about Abilene Christian University’s iPod/iPhone project, and a related research report that was recently issued. Findings so far are cautiously optimistic. According to one of the comments on the article, “Bill Rankin, Director of Educational Innovation at Abilene Christian University spoke about their implementation of the iPhone project during a WCET webcast: Education to Go: Mobile Learning Today.”

Via Mobile Libraries comes this article:

Vogel, D., Kennedy, D. & Kwok, R. (2009). Does Using Mobile Device Applications Lead to Learning? Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 20 (4), pp. 469-485. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Abstract > THIS PAPER WAS AWARDED A BEST PAPER AWARD AT EDMEDIA. Assessing the impact on learning of the use of mobile devices and associated applications is a complex challenge. This article reports on progress to date in a longitudinal study using a design research approach with three cohorts of 800 students each. Results are encouraging in terms of learning enhancement through select mobile application by a cadre of students but discouraging in terms of sustained use by the majority of students. Issues raised include student appreciation of deep learning and time management as well as aspects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Results demonstrate the need for integrated, pedagogically driven instructor and institutional efforts. Next steps are presented.

Should make for some interesting reading, especially because mobile learning research studies on this scale are few and far between.

Mobile Learning Events:

Of course, I could not complete this blog posts without mentioning Tony Vincent’s Podcast Picks (presented on September 30, 2009), which is archived in two parts at ustream.tv: Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

More importantly, Handheld Learning 2009 is only a few days away, and promises to be the best one yet, with over 1,000 registered delegates. Just a few of the projects that will be reported on during the research strand include:

There will be a total of 23 papers, most of which will be published in the Spring 2010 issue of RCETJ.

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