Category Archives: Learning while mobile

Ed Week’s 2010 Technology Counts: It’s All About Mobile!

Education Week just released its annual Technology Counts issue. This year it focuses on mobile learning! Note that there is very little content about laptops (which by many are not considered to be part of mobile learning). Here is the table of contents:

But lack of research on the educational impact of portable tech tools is a problem.
Much like the shifting landscape in K-12 educational technology, this year’s Technology Counts is changing to address the challenges of covering schools in the digital age.
Profiles: Laptops
Sustaining a laptop program at a middle school in Michigan requires a wireless vision and parent purchasing power.

EXPERT ADVICE: Wireless Issues

Profiles: iPods
Although still banned by many schools, a growing number of others are using iPods and other MP3 players as educational accessories.
Profiles: TeacherMates
TeacherMate—a Game Boy-like device—is now being used by 40,000 students in 15 states with the aim to improve the reading skills of K-2 students.

VIDEO: TeacherMates in Action Watch Video

Profiles: Smartphones
A project to use the devices as teaching and learning tools is showing promising results.
Paying for initiatives that use portable tech tools goes far beyond the initial cost of the devices.
Best practices are emerging as more educators use the devices in their classrooms.
Developing meaningful lessons that fit the constraints of small-screen devices is a challenge.
Mobile learning is gaining momentum at colleges and universities faster than in K-12.
Educators are finding innovative ways to bring education to students in remote areas.

Tracking Trends

A growing number of studies in the U.S. and abroad is helping to build a better case for using portable digital tools.
This year, the Technology Counts data section shifts its focus from a state to a district lens, offering a host of charts showing how local schools and districts are using standard and emerging technologies to improve education.

DATA: Ed-Tech Stats

Three ed-tech researchers discuss important issues surrounding the use of cellphones, laptops, and other computing devices for teaching and learning.

AUDIO Q&A: Expert Perspective Listen to Audio

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative 2010 Online Spring Focus Session

It’s turning into a busy year for mobile learning events already! Here is another one:

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative 2010 Online Spring Focus Session

Although mobile learning has different meanings for different communities, we know that learning is deepened and enriched when students have options for their learning for multiple paths through course content. Mobile technology not only enables students to take their learning with them beyond the physical walls of the classroom, but it also makes possible a new array of interactions in the classroom as well. Mobile learning encompasses participating in learning activities anywhere, at any time, and utilizing mobile technologies that are rapidly evolving. Possible applications of mobile technology include enabling authentic learning engagements (such as real-time data collection), spontaneous mash ups (such as populating a map with local data), synchronous interactions with classmates and subject experts, and a rich variety of interactions with course content. Precisely because of its fluidity and independence from physical boundaries, mobile learning offers vast potential to enhance all types of instruction: face-to-face, blended, and online. The goal of this focus session is to re-assess the potential of mobile technologies and identify new ways in which mobility can contribute to the learning experience.

Join us March 3-4 for “Mobile Learning 2.0: The Next Phase of Innovation in Mobility,” the 2010 ELI Online Spring Focus Session. Hosted inside an Adobe Connect learning environment, this virtual event will be much more than just a “usual” online seminar. You’ll exchange ideas and collaborate interactively with the ELI community—all without leaving your campus. You’ll also receive all the resources and guided activities you need to help frame discussion and organize team events locally in your department, college, or institution.

For more information and registration see

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 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.

Mobile Learning Round-Up, Week 38

This week’s (well mostly) highlights from the World of Mobile Learning:

Mobile Learning Stuff:

Did You Know 4.0 has been online for about 10 days now. Another interesting iteration of the Did You Know videos, with Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod providing background information on their blogs. The mobile revolution is here!

Learning Is an SMS Away: Mobile Phones in Education is an interesting article about how mobile phones are being used in Africa to connect educators.

What happens when you give a class of 8 year old children an iPod touch each? which is a question they asked at a Junior School in England. Hop on over to see the video that gives you the answer.

Mobile Learning Programs/Projects:

“Campus-In-A-Pocket”:  Mobile Learning Program Provides Anytime, Anywhere Access
to Online Education Resources.

Mobile for Museums: “This site addresses those needs by proving a brief overview of what is being done in the mobile museum world and offers suggestions based on this research on how to economically provide mobile users with a positive experience with your museum.” Interesting site and I hope to see more content there soon. Mobiles and museums are a natural fit, whether the exhibits are indoors or outdoors.

And right at the buzzer I got this one from Shawn Gross, about his Project K-Nect: Students Praise Use of Social Media in Math Class. Students in Project K-Nect have been using mobile phones for math for a while now, and very succesfully. Read the news story to find out what’s in store for them next…

Mobile Events:

Here is a list of events for the month of October as listed by Mobile Active. Interestingly enough, mobile learning conferences are not mentioned…

And of course don’t forget about the upcoming Handheld Learning 2009 Conference in London on Oct. 5-7. I’ll be there to coordinate the research strand, which promises to be excellent and includes speakers from four continents!

Mobile Reports:

Hispanic Broadband Access: Making the Most of the Mobile, Connected Future is a new report published by Mobile Future. According to the announcement, the implications for education are that “Parents are able to keep in close contact with their children’s teachers regarding assignments, behavior and academic progress while on the go thanks to texting, email and mobile connectivity.” While important, I think we need to think beyond the adults having the phones. What about implications for student learning?

Mobile Technology

Here is an interesting post on Gizmodo on Microsoft’s tablet project. The pictures and video look promising, but then, this is Microsoft, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Mobile Learning Round-Up, Week 37

This week’s highlights from the world of mobile learning.

Mobile Learning Stuff:

More and more schools are dumping paper textbooks for their electronic counterparts. According to ABC,For generations, school meant books — lots of books. But not anymore. Around the country, from high school to grad school, textbooks are getting harder to find. Technology has made the library something that can fit into the palm of your hand.” Interesting discussion as always in the comments section. The article provides some examples of schools who are ditching textbooks, but the story isn’t really that new.

Image Credit: Gizmodo

A report related to this (via Andy Black), is the DLC’s A Kindle in Every Backpack.

The most important benefit of eTextbooks is their ability to improve educational attainment. For less money than is spent on conventional textbooks, eTextbooks, over time, could deliver a regularly updated, interactive, and 21st-century education to our children. There are multiple reasons the technology offers an improved educational experience.

The report goes on to say that advantages include the ease of updating content quickly and universally (and cheaply, I might add); flexibility in choice of content by teachers without having to worry about cost; they aid integration of classroom learning; and provision of critical resources to struggling schools.

Image Credit: BBC News

From the BBC: Mobile app sees science go global

A mobile phone application will help professional and “citizen” scientists collect and analyse data from “in the field”, anywhere in the world. The EpiCollect software collates data from certain mobiles – on topics such as disease spread or the occurrence of rare species – in a web-based database. The data is statistically analysed and plotted on maps that are instantly available to those same phones.

This story is a great example of mobile learning at its best, with user access to collected data (almost) in real time.

And here is another one, via the M-learning Is Good blog: The Fidelity of Mobile Technology Continues to Deepen, which discusses NVIDIA’s ARhrrr technology.

In the U.S., Universities Plan Course to Navigate the Mobile Learning Curve, as increasing numbers of students have smartphones. Examples cited are from Stanford, Illinois State, and Dayton. According to the article:

Developing a mobile strategy should not be the sole responsibility of the college IT department. Mobile communications plans can be driven by the admissions, student life associations, athletics, marketing and alumni departments as well, and they can all work in harmony to provide integrated and effective programs that help your school stand out among the rest.

However, when it comes to the use of mobile phones for learning, Cell-phone college classes face hurdles, as eCampus News reported the week before. Standardization of mobile phone technology is still a big issue,

Until things get a little more standardized, it’s a real big pain,” said Matt Cooper, instructional technology specialist at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J., where he developed the Mobile Learning Initiative, which lets students in 20 classes complete course work on mobile devices, even without an internet connection. “There’s too much to plan for. … [Creating online courses that fit every cell-phone interface] is a pretty high standard to strive for.”

We experienced that for ourselves during the SIGML forum in Washington DC this year, as we had to create three different versions of a set of QR codes (bottom of page) so that they would work on Windows Mobile, iPhone, and Blackberry devices.

Mobile Learning Projects:

Mobile camps in Africa are helping budding developers gain the skills and understanding they need to create useful mobile applications.

Mobile camps may be building the next generation of mobile programmers by helping to develop a new field of study in African higher education. Recent camps have produced tools for social development and provided educators with new skills.

A mobile camp or bootcamp is “a crash-course session”, usually spanning 2-3 days, during which “participants gain an insight on mobile computing technologies as well as acquire practical skills in the use of current platforms, frameworks and tools used for the development of mobile applications” notes Strathmore University. Recent camps have included competitions to spur development of mobile tools.

And as the Senegalese bootcamp website states: The bootcamp is over … but this is just a beginning…

Mobile Events:

This week’s mobile events (and announcements) include:


MobileHCI 2009, Bonn, Germany, September 15-18, 2009 (, the 11th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services.

mobileinnovation Mobile Innovation Week, Toronto, Canada, September 12-16, 2009   ( MOBILEINNOVATIONWEEK in Toronto will showcase global mobile thought leaders, developers, innovators, institutions and industry professionals coming together for an exciting and engaging series of events all focused on exploring new mobile Internet frontiers, applications and business ideas.

mas_logo_webpageAnother upcoming event is The Mobile Application Stores, Strategy and Deployment conference, in San Diego, CA, October 8, 2009 ( Mobile Application Stores is a partner seminar of International CTIA WIRELESS I.T. and Entertainment. Mobile Application Stores is the only conference to focus exclusively on the business of mobile applications and will focus on the tremendous opportunities in the mobile apps stores ecosystem. The event is designed to give a complete understanding of how to capitalize on this dynamic market. Featured speakers for the event include:
•       Dr. Jin-Sung Choi Ph.D, Senior Vice President, Head MC Global Product Planning Team, LG Electronics Korea
•       George Linardos Vice President, Product Management, Media, Nokia
•       Ilja Laurs Founder & CEO, GetJar.
•       Tim Haysom, Chief Marketing Officer,OMTP
•       Mike Merril, CEO-Smart Phone Technologies
•       Ajit Jaokar, President-futuretext
•       Chetan Sharma, CEO, Chetan Sharma Consulting
•       Jouko Ahvenainen, Founder, Grow VC International
•       William Volk, CEO, PlayScreen
•       Sena Gbeckor-Kove, Chief Technology Officer, imKon

Mobile Technology News:

On Sept. 15, Microsoft started shipping its Zune HD, but only in the U.S. No need for Apple to be worried, methinks….

According to the ReadWrite Web blog, one of the top 5 web trends of 2009 is the mobile web and augmented reality: “What’s perhaps most encouraging however, is the entirely new class of mobile apps we’re seeing. Augmented Reality is the most obvious example.” Great post that summarizes the trends well and therefore  worth a read. And of course, the potential for the use of these tools in education is endless…

Another Mobile Round Up of Sorts


News about mobile tools in education abound lately. Here is an overview of some of the most recent articles on the web:

Mobile Tools in K-16

The University of Missouri’s School of Journalism has made an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch a requirement for incoming freshman, but school officials said the rule won’t be enforced. Read the article to find out why.

The University of Virginia is wondering “When every student has a laptop, why run computer labs?” In 2007, only 4 of 3,117 freshmen showed up without one. So are the savings of not running labs worth it?

In Japan, Tokyo-based university Aoyama Gakuin gives a free iPhone to students in the School of Social Informatics. However, they use it as a tracking device. Find out here how (via CrunchGear).

As school leaders ponder the implications of new technologies for their classrooms, one dedicated New Jersey educator has turned theory into practice, using the iPod to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

This new paper describes how Australian teachers are using the iPhone and iPod Touch to A. assist them as Educators, and B. to enhance learning. As such, it presents a vital survey of apps and ideas to be shared with other teachers also beginning to use this platform. (via mlearning world).

QR Codes

We’ve been preparing for our mobile learning Forum at NECC, where we’ll make use of QR codes for learning as part of our GeoHistorian Project. Here is an interesting post about QR codes in Japan, that shows how popular they have become there.

Some examples of QR code use in education and then some more come from Mr. Robbo from Australia, with a link to Andy Ramsden’s paper about QR code use in education as well.

Another useful application of QR codes could be in libraries

Want to know more about the various uses of QR codes? Check out CodeZQR’s blog!

Despite their potential, Trendplanner asks if QR codes will ever take off outside of Japan. According to the post, the UK isn’t quite ready yet, I wonder if the same is the case for the USA.

Mobile Learning Events

In Heerlen, the Netherlands, my home country, the Surf Academy recently hosted a spring school on mobile learning. Wilfred Rubens posted some notes from one of the keynotes. The post is in Dutch, but in a nutshell, the keynote speaker, Matthijs Leendertse of TNO argues that mobile learning can aid educators in reaching four goals of education: interactivity, collaboration, anywhere anytime access, and creating opportunities for informal learning.

North Rowan High School is sponsoring an Open House on Thursday, May 21, 2009 to showcase the new iPod touch Digital Learning Environment program that began this current school year at North Rowan High for all ninth-graders.  

eLearning Africa, the 4th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training will be held on May 27 – 29, 2009 in  . The conference always has a focus on mobile learning, given the number of mobile devices available and the lack of reliable terrestrial Internet access in Africa.


And finally, here is a way to modify your standard WIFI antenna into one just like the $30 range extender antennas for about 5 cents, using a screw, a piece of wire, and a straw. Not sure how well it works, but it seems easy enough to try.

Image Credit: “Fluid Forms QR Buckle Close” from Fluid Forms’ photostream:

It’s a Busy Time for Mobile Learning, but a Good Time…


It’s been a very busy year for mobile learning, and I haven’t really had the time to write much about it. So, long overdue, here is a sampling of some of the many recent activities:

Following the Mobile Learning o9 Conference in Washington DC, I virtually participated in the 3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium at the end of March (some references to the symposium are here; the book of abstracts can be found here (our papers on the GeoHistorian project and mobile math are on pp. 63-68).

About two weeks later I did meet some of the Symposium’s organizers, as I served as the discussant on their forum session at AERA in San Diego, entitled “Symposium proposal entitled “Outside in and inside out: interdisciplinarity and mobile learning research”. Presentations included:

The presentations were followed by some lively discussion, as evidenced by the fact that most attendees in the audience stayed for an extra 30 minutes. For me, the forum was one of the highlights of this year’s AERA.

Today, I just finished participating in Tony Vincent’s session (archive video is here), sponsored by ISTE’s SIGHC. The hourlong session, attended by roughly 65 participants from all over the US and Canada, went virtually without a glitch, and attendees were very pleased with the content and the level of participation that allows, with live video broadcasting, chat, a twitter stream, and the possibility for members of the audience to discuss and ask questions “on the air”. I think we’ll see more of these sessions in the near future. Of course, Tony did a stellar job on his presentation! He blogs at and there are quite a few recent posts on the iPod Touch.

And speaking of blogs, Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris recently launched a blog called Tech Disruptions, hosted by District Administration. They “address topical issues that arise as technology continues in its inexorable way to engender changes in K12. Here is your opportunity to express opinions about the changes that technology has wrought.” More about Elliot and Cathie’s work in the area of mobile learning can be seen in this video by the Mobile Learning Institute.

Two new publications of note are a 320-page book entitled “Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training” edited by Mohamed Ally and published by Athabasca University is available for sale or as a free PDF download. (Click on eBook for the PDF download.); the second one is a new issue (Vol. 3, No. 2 (2009)) of the International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM), providing us with a broad range of papers that are prefaced by John Traxler’s “Mobile Learning – A Snapshot of 2008”, in which he states that “Mobile learning has gained greater clarity about the significant issues and a more sharply defined research agenda” (p. 4).

Finally, I’m gearing up for NECC, where SIGHC will be renamed SIGML (Mobile Learning) and host a forum at the World War II Memorial in Washington DC (the forum is sold out already). Handheld Learning 2009  (keep an eye open for the research strand) in London and mlearn 2009 in Florida are not too far off either.


Never a dull moment …

Image Credit: “analogue-clock” from Mark Birkbeck’s photostream: