Category Archives: mobilelearning09

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 :)

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 :)

MobileLearning 09 Conference, Day 2, Morning Keynote


Day 2 was really the main day of the conference, with a program chock-full of panels, break outs, and other stuff. This post covers the morning keynote as culled from my notes and brain!


Keynote: Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Qualcomm

My rough notes from the keynote in which Dr. Jacobs gave a historical overview of sort of Qualcomm’s role in the grand scheme of the wireless communications world.

Qualcomm was founded in 1985. Strategy was innovation, digital/wireless comm and applications (seven co-founders from Linkabit, no products or decisions about business model at the beginning).

Spread Spectrum: frequency hopping patented by Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil in June 1941. Idea was immediately classified not much done with it.

  • 1988 CDMA for 2G cellular researched
  • 1989 first CDMA demo in San Diego (two base stations and van sized “mobile” phone)
  • 1991 CDMA demo with commercial-sized phones
  • 1995 first commercial 2G CDMA network in Hong Kong.

Moore’s Law enabled mobile and smartphones and pocketable computers.

  • 1991 3 separate chips needed to provide 2G CDMA modem
  • 2009 1 chip supports multimode 2G and 3G modems, GPS and more.

Worldwide mobile phone penetration

  • 4 billion current subscribers, 100 billion are mobile broadband, 6 billion projected by 2013.
  • US has more than 268 million mobile subscribers.
  • Approx 92% of Americans live in a census block with at least one mobile broadband provider (2009 FCC report).

Telstra, Australia, has 3G network at 14mbps download speed (to be upgraded to 21mbps by 2010). You don’t need these kinds of speed, but you need to make very efficient use of the spectrum (spectrum is limited).

Cell phones exceed other devices by far. Operators worldwide show strong data growth.

Smartphone devices projected to be >32% of total shipments by 2012.

All cell phones are becoming smarter, no need to have the best of the best model!

Notebooks with internal 3G modems. Gobi powered for worldwide use. Laptops will continue but will also have netbooks and MIDs etc. Other possibilities are things like Kayak, cell phone capabilities that can be hooked into a TV or display

Kindle (“not a device but a service” according to J. Bezos from Amazon) with fully reflexive screens.

Growing convergence of consumer electronics and cell phones => mobile learning (pushing for a sub-$150 type smartphone)!!!

Many uses of mobile technologies in various aspects of life:

  • LifeCOMM Diabetes Management Solution
  • Remote diagnostics using cellular technology (CardioNet)
  • Position Location: GPS -> personal security, commerce, search, etc.
  • Mobile commerce via phone.
  • Mobile TV using UHF Channel 55 and 3G Cellular
  • Wireless Reach, a global initiative; 37 projects in 22 countries (strengthens social and economic development; see also this video)
    • Indonesia Microfinance: village phone replication program giving entrepreneurs new tools for success. For areas far away from cell phone coverage. Buyer of mobile phone kit keeps half of revenue.
    • India: Fisher Friend: bringing helpful information to rural fishermen. Info about market, weather, emergency info.
    • Kenya: Timely medicine helping people with HIV/AIDS. Helps manage supply for antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS more effectively
    • Peru: Kausay Wasi Health Clinic. Connecting a rural clinic for doctors
    • Spain: 3G for all generations, providing social inclusion for elderly people.
    • China PK Unity, bringing internet connectivity to rural schools.
    • Guatemala: Schools of the future, connectivity
  • North Carolina: 2000 with President Clinton in Whiteville, NC. Demonstrating the advantage of the EV-DO wireless broadband access to small business as part of bridging the digital divide.
    • Project K-Nect, wireless teaching support and social networking support student math learning.


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

MobileLearning 09 Conference Day 1


I was at the MobileLearning09 conference this week and tried blogging from there but a combination of shaky wireless access and the extremely full program kept me from blogging the conference live. In the next few posts I will try to recap what I heard and saw. Starting on Monday afternoon, there was a demo session, with some interesting booths. I spent a lot of time at the SOTI booth, where I got a nice demo of the back-end stuff that is being used for project K-Nect, as well as the fellows from ACU’s iPhone project

The demos were  followed by a brief opening by Shawn Gross, conference organizer, and Managing Director of Digital Millenial Consulting. He began with this quote:

Vision without action is merely a dream,
Action without vision just passes the time
Vision with action can change the world

(Joel Barker)

Shawn briefly discussed the need for 21st century skills, improved math and science skills (see e.g. the TIMMS report), and the need for access. He gave us an interesting twist on the digital divide in that even though schools are almost 100% connected to the web, many homes still aren’t! However, access to mobile phones is very high, with approximately 4 billion subscribers in 2009.

That said, many students are disengaging from school. According to a KRC Report (couldn’t find a link for this one), 89 % of students surveyed would rather clean their room, eat their vegetables, take out the trash, or go to the dentist instead of doing math. They also didn’t see the relevance of math to their lives.

Research by Digital Millenial Consulting has found that students

  • prefer cell phones over laptops
  • want to be connected
  • are changing but schools aren’t.

Nothing really striking or revolutionary in Shawn’s comments, but not a bad way to set the stage for a conference that included many representatives from industry and some from government, aside from the educators that were in attendance. The goals of the conference were summarized as follows:

Promote the development of mobile learning
Foster new innovative practices in mobile learning
Address key concerns of policy makers and educators regarding mobile technologies
Stimulate a critical debate on theories, approaches, principles and applications of mobile learning
Share local and international developments, experiences and lessons learned
Promote collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors in mobile learning
Encourage the study and implementation of mobile applications in teaching and learning

The conference was covered in the New York Times as well, and it’s noteworthy how controversial of a topic the use of mobile phones in schools still is. The article mentions that

Critics point out that access to such communications usually detracts from the overall time students spent thinking about studies. That is why at least 10 states, and many other school districts, have outright bans on cellphones on school premises.

“Texting, ringing, vibrating,” said Janet Bass, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers’ union. “Cellphones so far haven’t been an educational tool. They’ve been a distraction.” Ms. Bass says it is “almost laughable that the cellphone industry is pushing a study showing that cellphones will make kids smarter,” particularly during a recession that is crushing the budgets of many school districts.

And some of this controversy did come out in the discussions we had at the conference…