Tag Archives: cell phone

eTech Ohio 2010: St Marys Mobile Phone Project

I’m at eTech Ohio this week and will blog some of the sessions I’m attending. Here’s the first one (my comments in italics):

Stepping into the Future With Mobile Learning Devices
Date/Time: Monday, February 01, 2010 > 08:00 AM – 08:45 AM

Presenters:  Menchhofer, Kyle – St Marys City SD (Auglaize)
  Menchhofer, Kyle – St. Marys City Schools
  Van Gundy, Jennifer – St. Marys City Schools
  Newcomb, Scott – St. Marys City Schools

Location: D233-235

• 3rd-6th grade smart phones: 630 plus, including 30+ staff.
• Current technology was not sufficient enough. Had to get district, parent, and community buy in.
• Financial support (they have no tech budget, but worked with eRate and Verizon to make it financially feasible).

Adminstrator concerns
• Parent meeting (had to have one)
• Sustain program for future years (this is definitely an issue with mobile projects. Most original PDA projects died after about 4 years, when the devices died and couldn’t be replaced)
• Mobile tech committee
• Stress PD

Argument that schools need to have tech that matches what students use/have at home. Don’t want students to step backwards when they get to school. Have students step into the future (funny to hear this, this was an argument for use when we did the PEP projects in 2001-2002, and has been an argument for use since).

Classroom goals
• Level the playing field (increase test scores; 11 points on average last year)
• Limit restrictions
• Access technology together
• Assignments can be completed quicker (is this really a goal? Should it be?)
• Differentiated instruction

3rd Grade:
Getting started
• Start slow – journaling (Elliot Soloway’s idea of evolution not revolution)
• Let students explore MLDs (Mobile Learning Devices)
 • Allow students to show you how to do something on the MLD
• Add new tools to create projects

(Nothing really new here, this all sounds very familiar when thinking about past mobile learning projects)

Writing projects
• PicoMap: planning
• Word Doc: paragraph writing
• Editing is faster: no rewriting
• Sketchy: illustrate writing
• Share projects: connect phones to projector or share side-by-side

(seems a little too basic almost, but then, this is third grade. Would have liked to have heard a little more about use of mobile phones by students outside of the classroom. At the end of the presentation, Kyle did talk a little about syncing pictures from a phone to a server when students were riding the bus home from a field trip).

Differentiated projects
• Gifted students: extension
• Special needs: shortened with adaptations
• Students unaware of differentiation (very important!!)
• Everyone is successful

(this is key!! Teacher didn’t really discuss the logistics of making this happen, but it didn’t sound like it’s a problem)

Traditional v non-traditional
• Planning: How would you do lesson traditionally? How can you use the MLD instead?
• Paper/pencil = boring
• MLD: engaging and exciting (yes, but….)

(This is a start, but there is so much more……)

Math achievement data
• 95% passed v. 81% (MLD v no MLD)
• Pass avg 439.72 (18 points higher)
• Homeroom ~3/4 special needs students passed math (75%)

(The question is though: was this attributable to the use of the phones? Or changes in pedagogy/instruction because of the phones? Or something different?)

Use no cell phone service or texting (blocked): hence the use of the term MLD.
Students take the phone home at the end of the day (parents sign permission slip; students are responsible for devices)

4th Grade
• Uncertainty. Will students be responsible? Screen size.
• Nothing broken or stolen in district.
• Will typing transfer to pencil/paper?
• MLDs are very motivating
• More communicating and sharing among colleagues
• More student participation
• Making learning memorable
• Students are engaged in what they are creating
• Everyone wants to share and participate
• Result: takes less time to cover material (e.g. long division).
• Record audio, take pictures, Internet (many students don’t have it at home).
• Again, start out slow
     o Incorporate into the curriculum that you currently have set in place
     o Don’t be afraid to let students teach you.
• Importance of support
     o Tech coordinator
     o Admin support
     o Fellow teachers

• Funding: District purchase (phones are free through govt pricing, pay for broadband $34/month/phone (eRate)). PDAs are dead. Verizon. Rates will go down; competition Sprint, AT&T
• Lack of teacher buy-in; not too much of an issue
• How will next phase be implemented?
• Lack of parent support due to parent knowledge
• Rapidly changing technology (e.g. iPad now)

Want to go to mobile devices for grades 3-12. Doesn’t want to look at netbooks: too expensive to buy, maintain, etc. Smartphones for students in 3-8. High school: different device (e.g. iPad)? Easy to maintain smartphones: if one goes down districts has replacements.

Only pays for phone contract during the school year, not during the summer.

Says they get a lot of visitors: open invitation to come visit (also see their website at www.smriders.net).

Using GoKnow for software, with syncing to the web (GoManage)

 At the end there were lots of questions about filtering (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) and whether students are trying to subvert the filtering. Phones are filtered through Verizon. District can call to get something blocked. Also lot of questions about logistics such as charging devices.

Also, teachers can see everything that students have on their phones (one issue with student taking inappropriate pictures).

All in all the St Marys project is an interesting one in that it has been able to implement the use of mobile phones on a relatively large scale (630 or so). However, listening to Kyle made me realize how much of what he was talking about sounded exactly like what people’s impressions used to be of the Palm Education Pioneer project in 2001-2002. The only difference really is the device used. I understand their decision to turn off mobile calling and texting (aside from cost of service, which adds up to about $160,000 for a 9-month contract in St. Marys), and the dilemma of access v. safety/appropriate use is becoming increasingly difficult and public (see for example this story on MSNBC). In that respect, I’m not sure how far we’ve come in the last ten years, as it seems that in most cases mobile technology use is either banned or heavily restricted.

Image Credit: eTech Ohio: http://www.etech.ohio.gov/images/conference/2010/2010_ohio_etc_logo.gif

Mobile Learning Round-Up, Week 36

Well, this mobile learning round-up may become a regular feature here, hence the week number on the post. We’ll see… Lots of interesting stuff again this week:

Mobile Learning Stuff:

Texting? No, just trying to read chapter 6. According to the author of this New York Times article,

IN our digital age, miniaturization rules. This is a welcome thing — in most cases. Squeezing two billion transistors onto a small chip? All good. Squeezing an enormous printed textbook down to iPhone-size? Not so good. … Once cracked open, two facing pages supply about 155 square inches of real estate … The iPhone has a grand total of six square inches of display. In my opinion, no amount of ingenuity will enable textbooks to squeeze into a credit-card-size space.

Apple uses a tagline in its iPhone commercials — “There’s an app for that”— to convey the idea that its phone is adaptable to almost any purpose. But an app that makes the double-page spread in a printed textbook easily readable on the iPhone? There’s no app for that.

And yes, there is no app for that. the makers of the eTextbooks app for the iPhone are completely missing the point. A mobile device is not designed for displaying huge amounts of texts, let alone text that seems to be directly scanned from the textbook!! (take a look at the image from the NYT article and you’ll see what I mean). Just another ploy by textbook companies to make a buck, but I dont’ think this one is going to fly.

NYT06digi600.1Image Credit: NYT

Mobile Learning Projects:

blog-projektschule-02Image Credit: Projektschule Goldau

Schwyz, Switzerland. As a part of a 2year mobile learning pilot project, a class of fifth graders receive a free iPhone 3Gs. The kids can also use the mobile in their time away from school. The idea of the project is to help them integrate the phone into their “learning lives”

(via the mlearningblog).

I like this concept of “learning lives”, which nicely captures the affordances of mobile technologies for learning. A cursory look at the school’s blog (translated version) shows that this is a new project that aims at the following:

The children should use the device inside and outside the school as part of their personal learning and working environment and thus emancipated, and learn to deal critically with the future increasingly available information and communication technology (ICT).

acuconnectedImage Credit: Apple

ACU’s iPhone initiative: A year later (again via the mlearningblog), is an older post, but an interesting one nonetheless, because it reports on a conversation with the project team at ACU that to date has rolled out one of the largest iPhone projects in an educational setting. While they reported some of their earlier findings at the Mobile Learning Conference 2009 in DC, they now provide some more substantial findings (more of these to be presented in the research strand at Handheld Learning 2009 in October).


Podcast_Logo_2-208Image Credit: Learning in Hand

The always prolific Tony Vincent has posted iPods Episode #18: iPod Touch Basics, a brief overview of what beginning users should know. Includes video and text transcript. Very useful…

Mobile Technology News:

apple-ipod-sept-09-1393-rm-engImage Credit: Engadget

Of course the big event this week was Apple’s It’s Only Rock and Roll (held on 9/9/09 no less). It did not feature the release of a new iPod Touch with camera as many had speculated. Are there  some glitches with the device, will we see it soon, or ever? In anticipation of the event,  prices on various current iPods were slashed. The big news at the event was the release of a new iPod nano with video camera (see also here), pedometer, mic and speaker, as well as an FM radio (beating Microsoft to the punch?). Interesting choice, and it turns out that all the hype around a new iPod touch with camera was just hype, or was it? I’d have rather seen the touch than the nano with a camera for educational purposes, but it seems that Apple is really focusing more on the devices’ price points and maybe is looking for a way to build an iPod touch with camera at a decent cost. While cost was not a real focus of the presentation, it seemed to be implicitly present nonetheless.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft, not wanting to stay behind, is trying to revive mobile, according to BBC News. Analysts are calling this effort (Windows Mobile 6.5) “lame, lame, lame, to say the least,” said Paul Rubens of Internetnews.com”.

asus-dual-screen-pcImage Credit: Engadget

Meanwhile, ASUS is planning a dual screen Eee reader, that is slated to become one of the cheapest e-book readers out there.

Image Credit: Gizmodo

Palm is following its Palm Pre with the Palm Pixi, a smaller version of the Pre. No wifi though and it seems to be somewhat less powerful.

So … all in all another busy week in the world of mobile and mobile learning!

Carnival of the Mobilists #164


It’s Monday, and time for another issue of the Carnival of the Mobilists. It’s an honor for me to be able to host the Carnival, and for the third time already. While the economy is hitting on some lean times, the same can not be said for the amount of submissions to the carnival this week. Thanks to everyone for some great contributions this week on a wide variety of topics. And off we go….

Mobile Applications and Development

Lots of interesting news in the area of mobile applications and development this week. Jamie Wells at Mobilestance wrote an interesting post about Google’s development of the Android OS, and wonders if Google is really commited to native app development or whether it will move its apps into the cloud once web app performance is more up to snuff. Tom Deryckere shares his visions for making Drupal a mobile CMS system. James at mjelly took the UCweb mobile browser for a test drive . Take a look at James’ post to read his review and download the browser for yourself.


Mobile Communication

We use our mobiles to communicate in lots of different ways, but Tsahi Levent-Levi at Radvision argues that mobile VoIP apps are “not really made to stick“; hop on over to his blog to find out why. On the other hand, Toni Ahonen posted a long and well-thought-through anwer to the question: 3 billion use SMS, what does that mean? In addition, Andrew Grill over at London Calling discusses a “Eureka moment with twitter + mobile + search that should be worrying the heck out of Google”.

Mobile Content

Besides communicating, we use our mobiles to access all kinds of content. Aaron Chua from Wild Illusions makes the case for the mobile ebook market picking up pace. However, Judy Breck questions whether we need to duplicate information that is already available online into packaged content for one app or another. Interesting juxtaposition…


Mobile Marketing

Some of the content comes to us in the form of advertisements. Matt Radford at allaboutiPhone.net discusses that advertising on mobile phones is most effective when you get consumers “to want to install it themselves”, by focusing on two movie tie-in iPhone apps that don’t need connectivity to deliver their message. And, once you’ve come up with that brilliant marketing strategy, Russell Buckley at mobhappy reveals 10 secrets to winning advertising awards.

Mobile Statistics

Of course, to be a successful advertiser you need access to demographics and statistics. Chetan Sharma’s wireless data market update is a comprehensive update of said market in 2008, focusing on the 4th quarter, while Andreas Constantinou looks at 8 Megatrends that are shaping the mobile industry in 2009. Volker Hirsch also chimes in with a post entitled Recession? Where?” Asks the Smartphone… “. There’s lots to be gained from these three posts, but even so, Barbara Ballard cautions us to be careful with your statistics, as published reports on mobile use leave her with more questions than answers.

Post of the Week

A difficult decision this week, but the honor of best post goes to Andrew Grill at London Calling, with Toni Ahonen’s coming in a close second. Congratulations to both on some insightful writing!

Next week’s Carnival of the Mobilists will be hosted at VisionMobile. Keep up the great writing and don’t forget to submit your posts for next week to mobilists@gmail.com. As always, both new and seasoned writers are welcome to contribute 🙂


Image Credits: various pictures called Carnaval Weert 2009 from FaceMePls photostream:

Carnival of the Mobilists #159

Boy, I really missed the ball on this one this week, but the 159th edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists has really been online since Monday. As always, the Carnival makes for some great reading, and it’s great to see a new host. Welcome Ram!!

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Carnival of the Mobilists #158

Another edition of the Carnival that is bursting at the seams this week, thanks to Tsahi Levent-Levi over at the Radvision blog!

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Carnival of the Mobilists #157

Great Carnival this week over at mjelly, lost of posts and the variety is better than it has been in a while. Not sure yet which post I like best this week, I’m still reading….

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Carnival of the Mobilists #156

Hosted by WAP Review, this week’s issue of the Carnival lists more predictions for 2009, and the best writing in mobile about Software and Service, Design and User Experience, Events, Marketing, and Strategy.

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