Tag Archives: Learning while mobile

Handheld Learning, Day 3, Lord David Putnam

This was the closing keynote of the conference. I really didn’t take a lot of notes because I knew somebody was streaming the talk to the web and I was too tired to take a lot of notes. A few good snippets though:

Europe and US suffer from student disengagement, resulting in physical and emotional truancy.

Digital technology: collaborative, networked, and embedded in communities.

Ability to contribute to and change the learning environment is key to learning.

Right now we are losing! Kids need to be engaged, not just in learning, but also in learning/tech design development. Their concerns need to be heard and considered. We also need to find out what kids do when they are not in school and how that can be used to enhance education.

The future is a race between education and catastrophe.

There is more work to be done on assessment, not on the curriculum. Throwing away the curriculum is like a person without a spine. You can’t walk without it…


Handheld Learning, Day 3, Research Strand

 An overview of the research strand I moderated this morning. We saw and heard about a lot of interesting and innovative projects related to mobile learning.

Mobile Matters

Mark Kramer, Vienna, Austria
Mobile learning foresight: Examining learning now and in the near future.

This presentation mostly focused on the idea that when we look at technology and education, we need to look at broad impacts, and look for example at health and/or social impacts. With regards to learning, technologies allow us to be discursive, flexible, ubiquitous, convenient, everywhere, and adaptive.

Adele Botha, Meraka Institute, South Africa,
Digital literacy for 21st century digital learners

Adele talked about the diversity of her country (including education), and how unrestricted access to technology and information are creating new opportunities but also responsibilities. She sees students who are proficient with technology but tend to be naive. In addition, adults are buying into rules that teenagers make with regards to new technology use. Now more than before, the more virtual you get, the more teens are interacting with and through technology.

The message of this presentation really is that we need to teach kids how to survive in the virtual world [I think this is true anywhere]. Adele compared being in the virtual world to traveling to a different country, and teaching to a guide, not a police officer or immigration official. In both, there are places to go, things to see and do, local customs (think netiquette), what can you take, exchange rates and money, and things to look out for.

Sometimes the two worlds overlap and you get cultural developments, which she dubbed the Silent Revolution, with examples such as the “please call me” culture, the umbrella lady, the mobile tree, and the use of multiple phones and sim cards.

David Cameron, Charles Sturt University, Australia,
Handheld media in the classroom: Transforming practice through drama

A session devoted to the use of drama as a vehicle to engage students in discussions about mobile use (e.g. mobiquette and cyber bullying). David showed a couple of examples, including Mantle of the Expert (simulations, scenarios, what-if situations, with a comparison of drama to video games); an archaeology training unit; and a set-up on Bebo that can be used as a scenario to talk about appropriate use of phones and SMS

The focus here was on engaging students in discussions about technology using technology.


Designing Learning Experiences

Yishay Mor, London Knowledge Lab,
Planet: bringing learning design knowledge to the forefront

Three observations:

1. Acceleration of change
2. Design divide: in design knowledge (need to find ways to share)
3. The void between prophet (too high) and explorer (too low) presentations

Yishay argued for the need to return to design science (Simon, 1969). A detailed description of what design science is and how the Planet project uses stories to create design patterns for problem solving can be found in the presentation slides.

Cathy Lewin, Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University
Transforming pedagogical practices with digital learning companions

Cathy Lewin discussed a mobile project at Holywell High School (Wales), an example of a project that puts more technology in schools to enable teachers to do more. The positives here are the headteacher’s vision that the desktop model is not the right one and that there is a need to design effective learning environments, and the involvement of students in choosing the device to be used (Asus eee PC). The project has just started so there were no real results to report, other than the usual list of challenges.

Rhodri Thomas & Keren Mills, Mobile Learner Support, Open University
Mobile Digiquest: Developing rich media reflective practitioners

A presentation that described the digital initiatives at the Open University’s Digilab with rich media on mobile devices and associated professional development, both f2f and online (blended). The presenters stressed the impotance of mobile collaboration tools.

Carl Smith, Developer, Reusable Learning Objects CETL at London Metropolitan University,
Engineering suitable content for context sensitive education and vocational training (CONTSENS)

An overview of projects that allow users to do real research with mobile technology and control data (scroll, zoom, decompose), to let users do stuff, not just look at data on a device. Carl showed lots of cool examples of what is possible today given the increases in scanning, mapping, and capturing our world; reconstructing the world; pattern recognition; and object embedding.

Teaching and Learning

Megan Smith, Leeds Metropolitan University
Our City, Our Music: using mScapes to map new narratives

mScapes is the use of audio/video/text combined with GPS to create and consume content. Our City, Our Music is an initiative that will yield a location-based music album by June 2009. Other successful examples include adventure games, historical guides, and walking tours. Current technology has its limitations; content needs to be preloaded, and the platform is not designed for interactions between multiple devices. Future technology to be added includes RFID, bluetooth, and infra-red.

Suzaan Le Roux, Cape Peninsula University, South Africa,
Implications of utilising mobile handheld devices in teaching undergraduate programming learners in a developing country

According to the abstract:

This research chronicles the results of the investigation into the integration and use of mobile handheld devices as teaching tools in an undergraduate computer programming subject at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa.  This research also explores the wide reaching implications of utilising mobile handheld devices and the possible advantageous alternatives it can provide to traditional classroom-based instruction in teaching predominantly previously disadvantaged computer programming learners in a developing country.  The relevance of mobile handheld devices in teaching programming, its perceived benefits and the potential barriers to its use are discussed.

In this study the experimental group consisted of 55 programming learners who have been provided with personal digital assistants (PDAs) preloaded with the Basic4PPC application for use at university and home.  This enabled and encouraged learners to design and develop mobile applications in the Visual Basic programming language anytime, anywhere without the necessity of a computer.  Learners reported their experiences through interviews and a survey.

The study found that students want access, and that mobile devices enable access, mobility, and the opportunity to learn at your own pace. Issues included screen size, fragility of devices, stylus input, and the perception that the mobile was not a phone. There was some novelty effect, and long-term research is needed to validate current findings.

Jane Lunsford, Researcher and Lead Instructional Designer, Open University
Mobile media and devices to support students at the UKOU

Didn’t get any notes here. From the abstract:

The talk will consider two research projects designed to investigate how the support provided to around 200,000 students at The Open University (UKOU) might be improved and extended with the use of mobile media and devices, to suit a diversity of study needs.  It will then show how these research projects have led to enhancements in the support offered by Student Services.

Susan Jacobson, PhD, Temple University, USA,
Exploring the expressive qualities of the mobile phone in journalism education

Interesting talk about changes in journalism in the US, a class in experimental journalism at Temple, and how mobiles can play a part in news coverage. The examples provided here included the coverage of elections using an election day moblog, combining the use of utterli and a livejournal blog.

Mobiles are being used by journalism students for traditional news stories, live interviews, prerecorded sound bites, and personal reflections (esp. the latter tends to happen more).

Tools experimented with include a standard blog, google maps, a custom db; and now Ning, which seems to work.  

Handheld Learning, Day 2, Emerging Technologies Session


Here’s a brief description of the presentations in this afternoon’s Emerging Technology session at Handheld Learning 2008 that I participated in.

Richard Crook: Praise Pod
Child Mental Health Specialist: NHS Rotherham

This presentation was about promoting a culture of praise for a 21st century learning community. Seems somewhat familiar to Character Counts in the US. It’s about ICT connecting communities, including parents, local businesses, faith groups, and community organizations. It works by sending families videos of kids doing something good at school, or they can be played on whiteboards in class, etc. Richard showed some nice video examples of how this actually works.

Tony Vincent: For Kids, By Kids: Valuable Tips for Podcasting with Students

Tony’s stuff originated with Willowdale’s Radio WillowWeb in Omaha, Nebraska. The key to podcasting is that the audio/video is a series of files automatically cataloged on the web and downloadable (by subscription).

Podcasts are pretty professional, kids seem to enjoy it. Tony had us listen to a couple of examples of audio podcasts, including Radio WillowWeb and Our City Podcast.

Four phases of podcasting: Pre-production, creation, post-production, publication.

You always need to think about copyright and privacy.

Resources: Slogan4u (slogans), soundsnap.com (the YouTube of sound effects)

My presentation on the GeoHistorian project

Link to video (as soon as I post it…)

Lilian Soon: Xlearn project (gadgets empowering students with disabilities) with awesome ppt slides!

Using PDAs for taking pictures and video, and interviewing each other. Advantages: convergence of digital capabilities in one device. Kids learn quickly so they can help each other.

Hull College uses mobiles in combination with headcams, to do stuff with electrical engineering (handsfree technology!).

Joseph Priestley College: use of RedHalo to collect evidence and then create mindmaps to link the evidence together. Also using PSPs for deaf learners to make and watch signing videos.

Mobile phones and QR codes for simple quizzes and flash cards, and as a media player. Also using the calendar and notes functions and Bluetooth exchange of files.

Oaklands College: Students are also using phones for blogging (voice, video, pictures).

Use of Wii and DS: pictures and video on SD card (Wii), health and safety exercises, puzzle function, making a Mii. Use of cut and paste function on DS. Use of PictoChat on DS.

Use a flash card to play video, mp3, pictures (like a hack for the DS).

URLs: http://tinyurl/hhlxlearn

Jacquelyn Ford Morie (USC Institute for Creative Technology): Case-Based Learning with Critical Thinking Skills on Mobile Devices

Training for US military: flexible operating environments and not enough time for training create a need for embedded 24/7 training independent of human instructors, mobile devices, etc.

Use of mobile devices: can maximize  “lost moments” for training, besides the 24/7 mobile access.

AXL Net: Army Excellence in Leadership:

  • Web-based training system
  • Case-based methodology
  • Designed to develop critical thinking and analysis skills

The FORCE: one-click downloads to mobile platform (iPod). Video/text combination (looks like a conditional branching type of set-up).

Paul Quinn: Using the PSP for athletes

Harefield Academy in London for Watford FC “scholars”, elite gymnasts, table tennis players, swimmers…

Use of PSP (10 in pilot, about 30-40 kids have them too). Use of camera for Sports Video Project (are also using http://yacapaca.com for assessment on the PSP). Students can video tape themselves, do frame by frame analysis (immediately), and get lesson information (ppt jpegs).

Mobiles are interfaced with desktops and network for further work on videos etc.

Other resource: http://www.ictgcse.com

Sally Drummond: New Practices in Flexible Learning

Australian Turning Point Project (mobile film making): http://flexiblelearning.net.au

Digital Mini Film Fest for Youth: one minute films shot on mobile phones, displayed on iHubs (kiosks with touch screens and Bluetooth) on the streets of Melbourne (sharing via Bluetooth).

Initial tech and interaction research done on minimum tech requirements as well as use of Bluetooth.

John Traxler: mLearn 2008 look-back

Background: mLearn, IADIS, WMTE conferences, IJMBL journal, and IAmLearn association.

Theory: does our work extend or enhance existing theories of learning or e-learning? Does our work tell anything general or transferable?

Evidence: can we demonstrate something transferable and trustworthy? Are we looking for proof-of-concept, outcomes, or scale and sustainability? How do we evaluate and disseminate? There is a gap between the smaller projects and what large funders (i.e. government) would like to see. We have more technologies and systems and more case studies.

Technology: rapidity, diversity, power. How do we cope with this? What’s the bigger picture? (Mike Short). Social impact of longer-term predictions (Mark Prensky).

mLearn 2009: Florida

mLearn 2010: Malta

Image Credit: My camera

Handheld Learning, Day 1 (Next Generation Learning Session)

I’m currently at Handheld Learning 2008 in the Brewery in London. So far it’s been good, waiting for the first session to start here shortly); I’ve already talked to a lot of people, some I know well and some I hadn’t (this just goes to show that there is more to a conference than sessions alone. The networking is very important as well).

Presented by Andy Black from Becta and Next Generation Learning, this session is a collection of presentations about “how to use technology well to make learning a more exciting, rewarding, and successful experience for people of all ages and abilities. I’m live blogging this session, so apologies in advance for any typos etc….

Andy: Seven presentations to make you think about learning. It’s not about mobile learning, it’s about the learning that’s mobile.

Andrew Davis from Clunbury CE (Aided) School Shropshire

Started off by showing a brief video made by students about learning with technology. It’s a rural school, so ICT is very important to connect to the rest to the world. Discussed the use of Nintendo DS’s in school and how he asked the kids how they could the DS’s:

  • to develop math skills
  • cooking skills
  • communication
  • memory skills
  • link the DS’s together

Or, in Davis’s words: engagement, fun, collaborative learning, competition, instant feedback, assessment. This was followed by some examples of use in math, used when appropriate.

Blogging to communicate with the outside world, literacy practice and feedback for writing (other students, parents; three stars and a wish).

Nicholas Hughes: Robots in KS2 (Nightingale Primary School)

Talked about the use of robots in education, and programming them. Started by experimenting and recording what they found out. Students worked together to talk and question (overcame language barriers for one student). After three weeks students started using GoRobo to control the robot and make it do things (“can you make him wave? Can you make him dance”). Showed a video to sum up the overall project.

Engagement and getting students to think and to question what they do and how they did it. Kids learned about control technology and had fun while doing it.

Gavin Hawkins (Wolverhampton LA): SynchronEyes at Stow Heath Junior School)

PDAs in schools since 2002. Involved in Learning2Go. Project grew to 200+, with 24/7 access to kids. The latter is important, and an underlying philosophy of the project. Providing content and applications, connectivity. Showed video of a day in the life of learners using mobiles in Wolverhampton (saw this video at NECC as well), with a range of examples, esp. for visual learning, including mindmapping, drawing concepts. Showed examples inside and outside of the classroom, including homework.

It’s the seamless use of the technology that really stands out here, as well as the integration into an existing school-tech infrastructure. Hooking up the handhelds to a whiteboard used as an example (using Dotpocket and My Mobiler). Then worked with Smart to develop software to show multiple handhelds, enable communication between device, laptop, and desktop, collaboration, distribute and collect files, and assessment: SynchronEyes. Number of handhelds you can use at once depends on the strength of your wifi.

Willington CE Primary School Co. Durham (Alison Richardson and Victoria Suddes)

Use of ICT and electronic assessment.

  • Electronic flying start assessment with linked evidence (children’s work, informal observations, formal observations, and photographs.
  • electronic portfolio
  • missed the third step here

Use of permanent laptops for student work, sent to network, assessed, sent back to child. Child then improves work based on comments. Works better electronically than on paper. Then showed examples of doing this, e.g. track changes in Word, Publisher, PowerPoint…

Use of stranded sheets for science, ICT, and narrative writing (they basically look like rubrics, linked to evidence, “literally just a click away”), i.e. combined into an electronic portfolio. Showed example of a claymation on the foodchain, used as evidence of learning. Are now working on making the assessment system avaible outside of school.

Matt Buxton, Djanogly City Academy, Nottingham

Plan for ICT in a “fit for purpose” curriculum with innovative ICT embedded into the planning. (anytime, anywhere, ubiquitous, independent, personalized (buzzwords, anyone?). Curriculum model is underpinned by embedded and innovative ICT. Design tasks that lend themselves to real world learning, based on a model from Queensland, New Basics: recognition of difference, supportive classroom environment, connectedness, and intellectual quality.

Connectedness: students engaging with real, practical, or hypothetical problems which connect to the world beyond the classroom (i.e. mobility too!!): learning gateway, computers for students (tablets, Q1s), wireless (wifi and wimax).

Examples of learning: oral histories, British national identity documentaries, International trade montages, etc.

Bristol – Hand e Learning  (Henbury Secondary School)

1:1 handhelds, 24/7 (both hw and www access), using Q1

Parents involved through e-Learning Foundation grants

Teacher training before students receive tech.

Video example of student interview: student talked about interactivity with teacher using the handheld, as well as using it when appropriate.

What did we do?

  • Connectivity (wireless, monitoring and filtering of connections)
  • Leadership
  • Pedagogical support
  • Parent financial contributions

Trying to minimize the things that can go wrong for a teacher, i.e. go simple.

Showed examples of activities: contextualizing literature – guided research; Image Blast, understanding poetry before reading; Video stars – building confidence and skills; Talk Wall – asynchronous tool to ask questions and get student answers that can be organized and turned into a text file.


Andy finished up by discussing how powerful all of the different tools presented can be. However, all of it should be supported by good teaching.

Image Credit: My camera

Mobile Phones and Learning (Another Round Up)

 lake victoria solar payphone by abaporu.

As I’m getting ready for Handheld Learning 2008, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading online about the use of mobile phones for teaching and learning. I didn’t realize how much is being written about this topic until I started digging a little deeper. Here are some highlights of what I’ve run across in the past few days:

  • One of the first posts I read that got me thinking about mobile phones some more is this one by Steve Dembo. In it, he provides a run down of features that he has on his phone, including web browsing, Google Maps Mobile, geocaching, live broadcasting, music, astronomy, Second Life, and fitness. While in itself this isn’t particularly earth-shattering, what is good about Steve’s post is that he discusses these features within a teaching and learning context. Definitely worth a read.
  • Another, somewhat older post, is this one by Terry Freedman, who discusses good practice guidelines that fall into three categories (a) School-oriented use of cell phones; b) safety guidelines; c) etiquette. I think that it is crucial for any educator wanting to use mobiles to address all three of these. Too many schools ban phones because they don’t (want to) address one or more of these categories.
  • This post by KJA includes an interesting calculation of his students’ ages using a variable called cell phone years, as well as his opinion that

it makes more sense to find a way to bring these devices into the educational fold rather than stripping these students of one of the ways they communicate and recieve information effectively. These devices can be used for education; however, the companies that make the products have not had to dedicate attention to educational possibilities and teachers (myself included) have not spent enough time seriously considering these devices as an educational tool. It is my guess that when this happens the impact will be enormous.

Although many people blame these unavoidable problems on the technology of cell phones, I believe that it is actually an issue of respect. These issues will never be resolved until students begin to respect the boundaries of the classroom. As we live in a world that promotes instant gratification, we can never truly learn the rules of when and where it is okay to text our friends until we learn to value the art of face-to-face communication.

This is an interesting comment, in that it makes me wonder how he thinks about learning outside of the classroom, which is exactly what mobile wireless technologies like cell phones can amplify. However, I do agree with him that we focus too much on instant gratification today (current financial crisis, anyone?), and that f2f communication is still extremely important.

  • And then of course there is the video Mobile Phones, Mobile Minds, which is written about here by Steven Yuen. Also take a look at the comments, although I think the last part of the third comment sort of defeats the point of technology for learning: “I can see it now, “Class, will you please open your mobile website and click on 1863, today we will be studying the Gettysburg Address.”
  • To get some information about the teen’s point of view, see this CBS News article about the Nielsen survey on teens and cell phones. Cost is definitely an issue, although I wonder how many parents are paying for their children’s phones. Make sure to read the comments!!
  • From Taiwan comes this research about the use of mobile phones in social life:

It becomes a cognitive and affective embodiment (funny word in this context) of the social life itself. Say “radio” to someone of a certain age and I guarantee they will be able to describe in detail what their first radio looked like, why they listened to music with, where they were when . . . Say “45” to someone else and they’ll tell you what the record player looked like. My first computer? Oh, definitely. And, for kids, now, that cell phone, that place of intimacy and privacy, away from the surveillance of adults . . . a tiny taste of freedom.

Of course, this is only a handful of posts. I’m amazed at how much is being written about the use of mobiles in education today, which, I think, is a good thing…

Image Credit: “lake victoria solar pay phone”, from abaporu’s photostream,

3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium: Mobile Learning Cultures across Education, Work and Leisure

WLE logo

Via Norbert Pachler. I contributed to this workshop last year even though I wasn’t able to attend. Should be well worth it again.

The Centre for Work-based Learning and Education (WLE), at the Institute of Education, London, in conjunction with the London Mobile Learning Group (LMLG), will hold the
3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium: Mobile Learning Cultures across Education, Work and Leisure
on 27 March 2009 at the WLE Centre, IOE London, UK.
The symposium aims to address different audiences, with a focus on education professionals and practitioners from school, further, higher and adult education as well as clinical settings, work and leisure. It will focus on mobile learning theory and practice in education, work and leisure and will address the following themes: „Learning across contexts“, „Cultural approaches to mobile learning“ and „Status quo, visions and conjectures“. Interdisciplinary approaches and thematic crossovers, both in theory and practice, are particularly welcome. Work in progress and international contributions are encouraged.
Registration for the symposium is free but numbers are limited. Priority will be given to authors of accepted abstracts.
Important dates:
–      1 October 2008: First call for expressions of interest and extended abstracts.
–      3 November 2008: Second call for expressions of interest and extended abstracts.
–      30 January 2009 – 27 February 2009: Registration.
Further dates and detailed information about the Symposium is available in the attached flyer as well as on the symposium website at http://symposium.londonmobilelearning.net.
Dr. Norbert Pachler (WLE Centre, IOE London, UK)
Judith Seipold M.A. (University of Kassel, Germany / Associate at the WLE Centre, IOE London, UK)
Dr. Giasemi Vavoula (Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK)
Prof. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme (Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, UK)

Image Credit: London Mobile Learning Group:

Another Update on the Handheld Learning Conference: Awards Finalists

Handheld Learning 2008 Awards

Experience Innovation. And be a part of it.

Finalists Now Announced!

Fasttrack to awards page hereDear Colleague

Vote now!

The Judges have reviewed the nominations and have decided on the Finalists. Now it is up to you to decide the winners.


You may cast your vote via standard rate (or international standard rate if using non-UK operator) SMS txt message. Voting closes on Thursday October 9th at midnight GMT.We are pleased to announce that the main sponsor for the Awards is:


I Am Jack

Award categories have been kindly sponsored by:SlitherineLanway

Edutxt RedHalo

Come to the Party!


Monday 13th October, The Brewery, London, 19:00 – 23:00The party is a celebration of people and innovation in new learning and teaching practice. Attendance is FREE to all Handheld Learning Conference delegates, finalists and their guests.


Rather than a dreary dinner jacket dinner affair (after all, there is no dinner!) the evening promises to be highly entertaining and enjoyable featuring:

– Live Blues and Jazz Jam (bring your talent!)
– Drinks reception (lashings of ginger beer)
– Cash bar (take it easy!)
– Videogame tournaments (how old is your brain?)
– Socialising & networking (work it baby!)And…

The presentation of the awards with Johnny Ball as MC.

Unassigned seating is available for those tired of dancing but there is a limited number of tables that may be reserved (small fee involved) along with drinks pre-ordering for those wishing to celebrate in style and make sure they are near the stage. For information on this option click here

We look forward to seeing you at the party!

The Handheld Learning Team (meet us)
Meet the Handheld Learning Award Judges (here)


Image Credits: http://handheldlearning2008.com