Tag Archives: mlearning

2011 SIGML Video Contest: Enhancing Education with Mobile Learning

ISTE SIGML (Mobile Learning) is proud to announce it’s second annual video contest (go here to see last year’s). Here is the announcement:

Show off how you and your students are enhancing education with mobile learning in the 2011 SIGML Video Contest! Create a short video (3-minute limit) that showcases what you are doing with mobile learning and share it with ISTE members. An independent panel of judges will pick the top 10 videos, and ISTE members will then have an opportunity to vote for their favorite 3. Winners will be recognized at the ISTE 2011 Conference and receive some fabulous prizes! If you would like to participate, please visit the SIGML Video Contest page for contest information and rules. All documentation, including a full set of rules, submission forms, and other materials are available for download there as well. If you have any questions about the 2011 SIGML Video Contest, please contact us at sigmlcontest@iste.org.

And while you’re there, take a look at the new and improved SIGML wiki. It’s quite nice…


LWF 2011 Late-Breaking Papers Due by Nov. 29, 2010

Are you doing something great in the area of mobile learning? Want to present about it in London at the 2011 Learning Without Frontiers Conference? If your answer is “yes”, this notice is for you:

Late-breaking papers for the 2011 Learning Without Frontiers Conference in London are due by November 29, 2010. Details about paper formatting and submission can be found at http://www.learningwithoutfrontiers.com/research-strand/. We are no longer accepting proposals for short or long papers.

Full conference details can be accessed at http://www.learningwithoutfrontiers.com/lwf-london-2011/. The conference will be held Jan. 9-11, 2011 in London.

Papers should be submitted to mvanthoo at kent.edu (please put “LWF 2011 late breaking paper submission” in the subject line). Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions at this email account as well.

Mobile Learning Presentation at Miami U Mobile Learning Summit

I presented “Putting Mobile” Back into Mobile Learning” at the Miami University M-Learning Summit in Oxford, Ohio last week. The presentation slides can be found here. The main gist of the presentation is that there seems to be an increasing emphasis on mobile learning in the classroom (oxymoron anyone?), at the cost of the affordances that mobile devices provide, i.e. mobility!!

And BTW, John Traxler recently wrote an excellent post with some of his latest thinking about mobile learning, which is very similar to mine. His argument is one of disruption, i.e. the changes that mobile tools force upon learning with regards to where, when, and how we learn…

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

Handheld Learning 2009, Day 1 HHL Festival


I’m in London this week for Handheld Learning 2009. Today was the first day, the Handheld Learning Festival. It was very busy and somewhat chaotic, but successful. I sort of hopped from session to session to get a little bit of everything. Not sure if it was the best way to go, but here’s a brief recount of what transpired today. For descriptions of the individual parts of the day, please see the HHL program:

HHECKL: I caught the tail end of this session with Tony Vincent, who promptly got called up to the front to make one change on the Cool Wall of technology. The participants in the session picked as their top three cool technologies: iPod Touch, Nintendo DS, and Apple Tablet (wait, but that’s not out yet). By the way, no mobile phones were picked in the top three. Here is a 30-minutes qik video of the event (sound starts after 2 minutes), posted by Dave Sugden.

The Industry Showcase looked bare compared to last year. Maybe it was just me, I don’t know. We spent about 10 minutes there, then left. I know this is what brings in money, but I’m not sure what else it contributes to the conference.

Learners’ Y-Factor: I caught the first two presentations here in a room that was absolutely packed. The first was done by Burnt Oak Junior School who brought half of their school, or so it seemed. Their presentation about the use of iPod Touches in their school was good and covered the apps they used, but I was left wondering if the devices went home with the kids. Use of devices for learning is so much more limited when they don’t. The second presentation was done by kids from Oakdale School in London, who shared their experiences in using Nintendo DS for learning math and a few other things, nothing earth shattering. I left the session after this presentation, wasn’t able to get back in later on. Highlight of what I saw was Jason Bradbury, who was very engaging for adults and kids alike, and managed to coin the term “plearn = play + learn”. I found out via Twitter that Normanby were the winners; they’ll present at the main conference this week.

Pecha Kucha: I watched a few presentations here, after hearing that last year’s session was good. This year’s session was chaotic, to say the least, and I wasn’t real impressed with the presentations. During the presentations I attended the technology wasn’t working half the time and then some of the presenters just did not use the 20 x 20 rule. The sessions I saw included (and these were the coherent ones):

  • Design for web: PC v. mobile and how they reshape each other. Saw some interesting examples, not sure how it impacts teaching and learning.
  • Stuart Smith’s mobile web as the killer m-learning tool. Interesting idea, now convince me…
  • M-Ubuntu project in South Africa: using mobiles to teach literacy. The project looks very interesting, and is always looking for mobile phones to sustain its project . Contact Lucy Haagen if you have some to contribute.

Best Practices: I watched three presentations here.

Derrick Welsh showed examples of using technology for drawing in art, e.g. using the Wii to draw on top of photos, and using phones for drawing. The best part of the presentation was a question that came from the audience: How to convince art educators to use technology, as there is the perception that there is a lack of the tactile when using digital technologies. I also picked up a link to a Reuters article on mobile phones for drawing.

Nick Short: presented “Androids in Africa”. He apologized for the looks of his presentation, done in Google Docs, but it serves the purpose and does the job, and that’s the point! His presentation was about the use of mobile devices for vet services to livestock in Africa. Native vets were already using mobile phones to text each other to help each other out, to get more vaccine into the field, etc. What else could be done? Enter the Android phone, which can also be used as a media player.

The Royal Vet College sends out teams to Africa, to do research to help local vets. This year’s team used Google’s Open Data Kit to record animal exams and Twidroid to tag sampling locations (gps). Communication done with team members and RVC experts using Twitter, email, and Google Chat for expert advice, team communications, etc. Also updated a team blog using Blogger daily to show funders what was happening. Restraints included: slow GPS, cannot change forms easily in field, questions were linear, unlike using paper; expense of devices, no picture function in ODK.

However, there are many opportunities in Africa for the use of mobile phones in Africa, using SMS, and this was a very interesting session that showed innovative uses for mobile technology and the power of mobiles to make a difference.

Louise Duncan from Australia presented: “Essential ingredients for the successful implementation of mobile learning” using iPod Touches. They include:

  • Agree on a device and a platform
  • Students need to have access to devices 24/7
  • Kids want to personalize their learning
  • Have a parent evening: share learning outcomes and get AUP forms signed
  • Learning strategies change, less paper used. Use apps like StudyWiz Mobile, an online learning environment to support learning.
  • Use of a personalized interface on the iPod Touch
  • Installing new software should be easy and quick, can download directly to iPod Touch or sync
  • Software reviews on YouTube, Learning in Hand, and iear.org
  • Some favorites: Classics, Story Kit, Civ Rev, Leaf Trombone, Wurdle, Geared, Strip Designer (combined use with Maps, Street View, and Strip Designer, see TV blog post), Brushes. Etch-a-Sketch lite
  • Give teachers a device 6 months before students get them.
  • Strong pedagogy: don’t allow into the classroom to use as toys or IM, have clear learning activities
  • Integrate within the larger school community: use for school administrative tasks such as daily bulletins or roll taking
  • But there is no camera: is this an issue? Maybe not, makes it easier to explain to parents the mobile device is a learning tool…
  • Netbook v. mobile question. What do schools supply, etc. According to Louise it’s not an either/or argument. “It’s all well and good to use netbooks and iPod Touches in the classroom but do they really improve student outcomes?”
  • Sustainable model for implementation across K-12
  • IT support is crucial
  • iPod management, uses students to help
  • Students need to be responsible for the devices (i.e. bring them).
  • Louise mentioned about students being sad when having to hand them back at the end of the year. This is one of the problems with school-supplied devices.

What they do at Louise’s school seems to work. Most of this stuff is common sense and has been done in other places.

First impressions of Handheld Learning:

  • Maybe it’s just me but I didn’t see or hear anything really inspiring or eye-opening (is this just me?). The basic ideas of mobile learning are there and have been there, but now we need a more comprehensive push of actually implementing them on a larger scale, not just in isolated projects.
  • I think the conference could use more hands-on sessions. Why are we still doing death by PowerPoint? (and that includes Pecha Kucha)….
  • Still not much talk about use of learner-owned devices, at least for K-12, and how to make that work. I think we’re still too stuck on a controlled learning environment, where schools provide devices and software, and own both. It makes mobile learning less mobile in my view.

Impressions from others:

  • @tecnoteach: Day 1 at #HHL09 was like flicking through the apps on the iphone – here, there and everywhere… (and yes, I would whole-heartedly agree with this one, my head is still spinning).
  • @NickSpeller: I agree with other posts – some good stuff going on but missing the WOW! Well done to Normanby as I understand it winners of Y-Factor
  • Response from @tomcooper: @NickSpeller don’t undersell the day today the kids were the stars!!!! the next 2 days the contrib have a lot to live upto !

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!

Handheld Learning 2009, the Best Is Yet to Come…


Update for the HHL 2009 Conference:

With only weeks to go until our communities annual conference activities are somewhat hectic at our new trendy kinder bunker in Shoreditch :-), 70% of our delegate allocation for the conference has now been taken and with schools and universities now coming back on stream after the break the remaining places are sure to go.


If you haven’t yet registered and didn’t benefit from the early bird scheme we have a special code for our members which is revealed if you go to the HHL site in the Speak Easy Lounge, log-in and visit this link:


The first day of the conference is FREE to attend A full 3 day pass that includes all sessions, refreshments, lunches and social receptions is £375 A one day pass for Wednesday 7th Oct which includes the research strand, UK policy strand and Ray Kurzweil keynote is £225.

Latest news about the conference including press releases (Ray Kurzweil vs Malcolm McLaren vs Ofsted) and latest newsletters can be found at:


Finalists for the Handheld Learning Awards have been announced at:


Voting via non-premium rate SMS will start at the end of this week.

We are still seeking learners age 6-16 who would like to come to London to present on the first day of the conference (FREE to attend for ALL) as part of the Learners Y Factor. More info at


As always there’s lots of discussion on the forum so please get involved at:


Marc Prensky asks the question “Should a 4 year old have an iPhone?. What do you think?


Keep visiting the site and we look forward to seeing many of you at the Conference in October!

All the best,
Graham and The Learning Without Frontiers Team

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