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Handheld Learning 2009, Day 3, Research Strand and Grand Finale

hhl2009

The last day of Handheld Learning 2009 was also my busiest one, as I spent most of the day chairing the mobile learning research strand. We had 22 interesting papers from a variety of speakers, who came from countries including India, Mexico, the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. The papers covered the areas of theory, research, and application, including topics such as mobile learning frameworks, assessment, developments in mobile learning hardware and software, and mobile learning for science, language arts, and special needs populations.

Most of the papers will be published in the Spring 2010 issue of RCETJ, but I will give you a flavor here of the types of papers presented. John Traxler kicked things off with a very interesting and illustrated talk that addressed the tension between educational institutions aspiring to provide students with the technology for learning, and supporting students using their own devices. According to John, resolving this tension is crucial for innovation, inclusion and transformation, but we don’t have the answer quite yet.

Next up were Robin Deegan, who discussed usability issues peculiar to m-learning applications, and Nicola Bedall-Hill, who shared her initial findings from a study involving GPS devices,  and asked if mobile tools may also possess many of the characteristics of a ‘boundary object’  in that” their meanings are constructed through discourse and practice.” Lucianne Brown discussed her findings from a study that used mobile phones for learning reading.

Following a brief break we had two more long paper presentations, one by Scott Perkins and George Saltsman, who discussed the implementation of iPhones and iPod Touches at Abilene Christian, and the other by Jane Lunsford, who talked about mobile learning for student support.

The long papers were followed by three round tables with a total of 16 papers. Presenters and their papers included:

  1. Phil Marston (Further Development of the Context Categories of a Mobile Learning Framework)
  2. Karl Royle (Teaching Kids How to Hold Productive Learning Conversations Using Pictochat on the Nintendo DS)
  3. Marco Arrigo (Mobile Learning for All
  4. Rhodri Thomas (Mobilising the Open University); presentation slides
  5. Domizio Baldini (Mobile Science Laboratory: A Project)
  6. Andy Pulman (Mobile Technology as a Mechanism for Delivering Improved Quality of Life)
  7. Peter van Ooijen (A Novel, Image-Based Voting Tool Based on Handheld Devices)
  8. Arturo Serrano (Implications on the Evolution of 4G to m-Learning)
  9. Rowena Blair (Fun, Fizzy and Formative Approaches to Assessment: Using Rapid Digital Feedback to Aid Learners’ Progression)
  10. Lyn Pemberton (Language Learning with Mobile Peers)
  11. David Avery (Digital Mythography: Towards A New Mythology For Our Times
  12. DivyaViswanathan (New Metaphors from Old Practices. Mobile Learning Technologies That Could Revitalize Education)
  13. Marco Arrigo (Integrating Handheld Devices in Secondary School Curricula: A Two Years Experience)
  14. Keren Mills (The OU Library in Your Pocket)
  15. Judith  Seipold (Mo-LeaP – The Mobile Learning Projects Database)
  16. Steve Bunce (Nintendo DS Consoles as a Tool for Enquiry)

As I stated earlier, most if not all of these papers will be published in early Spring 2010. Suffice it to say that even though the round table format is something that was new to many presenters and participants (unbeknownst to me until right before the conference), everybody made the best of it and with a little tweaking we can have even better sessions next year. It was good to see that there was a substantial amount of interest in mobile learning research this year, as all of the research strand sessions were very well attended.

The conference was concluded by Ray Kurzweil’s keynote via a live HD video feed. Instead of me trying to recap what he said more than a week after the fact, you can see the speech for yourself here. It’s worth watching …

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.