Monday, October 29, 2007

mlearn2007 reflections

Enjoyed mLearn 2007 thoroughly and am looking forward to mlearn2008.
Had some time last week to reflect on my learnings from mLearn2007. I was in the North Island, completing third year interviews with apprentices, the last lot of interviews towards my PhD. I did a fair bit of driving pass the beautiful spring green paddocks around Wellington, Wairarapa, Masterton and Hawkes Bay. Traffic was light so there was time for some serious introspection.

Some items pertinent to my own teaching context and mlearning projects were:-
Ascendance of mobile phones as the tool used for the delivery of mlearning.
However, majority of phones still only capable of voice and SMS L
Interest from developing countries on the potential of mobile phones to improve access to learning for people who would not otherwise be able to access information we now take for granted in the developed world.
Severe disadvantage of mobile phones (as compared to PDAs) is their ‘locked’ or ‘walled garden’ telecommunication company’s imposed structure.
More papers on the perceptions of students to the concept of mlearning including primary school, ‘international’ and disabled students.
Maturity of mlearning projects using PDAs – especially in the UK.
The need to relate our learning about mobile learning to actual pedagogy in schools and tertiary education. How can mobile learning change things – for the better – in particular to engage students in taking more control of their learning via access to a wider range of resources than available in ‘traditional’ classrooms.
Educators still need to ‘show the way’ as students are focused on using their phone (a very personal item) for their own social needs.
Not as many papers on location based mlearning as last year.
Still limited use of web based sites for mlearning, so our mlearning project is still pushing the envelope.
iPhones are will challenge the way in which other mobile phones are designed.

Sue Waters has archived a collation of various perspectives on mlearn2007 on a wiki, made up of various links to elluminate sessions, blogs and twitter notes. The elluminate sessions were ‘attended’ by several keen practitioners who could not physically be at the conference. The way in which technology allows us to ‘revisit’ a conference or participate without actually being physically present shows possibilities for distance education. However, face to face interaction is still not replicable as it brings up all sorts of opportunities for serendipitous discoveries.

Friday, October 19, 2007

mLearn2008 launched

Hand over from mlearn 2007 to mlearn2008. Organised by the University of Wolverhampton to be held at Ironbridge Gorge from 7th to 10th October. Followed with Handheld2008 in London from 13th to 15th October.

mLearn2007 day 3

Day three started with 15 minute sessions! First presentation on portable devices in innovative classrooms from Megan Iemma (Heathdale Christian School, Victoria) and Paul Rodney (Christ’s College, Christchurch, NZ), using ipods in music, languages and literacy. Provided good examples, mainly using ipods (mogopod, Iwriter quiz programme, Iquiz, text2go, ghostwriter, tubesock) but also the use of ComicLife to develop comic based video material for languages and Garageband and Audacity to record pronounciation (via Bluetooth) and musical podcasts.

Then Roger Carroll from Victoria University, Australia on how mobile technology could be the catalyst between the workplace, learner and the educational institute. Generational differences, workplace practices, workforce demographics & technology changes need to come together in order enhance learning. Examples in using a moblog (photos mainly plus also videos which must be narrated) to engage carpentry students in learning. Mobile support, assessments, content and formal assessments costing AUS$1.50 for each download. Using constructivist, collaborative and collective learning to provide individual students the ability to create their own content and assessment.

Next, Julie Turnell from University of Teesside, UK on an investigation into students’ use of mobile devices and why they use for social activities but not for learning. Has a high proportion of ‘non-traditional’ students & text messaging has been used to support and retain students. Out of 469 students, only 3 did not own phone, 335 owned mp3 players as well. 84% used phones to share photos and videos, 60% used calendar etc. for personal use but only 30% used it for their study schedules. Therefore differences between how students use their phones in social community compared to their learning community. Might creation of a Virtual Community of Practice (Kimble, Penrod & Perry) help turn social interaction into activities that support learning.

Last item for the conference was a panel session on “how did we get here?” with Charlie Schick, Mike Sharples, Peter Le Cornu, Marc Niemes & Robyn Archer. Introduced by Jo Pearson, the scenario was that we were now at mlearn2017 where wireless is ubiquitous, batteries are self charging, nanotechnology is well established and the web has imploded on itself and has been replaced by smaller, more intimate virtual worlds. Virtual schools and virtual workplaces are the norm.

Mike Sharples, (University of Nottingham) quoted William Gibson with “the future is already here, not just evenly distributed”. Entertainment has changed, even banking has changed, so why not schools?

Mark Niemes, ( schools willing to spend on mortar & bricks but not on more ‘ephemeral’ items like web sites, intranets and mobile learning. Devices become ‘disposable’, the easier to use will win. Content – too much around but not all useful, how do we sieve through all the knowledge to find out what we need? Context, personal, private or public depending on role.

Peter Cornu (St. Johns Ambulance), organizations have fewer buildings, most learning flexible & web available. People learn the skills & then come in to institutions to have recognition of their skills when they are ready. Teachers still practicing good pedagogy. IT working with their organizations to bring about learning effectively.

Charlie Schick (Nokia), not a techno-optimist but if we look back 10 years, education has not been changed fundamentally & in 10 years time, there will not be significant changes. But changes will take place gradually, especially if led by consumers, learners, parents, industry etc.

Robyn Archer (Connex, Melbourne) changes in how we travel. Travel to train stations not by car but via bus or bicycle & rush hour not as crowded. Achieved by using technology to improve how transport systems can be more efficient. Aging population has now retired. New workforce more in tune with use of technology, training is just in time with need for constant retraining. Customers also need to be trained by providing them with updates on how the transport network is working based on tracking systems.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

mlearn2007 day 2

Keynote from Charlie Schick from Nokia who talked about the mobile lifestyle. Mobile phone seen as an essential part of individual lifestyles. Most people use 5 functions on the phone and main contact with 5 people. Majority of 3 billion mobile phones still basic and 1 billion of mobile phone owners do not have access to the internet. So important to develop learning that will work with basic phones. The phenomenon of social networking is pushing the ‘phone on web’ concept, whereby then phone becomes an access tool to networks like twitter, facebook, dopplr etc.

Awards as part of a ‘digital mini fest of youth’(a
Turning Point project coordinated by Sally Drummond) were then presented. Short films (1min and 5mins) were produced by shooting the images using mobile phones and editing the films on iMacs. These films could then be viewed and downloaded via iHub’s situated around Melbourne, Some students who took part from William Angliss College spoke of their experiences about mlearning, These included an appreciation that students could take responsibility for their learning, engagement in situated learning opportunities, increased skills in technical skill as and a realization of the potential of the use of technology in their wider lives.

Paper presentations attended started with a look at the path to the school of the future, by
Pasi Mattila & Jukka Miettunen from the City of Oulu, Education Office in Finland. They argued that as the student profile(& the needs of the workplace) have changed, schools also need to change. They described how a new school, School of Ritaharju, would include the infrastructure, pedagogy and technology to provide fro 21st skills. Oulu has a history of working with the community and also corporations, so Nokia, Microsoft will play a role in assisting with technology set up. The school will be part of the community, open 24/7 to the wider community.

Next, Dr.
Agnes Kukulska-Hulme’s representation of the results of a staff development project to introduce teaching staff to the use of smart phones. Qtek phones were provided to staff for 5 months for their use to support their own learning. Uses the concept of ‘self-service’ learning to allow staff to take charge of their own learning goals. Starts off with 3 compulsory workshops, then support structures in the form of Qtek lunchtime clubs, online support (wikis, email list, photo sharing), optional buddy plus some technical support. In general, there was improved awareness of emerging technology but less evidence that personal professional development was increased.

John Traxler, University of Wolverhampton, presented a thought provoking session on Flux within Change. Taking on that society is changing and that mlearning needs to take this into account. Examples include flash mobbing, the provision of banking services by a telecommunication provider in Kenya, the democratizing of journalism by general members of the public and new forms of criminality (bluejacking).
Changes in society also include changes to the way individuals communicate, changes to the way we treat, think about and use knowledge.

After lunch, attended two showcases. First one from
Leena Vainio, from the Hame University of Applied Science in Finland presenting ‘Just in time reBlending – learning tools on mobile for learning German. Started with an overview of design of learning objects (example) in order to produce a mobile supported learning environment. mLearning allows the traditional style of classroom to be replaced by learning in authentic and natural mobile supported learning.

The second showcase presented by Martin Brown,
Omni Asia Pacific CAN, Australia detailing lessons learnt deploying mlearning solutions in global cooperate environments.
Corporate learners tend to see mLearning fit into a just-time, reference, reinforcement of other learning, data base type tool. Overview of authoring tools like
flash lite, DW, sumtotal, with recommended cellcast (works on all cell phones), hot java software & zirada. mLearning content model includes ‘notifications’, SMS, audio casts (content, tests), resources (pdfs!, moblogs, JIT), courseware (WAP, J2M, OTA) & Rich Media (vodcasts / streaming / 3G). Important to match devices used (90% of phones still low end) to authoring tools, content authors and LMS integration. Used in corporates mainly in risk compliance (OSH, induction, Policies & procedures), improve sales and service, improve operations and marketing & production management.

Last couple of papers after afternoon tea. The
Learning2go project presented by Gavin Hawkins, Sarah Corey & Lynn Ball on behalf of David Whyley from Wolverhampton was on the learner voice adding an important dimension to mobile learning. Covered brief overview of Learning2go & why mobile devices chosen (like a 21st century pencil case full of my digital tools.) Learners consulted in design of the PDA and as the project proceeded. A software program dotpocket was discovered by a 10year old that allowed screen shots to be shared via a laptop and smartboard. Groups of students also helped develop a game (on life skills) and criteria for awards for the use of PDAs in learning.
Students also able input their feedback on a

Last paper attended today. Practical technologies & realities of cell phone learning from Peter Westphal & Mike Palmer (based in NZ) representing
Onpoint Digital, USA. Provided demonstrations of learning objects authored using cellcast along with the architecture and flow charts of how it works. Mlearning tools like CTAD, Impatica (for Blackberry), Hot lava, Evoca introduced. Also audio content creations gabcast, liquidtalk, gcast, evoca & skype and Flash cards via studycell as SMS.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

mlearn2007 day 1

Conference opens well with opening address from Prof. Glyn Davis, vice chancellor of the University of Melbourne. A video of a student using a mobile phone in 2011 to orientate themselves on their first day at uni. Provided a good start tempered with further discussions on the ethical & privacy issues plus the challenges presented by student access to appropriate hardware and broadband,

First keynote from
Prof. Angela McFarlane, University of Bristol, UK. She reported aon several BECTA projects and the learning from this, in particular to not assume that ALL young people are able to cope with technology just because they were born into it. Students also often do not have the metacognitive schools to be able to contextualize which technology to use and how to best use them. Mlearning best at providing opportunities to reiterate, reinforce or reflect on leanring.

Second keynote from
Mark Niemes from the elearning Industry Association of Victoria. He made good use of clicker technology to bring across the message of devices, content and context & how these were interrelated and that each needed to be taken into account in any form of learning.

Paper presentations started after lunch. First paper I attended from
Dr. Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, providing a need to have some philosophies of learning to underpin mlearning practice. Good examples from the use of mlearning (1 mobile phone, 2 PDAs) in English schools. Teachers with a good grounding in classroom teaching and interested in utilizing technology to enhance student learning were the most effective.

Leonard Low’s good overview of the Australian standards on mlearning. Mostly work on the areas of content creation, content support, content delivery and platforms.
Report recommends to develop for capability with ‘minimum requirements’, exploit capabilities of more advanced devices either adaptivity or by providing alternatives, minimize demands on processor, memory and display and use open formats. A easy guide by John Smith & Mary O’Connell also available.

Simon So’s study of the preception of mobile phones for teaching and learning with pre-service teachers (in their early 20s) at Hong Kong Teachers College. These teachers were studying to become IT teachers & it was important to find out if they were comfortable with the concept of using mobile phones in their future roles as teachers. Usage rates of mobile phones was high (over 1000 minutes talk time a month) and their curiosity on using mobile phones for teaching and learning was high. The future for mobile learning in usage in Hong Kong schools looks bright!

A more efficient way of transmitting videos over the mobile network was presented by
Dr. Ankush Mittal from Mentor Graphics. A challenge is the many mobile phones on the market and videos have to be customised to the different screen sizes, OS and the size of the video file to be downloaded. A solution is to select objects on the video and to classify them by importance for learning. Import objects are encoded to be viewed as video but less important objects can be viewed as stills plus audio. Learnt lots about the technical aspects of video compression, transmission codes and how mobiles handle video files.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

mlearn doctoral consortium

A good start today. Five interesting presentations from doctoral students researching in the area of mLearning.

quick summaries:-

Christian Hoff from the University of Luxembourgh presented work on a common electronic annotation platform for all documents so that can be easily shared - making mobile collatboration seamless.

From the University of Nottingham, Peggy Shao provided information on a moblogging project to help international students integrate into the university and the city they are studying in. The advantages of using moblogging individually & in groups was presented. Good learning for me on a way forward with my personal learning environment / scaffolding project.

Next, a good application of GPS and visual terrain mapping to the problem of visualisation of navigation and time sensitive decision making from Brian Quinn, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Using a phone to linked via bluetooth to a GPS which can also be further synched with a PDA or PC and using mobile google map to track a group.

Calvin Taylor, who has just started data gathering based on two classes of 15 - 16 year olds in a rural school in Oz. He is investigating mobile literacy practice of youth, basing his work on Bourdieu - habitus, capital, symbolic and field.

Followed on well by Song Yanjie from University of Hong Kong. A good study on how young undergrads make use of a PDA over the course of a year. Finding that is is very context driven, gender & subject content also play a part in how the students used a PDA to support their learning activities.

Should be another busy day tomorrow!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Evangelising etechnology to the NZ polytechnic community

I presented a couple of papers to the union of staff in tertiary institutions (ASTE) conference last week. A well attended conference with participants from throughout the ITP sector. It was great to be able to meet committed educators, all passionate about teaching and learning. It made for a very friendly and convivial conference.

I presented keynote on using cognitive apprenticeship principles to teach baking – really to encourage tutors to be more reflective about their practice plus to explore what sort of teaching philosophy underpins their teaching. Also to delve more deeply into how good teaching is about constant refining and commitment towards meeting the needs of learners and the context the subject has to be applied to. Plus links with my teaching practice and my Phd research on how apprentices are learning via belonging, becoming and being bakers.

The other paper was to encourage the use of e-technology into tertiary teaching. I took the approach of using e-technology for tutor professional development as a starting point. If people become comfortable with writing on their own blog, using an mp3 player to store their favourite music and use RSS feeds for their own research, then these skills and knowledge percolate eventually into their teaching practice. I have found that it is important for digital immigrants to be comfortable with the technology before they start to use it in their teaching. I think that this stems from the role of teachers and their need to be ‘in control’. It is a big step for many teachers to take a sideward step and allow their students to lead the way. Personally, I learn a lot from young people about the way in which they use technology to enrich their lives. I also have learnt that it is up to us teachers to take the lead into guiding students in to how to also use technology to enhance their learning experiences.

I used several clips from youtube as part of the presentation. These include the one on the rise of Web2.0, the use of technology in teaching and a mlearn2007 promotional clip. Also links to the various blogging, wiki, personal portal and aggregator sites that I continually use as part of my day to day work (teaching, research, learning) and the mlearning project. Including these links & working through the presentation was a way of modelling how to use etechnology not only in teaching but in one’s professional development.

I was conscious that many teachers resist the use of technology in their teaching. The concept of ‘bridging the chasm’ by Moore is something that I relate to. I am not sure whether the chasm is continually deepening, or if more user friendly hardware & software creates a ford across the chasm. The ubiquitous use of mobile phones must help bring more digital immigrants into greater contact with technology. The mobile phone is already helping to bridge the digital divide between the developed and developing nations. Maybe the mobile phone is also helping in a small way to bridge the early adopter to early / late majority to laggard (Alan Atkisson calls them renunciate curmudgeons!) chasm.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Test from Treo

Sending this to test possiblity of blogging without having to bring laptop to Melbourne.

Looking forward to mlearn2007

Just about counting down the sleeps before mlearn 2007 in Melbourne. I will be in Melbourne for just 6 days, where besides the conference, I will do a catch up with one of our corporate clients and also have some time with my sister-in-law & family.

Downloaded the programme this morning and there looks like lots to keep me occupied and many papers that will be relevant to my mlearning project. There are papers on mobile phones, mobile blogging plus a few on student perceptions of mobile learning as well. Looks like a busy few days!

I am not sure if the organisers intend to set up a conference blog, like the one set up by Brandon Hall Innovations in Learning conference. It has a couple of slideshare shows embedded which are very interesting and provide a bit of a feel of what the speaker presented. Of note are the slideshare on an open-source approach to rapid authoring of e-learning by Rueben Tozman and the development of elearning 2.0 by Stephen Downes. Stephen had 77 slides (not sure now long presentation time), so being able to look at the slides on the blog, must help bring much needed ‘reflection’ space to his presentation. The blogger who put the items on the blog also commented on how she ‘zoned out’ part way through the presentation and was also distracted by the ability to input comments which were presented synchronisely on another screen. A bit like my experiences thus far with video conferencing / elluminate type presentations. Too much happening all at once – powerpoint, questions, audio output plus the video images of the presentation. I will need to find out how many others (who are usually efficient multi-taskers) find their experiences with this method of interaction.

I hope that there will be wireless access at the conference as it will allow me to blog about the papers as they are being presented at mlearn2007. They form a valuable memory jogger for when I find time to reflect on the individual papers and their contribution to the way in which our mlearning project develops.