Carnival of the Mobilists, Edition 56

6 12 2006

The 56th Edition of the Carnival of the Mobilists is being hosted this week at Mopocket, and includes my article on the use of product QR Codes in Japan as a model for informal mobile learning.

In addition, there are a number of interesting articles on digital mobility for educators and developers interested in the use of portable digital devices for teaching and learning.

For educators interested in the social and connected aspects of learning theory, a brief article from the SmallDoses blog on “Mobile devices as an extension of social software,” lamenting the reticence of most major web services and mobile operators outside of Japan to embrace the inherent socialness of mobile technologies. From my previous efforts to engage with Australian mobile service operators, I can certainly relate.

If you’re considering delivering mobile learning to young people, consider some of the information presented by the Xellular Identity blog, with its series of posts on youth trends in digital mobility. In particular, there’s couple of interviews with Nick Wright, a Research Associate at Wireless World, and co-author of the mobileYouth report 2006:

Finally, for anyone currently engaged with developing mobile applications for education, take note of this post from the Mobbu blog, written by an active mobile application developer from their experience with developing mobile applications for public sector and enterprise clients, on design principles for mobile software for those users. As a professionally qualified software developer myself, I endorse many of the principles set out in that post as insightful and powerful recommendations.

My fellow edubloggers may also be interested in my preparation for launching a Carnival of the Edublogs early next year (so that the lull of the holidays doesn’t slow the momentum of the event getting going). I’ve already set up a blog for tracking each week’s installment at http://carnival.edublogs.org, and for collaboratively maintaining information on Carnival participation as contributor or a host.

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Mobile Learning goes retro

5 12 2006

Here’s a cool idea that may be too late for most people to use as a gift before Christmas, but could also have some applications in education.  Remember flick books?  Those little books you flicked through to re-create an animated sequence?

Well, FlipClips is a service that can convert your short movie clips into full colour flick books.  There’s a range of sizes, with the “greeting card” size (4.25″w x 3.25″h x 50 pages) currently going for just US$6.99 each (although shipping internationally makes these considerably more expensive for those of us outside the USA… :( )

Apart from the sheer coolness of the concept, I suppose this idea could be used as a mobile learning resource – a means of providing a short burst of video or animation when and where it’s needed – without a media player (or even a power source)!

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Bluepulse: Aussie innovation best mobile media platform ever?

5 12 2006

The internationally popular MobileCrunch blog speculates it may be the “ultimate mobile media platform,” and it’s the innovation of one of our own, Australian entrepreneur Ben Keighran.

ScreenHunter_132.jpg

Bluepulse is a free Mobile Web 2.0 application that installs easily on almost any mobile phone (you don’t even need to know what kind of phone you have), and promises the ultimate in mobile multitasking through the innovative use of widgets running within the Bluepulse application. This makes it quick to switch between widgets without losing any data, and the widgets themselves are more functional and powerful than most stand-alone mobile web applications.  There are all the usual suspects: MSN or Yahoo messengers, Flickr, Blogger blogging tools, GMail, Email, chat and weather.  Some others I’ve never seen on any other mobile platform before include traffic camera locations, and a blood alcohol tester.

MobileCrunch has the scoop:

Looking at bluepulse 2.0 in its totality you’re really facing a pretty significant leap forward in mobile application platforms. And make no mistake about it, this is a full fledged mobile multimedia platform that allows users to create a detailed user profile including photos and videos, an ever growing array of mobile widgets that helpyou do everything from checking the traffic or surf to planning what you’re going to watch on the tele tonight (plus digg, flickr, gmail and more), as well as chat in various chat rooms while browsing your new friends “places” while chatting, and last but not least, bluepulse has its own built in messaging application that allows you to text friends AND broadcast messages.

I’ve seen quite a number of mobile applications in the last twelve months and many have been very comprehensive but I do not believe thatI’ve seen a single platform that had as many different functions as bluepulse 2.0; especially not one with the diversity of widgets or the ability to run on so many phones.

You can get Bluepulse on your mobile by browsing to http://get.bluepulse.com/

The included widgets already have great potential for use in the delivery of mobile learning strategies, but Bluepulse is also similar to a mobile learning platform for mobile devices I’m currently developing, in terms of its widget-based architecture to enable seamless data sharing between applications such as QR-Code reader, browser, progress/gradebook and learning content. I’ve felt such an m-learning platform needs to be developed, as there’s no existing software out there that’s actually designed specifically for enabling a broad, integrated range of m-learning opportunities.

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Top 10 Freeware Apps for M-Learning

2 12 2006

This is my personal list of ten of the most useful, free software applications you can use to design and deliver mobile learning. It does not cover social mobile web apps, which will be the subject of a future post, or applications developed specifically for mobile learning, which will also be covered in the next two weeks or so.

  • NoteM audio recorder for Windows Mobile PDAs: unlike the standard audio recorder provided in Windows Mobile (in Notes), which records to WAV file format, NoteM records to MP3 format. This saves an enormous amount of storage space, and enables the recording of complete lectures or podcasts, rather than merely brief notes. It is also much more configurable than the standard Windows Mobile audio recorder.
  • iTube video downloader for iPods/PDAs/mobile phones: iTube videos range considerably in educational video, but it is still a superb resource of video content. Unfortunately, the Flash Video format used to package UTube videos isn’t really playable on anything, particularly not mobile devices. iTube allows users to download YouTube videos in MPEG and MP4 formats – the formet of which plays on most PDAs, and the latter of which plays on iPods and many mobile phones. Playability of video content on PDAs is considerably assisted by the following application. (previous blog post)
  • TCPMP video player for Windows Mobile PDAs: The Core Pocket Media Player (TCPMP) supports many more codecs than the standard Windows Mobile Media Player, making it much easier to download and use video content for mobile learning. It also has some excellent capabilities beyond what the standard player can achieve, such as stretched full-screen playing of videos, making videos both easier and more enjoyable to watch on a PDA. Another one to try out is SOMPY Media Player.
  • Opera Mobile web browser for J2ME (Java) Mobile phones: Usable on most mobile phones and some PDAs, Opera Mobile is the best mobile web browser I’ve ever used on any mobile platform. If you’re deploying mobile web content, encourage your users to try Opera Mobile. (previous blog post). PDA users might prefer Minimo, the PDA version of the Firefox browser with many features in common such as tabbed browsing.
  • ADB Idea Library allows the user to create and organise pictures, sounds, text – and other files – into collections. Great for getting learners to assemble their own ideas and demonstrate the construction of knowledge.
  • CERDISP screen sharing for Windows Mobile PDAs: the Windows CE Remote Display application enables you to put a copy of your PDA screen on a computer monitor or light projector to share it with other users. It includes a zoom tool for making the screen more visible, and uses your PDA’s standard computer cable and ActiveSync connection to do this most useful of tasks. (previous blog post)
  • XSForms/XSDesigner for Windows Mobile PDAs: allows creation of mobile databases, complete with user forms to make it easy to both add and search data. Enables students or teachers to remotely log data for research or learning purposes, and can be customised to synchronise with a desktop PC Access database. (previous blog post) Another database program to try is HotWax.
  • BUZZeeBee (formerly ProximityMail) for Windows Mobile PDAs: allows spontaneous, ad-hoc creation of wirelessly connected, proximal messaging groups, using free Bluetooth technology. I haven’t tried out the new BUZZeeBee version of the software yet, but the wireless, group-based text communication and sharing enabled by this product has many uses in education. (mentioned in this previous blog post)
  • SmartFlash Flash player for Windows Mobile PDAs: a much more flexible and powerful player than the standard Adobe Flash Player. Plays Flash files without needing to embed them in a web page, as they must for the standard Flash player.
  • PaintWinCE for Windows Mobile PDAs: not everyone’s a fan of doing things in text, or even audio. For learners with a visual learning preference, consider using Mobile Pencil – which turns a PDA in to a portable sketchpad/notepad – just draw with the stylus. Complete with a number of different pencil effects and colours to make it easier to communicate graphically, using a PDA. Similar applications include Pencil Box and Mobile Pencil.

Other useful PDA applications I couldn’t fit into my top 10:

Finally, while it isn’t really mobile software, but rather runs on a PC, Levelator makes the process of creating podcasts (for playback on pocket media players, PDAs and even mobile phones) so much easier it deserves a mention. Dropping an audio file on the application creates an output audio file with the volume optimised for playback, without having to fiddle with levels in Audacity. (previous blog post)

New software is constantly being developed: help your employees advance as well with  A+ training, and keep your company ahead in the technology field.

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PortableApps Suite: Take your tools anywhere

2 12 2006

PortableApps Menu ScreenshotI previously blogged on the emergence of the Portable Apps movement, reported in a major Australian IT magazine. Portable Apps are fully-featured programs that are installed onto a USB memory stick, enabling their use on any computer, and leaving no personal data or files behind.

Now, portable apps have been assembled and integrated into a free of cost, adware & spyware-free suite. A number of standard configurations have been made available for quick download and deployment, or there are dozens of additional apps that can be “installed” into the suite, taking advantage of integration via a customised portable apps menu system (illustrated right) and autorun feature.

Some of the most useful apps include the complete OpenOffice suite, browser, email, chat, instant messaging, RSS reader, WYSIWYG web page editor, image editor, audio editor, media player, file compression utility, antivirus, web server with application logic & database, and even Sudoku.

If you or your students need to work on a number of different computers, having all your apps in a portable form such as this could be very convenient indeed.

(via Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day)

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