Three New “R’s”: Building Blocks of M-Learning

13 04 2006

The use of mobile devices for mobile learning may be classified into three new “R’s” (replacing the old Reading, wRiting and ‘Rithmetic).

Our team finds it useful to classify mobile learning opportunities into Record, Recall, and Relate tasks.  This helps us think about ways that learners can use mobile devices to engage in learning: by gathering information; by having information at their fingertips; and by communicating with other people. 

Record

Many mobile devices have a capacity for capturing information that can be recalled at a later stage.  Recording formats include: text entry using a PDA (into, for example, a document or a database), image capture such as with a mobile phone, video capture using miniature cameras, or audio capture, such as using an iPod or audio recorder.  Many mobile devices (such as modern mobile phones and PDAs) can do all of these things.

Some mobile devices can even record remotely, as in the case of moblogging.  Moblogging refers to the ability to send a MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service – a message containing media content such as images, video or sound) to an email or web address or telephone number, and have the content automatically and instantly displayed on a web page.  Moblogging could be uses as a means of publishing to an online visual journal without needing to use a computer.  Potentially, it removes restrictions of storage memory sizes, although it does so at a cost (the cost of transmitting lots of data over a mobile phone data connection).

Recall

Recall is the ability to access information using a mobile device.  This includes things like references, databases, e-books, and documents or media stored on either the mobile device itself, or a remote service such as on the Internet. 

Essentially, a mobile device can be used as a means of accessing information when it’s needed, where it’s needed. A database on a PDA could enable a learner to quickly identify a plant or the first-aid response for a particular poison; or to find a passage in a Shakespearean play while on a field trip to the theatre.  Some people refer to this as “Just-In-Time” learning.  Having information at a learner’s fingertips helps them to access knowledge in its most appropriate and immediate context.

Alternatively, mobile ‘recall” may simply provide a learner with a convenient way to carry around a lot of information in a more portable, electronic form, as in the case of e-books: rather than lug around volumes of printed text, electronic texts can be comfortably stored on an e-book reader, PDA, or even an iPod.

Relate

“Relate” is a word that infers connectedness between people.  It is in this sense that we apply this word to a mobile learning context; mobile devices can be used as communications tools, over small distances (e.g. ad hoc Bluetooth networking within a classroom) or much larger distances (e.g. mobile phones, MSN messenger in PDAs, or mobile email and internet).

Some unlikely mobile devices can in fact be used as mobile communications tools.  For example, MSN Messenger on PDAs supports “Push-To-Talk” functionality (over a wireless 802.11b/g Internet connection), effectively enabling a PDA (with no mobile phone included) to be used as a voice communication device.  We can expect similar software tools to emerge in platforms like the Sony PSP – a portable games device that supports audio input and output. 

Some technologies will also change the way we think of mobile communications. One relatively new technology is “Push-To-Talk” (over GPRS), which converts a mobile phone into a virtually unlimited range walkie-talkie for around $1 for a day of use (about as costly as replacing AA batteries in a hand-held CB radio with only a 5km range).  Learner groups with access to inexpensive mobile communications technologies will be able to operate in very different ways to those we are accustomed to.

As technology provides us with ever more options to Record, Recall, and Relate, we’ll need to be on the lookout for ways that these can enhance the learning experience for students, or make the task of supporting learners easier for teachers and education professionals.





Three New "R's": Building Blocks of M-Learning

13 04 2006

The use of mobile devices for mobile learning may be classified into three new “R’s” (replacing the old Reading, wRiting and ‘Rithmetic).

Our team finds it useful to classify mobile learning opportunities into Record, Recall, and Relate tasks.  This helps us think about ways that learners can use mobile devices to engage in learning: by gathering information; by having information at their fingertips; and by communicating with other people. 

Record

Many mobile devices have a capacity for capturing information that can be recalled at a later stage.  Recording formats include: text entry using a PDA (into, for example, a document or a database), image capture such as with a mobile phone, video capture using miniature cameras, or audio capture, such as using an iPod or audio recorder.  Many mobile devices (such as modern mobile phones and PDAs) can do all of these things.

Some mobile devices can even record remotely, as in the case of moblogging.  Moblogging refers to the ability to send a MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service – a message containing media content such as images, video or sound) to an email or web address or telephone number, and have the content automatically and instantly displayed on a web page.  Moblogging could be uses as a means of publishing to an online visual journal without needing to use a computer.  Potentially, it removes restrictions of storage memory sizes, although it does so at a cost (the cost of transmitting lots of data over a mobile phone data connection).

Recall

Recall is the ability to access information using a mobile device.  This includes things like references, databases, e-books, and documents or media stored on either the mobile device itself, or a remote service such as on the Internet. 

Essentially, a mobile device can be used as a means of accessing information when it’s needed, where it’s needed. A database on a PDA could enable a learner to quickly identify a plant or the first-aid response for a particular poison; or to find a passage in a Shakespearean play while on a field trip to the theatre.  Some people refer to this as “Just-In-Time” learning.  Having information at a learner’s fingertips helps them to access knowledge in its most appropriate and immediate context.

Alternatively, mobile ‘recall” may simply provide a learner with a convenient way to carry around a lot of information in a more portable, electronic form, as in the case of e-books: rather than lug around volumes of printed text, electronic texts can be comfortably stored on an e-book reader, PDA, or even an iPod.

Relate

“Relate” is a word that infers connectedness between people.  It is in this sense that we apply this word to a mobile learning context; mobile devices can be used as communications tools, over small distances (e.g. ad hoc Bluetooth networking within a classroom) or much larger distances (e.g. mobile phones, MSN messenger in PDAs, or mobile email and internet).

Some unlikely mobile devices can in fact be used as mobile communications tools.  For example, MSN Messenger on PDAs supports “Push-To-Talk” functionality (over a wireless 802.11b/g Internet connection), effectively enabling a PDA (with no mobile phone included) to be used as a voice communication device.  We can expect similar software tools to emerge in platforms like the Sony PSP – a portable games device that supports audio input and output. 

Some technologies will also change the way we think of mobile communications. One relatively new technology is “Push-To-Talk” (over GPRS), which converts a mobile phone into a virtually unlimited range walkie-talkie for around $1 for a day of use (about as costly as replacing AA batteries in a hand-held CB radio with only a 5km range).  Learner groups with access to inexpensive mobile communications technologies will be able to operate in very different ways to those we are accustomed to.

As technology provides us with ever more options to Record, Recall, and Relate, we’ll need to be on the lookout for ways that these can enhance the learning experience for students, or make the task of supporting learners easier for teachers and education professionals.





Database Product for Pocket PCs

13 04 2006

Software development company Grandasoft currently provides software for designing PDA data entry forms and rendering them on Pocket PC devices: http://www.grandasoft.com/Products/ I’ve used this suite for almost a year to successfully record and recall hundreds of dance moves from a PDA-based database: you can even define your own custom searches that you can use on your PDA on the go.

Keep in mind that not all mobile learners will have access to a Windows Pocket PC PDA. However, if you have a learning group that does have access to these devices, this is an easy and powerful product for providing a searchable, editable database in an electronic PDA form. Another incentive is the price: the current versions of their software are free for non-commercial use and can be downloaded from the website.





101 Ideas for Mobile Learning

4 04 2006

Here are some thoughts I published at the 2006 ACT Board of Studies Workshop on Mobile Learning, held at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) on February 1 2006, in a flyer entitled “101 ideas for Mobile Learning (well… several anyway)”

Match the Delivery with the Content Think about the content you’re trying to provide to your learners, and ask… which medium is well-suited to this kind of information?  A text document describing birdcalls is almost as useless as a dictionary in audio format for iPods.  Turning learning guides into PDA text documents may not provide the content in a practical mobile form… think outside the square.

Destination or Transitory Mobility? Think about the way in which learners are likely to use the mobile learning resource.  Will they be using it between destinations (e.g. listening to audio in the car, on a bus, or while walking), or are they going to be using the resource at a particular place (e.g. a PDA brought to a worksite as a reference)?  

Design the Mobile Experience Mobile devices have limited screen real-estate.  Use Post-It Notes to storyboard and sequence your mobile learning experiences – they’re repositionable and their size forces you to think “little screen… concentrated quality”.

Use Mobile Learning for its Strengths When considering a Mobile Learning approach, think… am I using Mobile Learning for what it’s best at?  Or am I substituting a lesser technology for a better one for the sake of “Mobile Learning”?  for example… there’s no point using a mobile phone camera if it’s equally convenient to us a proper digital camera.  And there’s no point asking students to painstakingly copy information into PDAs  if it’s just as valid and convenient to use a sheet of paper and a pen.  

It’s Everywhere You Are Many mobile devices are highly integrated with our lifestyles, and are likely to be carried everywhere, like the Swiss Army Knife of the 21st Century.  The convenience and pervasiveness of mobile devices is their main strength.  Use this strength to reach your learners with information they need, store information your learners may need later, and get learners to complete tasks while going about their day-to-day lives.    

Record, Recall, Relate
Mobile devices can be used: to record information (including pictures, movies, sounds, data, numbers and text) for later recall; recall information from the device’s storage, or from remote sources such as the Internet; and relate with other people and organisations using text, speech, and visual communication tools.

Above All… Is It good Learning?
Microsoft created an SMS version of Homer’s Illiad.  But is there any point converting classic literature into SHRT ABRV8TD MSGS?  Remember, whatever the delivery medium, the fundamental principles of pedagogy still apply.