It's Carnival Time!

23 01 2007


(photo: Attribution Share Alike cavorite)

This week, the Carnival of the Mobilists is hosted at Xellular Identity, where the week’s best writing on mobile technology is showcased, including my contribution “10 reasons why mobile learning matters“. Later in this post, I’m offering edubloggers the chance to be part of our very own Carnival, as either a host or contributor.

Most Edubloggers will not yet be familiar with the concept of blog “Carnivals” or “Festivals”… but they’re worth understanding, as they can be powerful vehicles for promoting and improving an online community or practice or interest. The Carnival of the Mobilists, for example, is just a little more than a year old, but has snowballed into a community of hundreds of contributors, thousands of contributions, and in this – its second year – now offers sponsored prizes including international travel to for the best host, US$250 to each month’s best contributor, and US$500 for best post of the year.

A blog carnival or festival involves bloggers who share a common interest. Each week, those bloggers contribute their best post of the week to a common location, such as an email address. One blogger, the “host,” accesses the email, sorts out the contributions, selects the best entries, and writes a “carnival post” that links to the contributions – sometimes hosts perform these duties in very creative ways. Contributors who are selected then write an article that links back to the host’s “carnival post”. It is also a tradition for the host to showcase any newcomers to the carnival each week, and to select their “favourite” entry.

In this way, the Carnival serves to promote the best writing of its contributors, and creates an informal, growing community online.

Now: here is the opportunity to create our very own Carnival of the Edublogs. If you write a blog that reflects or reports on innovation or improvement in teaching and learning, please do one or more of the following:

  • Email carnival.edublogs@gmail.com if you would like to host an upcoming Carnival this year.
  • Email carnival.edublogs@gmail.com with a link to one of your best recent posts if you would like to contribute to the first ever Carnival of the Edublogs, next month!
  • Subscribe to the Carnival RSS Feed on the Carnival of the Edublogs blog, so you know when each Carnival is released.
  • Promote the Carnival! Invite other Edubloggers to host or contribute to, or read, the Carnival of the Edublogs, and write an article on the Carnival on your own blog.

You’ll find more information on the Carnival of the Edublogs at http://carnival.edublogs.org. This invitation is also replicated on the Carnival blog at http://carnival.edublogs.org/2007/01/23/come-to-the-carnival/ .

Update: It seems that Alexander Hayes (”It’s all too bloody interesting and thats why I’m still up at 1.48AM”) and Stephen Downes (”It’s all very interesting and it keeps me up nights as well”) have both just found the Carnival of the Mobilists, too!  Will you be coming to help launch the Carnival of the Edublogs, guys? )

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Advertisements




It’s Carnival Time!

23 01 2007


(photo: Attribution Share Alike cavorite)

This week, the Carnival of the Mobilists is hosted at Xellular Identity, where the week’s best writing on mobile technology is showcased, including my contribution “10 reasons why mobile learning matters“. Later in this post, I’m offering edubloggers the chance to be part of our very own Carnival, as either a host or contributor.

Most Edubloggers will not yet be familiar with the concept of blog “Carnivals” or “Festivals”… but they’re worth understanding, as they can be powerful vehicles for promoting and improving an online community or practice or interest. The Carnival of the Mobilists, for example, is just a little more than a year old, but has snowballed into a community of hundreds of contributors, thousands of contributions, and in this – its second year – now offers sponsored prizes including international travel to for the best host, US$250 to each month’s best contributor, and US$500 for best post of the year.

A blog carnival or festival involves bloggers who share a common interest. Each week, those bloggers contribute their best post of the week to a common location, such as an email address. One blogger, the “host,” accesses the email, sorts out the contributions, selects the best entries, and writes a “carnival post” that links to the contributions – sometimes hosts perform these duties in very creative ways. Contributors who are selected then write an article that links back to the host’s “carnival post”. It is also a tradition for the host to showcase any newcomers to the carnival each week, and to select their “favourite” entry.

In this way, the Carnival serves to promote the best writing of its contributors, and creates an informal, growing community online.

Now: here is the opportunity to create our very own Carnival of the Edublogs. If you write a blog that reflects or reports on innovation or improvement in teaching and learning, please do one or more of the following:

  • Email carnival.edublogs@gmail.com if you would like to host an upcoming Carnival this year.
  • Email carnival.edublogs@gmail.com with a link to one of your best recent posts if you would like to contribute to the first ever Carnival of the Edublogs, next month!
  • Subscribe to the Carnival RSS Feed on the Carnival of the Edublogs blog, so you know when each Carnival is released.
  • Promote the Carnival! Invite other Edubloggers to host or contribute to, or read, the Carnival of the Edublogs, and write an article on the Carnival on your own blog.

You’ll find more information on the Carnival of the Edublogs at http://carnival.edublogs.org. This invitation is also replicated on the Carnival blog at http://carnival.edublogs.org/2007/01/23/come-to-the-carnival/ .

Update: It seems that Alexander Hayes (”It’s all too bloody interesting and thats why I’m still up at 1.48AM”) and Stephen Downes (”It’s all very interesting and it keeps me up nights as well”) have both just found the Carnival of the Mobilists, too!  Will you be coming to help launch the Carnival of the Edublogs, guys? )

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Voice-to-Text Service for Mobile Phones

22 01 2007

I’ve just found a site called SpinVox, which allows you to call a number on your mobile (or any phone), leave a message, and have it automatically converted into any text format – SMS, email, or even a blog post. The blogging service, Speak-A-Blog, works like this:

Simply call your Speak-a-BlogTM number and speak your post. SpinVox converts it to text and posts the entry live to your blog, within minutes.

Sounds like a fast and simple way for learners to make journal entries on the go – particularly if their work or study environment doesn’t favour taking the time to laboriously compose an email or message using a mobile phone number pad. 

SpinVox is a bit like the opposite of the Talkr text-to-speech service I use on all of my blog entries to convert my typed blog entries into a spoken, downloadable form that many people find more convenient for accessing as a podcast or audio file for listening on their iPod, mobile phone or PDA.  Using audio as a data interface while on the move can be more flexible and easy-to-manage than typing on a small keypad, or reading off a small screen; Talkr and SpinVox are two services which have recognised this with their services.

In addition to processing blog entries, SpinVox can also convert spoken messages to emails or SMS messages, and can convert other peoples’ Voicemail messages to you into text and send them to you in that form. SpinVox is based in the UK, but available internationally, and working with service providers here in Australia and around the world, so we can expect to hear more about them soon all over the world… or should I say, read more?

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Mobile Learning – Never Too Early to Start?

18 01 2007

Justin Oberman at the Mopocket blog has come across a report from RCR news (December 25th 2006 page 20), highlighting the utility of mobile phones as an educational tool for infants:

A new study by PBS found cell phones may be useful as an educational tool. Eighty parents with children between the ages of three and four were given video enabled Sprint PCS phones and  asked to listen to literacy tips and allow their children to watch streamed letter video clips at least three times a week for two months. The study was designed to test the level of acceptance of using cell phones for educational content to parents of preschool children. Parents surveyed during the study said the video increased their children’s knowledge of the alphabet and provided them with tools to help their children with literary skills.

Children aged three to four? Using mobile phones? Many of you will be sceptical about this claim, but I was visiting my girlfriend’s family over the holidays, and her two-year-old sister was already using one of her dad’s out-of-service mobiles as a toy – pressing the buttons and making “calls”. She’s not alone: Emily at textually.org relays Information Week’s report that kids as yound as 2 years of age are downloading content to cell phones, computers, and portable digital music players:

“About 15% of 2- to 5-year-olds use cell phones and 62% of 11- to 14-year-olds use the devices, according to a new study by NPD Group.”

Indeed, some entrepreneurs are even targeting babies and infants as comsumers of mobile phone functionality; for example, the Mobile Baby Toy uses a real mobile phone to provide a baby with entertaining pictures and sounds when they press the buttons, wherever you happen to be. Young children now have a range of handsets which parents can give them, with functions that allow parents to regulate who they call, and who calls them until they’re ready to graduate to a full-blown mobile (apparently, in late childhood or early teen years).

The ramifications for adult education and workplaces around the world are clear: it won’t be long before we have young adults in our companies and institutions who have grown up with mobile phones all their lives. In the same way that the landscape of information technology is being engineered and revolutionised by people who have grown up with home computers such as Amigas, Amstrads, and the Apple Mac IIe, we can expect that mobile information technology will undergo revolutionary change in the next decade, spurred by the expectations and understanding these “mobile natives” will undoubtedly bring.

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , ,





Walled Gardens and Mobile Learning

17 01 2007

In educational technology circles, there’s been much debate in recent times over the relative merits and drawbacks of controlled, predictable, but limiting teaching and learning environments (e.g. Learning Management Systems), coined “walled gardens” – versus open, creative environments with rather less individual or proprietary control (e.g. social software), coined “open gardens”.

The issue of walled vs open gardens has also been hotly discussed by the mobile device industry, which even features some excellent blogs dedicated to open gardens. In the mobile phone industry the walls around developing and accessing content seemed to be lowering, but, it seems, there are other barriers to surmount in the pursuit of more open access to content and functionality. Doug T writes:

“The new walled garden is not the content you can view on your phone, but rather the applications that you can install on your phone.”

For example, as Sam pointed out in his comments on my iPhone article, the new Apple iPhone will limit the applications (“widgets”) that users can install on it, possibly incurring the wrath of users who seek the freedom to customise their mobile phones however they wish:

“This is a quote from Jobs in the NYTimes:

‘We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want
your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded
three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t
work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.’ “

This definitely dampens my enthusiasm for the iPhone as a potential educational tool; if the latest innovations such as QR Code readers or 3rd party mobile applications can’t be integrated with this new portable digital environment, it makes it considerably less useful for facilitating new, innovative learning experiences. The problem with walled gardens on mobile phones, like this, is that it makes it very difficult to establish new boundaries for a device – to “shape” it to meet our needs. The iPhone currently only has two widgets, for weather and stock prices, both pretty useless for the needs of the average educator or learner (unless, perhaps, you’re studying meteorology or economics!). An open architecture would enable the device to be customised to meet more diverse and relevant needs.

Apple’s products are always innovative, ground breaking, and trend-setting. but I certainly hope that this “walled gardens” approach is one of Apple’s trends that won’t be followed by other handset manufacturers.

(via C. Enrique Ortiz Mobility Weblog)

UPDATE: Darla Mack refers to a great article on “10 ways the Nokia N800 [handheld internet device] is better than Apple’s iPhone“.  Leigh Blackall loved the Nokia N770; I reckon he’ll be rapt when he checks out the Nokia 800, which has a few extra goodies, including a built-in Skype video camera. Sweeet. 🙂

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , ,





Texts and Stories for Mobiles

17 01 2007


Wattpad have launched a site enabling users to create their own digital, text-based stories, and make them accessible to mobile devices.  The text is compressed before being downloaded to the user’s phone, a few pages at a time – strategies designed to minimise waiting time for content. 

The Wattpad reader allows users to search for and browse new stories, and download them remotely.  Alternatively, stories can be downloaded to a PC and transferred to mobile phones using a cable or Bluetooth connection.  Other services, such as Winksite, already allow users to create their own mobile web content, so I guess the particular attractions of Wattbook are the remote search/browse, and the “upload from PC” options that most other services lack.

This kind of service would be well suited to providing short-ish texts (for example stories, case studies, or references), since even with the free PC upload option, I’d imagine it would be cumbersome to read anything very lengthy on a mobile phone screen.  However, I could conceivably be wrong in this assumption, as several users have uploaded the complete novel Eragon and other longish print books (e.g. A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Life of Pi) into Wattpad form.

With the PC upload option, it’d be more flexible and powerful if Wattpad were able to save images into their books (even if these could be configured to be stripped out of remotely downloaded books), but other educators may well find this a useful resource nonetheless.

(via Pocket Picks)

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





10 Reasons Why Mobile Learning Matters

16 01 2007

Recently, I have been thinking about what it is about flexible, online, and mobile learning that makes it an increasingly essential aspect of today’s teaching and learning practice. What is it about mobile learning that helps educators to teach better, or learners to learn more effectively?

To kick of a new year of teaching – and to perhaps inspire some of you to try out mobile learning this year – these are some of the best reasons I can think of for investigating and supporting the use of mobile learning approaches in both workplace professional development and education and training:

1. Mobile learning approaches can enable teaching and learning to occur at the most appropriate time and/or place. Just as an audio tour at a gallery or museum enables learning to happen right in front of a significant artefact or artwork in a way that cannot be replicated by the best textbook or online resource, so mobile learning approaches can enable students to learn about horticulture at a nursery, or medical students to have ready access to learning materials while at a hospital. In these cases, mobile learning could enable the best learning.

2. Mobile learning approaches allow learners to access learning conveniently and flexibly. For example, students can absorb audio resources on an iPod while jogging, feeding a baby, or doing the ironing, rather than putting aside time or leaving work to attend a lecture or class. Because they can be easily carried about, mobile learning resources can be even more convenient than computer-based resources. While computer-based resources provide access to learning *anytime*, they are often dependant upon a computer, plugged to a wall for power or internet access. Mobile devices enable “anytime, anywhere” access to resources designed for mobile learning use.

3. Mobile literacy is becoming a vital basic work skill. Just as computer and information technology literacy is now considered an essential basic skill, mobile information technology literacy will be considered a vital skill in less than ten years time. It is becoming increasingly important to train and maintain a workforce skilled in using mobile information technology to enhance their work performance and mobility. In a growing number of industries, customers expect workers and professionals to have a mobile phone and be contactable during business hours, even if they are “out in the field”.

4. Many industries and professions use digital mobile devices as
industry standard equipment.
To ensure its relevance in such
industries and professions, training must include the use of the same
technologies commonly used in the industry or profession. In the medical profession, PDAs are becoming common as references for the latest pharmaceutical information; many Australian plumbers now send picture messages of problems back to the workplace for advice or quotes, and restaurant orders are recorded by floor staff on PDAs and wirelessly transmitted to the kitchen for faster, better service. If we are training the doctors, nurses, plumbers and waiters of the future, we must equip them the the knowledge and experience they will need to stand shoulder to shoulder with those already in their respective industries.

5. Digital mobile devices can do more, better, and faster than ever before. Tried and proven methods of decades past, (for example, recording , sharing, and playback of audio books and lectures, formerly achieved with cassette tapes), can be achieved with far greater efficiency and power than in the past (e.g. keeping a whole semester’s worth of lecture audio or video recordings on a single iPod for instant revision, anywhere, anytime). The power of state-of-the-art desktop computer less than ten years old can now be held in the palm of your hand, enabling true interactivity and connectivity, and advanced learning techniques and materials.

6. Mobile learning can be the least expensive alternative. Many of the tools that can be used for mobile learning are already in the hands of learners: for example, statistics show that almost everyone in the first world, and a high proportion of people in developing countries, own and use mobile phones. Mobile phones have inherant utility as a means of communicating and sharing information, and often also include functions for recording audio, video, or photographs, viewing documents, playing back sound files and accessing the Internet. Other mobile learning devices such as a recording mp3 player that also doubles as a memory stick for saving work, for example, can be bought cheaply (for less than the price of a textbook). This means that it can be cheaper to provide materials on mobile devices than to produce the same materials in printed form – thousands of pages of electronic text and images can be contained on a USB memory stick, if required.

7. Mobile learning can enable better communications and service. Last year, several teachers at my institute began using an SMS-based service to notify students of cancelled classes and remind them of equipment required for field trips. Students have been incredibly positive about this kind of communication – which could be further extended to allow results to be sent out as they are for the HSC, or to enable students to SMS in for information or learning content in future.

8. Mobile learning can be intrinsically engaging. Mobile phones, media players, GPS devices, and PDAs can make learning fun, interesting and powerful. Learning approaches can be devised to encourage students to discover information about a location, to create their own resources using photographs, audio and video, to share, to collaborate, and to interact.

9. Count on students to push the boundaries of mobile learning. Younger students in particular thrive using digital devices, and they will quickly exceed the technical capabilities of their teachers. Paying attention to the new ways students use mobile devices can help to inform and improve future teaching and learning practices, activities, and resources.

10. Mobile devices support and encourage pedagogically sound teaching and learning practices, such as sharing, collaboration, and “building” of knowledge. For example, mobile phones allow students to not just call each other for help, but to also share learning resources, ideas, images, and documents, and to collaborate on or develop web-based projects such as moblogs. This mobile interaction, sharing, and collaboration can facilitate learning aligned with the principles of socially constructivist pedagogies.

technorati tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,