A Bit of Personal Reflection: Facebook as a Learning Tool?

30 08 2007

Sue’s comment to this blog post about Mobile Facebook, asking for ideas on how Facebook could be used as a learning tool, prompted me to experiment with the possibilities in Facebook and Facebook Mobile.

Fbiphone1

But while both Facebook and blogs owe their original pedigree primarily to social (as distinct to working or studying) motivations, I’ve grappled with some initial reservations, thinking about opening my existing Facebook profile to my colleagues across the Australian (and International) Flexible Learning Community.

It’s not that I don’t trust y’all with all of the details I have posted in my private profile. Okay, actually, maybe I don’t. 🙂

The solution, of course, is simple – create a whole seperate profile to log into during work hours – a professional Facebook presence, devoid of (too) personal revelations and socialising temptations. Just as a savvy blogger will have a separate personal blog and a professional blog (and never the twain shall meet), so too is it a good idea to create a seperate account on Facebook that is designed to enable communications and professional networks, without the colourful clamour of Facebook friends.

I guess I will have to do a similar kind of thing with most of these social web tools, despite the inconvenience of having to have seperate passwords and administration for each one. Indeed, it’s looking as if I’m actually creating two completely different worlds online: a network of professional social sites, and a network of personal social sites… two very different mes, with the occasional convergence (e.g. my Flickr account).

Right. Hopefully, that was the hard part. Now to figure out the best ways to use my (Serious) Facebook – and (Serious) Facebook Mobile – accounts, to support and enhance learning… hmmm. Featuring news, RSS feeds, and surveys, Jacinta Gascoigne‘s Facebook page appears to be a good place to start…

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Another Free App Turns Your Phone into a Wireless Webcam

28 08 2007

SmartCam is an application that runs on your phone and your PC, linking them so that the video captured by your mobile is transmitted to you PC for recording or video conferencing.

SmartCam

I previously blogged about Wwigo, a free application which turns the camera in your Nokia mobile phone into a Bluetooth wireless webcam, and for the time being, SmartCam is also restricted to Nokia S60v3.0 handsets. However, a J2ME (mobile Java) version is anticipated for the near future, which should allow hundreds of other handsets to also extend their functionality this way.

Best of all, SmartCam is a free and open source application, so (unlike Wwigo) there is no watermarking of your video footage, and no proprietary restrictions.  Definitely worth downloading and trying! 🙂

via PocketPicks

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Capture and Edit Video On-The-Go

28 08 2007

This little device doesn’t look like any video camera I’ve ever seen before, but it’s an innovative little camera that also allows the user to edit video (with a library of special effects and the ability to composite captured footage) without needing a PC.

The mi VDO FX (“my video effects”) can also capture and mix in a “soundtrack” of audio from a connected iPod or MP3 player, and can increase its memory using a built-in SD Card slot. Not bad for just US$99 each, soon to be available from these online stores: http://www.b2lounge.com/ and http://www.evolutionshops.com/ .  I’d love to get hold of one of these to see if they’re suitable for educational use, with students creating their own mobile presentations!

B2Stuf via Gizmodo

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Alex Hayes' Presentation on M-Learning

27 08 2007

I gotta share this, it is fantastic.

Alex Hayes, who’s been involved in promoting, leading, and innovating flexible and mobile learning for a number of years, has just posted up his retrospective on the last 2 years of mobile learning, which he will be presenting at the National TAFE Construction Conference, September 5-7 2007, hosted by my very own Canberra Institute of Technology.

Leigh Blackall describes Alex’s slideshow thus, and I must concur:

“It is a beautiful presentation, innovative in its creation, extensive, participatory, self explanatory… … A celebration!”

Alex has put in a lot of work, gathering opinions from national and international teachers, mobile technologists, educational technologists, researchers and more. His experiences – and the other experiences shared in this slideshow – provide some great insights into where we’ve come from… and hint at where we’re heading to with m-learning.

Great work, Alex!

Alex Hayes via Learn Online

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Could 3D GPS Enable Game-like Situated Learning?

27 08 2007

GPS (the Global Positioning System) uses satellites to help users to navigate, with accuracy as good as half a metre or so. But while most of us are happy to have a simple 2D or “tilted” fake 3D GPS display to guide us, Asia is developing GPS systems that look more like first-person video games:

Provia A1 GPS Navigator by HTMS

If this technology becomes more widely available, it could be terrific for educators. Imagine being able to create virtual “learning checkpoints” which exist in a student’s GPS/cellphone/PDA that they can visit to “collect” learning experiences. These checkpoints could show up as different hovering icons in the 3D display, rather like this screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where an “enterable doorway” icon is shown behind the character:

A learner could physically walk around locating checkpoints, which could trigger all kinds of activities on their mobile device: for example, a video or animation (e.g. explaining a feature of their physical location), a link to an internet resource, a discussion (perhaps using video or audio), or an assessment. A learner could also simulate walking around physically – it would be just like walking around in a video game – to visit or preview some of these resources without actually being there.

Even more exciting: perhaps GPS units could also upload location data for each student involved in a particular learning stream , so that you could see the avatar of other learners physically or virtually visiting various checkpoints on your GPS simulation. If you were physically at a site with other learners, you could identify them from their avatar, and could have a real-life discussion about the location you’re visiting; if you’re visiting virtually, you could ask questions of real-life people, actually at the scene, who could upload their own images, videos, or comments from the site to help other learners.

Provia A1 GPS Navigator by HTMS

And unlike a video game, where you run around collecting fake points and accomplish made-up missions, imagine immersive, real-life games where students collect real and authentic learning towards actual qualifications… 🙂

Technabob via Gizmodo

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Mobile Assessment Made Easy

25 08 2007

There’s some great news from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, the national organisation which promotes flexible learning opportunities in the Australian Vocational Education and Training system.

Not only has the Framework successfully drafted a further 4 year strategy to continue to support teachers and trainers Australia-wide (congrats and hurrah!), but work has begun on improving tools for conducting assessments using mobile devices.

This work will build on a previous Framework project which produced the QTI m-Player. a free mobile assessment tool compatible with the international Question and Test Interoperability Standard (QTI). According to the Framework Press Release:

Peter Higgs, Manager of Learning Technology at TAFE Tasmania said: “The first version of QTI m-Player looked at quizzing and not uploading assessment outcomes and results onto an organisational system.

“The new functions will include the ability to send assessment information, including photo attachments via secure e-mail to upload directly into a Learning Management System.

“Assessors will no longer have to manually enter the data into their administration systems and process the results once they get back to the office,” said Mr Higgs.

The work is being supported and funded by the AFLF’s New Practices In Flexible Learning project. The M-Learning community looks forward to hearing more about this work in the year ahead!

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M-Learning: Create. Share. Interact.

24 08 2007

Check out this terrific video of Dr. Eliot Soloway, Professor and “Golden Apple” award recipient (Teacher of the Year) at University of Michigan, being interviewed on his vision of learning of the future. He thinks the cellphone will eventually revolutionalise learning, and his opinions on how this will happen align closely with my own.

“Mobile computing is what the students are doing anyhow… They’re doing it already outside of school – why not do that inside school?”

Soloway’s insights encompass all aspects of learning: not just using mobile devices as a method of delivering resources, but as a way for students to interact, share, and create new knowledge. It’s inspirational stuff, and not just because the message is right on-target, but because Soloway’s enthusiasm is infectious.

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Podtech via Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech

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