The Mobile Learning Engine (MLE) for Moodle

19 05 2009

One recent interesting development in mobile learning has been the creation of mobile interfaces for Online Learning Environments.  Here at the University of Canberra, I’ve been investigating one particular extension for the University’s new Moodle-based learning environment: the free and open source Mobile Learning Engine (MLE).

MLE provides a mobile interface to Moodle in two different ways.

  1. It features a custom Java application, capable of running on the majority of contemporary mobile phones. Some testing on different handsets shows that this Java application run on different handsets and at different resolutions. The big advantage of a custom Java application as a mobile interface is that the entire interface is dedicated to accessing Moodle functionality, rather than trying to fit Moodle menus and commands within a web browser, with its own menus and commands.  As an example of how this simplifies things, the MLE interface has its own internal bookmarking system, which operates consistently between handsets.  By contrast, different handsets designed by different manufacturers each have their own web browser which implements bookmarks in different ways, making it very difficult to train a user in how to bookmark a Moodle page as the process is specific to their device.
  2. For handsets that cannot install the Java application to access Moodle, a standard web/browser-based interface can be used to access MLE.  This provides a “fallback” for students wishing to access Moodle but unable to install Java, or, for example, using a friend’s phone to quickly check their online course materials.

Of particular interest to me is MLE’s implementation of “Mobile Tags” – a QR Code reader built into its Java client. While this doesn’t appear to work on my handset, it has a lot of potential in terms of supporting situated learning activities and linking realia and printed learning resources with online and rich media via mobile devices.

I’ve had a chance to play with our own implementation of MLE, and while it may need a little polishing, it’s well on the way to being an excellent product for mobile learning.

Advertisements




EduPOV

8 05 2009

A number of educators have started experimenting with the use of first-person “Point Of View” (POV) video to record learning and assessment.  A hub of activity has begun at the EduPOV site, with a conference (AUPOV) planned for later in the year.

I’ve been interested in first-person perspective video for some time, as I can see it having many uses for learning (e.g. facilitating augmented recall of a learning activity), sharing experiences (particularly ones requiring special skills), and providing evidence for assessment. Here’s a concept photo I created (in 2006!!!) that illustrates where I thought POV might go… one day!

The video camera(s) (possibly one on each side for stereo spatial recognition) would drive the display of information that would be viewed on the transparent OLED lenses of the glasses – an advanced form of augmented reality.  At present, however, first-person cameras are limited to recording, rather than augmenting, vision. 🙂 So my current EduPOV setup is considerably simpler than where I envision this kind of thing leading!

First-person VGA resolution video/photo glasses

That’s a photo of my POV glasses, with the camera visible as the small dot on the shoulder of the glasses.  The camera is VGA quality (640×480) and also takes still photographic shots, with an 8GB memory capacity – that’s a fair bit of video, and more than can be recorded on its 2-hour internal li-ion battery.  I paid under US$100 for these, including postage, and the glasses also have a built-in MP3 player and FM radio; the lenses are hinged and flip up, and can be replaced.

I’m experimenting with these for a number of different learning activities at present:

  • Augmented recall & reflection: learners can record learning activities in which they participate, and then play back the experience to absorb additional detail or to pick up on mistakes they may have made during the activity.
  • Rich media creation: you’ve all seen the videos taken from the first-person-perspective of insane snowboard riders or rally car drivers.  POV can be used to record experiences that require special skills to “share” these experiences with learners or peers.
  • “In Your Shoes”: The learner conducts a face-to-face role-play, for example, a client interview, with the OTHER person wearing the POV glasses.  They can then review the video of themselves, from the OTHER person’s point of view, to reflect critically on their own performance and to empathise with the other person’s perspective or impressions.
  • Recording assessment: learners can record themselves demonstrating a competency, and talking through the process to provide an idea of what they’re thinking as they complete the task.  The video would then be uploaded to a site, LMS, or e-portfolio for an assessor or employer to view.  This could be used effectively for distance-based or online assessment of competency-based tasks.

How are YOU using POV (or thinking POV might be used) to enhance learning and teaching?