Learning Performing Arts with Mobile Devices

25 10 2007

This is an accidental topic – one which I hadn’t planned to blog on at all – but could possibly be one of the most interesting areas for the application of mobile learning approaches.

My colleague Helen Lynch posted a YouTube video on our team blog today, featuring an accomplished Australian jazz pianist and teacher (Doug McKenzie) performing an improvisation of “Some Day My Prince Will Come” – with video of his hands and a captioned explanation of his technique. Here it is for your viewing pleasure;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmcTByrO_ow

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/LmcTByrO_ow" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

This comes just a week after meeting Megan Iemma at mLearn. Megan is a music teacher who has terrific ideas on how to use iPods to support teaching and learning (and, in particular, music education), with many of her ideas and resources available on her blog. At the conference, she had asked me if it was possible to display the musical notation on an iPod while a song was being played. I had no idea at the time, but delving further into Doug’s videos, I found this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAoQjoJl8mI

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/KAoQjoJl8mI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Yes – a musical performance, together with video of the performer’s hands, a digital version of the keyboard (making the fingering a little clearer), the musical notation, chords, and explanation of the performance, all in one. Wow.

This made me think about how I started learning violin (though it’s been over a decade since I last had lessons, and sadly, things are now rather rusty). I started learning with the Suzuki Method, which is basically a method of teaching a musical instrument by teaching technique, but learning songs by just listening to them. I started at the age of four years old, and didn’t even see musical notation for the first three years of my violin classes – everything was done by ear.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means that it’s possible to learn music just by listening to it – as easily for a child as picking up a language. The Suzuki Method has been around for decades now, and has been proven with scores of virtuosos (myself definitely not among them!). Anyway, this would effectively make an iPod a powerful learning tool for picking up musical pieces, even if you *only* had audio. The addition of video – which can allow the annotation of a musical performance with live demonstration, musical notation and commentary makes an iPod even more interesting as a tool for learning music.

I’ve certainly tried out the use of mobile devices for learning performing arts before – for example, as described in this previous post. Learning new dance moves requires me to constantly practice them until my body develops a subconscious “muscle memory” for them; until then, however, it’s easy to completely forget how to replicate any given move, or to introduce errors of timing, movement or technique. This is why I started videoing instructors performing dance moves – so I would have a reference for revising dance moves correctly; and it’s been the most effective method for learning dance (certainly better than my initial attempt to keep a textual database of the moves!)

I also have a teaching qualification in Speech and Drama, and it got me thinking about how my Speech teacher used to do taped recordings on audio cassettes for me to listen to her delivery – for example, changes of pitch, pace, pause, power and timing – that would help me as I memorised each piece of prose or poetry. I would also have to tape myself and listen to my own recordings to pick up ways I could improve my own performances. How easy and effective this would be on today’s mobile, digital devices, compared with the low-quality, clumsy tape deck I had to use as a child! Using Gavin’s voice-based system, which I explored in a previous post, it would even be possible to exchange performances between teacher and learner for guidance and feedback easily and remotely.

There are some really terrific opportunities for the use of mobile devices in teaching and learning performing arts – it will be fantastic to explore this area of application for mobile learning in more depth in the future!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





FREE Talking Mobile Phrase Books for Languages

5 07 2007

talkingphrases.jpgLastminute.com and Coolgorilla have made their talking phrasebooks FREE for a limited time (they used to cost £3 each).

These talking phrasebooks are great for learning languages “on the go”… the applications allow you to choose a phrase in English, and your mobile phone then “speaks” the phrase translated into whichever language you’ve selected.

Languages include French, Spanish, German, Portugese, and Greek… with topics including travel, accomodation, shopping and romance. 🙂

Use your Nokia or Sony Ericcson phone browser to go to http://www.mobilephrasebooks.com/ to download the phrasebooks you want, directly to your phone.

(via Pocket Picks)

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





Happy Birthday to the Mobile Learning Blog!

23 04 2007

The Mobile Learning blog has just turned one year old! According to Craig Harper, who compiles the Australian Blog rankings, the Mobile Learning blog is currently ranked at #108 in Australia, attracting some 3000 hits a day.

With our first birthday celebrations, it’s a good time to announce the winners of the Mobile Learning Blog’s First Birthday competition. Entrants had to “get social,” and create a link from a piece of social software to their favourite post in the Mobile Learning Blog.

I received some fantastic entries, and I’ve been going through them over the last couple of weeks. The authors of the following entries will be getting portable MP3 players with audio recording capability.

  • “Good” and “Evil” Sue at the “Mobile Technology in TAFE” blog created a podcast about the competition for their entry, which, as always, is fantastic!!! The result is a podcast called “What we learnt while preparing for a podcast for… the Mobile Learning Gadget Giveaway!” The Two Sues look at how you can put notes on your iPod, (even a website), and also talk about their experiences of taking the Mobile Learning blog into various mobile formats. Thank you ladies, for such a wonderful exploration of the blog… which is brilliant: I even learned quite a few things myself… WOW. And thanks for the Happy Birthday shoutout! 🙂
  • Jym Brittain at the Technology 4 Teachers blog also entered a terrific entry, which also included a link to Jym’s own presentation on m-learning, which he delivered to the Oklahoma Governeor’s International Education Conference.
  • Bruce Schalau also shared some of his directions in exploring mobile learning in his entry, which include his projects one mobile phones in the classroom, for questions and responses, and transcoding his university’s website materials for use on mobile phones.
  • Finally, Frances McLean decided to use a wiki to link to the site, from her “yourpda” wikispace. That’s fantastic, Frances, and I hope you enjoyed trying out wikispaces! Frances: I can’t find your contact details on your website, but if you’d like to email me with your postal address at leonard.low@gmail.com, I will be sending you out your prize this week. 🙂

Congratulations, giveaway winners! I will be contacting you all to arrange delivery of your shiny new MP3 players this week!

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





The "Mobile Learning" Gadget Giveaway!

17 03 2007

In a fortnight, the Mobile Learning blog (right here!) will be turning one year old! To celebrate, I’m giving away some free m-learning gear, and entry is open to anyone in the world (prizes include postage).

Up for grabs are five portable digital MP3/WMA player/recorders, each of which also includes FM radio and file storage (USB memory stick) capability. Using a built-in microphone, they record audio with noise reduction to compressed format, enabling them to hold up to 36 hours of recorded audio, and have a small LCD screen which can display embedded ID3 information (such as artist and track title) and even song lyrics (or the text of podcasts). Battery life is rated at approx. 10 hours of usage on a single AAA battery, and I’m including two batteries with each prize pack to get you started. iPod-style earbuds are also included in the prize pack, as well as a CD of drivers and software to use with your player.

Using a digital audio player exactly like this, you could create and deliver m-learning strategies such as these (jut for starters):

  • record an audio podcast, and make it available via your blog or iTunes
  • record a class or lecture, and make it available to your students via your organisation’s Online Learning System or web site
  • download and listen to a podcast
  • download an audio e-book or convert a CD e-book to mp3 and listen to it while you’re jogging, cooking, or just about anywere
  • tune in to an informatiove FM radio program; you could even record it for later review or for sharing with others who may be interested in the material
  • plug your player into a friend’s computer to give them a copy of any of your audio learning resources
  • copy other files to your player to transport between desktop PCs or to share with other learners
  • capture learner assessment, such as a client interview or an oral quiz, for later review by yourself or the learner

But hey, I won’t get offended or anything if you just want to use it to enjoy your music on the move. 🙂 Entry is open to anyone around the world. But to win one of these players, you’ll have to Get Social:

  1. You’ll need an account in a “social web” (Web 2.0) site such as a blog, wiki, Flickr account, or MySpace page (to mention but a few of the thousands of options!). Only entries created and hosted using a social web site will be considered for a prize
  2. Create an entry or a piece of content that links to your favourite post here in the Mobile Learning Blog, and say why it’s your favourite. There are now over 200 posts here to choose from! I will give extra credit to creative or innovative entries; and to mobile-capable entries (such as podcasts or mobile web pages).
  3. When you’ve finished your entry, add a comment to this competition page with a link or URL to your entry (so I can find it!).

That’s it! Entries close 6th April 2007, and I will choose and announce the winners the following week. Good luck, and have fun getting social! If this competition gets a good response, I’ll post more competitions like this in future.

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





The "Mobile Learning” Gadget Giveaway!

17 03 2007

In a fortnight, the Mobile Learning blog (right here!) will be turning one year old! To celebrate, I’m giving away some free m-learning gear, and entry is open to anyone in the world (prizes include postage).

Up for grabs are five portable digital MP3/WMA player/recorders, each of which also includes FM radio and file storage (USB memory stick) capability. Using a built-in microphone, they record audio with noise reduction to compressed format, enabling them to hold up to 36 hours of recorded audio, and have a small LCD screen which can display embedded ID3 information (such as artist and track title) and even song lyrics (or the text of podcasts). Battery life is rated at approx. 10 hours of usage on a single AAA battery, and I’m including two batteries with each prize pack to get you started. iPod-style earbuds are also included in the prize pack, as well as a CD of drivers and software to use with your player.

Using a digital audio player exactly like this, you could create and deliver m-learning strategies such as these (jut for starters):

  • record an audio podcast, and make it available via your blog or iTunes
  • record a class or lecture, and make it available to your students via your organisation’s Online Learning System or web site
  • download and listen to a podcast
  • download an audio e-book or convert a CD e-book to mp3 and listen to it while you’re jogging, cooking, or just about anywere
  • tune in to an informatiove FM radio program; you could even record it for later review or for sharing with others who may be interested in the material
  • plug your player into a friend’s computer to give them a copy of any of your audio learning resources
  • copy other files to your player to transport between desktop PCs or to share with other learners
  • capture learner assessment, such as a client interview or an oral quiz, for later review by yourself or the learner

But hey, I won’t get offended or anything if you just want to use it to enjoy your music on the move. 🙂 Entry is open to anyone around the world. But to win one of these players, you’ll have to Get Social:

  1. You’ll need an account in a “social web” (Web 2.0) site such as a blog, wiki, Flickr account, or MySpace page (to mention but a few of the thousands of options!). Only entries created and hosted using a social web site will be considered for a prize
  2. Create an entry or a piece of content that links to your favourite post here in the Mobile Learning Blog, and say why it’s your favourite. There are now over 200 posts here to choose from! I will give extra credit to creative or innovative entries; and to mobile-capable entries (such as podcasts or mobile web pages).
  3. When you’ve finished your entry, add a comment to this competition page with a link or URL to your entry (so I can find it!).

That’s it! Entries close 6th April 2007, and I will choose and announce the winners the following week. Good luck, and have fun getting social! If this competition gets a good response, I’ll post more competitions like this in future.

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





Hands-on with the Xtreme MicroMemo

5 03 2007

From Sue Waters (“Good Sue”) and her friend “Evil” Sue Hickton, a fun and interesting video review of the Xtreme MicroMemo – a plug-in attachment for iPods that allows users to record audio in high quality or low quality modes. The included microphone can be substituted for a better microphone, and the plugin also incorporates an external speaker for instant playback and sharing of audio files. Recorded files are automagically saved to iTunes upon docking the iPod, and can then be edited.

itunes pic

Apparently, the iPod’s battery runs down pretty fast with this external device plugged in, but this is apparently the trade-off of the MicroMemo vs the Belkin TuneTalk (which apparently doesn’t record with comparable quality, but conserves battery power). The Two Sues also debate the convenience and portability of an iPod with plug-in vs. a PDA with a built-in mike.

Great stuff, ladies!

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





Your PDA: a Remote Control for Media, Presentations

2 03 2007

A talented software developer has created a free, neat mobile application that effectively turns your Windows Mobile PDA into a wireless Bluetooth remote control for many Windows applications.

Using Jerome Laban’s Bluetooth Remote Control for Windows Mobile, you can control Powerpoint presentations, as well as popular Media players such as Windows Media Player, Media Player Classic, PowerDVD and WinAmp, with more coming (such as Vista Media Centre).

The application also receives information about the file you’re controlling, such as the title of the previous, current, and next PowerPoint slides, or the artist, title and progress of an audio track.

Because this works using Bluetooth, you don’t need “line of sight” as you would with most other remote controls. This one will work through tables, chairs, lecterns and walls if you require. I’d envisage many lecturers, teachers, workshop leaders and even student presenters might find this little application quite handy.

(via Solsie.com

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