Using Twitter in the classroom

24 02 2010

This video shows the positive use of mobile devices in the classroom to provide a “back channel”; and also discusses other aspects of mobility, such as the teacher being able to interact with her class even though she was physically away that day.

The comments are worth reading too as they provide significant perspectives and additional information on this innovative use of mobile Web 2.0 tools to support and enhance learning.

Video Recording and Streaming on ALL iPhones

15 12 2009

Gear Diary has just informed me of some good news, just in time for Christmas. Historically, Apple have maintained strict control of the capabilities of the iPhone, by restricting the use of certain functions and preventing developers from using them in “approved” apps. This is the reason that older model iPhones (the original iPhone and the previous model, the 3G) could not install software to record or stream video, despite having a camera built in that was quite capable of the task.

It seems that Apple have recently relaxed their control of some private APIS, and this means that developers have been able to create approved apps that can be installed even on older iPhones to allow them to record and even stream video.

Hopefully, this signifies a change of heart at Apple that will allow developers to more fully embrace and exploit the full power of iPhones past and present!

(via Gear Diary)

Microsoft iPhail released

7 10 2009

Apparently, Microsoft released their “answer” to the iPhone today: a refreshed version of their Windows Mobile operating system, skinned with an iPhone-like icon-driven navigation system, dubbed “Windows Mobile 6.5”. And here it is:

I have no idea how a company can be involved in software development for so many years and still mess up the fundamental principles of interface design. Those offset icons have “fail” all over them. There is a reason that good interfaces arrange icons into grids – it’s so that the eye can quickly scan across them, left to right, up and down, to find the information or application required. While offsetting them like that might look trendy, it’s terribly bad for actual use.

The rest of the system looks pretty much like vanilla Windows Mobile. C’mon Microsoft, you’ll have to do better than that if you want to claw back market (and mind) share!

Handheld Learning 2009

7 10 2009

This week, I have been keeping an eye on the Handheld Learning 2009 conference.  The Handheld Learning conference series is one of the two major international conferences on mobile learning, but unlike M-Learn, which is coming up later this month in Florida) is always held in the UK, and is run by the very strong community of mobile learning pratitioners at the Handheld Learning site.

One of the most interesting aspects of any conference I’ve attended has been the out-of-session discussions, and the Handheld Learning 2009 conference has done this through support for a number of social networking tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, as well as their own conference forum area, which already boasts some 4500 posts on 1500 topics.  There’s a lot of noise in all that buzz – but there are also some gems to be found.  Of particular note is the “Teaching for Mobile Learning” discussion area, where participants are sharing actual ideas for incorporating mobile learning strategies into teaching activities as well as actual case studies; from discussions with educators in the past, there is something of a divide between the theoretical potential of mobile learning and the practice of it, so some of the stories and ideas in this area are just excellent.

I’ll be reading through all of the online chatter and will try to bring you some of my very best finds right here on the Mobile Learning blog… stay tuned! 🙂

One Year Or Less!

28 09 2009

Last week, Griffith University hosted an “Emerging Technologies and Education Symposium,” which included the launch of the 2009 Horizon Report (Australian & New Zealand version).

One of the important trends illustrated by the  report is the growing importance of mobile devices and learning in mobile contexts.  “Mobile Internet Devices” are predicted to be a significant learning technology that will that will see widespread use in teaching and learning, and were categorised as “One Year or Less” until adoption.

But what also struck me from the Table of Contents is that four out of the six Emerging Technologies highlighted by the report are fundamentally or significantly mobile in nature: Mobile Internet Devices, Augmented Reality, Location-based (“Situated”) Learning, and Smart Objects.  All four of these issues have been addressed by previous blog posts here, so I certainly believe they will be important learning technologies in the not-too-distant future.

Other key trends noted in the Horizon Report (and highlighted in a blog post by Kerrie Smith) include:

  • The perceived value of innovation and creativity is increasing
  • Technology continues to impact how people work, play, gain information, and participate in communities.
  • Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socialising, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives.
  • The way we think about learning environments is changing.

You can download a full copy of the Horizon Report 2009 (ANZ) here.

(Thanks for the heads up on the publication of the report to my colleague at the University of Canberra, Dr. Alan Arnold).

A few things happening…

18 08 2009

There’s going to be a live online meetup on the topic “The Strengths and Challenges of Mobile Learning” next week. Here’s the brief info from Rob de Lorenzo’s The Mobile Learner blog:

  • Who: All educators around the world interested in mobile learning;
  • What: A conversation hosted as part of the Ontario Educator Meetup on the strengths and challenges of mobile learning;
  • Where: In an Adobe Connect conference room –
  • When: Monday August 24th at 1:00 pm EST – click here for timezone conversions
  • Why: While new ideas and teaching strategies in improving student learning are constantly being developed and discussed, technology is often left off of the table (or mentioned only in superficial ways) in general discussions and in traditional Professional Development forums. It’s time educators come together to discuss at how new technologies can be used to improve student learning and how to overcome the inevitable challenges associated with technology integration.

Worth checking out, although it may be a bit of an early start for me – it starts at 3am my local time. 😦  Also, the final call for late-breaking papers and posters for this year’s MLearn conference, to be held in Ontario, Florida.  Late-breaking content is due on the 24th of August, so if you’ve got something to share, make sure you get it in soon.  The conference itself will be held October 26-30: if you’re interested in mobile learning, it’s one of the two biggest international conferences on the subject (the other being Handheld Learning in the UK).

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.