A third influence was my own experience of blogging. For example, I found the process of blogging eLive extremely helpful and I think I learned more effectively as a result of the blog posts I wrote. Extending this sort of on the hoof blogging to pupils and students though could be tricky because: a) not every student has a laptop and b) wi-fi access is not always available. However, it struck me that many have mobile phones and their phones are often very sophisticated pieces of kit with cameras, Internet access and email capabilities built in. I wondered how easy it would be to get students blogging with their mobile phones. Mobile phones have a number of advantages over laptops, for example, they are smaller so they can be used in places where laptops would be too intrusive or inappropriate ...and the students already have them!
I knew I could send email to an address set up in Blogger to post blog entries and I knew I could email from my phone. It took a bit of effort to set it up (I've complained about non-intuitive phone interfaces before) but eventually I found a step-by-step guide on my phone providers website. After bit of experimenting I discovered that I could email text from the phone straight to Blogger but that it ignored picture attachments. I also knew that I could email photographs to Flickr but what I didn't know (but discovered after a bit of fiddling around) was that Flickr can be set up to automatically forward photos, along with the text description, to a blog of your choice. Brilliant!
Peter Ford's opening activity at Communicate.06, I told them to turn on their phones, take a picture and send it to a blog by email. I offered "Chocolate based prizes!" for the first and the best pictures sent. More or less 100% of the students had mobile phones and about 90% had camera-phones. Although a fair number thought their phones could send email, only around 15% of them thought they actually knew how to do it! Still, out of the 700+ students currently on the PGDE(S) course, that's still a good number of picture takers. Also, for those unable to email direct from their phone, I said I'd leave things open until early next week to give them time to transfer the image to a computer and email it from there.
You can see the results on the PGDE 2005/2006 moblog. The first post explains what I wanted to do and the post lecture post describes some of the difficulties we encountered. The problems seem to have arisen from too many people trying to send too many photos to Blogger via Flickr at more or less the same time! Otherwise, I think it worked very well. Taking photos and using the technology seemed to generate a buzz in the hall and there were a lot of smiling faces and excited chatter - activities not normally associated with my lectures. :-)
At least two questions come to mind:
- Would I do it again?
- How might it be used by pupils?
I am certainly going to experiment further. My texting is significantly poorer than most (every?) teenager's (see my photo post for example) but I think I'll have a go at a mobile post from SETT just to see how it goes. I've also got at least one more idea for the PGDE(S) mobile photo blog that I'll try out in the next few weeks.
As always, send me your own ideas and examples. Watch these spaces!
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