Wednesday, May 24, 2006

eLive 2006 - Mobile Learning

eLive 2006 – Mobile learning
Dewi Lloyd and Aidan Prior (I think!)

Dewi said he was going to explain how he got here and then why he is angry! :-)

originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
He talked about how he went from product design to ICT advisor and then into being a mobile learning consultant – Steljes. He found being an advisor frustrating because of the concentration on office/ICT skills at the expense of ICT across the curriculum. More successful in primary.

Teachers have always taken content and adapted it to their own needs – the web is making that even easier.

Mobile Learning: The educational philosophy is finding the balance between the “Ooo” factor and the “Ow much!”. The qualities we’d like to be developed are in the “Ooo” side – motivated learners, self-directed learners, … but the “Ow much” holds everything back.

Why is he angry? Focus on office skills. Inappropriate hardware – designed for individuals to use rather than groups to share. The price of the product dictates the quality of what is available. {Excellent! Too much make do and mend! – DM}

The digital toolkit of stuff available is not new, but using it can cause problems – e.g previous person using it didn’t re-charge batteries, or has lost a cable, or…

Dewi got involved in the Learning2Go project. One of the interesting things about this project is that the pupils own the device themselves. It is not the school’s or the authority’s. It’s theirs – and that makes a huge difference to the way they use and interact with the technology.

The project has led to a huge increase in performance (grades). Not clear if this improvement will be sustainable, but the project is about more. What difference does it make to how pupils learn when they can browse and publish from their own device that they can hold in their hand. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere... He showed a video of a girl who produced an animation on pollination on her mobile device. She worked on this for over a week when and where she wanted.

He talked about the effect of the children having the PDAs, for example boys having to dragged off reading and writing their own e-books. Also PDAs as voting clickers sending free text entries to whole class instead of just multi guess answers. {Software called VPAD? - DM} Also Eduinnova {Spelling? -DM}– teachers create questions and the computer then puts pupils into groups and then they have to collaborate to decide the answers. {Why can’t the pupils make up the questions – that would be cool. – DM – Update: I asked the question at the end and they are doing this next week. :-)} Video showed pupils working with the PDAs and textbooks and the teacher controlling and looking at pupils collaborative work as they were doing the discussion.

GPS devices and map software to show where they are on PDA as the go around taking video and photographs. Camera, video, microphone {and GPS? - Update: Asked at the end and GPS is an add-on, it is not built in like the camera - DM} built into the one, handheld device. Pupils can record their own voices, peers, parents…

Parents realised that they can look at their children’s PDA and see in the one place evidence of all the educational experiences they have been having on a day today basis.

The system is wireless and some of the schools in the project have hundreds of wireless devices in use by pupils. Wolverhampton may be going wireless city wide – every home wireless. Think what difference that would make to the way these devices are used. I think he said every home currently has a device {Surely not? Maybe every home with a school aged pupils? – DM Update: Again I checked at the end. In their project schools (currently 16 out of 60ish in the city I think) every child in primary 4 and 5 has a PDA. Rolling out to more schools this year and again will start with P4 - DM} and the ambition is to add every home with wireless access. Every child has a device, exactly the same device, so the teacher doesn’t have to worry about digital divide issues etc.

Some parental contribution to the cost. {A pound a week? – DM} The contribution is optional{?}, but so far evry paernt has contributed.

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John said...

Really interesting post David.
Do you know which devices they were using? I don't know about getting them for children in my class but I quite like something that handles 'Camera, video, microphone {and GPS?}' for myself.

marie said...

John - I think I have the specs of the device they are using. I'll have a look and get back to you

ab said...

Fascinating David - I'm sorry I missed this one. There is a huge question in my mind over the whole digital convergence issue - mobile phones can do more and more, and become cheaper and cheaper, and laptops/PDAs converge this month in the new UMPC form factor. I was very interested in Alan November saying that this generation of laptop will be the last one that we buy - it will be our mobile phones from now on. I find them too small though - (am I just getting too old? ;-)) I like your comment about ownership very much - when a kid has ownership of their device, how much more are they engaged in their learning?

David said...

Hello John and Marie

It was a Fujitsu-Siemens device and from poking about their website, it looks like it was a Pocket LOOX 700. It certainly has built in camera, wi-fi and Bluetooth with GPS as an add-on. I think he said though that the next generation would have GPS built in too. I'll email Dewi to confirm tomorrow.

Hello AB

The convergance is interesting. Inpur on such small devices though remains tricky. Dewi said that although it does handwriting, most children used the wee on-screen keyboard. Interestingly, it is not a mobile phone, but you can Skype from it! If I was a moblie phone company, I'd be very worried by Sktpe capable wi-fi enabled handheld devices!

David said...

Just checked the Learning2go link I included in the post (should have done that earlier) and it confirms the Loox 720 as the model currently in use.


On re-reading your comment, I don't think I really picked up on the ownership thing you raised. I also found that aspect of the presentation interesting. There were a couple of video clips of parents and pupils talking about this. Certainly the chap presenting felt this was important and at a common sense level you can see why. If you know that the device is not going to be snatched back from you at the end of a project, you are more likely to invest time and effort into finding out what it can do. Also, they had the device 24/7 and seemed to enjoy taking the time to push it to see what it could do and then showing off their new found knoweldge to each other. (This reminded me of what children already do with mobile phones. Certainly my own daughters come home every so oftem with a new phone "trick" that is doing the rounds at school.)

Teach42 said...

Fascinating. I'm right there with you. I've done a couple presentations now on a similar subject, but I've been focusing on cell phones and mobile gaming devices (Sony PSP and Nintendo DS). The main reason I focus on those vs. PDA's is that many many more students already own them (right back to the ownership point).

That's the one place where I think we're still often missing the point. How many students actually own PDA's with WiFi and GPS? It'd still be an extra expense for either parents or schools. However, studies show that nearly 50% of teens (12-18) already own a cell phone or mobile gaming device. And there's quite a bit that can be done with what they already have in their pockets!

David said...
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David said...

Hello Steve

I've thought about trying something with phones and either WAP or text messaging. However, this costs the students to participate (or more likely, costs their parents) so I'm not so sure. Bluetooth would be free, but I was told that you can't realy do Bluetooth with more than a couple of devices at a time - trying to do a whole class worth with Bluetooth might not be feasible.

I didn't realise however, until your post, that PSPs had wi-fi. That is interesting. They are cheaper than the PDAs I was looking at and you're right, more students will already have them, but what about the software? Is there any education friendly software out there for the PSP? (And I'm not talking edutainment games here!) for example, can you write and store text on it? Can you create & run presentations on it? Can you send stuff to a teacher in response to a question posed in class? I don't know the answer to this, but I'm curious enough to go and have a look to see what's out there.

Miriam said...

There's some interesting work being described on the Handheld Learning Forum ( including the Wolverhampton project. There's also an article from David Whyley of Wolverhampton City Council, who are running Learning2Go, about the new Origami devices.

David said...

Hello Miriam

Thank you for the handheld learning link. So much to explore, so little time... but I will have to spend some time there over the next few days. :-)

I am yet to be convinced by the Origami concept, but Andrew has been playing with the Samsung UMPC and is generally positive about it.