mlearn project

Charles Sturt University's Mobile Learning Project

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Project Report

I am pleased to have added the 2012 Project Report to the blog! The report is available via the MLEARN 2012 REPORT link at the top of the page. Once you’re in the report is navigable via the links in the right sidebar.

The report has taken sometime to put together as it is a detailed account of the three main components of the project – Build, Measure & Learn. The report follows the same structure. Build discusses the work done by the project, Measure details the  feedback and survey data, and Learn which is an attempt to quantify the broader experience of the project into key lessons.

The full report is available to download in full or as sections Build,Measure & Learn. The report is also available as a collections of Tweets ready to share. The report is also available on Slideshare to improve access and simplify dissemination. Please feel free to pass on and circulate the report with your peers and social networks. We would love to get any feedback so feel free to get in touch – leave a comment or find us on Twitter @csumlearn.

The report will hopefully add to the conversation and broad questions around the role of mobile technology in education and the challenges and opportunities that it brings.

On Slideshare you will also find the Project’s Guide to iPads and Mobile Devices which are a handy resource for any institution looking at finding out more about mobile technology and its implementation.


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Using mobile to create an active classroom

Mobile is the most ubiquitous technology available in the world today. More people around the globe have access to mobile than radio, TV or cars. These pocket sized computing devices open up a range of uses to engage with students, remotely and in the classroom.  A web enabled phone opens up a range of applications to engage with students and make them active participants in the classroom rather than passive consumers. There are a range of Audience Response Systems, (or Classroom or Student Response Systems) that allow students to interact and participate in a range of ways, from answering questions, providing feedbacks or generating content. Lets have a quick look of the types of software out there.

These are free options but come with some limitations and caveats around class size and data transparency:

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. There is a limit of of 50 students that can be logged in a one time, but for many classes this will be adequate. Engage in quick multiple choice questions, exit questionnaires, quizzes, games and get feedback and reports instantaneously.

mQlicker is another free Audience Response System. It has many of the same features as Socrative but a few extras that could be quite helpful including unlimited audience size, easy participation using session key or permalink, results displayed in PowerPoint slides with live updates and can be displayed as harts: vertical bar, horizontal bar or pie charts, table of responses, interactive ‘sticky notes’ or word cloud. The user interface isn’t as simple as Socrative and seems more set up for anonymous reporting.

There is also a number of commercial software options that requires payment by the institution or student:

 Turning Technologies has developed the ‘clicker’ market and provides these and now web based data collection solutions for learning environments. The response technology can create interactive presentations but also could used to deliver assessment. It offers multiple-choice, alphanumeric, multiple response and essay question types.

Top Hat Monocle is a web-based clicker and online homework tool. Students can use any device to participate in class or for homework use. Questions can be open ended discussions and part of interactive demos or incorporated into presentation software, such as PowerPoint.

Lecture Tools, recently acquired by Echo360, is a quite expansive suite of tools you can use to engage your students. It provides the ability to present Interactive lectures, assess student performance and respond with a web browser or via SMS. Students can use the system to take notes associated with slides. Ask questions as they arise and deliver real-time feedback to instructors during class. Particiaption can work via laptop or cellphone to  or using the iPad app. This is probably the most full featured suite here and with a roadmap that includes integration with the Echo360 lecture recording system could provide a robust and expansive system for use on campus or off for truly blended and flexible study.

Finally, GoClass is a cloud enabled teaching application for tablet devices that redefines the boundaries of computing in the classroom. Connect with your student, customize and fine-tune your lesson plans on the fly, engage students in new ways and continuously evaluate their understanding while you are in class.

Had experiences with the software? Let us know how you went and what you think? Something missing? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list!

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Learning with Mobiles

It’s time to start assembling our guide to Learning with mobiles!

While mobile learning is fairly new to the scene, learning isn’t. The position we find ourselves in is not one where we a faced with a blank page or a staring into the abyss – in fact there is a huge amount of data, information and research out there, not just about mobile learning – but learning itself. Rather than starting from scratch we are actually starting well ahead of the field. The key is to choose the best approaches and to learn from what has proceeded us.

Dr Jan Herrington, Professor of Education at Murdoch University has been working on eLearning and authentic learning models for many years. Her keynote from ULearn11 goes through some of the characteristics of authentic learning and some of the pedagogical approaches applicable to mobile learning – Tools for learning: Mobile phones and authentic learning tasks. (I love the quote – “teach carpentry, not hammer”. )

Jan has also contributed to a couple of papers that outline pedagogy and research methods:

I’ve been using the curation service ScoopIt and collected a range of resources related to mLearning in Higher Education.

The Victorian Department of Education has been running a iPads for Learning pilot in their primary schools and have collected a range of useful examples, ideas and resources:

Have a look at the post on this blog Creating Unique Mobile Experiences for some ideas about how to incorporate mobility into your learning.

Here’s a great diagram of iPad apps but laid out in using Blooms Taxonomy: Bloom's Taxonomy for iPads

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User Experience 101

User Experience (UX) is the foundation of developing any user facing system, application, website – it is designing for the User. It’s vital to have a good understanding of UX before embarking on development work. Nick Finck’s presentation The Ten Commandments of User Experience is a great starting point. I love the 10 commandments he’s put together:

  1.  The User is always right – You are not the user and neither is your boss!
  2. Understand the User
  3. Avoid Solutioneering – identify and fully understand problems before finding a solution
  4. Form follows Function
  5. Content is King
  6. Innovate, don’t Imitate
  7. Access is for Everyone
  8. Plan before you Design
  9. Understand the Goal
  10. Learn from Failure

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Mobile Context

A lot has been said and written about mobile context. What is mobile context and Is it an actual real thing?

Mobile context is simple – it’s everything, everywhere, all the time. 

When you put it like that it was easy! But what does it mean? Well, there is no single mobile context. Mobile devices range from phones and tablets through to eReaders (yes, someone can actually view your work in 256 shades of grey! Take that marketing!). Mobile connections come in a range of forms, from broadband and WiFi through the spectrum of 4G, 3G, 2G, CDMA and even no connection at all. It’s about sensors and device capabilities. It’s about browsers and supported standards. Libraries and gestures. Touch and type.

Mobile context is whatever the user has access to in any given situation.

Designing for mobile requires you to study your users. Watching what, how, where and when they do things. Learning from them and adapting and modifying your design, your product and your systems. You need to learn their tools and their processes.

Assuming information about your users can lead you to make common mistakes. Here’s some things to consider about mobile:

  • The majority of use happens at home – especially during other activities like TV.
  • The number one manufacturer of cameras in the world in 2010 was Nokia.
  • 23% of Kenya’s GDP sent through mobile banking in 2010.

Find more about context – and how we tend to get it wrong:

Jason Grigsby’s  presentation Casting of Our Desktop Shackles and Yiibu’s It’s about people, not devices…

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Designing for Users

It’s important to design for your users. So some things to consider:

  • Don’t add layers of complexity. What’s better than labels? No labels, for example clear salt and pepper shakers.
  • Up front instruction manuals make things feel more complex than they really are. A manual should be a reference not the primary way to learn to use something.
  • Being told how to do something takes a lot of the joy out of using it. You learn to interact with the world through trial and effort.
  • Trial and error is a tool. Use it to see how approachable your interfaces are.
  • Don’t patronise or dumb down functions for the user, but be patient with people as they come to terms with how to interact with your app.
  • Ease users in one element at a time, starting small then build up over time.
  • The best time to learn a skill is when you need it. Users don’t need to know everything up front, but they do need to

This list is based on Luke Wroblewski’s report on Josh Clark’s presentation Buttons are a Hack from at Breaking Development in Nashville.