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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iPad Pros & Cons

My good friends over in ACU recently had their Spring Open House. One of the presentations at the event discussed their iPad trials that have now been running over 3 semesters.

So what are the pros and cons of 100% digital class?


  • True mobile learning device
  • Increase student engagement
  • Collaborative learning tool
  • Potential student productivity
  • Potential student efficiency
  • Improves student technology competency
  • Reduces faculty back end effort


  • Technology reliance
  • Motivation to change
  • Increased front end effort
  • Learning curve
  • Limited capacity
    •  Data entry examples
    • Manipulation of files

Here’s the slide

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The New iPad

So the new iPad has arrived. Its been met with mixed reactions in the media and a lot of “meh” from the tech blogs (like this one). Rather than be revolutionary the new iPad (oh yeah, that’s its name – the New iPad) is evolutionary. But the kind of evolution we are talking about is quite dramatic, in the sense that we are skipping stages. We are talking something similar to television going from black and white to colour, that sort of evolutionary step. Two years ago Apple created the tablet market, this time they are changing the we see it.

The big feature of the new iPad is the arrival of what Apple calls a “Retina Display” – where the pixels have been made smaller and many many more pixels are able to fit into a smaller space so that they are almost indistinguishable. This creates a crispness and clarity that rivals the printed page.

In real world terms the new iPad has more pixels in its 10.1″ screen than in your 50″ plasma. Its almost twice as high definition as blu-ray and HD TV. The only way to truly see how crisp and clear the new iPad to see it with your own eyes, because nothing out there can actually replicate it.

The new iPad represents a leap in display technology that Apple have been working on for close to a decade and it puts Apple way ahead of the competition. Other manufacturers have been obsessing over the chips inside, how fast and powerful they can make them, but most people don’t care about that. They want functionality, not a spec sheet. Apple have gone and developed something that makes a difference every day and every time you use it.

The Retina Display and the recent iBooks announcement puts Apple in the drivers seat when it comes to education. One of the key complaints by many people (quite often not iPad users) is that they don’t like reading of a screen. But now when the screen is as crisp and as clear as a printed page does that excuse still wear? Apple have just made reading on a tablet a much better experience, actually no – they have made reading on an iPad much better.

Looking for a recommendation on buying the new iPad? Well … I think it depends.

  • If you’re looking to upgrade from an iPad 1 – then yes it makes sense. The performance improvements alone will justify the spend.
  • If you’re a new tablet user – then you won’t get a choice. The next model will replace the current iPad 2 line.
  • If you currently have an iPad 2… thats a harder choice. When it’s released, I think you will know just by looking and playing with it if you want to upgrade. So head to you local store and see it for yourself.

What Apple have signalled is that the new iPad is the future and each new device is an increment and an evolution.They’ve even dumped the numbering scheme to prove this. They might not blow the tech writers away every time they come out, but what other product gets so much hype for a new model?  You don’t see a MacBook 11 or Sony TV 5 and you certainly don’t see this much coverage for any other piece of technology!

The iPad is consistently resetting the benchmark for the tablet, and the bar just got a little higher.

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New toys for mLearn

Hello, my name is Tyswan, and I’m one of the new Graphic and User Interface designers on the project. In the coming months I’ll be doing some work on ePub formats, student instructional materials and supporting the Bathurst device trials. You can read all about me on the Team page.

Let me start off by saying that I didn’t accept this job because of all the cool iOS and mac toys I’d get to play with… but I’m definitely not complaining!

With the device trials starting up at the beginning of the session I have had 21 shiny wifi iPads and cases land on my desk, along with a very slick macbook air. I have already set up three of the iPads, and lent two of them out to the academics in the School of Education who will be running the Bathurst device trials. Another 63 iPads with cases have arrived in Wagga.

new macbook air and iPadI probably shouldn’t admit how much of a learning curve it’s been for me as I have never owned an iPad (and have only just bought an iPhone), and I’ve had to quickly become familiar with wireless settings, synching with iTunes, storing documents in the cloud and the plethora of apps out there, not to mention writing with my finger.

Fortunately my experiences mirror many of the issues that the students involved in the trial will face as they get used to a (possibly) new way of working in a predominately electronic space.

The next step is to look at how the iPads will be used in the specific courses. Here at Bathurst, we are currently now assessing a range of apps that will be used in a multi-modal writing course.

I’ve learnt very quickly that although there are plenty of apps out there, each is designed with a slightly different focus, and the real work is looking at integration of the apps, and designing how they will work together to meet the teaching needs of the lecturers, rather than a straight out comparison of features.

I love the lateral thinking that is required to see what the lecturers are trying to achieve and then finding the software, apps and processes that can help them to make the learning experience as fun and seamless as possible. And if playing with a shiny new iPad all day is part of my job, then so much the better!

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Best Apps of 2011

It’s great to look back on a year of amazing change and growth in mobile. Also its now been over year using my beloved iPad and iPhone 4. So here are my top Apps for the last year.


How does one keep up with all the latest and greatest news? Well you can sift through a myriad of sites, feeds and tweets. Or you can do it the easy way with Zite – the personal magazine aggregator. Plug in your interest areas and Zite will generate a magazine just for you. Like or dislike articles and help Zite customise it to what your interested in. Available for iPad and iPhone.


The first magazine app for the iPad aggregates your RSS, twitter, facebook – almost anything can get plugged into this thing. It lays out articles in an attractive way – stripping out all those damn ads too! They just released an iPhone version which is just as good. Available for iPad and iPhone.


I do a lot of research on the web and I used to print out a lot of articles to Read Later. I’d end up with a stack of papers that would pile up on my desk and then find their way to the bin – often unread. Then Instapaper came along and changed all that. Instapaper is based around the concept of Read Later – you can browse, find something and then add it to Instapaper to read later. The other great thing Instapaper does is strip out add and enhance the reading experience so you can change the font, size and colour. This app has become integral to my daily life! Available for iPad and iPhone.


I was happily using the official Twitter app for most of the year, and then they updated it. It completely changed the user experience and for me it was a leap backwards. I tried a couple of alternatives and then came across Tweetbot. It’s simple powerful and user friendly. Available for iPhone.


More a cross-platform web service than a single app Evernote is a jewel. You can use it to store and catalogue almost anything and then have it synced across multiple devices and the cloud. It means all your stuff is available anywhere, anytime. Start writing on your iPad and finish on your laptop. Take a photo using your iPhone and the image gets OCR‘d so you can search the text. I’ve got my business card collection stored – so if I want to find someone I just need to remember one detail about them and I can find them! Available for iPad and iPhone.


If you travel a lot TripIt will become your best friend. It aggregates all you travel information. You can email it booking confirmations and it will scan the details and add it to your itinerary, or you can let it scan your inbox. The app then allows you to see all your info in one spot. What time was that flight? What was my confirmation number? How do I get to the hotel? You can do it all with TripIt! There is a free and a paid version, so try before you buy. Available for iPad and iPhone.


When I went to the US early last year I had no information on where to stay or to eat. Yelp lets you find places and see how other people rated them. Want to find the best steak in town? Maybe you’re looking for Mexican ice-cream, Yelp can help you out and it’s now arrived in Australia! Available for iPad and iPhone.


People love the old school photo booth and now you can relive them from you iOS device. I love using this with my niece and nephew – 4 photos in a strip with some great analogue effects. Available for iPad and iPhone.


Another app to bring the analogue to the digital world – this time for video. Complete with different film stock, grain and camera effects you can recreate those classic 8mm films. Turn off the mic to get a truly old school clip! Different versions available for iPhone & iPad

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ACU research sheds light on mobility in teaching & learning

Some really interesting research has been released from Abilene Christian University on mobile learning. They have a 1:1 ratio of mobile devices for staff and students and ran a trial with iPads over the last year with some interesting results:

  • students who used an iPad to annotate text performed at a rate 25 percent higher on questions regarding transfer of information than their counterparts who used only paper.
  • a 95% satisfaction rate using the iPad to accomplish their online coursework, citing convenience and the device’s range of features
  • 86% of students reported improved student-to-student and student-to-teacher collaboration when using mobile devices
  • 84% of ACU’s faculty reported using their devices frequently in class to facilitate enhanced classroom collaboration. 50% of ACU faculty reported using their mobile devices during every class period.
I had the pleasure of being able to meet with most of the people mentioned here who shared with me some of their preliminary data back in April. They were really excited about their findings back then, and I think you can see why!