MALT Conference

It’s surprising, the things that you miss when you’re blogging – especially from a different country. And it’s not only blogging.

This morning I delivered four workshops at the MALT conference near Dobeles, 50km southwest of Riga. It was supposed to be one workshop, delivered four times under the title of ‘Gadgets and Gizmos’. I thought that calling it ‘m-Learning’ might be a step too far but delivering the basics of ‘m’ was my goal.

I’d set out with a basic plan and built upon that as I passed my time here talking to people and trying out the various services I could access. The first casualty was MMS: For whatever reason, T-Mobile’s partner over here refuses to handle my MMS (and my email via Outlook refuses to ‘send’ replies!). I tried each of the three available carriers – to no avail. I’d asked for ‘Internet’ provision in my workshop and therefore tried out my various connections via the hotel WiFi (which only works in the reception area) and these worked a treat. Upload pictures to Flickr via Wifi? – no problem. Stream video live to QIK? – no problem. However, the problem was (during the conference workshops) that there was no WiFi! There was internet, so I wasn’t completely stuffed, but WiFi has become something we’re beginning to take for granted. I miss it now, in my room where I’m writing this in Word (ready for cutting and pasting into Notepad before cutting and pasting into WordPress) because I’d like to visit a map of the region and add a few links to Dobeles. But never mind.

I’d made my mind up to show the Busbi videos, the Gyro Suite and Mobile Phone functions during my half hour sessions. In the end the Busbis went out the window because there just wasn’t time for the groups (approx 25-30 in each) to split up and play with them. I decided to use the Gyro keyboard and mouse to demonstrate basic interactivity with Word and with PPT. I passed the keyboard around and the filled in interactive boxes in PPT – but it was like a hot potato or a ticking bomb, they couldn’t wait to get rid of it. I decided to keep the mouse to myself and to show drag-n-drop techniques in Word. Both pieces of Office software are underused and it was a pleasure to see the participants discussing the potential.

With the Mobile Phone, we discussed texting (I’d tried to get them to text Lilian’s text wall during session one but there was a reluctance by most so I ditched it – just demonstrating the wall and discussing the potential for use), we discussed photos: I took one of each group and printed it on the Pogo Printer, which impressed them greatly. We discussed video and I showed them a QIK video I’d made the day before. We briefly looked at other functions and the opportunities a modern phone allowed for learning opportunities themselves to become mobile – not just the device. During three of the four workshops I’d demonstrated iPadio and the Spinvox function it now employs. I was quite impressed by the ease with which they got the point.

And then the bell rang. I used an online timer to tell me when 25 minutes were up and each time it rang, the queue outside the door had been there 2-3 minutes already. Hey ho. (Final evening and last day later …)