Qatar

I’ve been thinking about Mobile Learning again today.

I was asked if I’d be interested in proposing a workshop for a ‘Shaping the Future’ event to be held in Qatar next year. Well yes I would, but what is it they are looking for? To me, a workshop is something which participants can become involved in – but I know from previous experience that working in different countries can present interesting challenges when it comes to using technology.

So, do I need a mixture of easy hands-on and discussion? If so what’s easy whilst remaining valid?

I’ve always been of the opinion, with all uses of technology, that the basics must come first. Without an understanding of aerodynamics, a pilot cannot fly an aeroplane and in the same way, unless a teacher understands the basic theories of learning and how to adapt them, he or she cannot hope to accommodate mobile or ‘e’ learning.

Mobile learning means many things to many people. Sometimes we have to dissect the two words.

  • The device itself may be mobile.

Tools such as cell phones, handheld games machines and handheld media/entertainment devices can all be utilised for learning activities. These devices are fairly ubiquitous and very few learners do not have access to at least one.

  • The learner him/herself could be mobile.

Learning often takes place outside the classroom or in the workplace itself. School based learners might be asked to conduct some ‘homework’ research, which would utilise both his or her mobility alongside the device’s mobility.

  • The learning activity might be mobile.

The teacher may plan activities that take learners on an exploratory tour of local features or local history, using GPS/Internet enabled tools as a guide. They may employ ubiquitous 3G connectivity to share resources on or from the Internet.

So do I start with the basic assumption that the participants understand basic learning theory? Or, that they understand the various connotations of the word mobile? I suspect that the old adage ‘to assume is to make an ASS of U and ME’ should rule here!

I will therefore consider a proposal which assumes nothing, expects a lot and prepare myself for a lot of stress 😉

Quote:

I try to fix all of the session’s activities, tool-use and techniques to Blooms Taxonomy. This is the taxonomy of thinking skills which aims to raise learners’ achievements through simple knowledge acquisition, comprehension of that knowledge and its application (lower order thinking skills – LOTs) – through analysis, synthesis and evaluation (higher order thinking skills – HOTs). There are lots of reasons for doing this, but my main reason is that Bloom’s is a recognisable theory, one that should/would have been addressed during Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and therefore be an understandable foundation we can build upon.

I suggest to my participants that each learner will progress through the taxonomy’s stages at varying speeds and with varying success; often having to return to a previous level (in a cycular fashion – which fits nicely then, with Bruner’s spiral curriculum model: e.g. “Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned.” from: http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html) where they begin their learning journey again. I emphasise that ‘they‘ the teachers, trainers etc. ARE THE experts at this and that ‘they‘ are the creators of activities designed to allow learners to climb (cycle?) through the levels.

I iterate, time and time again that the ‘m’ technique and the ‘m’ technology should be the tool and not the master.

From a previous Blooms Taxonomy post: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/

Mobile Learning Case Studies

I delivered a workshop the other day for a college in the Northwest. The college has deployed a variety of handheld devices as part of their 2010 MoLeNET project and I’ve visited them on several occasions to discuss the ‘Potential of M’ and ‘Audio-Video capture and editing’ etc. This time they wanted to know how everyone else was using mobile devices. That worried me a bit, because I wasn’t sure how I would deliver a two-hour session (x2) based on Case Studies and the (mainly apocryphal) stuff ‘I’ know (which is definitely not everything!)

I came up with a series of six worksheets that they could explore. Not knowing the exact participant numbers, I worked on a timescale that allowed two bites of the task. Each task gave the small group of two or three, twenty minutes to research the provided links, ten minutes to develop a PPT (or video) and five minutes to deliver their findings to the entire group. Followed by five minutes Q and A, I thought that this would be a nice session. The task asked them to view a series of case studies/video clips and to form an argument (to governors) for deployment. (Continued below)

It turned out that I had very much underestimated the engagement they would commit to the task, the time it would take to do the research and the time to make (especially agree) their presentation. So the morning session only just came in on time. In fact it came in five minutes late and the Q and A sessions were very abbreviated. Furthermore, and this was hopefully due to the pressures of time, the PPTs were much too wordy. I’d hoped that the idea of presenting to governors would make the presentations a bit snappier than they turned out to be.

I therefore decided to change the timings for the afternoon session along with the presentation requirements. I asked them to create a Pecha Kucha – which caused great stress. But hopefully (fingers crossed?) healthy stress. (Here’s one of mine from the RSC-NW conference)

Please click along the above Slideshow, as you watch/listen to the video below

Pecha Kucha (Japanese for chit chat I believe) is a presentation based on delivering 20 slides for only 20 seconds per slide. When I explained this to the afternoon group, their jaws dropped. I changed the rules so that theirs would be 10 slides at 30 seconds each and told them that pecha kucha didn’t require wordy slides – a picture plus 30 seconds dialogue is fine. I also extended the research time and the PK development time and the result was much snappier and focussed. But the real ‘gain’ for me was when I said “you know, you could get your learners to do something like this – say 10 slides, 10 seconds each” (to make them much more focussed on what is required).

The PT teacher lit up like a beacon and started scribbling notes. RESULT!

Experiential Learning

“Rather than treat pedagogy as the transfer of knowledge from teachers who are experts to students who are receptacles, educators should consider more hands-on and informal types of learning.”

John Seeley Brown [Dec. 2006] reported by Martin LaMonica [Staff Writer, CNET News]. Accessed at: http://news.cnet.com/Futurist-To-fix-education,-think-Web-2.0/2100-1032_3-6140175.html on 21/02/10

I’ve been interested for a very long time now in the exploration of pedagogical uses for modern (‘m’) tools and technologies. I hazard to say techniques at this stage, because it is in fact the techniques which need to be pedagogically planned. I’m also interested in the social implications of ‘m’ and how these might be brought to bear on the way we enable learning to take place.

An earlier blog post [https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/]  discusses my use of Bloom’s Taxonomy as an introduction to the development of ‘m’ techniques. I use this taxonomy in the preparation of (and as part of) my workshops. Hitherto, Blooms’ has been the bedrock of my exploration and development.

However, there are other theories that lend themselves to being re-visited with one eye on the tools and technologies of 2010 and beyond. Others have begun this and the foremost seems to be:

Maslow:

I’m quite interested in the way we might revisit Maslow, with an eye on the social and economic changes that are happening around us. I think there’s a real need now to recognise how the (especially) lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy are changing. Young learners now have technological needs that the original paper preceded. As Dan Bevarly (@dbevarly) says: “You can’t engage if you can’t connect”. I am working on this, but as with everything else (and work etc), it’s a slow process.

Some others I have also explored are:

Dewey

http://effective.leadershipdevelopment.edu.au/deweys-3-stage-model/experiential-learning/

  1. Sizing up the situation at hand through objective observation.
  2. Drawing forth knowledge about such situations by recalling similar past experiences (both your own and those of the people around you).
  3. Judging how to proceed, based on this knowledge

http://www.stevehargadon.com/2007/01/john-seely-brown-on-web-20-and-culture.html (Makes a start on Web 2.0 with Dewey at the root.)

Piaget

http://effective.leadershipdevelopment.edu.au/piagets-2-ways-learning-experience/experiential-learning/

even

Confucius

I liked:

“He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
(Lunyu 2.15) from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/confucius/ [accessed: 19/02/10]

and to this Confucian quote I would add:

“he who teaches but does not learn – is a fool”

Yet none have addressed, as far as my brief desk-search can see, the tools and technologies of 2010. These must surely change the way we accommodate all of the well-grounded theories and although I’m certain that there are scholars out there who are re-visiting them, these are not yet easily found.

Kolb

I will however revisit Kolb as I can, like Bloom’s Taxonomy, put his theories to good use straight away.

  1. Concrete Experience – (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience)
  2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding)
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept)
  4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to see what results)

I will post my reflections over time by taking each stage of the above and suggesting ways of employing ‘m’ tools, technologies and techniques to the cycle.

I’d love to hear of any existing examples.

Gloucestershire

Yesterday I delivered workshops to 22 people over three sessions.

I’d set out to show how the ‘m’ in m-learning could also mean ‘modern’ and not just mobile. Like others I think that the ‘m’ and the ‘e’ before learning needs to disappear – but not just yet. There is still a lot of work to do before we can truly say that ‘learning’ is all encompassing and includes the use of tools and resources appropriate to that learner (those learners) at that time (24/7) and in (or out of) that place.

We did a little texting early on to show how we could engage learners and then tied this activity to Bloom’s Taxonomy. I notice sometimes, when I introduce this, that shoulders sag and wry smiles are glanced at each other. But no matter – I like to think that I deliver it in a palatable way – I was a chef after all. Having fixed Bloom’s in the minds of my groups, I moved on to show how technology need not be a barrier to the delivery of higher order thinking skills. I did this by means of two simple odd-one-out exercises. The first had an easy answer but the second needed thought and discussion before coming to a conclusion. This works well as it allows the groups to become animated, talking to each other and working out (often wrong) answers. They all see/saw the point I’d tried to make and was able, once more, to tie-in the result into Blooms. (For those who’ve seen this: I’ve replaced Bush with Barak!)

We then went back to texting and to an exercise that required the group to evaluate a piece of Shakespeare (the two morning groups had to do the same with a newspaper article). The activity engaged the group at the higher levels of Blooms and I like to think that they understood that once again, the technology was by no means a barrier to the learning that took place. Hopefully they will realise that THEY are the experts in their teaching rooms and that as such it is their job (their skill) to make the learning as valuable and inclusive as possible. Simple thought and preparation are often enough on the one hand, but on the other, an understanding of the available tools is just as essential.

We addressed the current plethora of tools next by looking at various Web 2.0 facilities. The discussion around Web 2.0 (what it is and what it isn’t and what it might do and what it might not) was valuable and I think that each person took a better understanding of blogs/wikis; Web/Web2.0 away with them. They explored the various sites for around 20 minutes. Videojug and MoleTV were favourites of most vocational tutors with builders and hairdressers becoming quite animated at what they found on these sites. MoleTV was a big winner with the practical trades. Others found online Mind Mapping software useful. No one really looked at Flickr or YouTube, although one or two did investigate Delicious.

During two of the three sessions we were able to discuss how these web sites could be made to address our Blooms pyramid and on the third we looked at individual tool types (video camera, MP3 player etc,) and addressed these in the same way. I’m a big believer in going where the learner needs to go at that time and provided it fits my aims to roll with it. The time exploring Web 2.0 sites was very much an example of this. I’d planned a 15-minute session with 10-minute feedback and identification of pedagogical opportunities but the group were so animated and engaged I allowed them the full 25 minutes to explore. They were discussing use across the room anyway!

I thought that the day was a really useful one, with engaged learners throughout. I had prepared too much (as always) and struggled to fit everything in – in fact on two sessions I stopped well short and on the third, we adjusted the session to fit the room. Sadly, the room did not engender group work, which is what I’d planned. But that’s always a difficulty in colleges: computer rooms are for computering and non-computer rooms are designed for ‘stand and deliver’. We need to make more rooms (spaces?) available that offer the opportunity to blend learning activities. Two or three to a computer is not always a bad thing especially if the activity is well planned.

My room was also very very warm – so to the teacher I met at MoLeNET training last year but whose name I have forgotten :-() who loaned me his fan – I must say a hearty ‘thank you’. It was a real life saver. Thank you Gloucestershire College.

Back in control of the Mother Ship

Mobile Learning

It’s taking me a while to get my feet back under the Mother Ship controls. Jet lag has been a huge problem this trip. (If you missed it – I’ve been away: http://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com).

Yesterday, Monday; I was up and working at 3.30am as I couldn’t sleep, then today I couldn’t get up! But that should be it now. It will certainly have to be as I have to be on the road by 6.15am tomorrow for a job in Blackpool.

I’ve taken the time today to catch up on some reading. Thanks to John Trinder, who forwarded a post he’d seen to the PDAs in Education JISCmail group, I’ve had access to a number of up-to-the-minute papers on mobile learning. Some that stood out were:

http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/handhelds/ This one is mainly an overview of a course but has links to a number of useful resources. From here I found:
http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/handheldsshowcase.shtml
Which has a plathora of links and resources, one of which was:
http://www.k12handhelds.com/101list.php – a huge list of things to do with a handheld device. This accompanies Lilian‘s ‘30/31/32 things to do with a mobile phone‘ nicely.

My Favourite was http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet25/cheung.html. From this I have developed a handout which can accompany a mobile learning activity I am planning.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/handheld/ This is a group on flickr – which may or may not be useful to anyone reading this. For me it is a useful resource for ideas on how mobile devices are being used outside the classroom.

MMmmm. I’ve just been told that the workshop I’m (almost through) planning for tomorrow won’t be the anticipated ‘all day’ gig and that I should prepare 3 x 2 hours ones instead. So gotta go now. 🙂

Useful information for Flickr users: http://support.wordpress.com/videos/flickr-video/