Forget The Gossip! What Did You Learn?

ustreamsueAfter 4 days of workshops (mLearn 2007 conference and Alan Levine’s workshop) I was struggling to stay awake by the end of the day on Friday. But rather than sneak in a nanny nap in the afternoon (concerned it would effect my ability to go to sleep that night) I struggled on with the plan for an early dinner followed by early to bed.

Forgot to send the memo to my mate Simon Brown, re-early night, who decided that “Hey, Sue want to test Ustream.TV?” I should add I think he may have meant I want to test Ustream but me being Sue took over and decided that might be cool to do a wrap on the conference so decided to broadcast from my hotel room while convincing my new mate Lance from Melbourne that he should join me in the broadcast!

So with Simon’s excellent guidance we got Ustream working and grabbed an audience using twitter with viewers from England, USA and Australia. The whole wrap on the conference was going okay until Lisa Durff threw in the curly question in the chat area – “But what did you learn?” Boy, tough audience you actually want to know what I learnt? You can check out the recording here!

Good question Lisa! And really that is why it is all about — “what did you learn from attending a conference that you did not know before?” And for someone like myself who has spent a lot of time immersed in learning about m-learning and mobile technologies that is a real curly question — with no simple answer.

So this weekend I have been trying to bring the past week all together into one place (my wiki) so I can reflect on what I learnt from the conference. Once I used to write my notes with pen and paper but I have found that writing my notes directly on my computer then transferring them to my wiki site helps my learning process because it ensures I do actually reflect on what I had written whereas less likely with hand written notes.

There is way too much information to summarise in a blog post so I suggest if you are interested in what happened at mLearn 2007 conference and what was discussed in relation to mlearning (mobile learning) you check out the pages on my wiki that:

Here are some key points covered during the conference that we need to be considering:

  • When implementing technology there needs to be adequate support is provided for both staff and students. Common mistake is to not supply adequate support – e.g. when observed students who had PDAs supplied for their use 24/7 most were not using their devices effectively–poor use of text writing.
  • Educators using technology with students are often failing to build reflection into the process and we really need to build reflection into the learning cycle to increase the gain of the learning
  • We need to remember the things we knew before, in terms of good pedagogy, do not become irrelevant, and do not get thrown out with using new technology. If you throw out good pedagogy when you implement technology you can end up with bad situations in the classroom. So instead of the students gaining from using the technology their learning suffers.
  • Classic example of misconception of the ability of the digital natives is educators will assume if students are using the technology they must know what they are doing and must be understanding what they need to do.
  • The trouble with learner autonomy does not always mean that they will make good choices — as educators we need to make sure our learners stay on path.
  • Mobile phones are the most owned mobile device. There are 3 billion mobile phones worldwide. Nokia 1100 (a basic mobile phone) has sold over 100 million compared to ipods which have not sold near 100 million and there is not even 1 billion PC in the world.
  • The reality is that 2.7 billion mobile phones are text and voice only and are not high end mobile phones. So at the moment we need to be focus on the text and voice aspect of mobile phones if we are looking at using learner devices.
  • Mobile phones are the most personalised device that people have – most people do not willingly feel comfortable letting others touch their mobile phone. UK study indicated 9 out of 10 people could not live without phone and 18-29 year olds spend more time messaging than talking on their phones. Most people used mobile phones to connect to mainly 5 people.
  • With mobile phones there is a big distinction between mobile computing and mobile life style. The really successful services on mobile phones fit mobile life style. Services that make people stop, type it in just don’t succeed.
  • Mobile phones are seen by many as personal devices – for connecting with their friends and some educators indicated their thoughts that students may not be happy with using their mobile phones for learning.
  • There needs to be more emphasis on user content creation that using mobile devices for content delivery.


WOW — for the Aussies did I mentioned I got to play with two iphones?

I am well known for NOT BEING INTO MOBILE PHONES , so don’t bother ringing my mobile phone or sending an SMS, but totally love the mobile web. Would be quite happy to flush my phone down the closest toilet and have never felt any strong desire to buy any mobile phone….until I got my hands on the iphone. Now that is a phone that I wanted to buy — fortunately for my husband it is not available in Australia. Hopefully when it is released here they will have fixed all aspects of the iphone that I don’t like.

Smart Conference Sharing With Your Readers! How To Do It And Survive!

mlearn 2007Decided to give myself another title to add to “Most Disorganised Traveler of the Year Award!” and “Crazy Mutlitasker” “Smart Conference Sharing To Your Readers!” [image by sridgway]

Before I came to the conference I debated how to share the information from mLearn 2007 conference with my readers, without overloading them! My concerns were live blogging may overwhelm my readers (too many posts) and at the moment live blogging does not fit how I like to learn and write posts.

I would love to be able to live blog like Carole did at Alan Levine’s session on Being There. She was absolutely incredible — was able to listen to what Alan was saying and then blog live about her reflections on what he was saying at the same time — compare what she has posted with what I wrote. I like to write what is being said and reflect more deeply later whereas she was reflecting as she was writing! I have to give her the “Incredible Reflective Live Blogger” title as she was sitting next to me writing this post!

So my brain was ticking over–how do I ensure that readers that want regular updates from the mlearning conference get what they want, I learn how I like to learn and other readers get the posts they like?

Simple the answer is my wiki! What I have done is set up a page on my Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki specifically for the conference. I searched technorati for posts on the conference and added RSS feeds from each blog site to this page. This means that my readers can read news as it is happening from people who are live blogging — I can add new feeds to the page when I find new bloggers posting on the conference and it takes the pressure of me to feel the need to satisfy readers on my own blog! Team work in action from everyone!

How did I know to add the RSS feeds from blogs? Well Frances is a great friend and she showed me how she did it with her student blogs — check out her instructions. Frances ROCKS!

So on my wiki page for the mlearn 2007 conference I have:

  • Elluminate session schedule that people can download so they can join the live sessions if they choose
  • RSS feeds from each blog that is posting on the conference
  • Photos feed from the conference
  • Links to websites where people have located information about their presentation
  • Twitter feed from mlearn2007

This makes it easier for:

  • My readers to keep updated with the latest information
  • Me to go through the information from the conference, reflect on what has happened at the conference and then write the information in a form that suits how I want to learn

Please let me know your thoughts? Is the wiki helpful? If so, have I missed anything?

Apologies to all the fantastic people that I have meet in the past few days — and my readers who want to hear about them — but even for this multitasker it is hard to keep on top of all that I am doing — the posts are coming. In the meantime stay tuned and watch the wiki page for the latest updates.

Do you Post on mlearning or Mobile Technologies?

mlearning.JPGOver the last couple of weeks I have been writing posts on mlearning (mobile learning) and mobile technologies. But I would like to hear about what you are doing.

Do You Have Posts or Podcasts on mlearning (mobile learning) and mobile technologies?

If so – feel free to post the URLs in comments below so I can visit and see your work!

How to Read Blog posts on a Phone Using Mobile Friendly Google Reader

Christine Martell (Visuals Speak Blog) comment on my STOP, LOOK, THINK – What Is Material Really Going To Look Like on A Mobile Device was “Now I’m really scared to look at my blog and site, so it’s a good thing I don’t know how to! Hope the next article is how to fix such things?

So here is one solution for how we can cater to our mobile readers cutesy of a comment on Nick Cowie’s post on The mobile web meets Google Analytic. Before I talk about the solution let me just thank Nick for telling me how to work out how many people are reading my blog posts from mobile devices.

And the answer if you are wondering is YES, people are reading on mobile devices. Numbers of mobile readers will increase with decrease data plan costs and increased confidence in using the mobile web.


Thanks to Mr Speaker for the comment on Nick’s Post! Mr Speaker said on Nick’s post “I read your post (and am writing this comment) on my mobile – but I got here through RSS with Google Reader Mobile, which does an excellent job of reformatting pages to mobile friendly ones.”

Mmmm why didn’t I think I that? Well, lets seeing blogging, podcasting, mlearning, mobile learning, mobile technology and Web 2.0 – means a lot of ground to cover!

So check out my video on what a blog post looks like on a mobile phone (actually my PDA) using Internet Explorer.

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So if you want to inform your readers on how to read a blog on a mobile device perhaps Christine we could add a section on reading on a mobile device? Now Nick, sorry to bug you, but will this work solution work on all mobile web browser? and let me guess perhaps it would be expensive for an Australian unless used wireless instead of your data plan?

And finally for Michelle and Alex – I do believe that being able to use a mobile friendly version of Google Reader means that Google Reader now is winning against NetVibes? Not that I am keeping score 🙂 For a comparision of mobile Bloglines and Google Reader check out this post.

STOP, LOOK, THINK – What Is Material Really Going To Look Like on A Mobile Device

Opinions differ on text based material on mobile devices from those who believe the zoom feature of phones like the iPhone means that material developed for the web will need little or no change for use to people that believe the exact opposite (e.g. limited amount of text per screen, essential text only).

This video might HELP you form your own opinion on designing text based material for mobile devices used for mlearning (mobile learning). In it Nick Cowie demonstrates why you need to design mobile specific websites for mobile phones in his humorous WebSledge for Perth WebJam. While Nick’s video is based on mobile phones the same principles apply to all mobile devices. Thanks to Nick Cowie for giving me permission to use his Slides and letting me create this video, and Stewart Greenhill for letting me use his audio to create this video.

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Read these articles for more information on using the Mobile Web in Education:

  1. Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?
  2. What can we do about policies that are stifling innovation in educational uses of technology?
  3. Please Wait a Sec, Just Need to Check Training Info on My Mobile Phone?
  4. Will Mobiles Be THE Tool of The Future?
  5. Mobile learning
  6. iPhone vs Mobile web

Will Mobiles Be THE Tool of The Future?

306544780_4dc16c0405_m.jpgWe debate which mobile devices (e.g. PDA, ipod, mobile phone) to use for mlearning? And it is good to hear differing opinions from people like Stuart Smith and Nick Cowie on the use of mobile phones. But more importantly, we have others reflecting on whether they should be letting their students take their mobile phones out of their bags. Unfortunately, in most circumstances, if teachers want to use their student’s mobile phones for learning they will not be allowed to because it is against school policy! [image by bb_matt]

So tonight it was nice to come across a video podcast interview by Robert Scoble with Elliot Soloway, faculty member of the University of Michigan and founder of GoKnow Learning (Educational computing for mobile handheld computers) that discusses both policies and the future of mobile phones in education.

Elliot points out while many schools think laptops are the solution he believes that mobile phones will be the tool of the future in education.

His reason include:

  • Mobile computing is what kids are doing any way and soon 100 % of students will have mobile phones
  • Most schools have poor IT support which is why their computers do not work.
  • Internet works 50 % of the time in schools which means teachers have to plan two lessons (Internet and no Internet).
  • Price of mobile phones is decreasing.

Elliot also explains that:

  • Education is about meeting the requirement of their curriculum; there will need to be blending of the curriculum with the mobile phones.
  • It will not be a painless process; there will be a tear between the old and the new ways.
  • Schools will eventually need to change their attitudes towards mobile phones.

Check out the video podcast interview by Robert Scoble with Elliot Soloway here!

My thoughts – will be interesting to see in 4 years time whether the mobile phone has become the tool.

Please Wait a Sec, Just Need to Check Training Info on My Mobile Phone?

1082346485_c8c75d8bfc_m.jpgMost of your training is in the workplace but all your work mates are busy, no-one has time to remind you what to do, and you have asked the same question too many times before. WHAT you going to do? Phone HOME or better still access the answers on your mobile phone! [Image by outlan2000]

In Australia the shift in vocational training and education is away from campus based to delivery within the workplace, i.e. on-the-job training. These learners are going to need training material to support their learning. M-learning (mobile learning) used effectively will assist in their training needs and my first post in this week mlearning series will examine how.

What We Know

Most mlearning work with learners, regardless of the training area, have highlighted the power of videos for instructions. Learners can watch videos, at their own pace, as often as required, while actually preforming the task e.g. practicing how to tie knots, cutting hair, setting up or using equipment.

Opinions differ on text based material on mobile devices from those who believe the zoom feature of the iPhone means that material developed for the web will need little or no change for use to people that believe the exact opposite (e.g. limited amount of text per screen, essential text only).

How It is Being Done

Mobile technologies are undergoing rapid change, and organisations embracing mlearning will need to factor this into their equation. A solution for today, may not be the best in a years time so the key will be to ensure training materials are adaptable to a range of devices (e.g. mobile phones, PDAs, iPods).

Examples of m-learning in workplace training include:

  • Trainee hairdressers in the UK are learning how to cut hair (Watch the video to see how) – by mobile phone. Read Stuart Smith, who is involved with this work, thoughts on mobile learning and choosing the mobile device.
  • Workplace trainees from Pilbara Iron are learning how to use machinery – by PDA. Watch this video interview of Bob Hunter, from Pilbara TAFE, where he explains and demonstrates why he uses PDAs with students.

Want to read more on mobile technology and m-learning?

Check out last week’s posts on:

  1. Are UMPCs Going to Convert Courses from Paper Based to Digital?
  2. Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?
  3. You Need Spyglasses – Are you Serious?
  4. Barcodes, RFID and NFC technology – use in education and training explained in Sue language!
  5. What can we do about policies that are stifling innovation in educational uses of technology?

What can we do about policies that are stifling innovation in educational uses of technology?


My final post for this week’s series on mobile technology focuses on the great challenge and barrier facing uptake of m-learning: our organisation and Government policies on the use of technologies with students.

Yesterday Dianne posted this comment “All of these devices are banned under our student code of behavior, although if cellphones are turned off and out of sight, they are not confiscated” in response to my post on How are we going to effectively use the mobile devices in our student’s pockets?. The constraints placed on Dianne with the use of mobile phones is not isolated, it is a global issue, and is not limited to mobile devices, increasingly, as educators, we are being preventing from accessing Internet sites which would enrich our students’ learning experiences [Image by Johnmulk].

Take for example my children’s schools. Both schools have implemented a Phone Policy which at one of the schools has been extended to include related technology such as PDAs. So as a teacher in these schools if you want to be innovative and actually use any of the mobile devices to engage your students you can’t because you will be contravening school policies.

As Darren highlights in Pay Attention a simple activity like giving your students 10 minutes to send a text message to someone outside the school to find out

  1. What they had for breakfast?
  2. What is the weather like where they are?
  3. The one thing they last purchased.

With the added challenge that students get bonus points given messages back from people in other countries using language other than English is a powerful way to engage and empower our students’ learning.

As an educator my attitudes over the years have changed. The policy in my organisations is mobile phones must be switched off in class. I have changed from the days when I enforced phones must be on silent, and would confiscated student phones if it interrupted class too much, or offer to answer their calls. I freely let students use their phones – amazing they can be responsible – they don’t disrupt the class – and it is far less disrupting than confiscating phones.

On a side point – you can’t have different rules for teachers and students – if mobile phones are banned in classrooms because your organisation believes they are disruptive then that means teachers also should not be using their mobile phone in class! WALK THE TALK or change the TALK!

It is time to take action!

Policy makers need to stop stifling innovation in the educational use of technology. Stop blocking video sharing sites like YouTube, podcasting sites like Podomatic, social networking sites like Twitter etc, reconsider views on mobile devices. It is far better to educate our students on appropriate use of these technologies than ban/bar their use. If we are going to overprotect our students, lets also stop them crossing roads.

Image is by Lynetter – refers to the fact that mobile phones are the divining rod for the digital age.


How are we going to effectively use the mobile devices in our student’s pockets?

So far in this week’s series on mobile technology in education I have discussed:

  1. Are UMPCs Going to Convert Courses from Paper Based to Digital?
  2. Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?
  3. You Need Spyglasses – Are you Serious?
  4. Barcodes, RFID and NFC technology – use in education and training explained in Sue language!

With m-learning and mobile technology the choice is to either supply the mobile devices that the students use OR take advantage of the mobile devices that the student’s already have.

Ideally we should be taking advantage of the mobile devices that the student’s already have but how are we going to do this effectively?

Our reality is our students have different mobile devices with a wide range of capabilities (from only capable of playing music to web browsing, video calling, music and video downloads, and streamed TV).


1. Mobile Phone showing multimedia options, 2. PSP Front, 3. flashpod (4), 4. Apple iPhone, 5. Control remoto del iPod Video vs Ipod Shuffle

Number and types of mobile devices in my class of 21 students is:

  • 19 had Mobile Phones – phones ranged from very basic to 4 students with a Motorola V3X which is capable of web browsing, video calling, music and video downloads, and streamed TV
  • 7 had PSP (PlayStation Portable) – the main use of a PSP is for playing games however PSP do supports music, video, photo, web browsing and wireless connectivity
  • 3 had Video Ipod
  • No. with mp3 players was not counted – but would expect to be high
  • No.of digital cameras was not counted – but I should have

With their range of devices we can not use “one size fits all” approach instead we will need to use a range of m-learning approaches (e.g. podcasting, moblogging) while making sure we do not discriminate or disadvantage any student.

It is not possible to do justice to all m-learning using student mobile devices in this post – so I will be doing a series of posts on this topic next week.


  • Are you currently taking advantage of your students mobile devices? If so, how?
  • What issues do you have with getting students to use their OWN devices?

Barcodes, RFID and NFC technology – use in education and training explained in Sue language!

So far in this week’s series on mobile technology in education I have discussed:

  1. Are UMPCs Going to Convert Courses from Paper Based to Digital?
  2. Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?
  3. You Need Spyglasses – Are you Serious?

Today I am going to discuss how asking simple questions like please explain:

  1. What are barcode, RFID and NFC?
  2. How can barcode, RFID and NFC be used in education and training?

can drive two experts crazy when you expect them to answer the questions using “Sue language” (which is really hard because half the time Sue does not understand her own language!!).

What are barcode, RFID and NFC?

Barcodes use wide and narrow spaces to represent letters or numbers.

Standard Barcode on left (image by Iscan) and 2D barcode on right (image by Varjohaltia). A 2D barcode is able to store more information.


Barcode is read by a barcode reader that triggers information to be retrieved on the reader e.g. the price of an item at a supermarket.

RFID stands Radio Frequency Identification

RFID tags contain microchips that are able to hold and store far more information than barcodes. Information like documents or text from 20 kb to 1 MB depending on the tag. RFID tags either hold the information in the tag and is transferred to the the RFID reader; or triggers information retrieval from within the reader when read with a RFID reader. RFID tags, because they use radio frequency transmission do not need line of sight like a bar code.

Passive RFIDs have no battery whereas an active RFID tags has an inbuilt battery. Active RFID tags can be read from a further distance away (up to 10 metres) because their battery is transmitting a signal.

Expensive items in shops often have RFID tags attached to them – these are what trigger the alarm.

This is an example of one type of RFID tag (image by pommesschranke)


NFC refers to Near Field Communication

NFC uses short range wireless communication and usage is mainly aimed at mobile phones. The technology is based on RFID technology – but the phone acts as the tag reader. The idea is by touching NFC enable phone on a tag you could trigger it to load up a web page, ring a number or send an SMS.

Check out this video for more detailed explanation of these technologies by Marcus Ragus.

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For more detailed information I recommend that you check out Marcus Ragus and Ian Whitehouse’s RFID scoping study.

How Barcode and RFID technology is being used

New England Institute is currently using RFID technology with students for asset registering and OHS induction. Their RFID podcaster can be used to trigger audio, video or text content on the RFID reader.

Daniel Dacey (New England Computer Solutions) is also working together with Marcus Ragus on a learning table. This video will give you a better understanding of the potential applications of this technology.

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Fortunately no experts were injured in my quest for knowledge; and I would like to thank both Marcus Ragus and DanielDacey for their patience!!