Open Mobile Learning

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mobile learning, edtech, digital media and learning

Archive for November, 2011

Badges for Mobile Learning

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

MobileEd.org just submitted a proposal for the HASTAC / Mozilla Foundation / MacArthur Digital Media & Competition on Badges for Learning. See this link for our ideas on using badges to recognize achievement in mobile learning.

An excerpt from the application:

Because these learning activities fall outside the aegis of “school,” they go unrecognized. We must acknowledge noteworthy and meaningful achievement in use of mobile phones to pursue fields of learning or civic engagement outside traditional educational structures.

To address this need, MobileEd.org proposes creation of the Open Mobile Learning Badge program to recognize achievement using mobiles in various fields of interest—both in established learning practices and yet-to-be discovered modalities for learning that are made possible through mobile technology.

Please comment if you have insights that might be useful.

corrupting “games”

Monday, November 7th, 2011

“If you fall into the trap of using games just as any other medium and you aren’t understanding the broader social changes and values that the technology is promoting, then you are going to be using new tools to reach old ends.” –Kurt Squire.


This fall MobileEd.org has been researching mobile use at the K-12 level, trying to understand if students and teachers are actually using mobile phones for learning. We have been interviewing superintendents, principals, IT Directors, teachers, and students, representing over 15 schools (and nearly 10k students) in Western Mass.—charter / public, elementary and high schools. Though this work is still in progress, we presented some preliminary findings at Mozilla/HASTAC/MacArthur’s MobilityShifts.org several weeks ago at Parsons The New School.

Among other things, we have found that while many administrators, teachers, and students had some sort of mobile device, phones were not really being used for learning—either formally in class work or informally outside of class. At MobilityShifts.org, we presented some of the reasons why mobile phones were not being leveraged, then made recommendations for how we might address the situation. We argued for creation of Open Mobile Learning, an open web-based resource for mobile learning lessons. And building on James Gee and Michael Levine’s idea for a Digital Teacher Corps, we recommended creation of a Mobile (Digital) Teacher Corps.

Why the quote from Kurt Squire, then? Squire’s caution about “using new tools to reach old ends” resonates with a sub-theme emerging from the research. When asked about games, some students remarked that there are two types of games: ones designed by Educators and ones designed by gamers (people who love and actually play games).  “The ones designed by educators suck,” said one student candidly. Of course, the binary is not absolute—there are educators who design good games, etc.—but the point is a well taken, and that’s what Squire begins to address in his DMLcentral interview when he discusses how we can design good, comprehensive games for education. What I am also hearing in conversation with students is that the meaning of “game” has already shifted. Kids are suspicious of  computer “games” when they’re rolled out in school settings. And when I watch third graders perform rote memory exercises in the guise of a game, I fear that we’ve corrupted the “game,” moving it away from what Jane McGonigal describes as  “gamefulness.” Clearly, a game does not necessarily ensure meaningful learning, but a proliferation of bad games might just ruin the very passion-led learning opportunities that games make possible.

Streaming Video from/to Your Phone

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Metropol938 Bambuser

Thanks to Katrin / MobileActive.org, who introduced me to Bambuser.com. Bambuser allows you to stream video from your phone or laptop to another phone or website. Totally fascinating. As I write, I am watching/listening to a mobile feed from acampadaparis_int France, a gathering of students and stakeholders describing their experiences with Occupy Paris (Streaming vidéo officiel de Démocratie Réelle Paris – Réseau International)) essentially real-time. What is striking, beyond the often refreshing lo-fi spontaneity of some of the streams, is that many of the videos are coming from mobile phones. With Bambuser, the mobile is broadcast tool; the mobile is the portable camera, studio, and news channel. A quick glance reveals mobile video feeds from Syria, Brazil, China, Spain, Sweden, Russia, and many others. And they’re streaming any number of events and happenings—business conferences, sports matches, political gatherings, performance art, pets, documentation of the quotidian.

As you’d expect, video content and production quality are varied, and the streams are evanescent—popping up briefly, streaming, then disappearing, though there is an archive available on the Bambuser site.

I am not sure who is monitoring these streams or even if there are rules to enforce. (Users can flag streams  as inappropriate, though.)

I also wonder how Bambuser will bring better quality to the content experience so that instead of sifting through thousands of videos, there is a viable way to parse and view the content efficiently. Search is helpful, and the channel subscription model is a start, but right now, it seems fairly random. And maybe therein lies the beauty.

No doubt, ads are imminent.

I see a lot of potential for Bambuser, especially for mobile learning. Watching Sweden’s Metropol live i Skärholmen!, I see news organizations utilizing the tool for real-time, on-the-street reporting, polls, and census taking. There are potential privacy issues, but beyond using Bambuser merely as a video documentation tool, students could leverage mobiles for real-time reporting on events, scientific data collection in the field, or instructional lessons from remote locations anywhere in the world. Another tool in the citizen journalist/scientist/activist kit.

bambuser

By smalandskavlen from Sweden: Smålandskavlen 2011 Mariannelund – Dagsträckor