Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mobile Learning Fun

A few weeks ago I bought my first mobile phone - yeah I know... not many other people can believe it either - and me an IT Manager :-) Anyway I've been learning just what a (Motorola Maxx V6) mobile can do in the classroom - and I'm really enjoying it.

I recently polled 200 of our students (out of 900) and found that mobile phone ownership is very high - and 91% of student mobiles have a camera and 75% can record video. 70% of students spend up to $30 per month on their mobiles... 20% spend $50 or more.

Not only are students carrying mobiles but more are bringing laptops and gaming devices such as PS2s and DS Lites on campus. After Easter many of these devices will be able to connect to our new campus-wide wireless network.

I wanted to explore the educational potential of mobile phones for several reasons:
  1. they enable multimedia capture of student learning - pictures, video and audio
  2. they enable direct SMS communication with students - less than 20% of students are using our official email service (it used to be 70% 3 years ago)

  3. they have potential use for delivery of mobile learning

  4. every teacher now has a wireless laptop greatly improving networked access in the classroom.

After learning how to use my phone - which was no easy task since manuals are written for people who already know how to use a mobile phone (yes I read manuals) - I launched into the mobile worlds of moblogging, bluetooth, java applications and 2D barcodes. My main guide was Leonard Low's Mobile Learning Blog.

I learned how to send pictues to my Flickr account which I linked directly to my Journalism class MS SharePoint portal. This proved to be very useful because I could immediately share pictures with my students.

I use this in all my classes taking opportunistic photo's whenever I want to capture individual or group experience or evidence.

I then discoverered bluetooth! I bought a $30 USB Bluetooth adaptor, plug it into any computer and send and receive files to and from mobiles and laptops in the classroom - for free!

And as a bonus I now know something that many students do not - their mobiles have bluetooth. After telling them how to turn it on my PC monitor began to pick up their devices - we had a personal area network - PAN.

My next adventure was in running java applications. I downloaded Remote Control and was able to start applications on my laptop from my mobile. I used it to start PowerPoint, browse for the presentation I wanted and then move fowards and backwards through the slides.

Even better my mobile showed me what the next slide was while giving me the notes for the current slide - brilliant! (You can see the bluetooth adapter plugged into the side of my laptop.)

My plan is to put bluetooth adapters into every computer lab so that students can transfer pictures, video and audio to computers for free.

I also played with 2D barcodes - fascinating - although I can't think of how I might use it at the moment...

In a related project we have signed up to an online SMS service so that teachers can send and receive text messages on their computers - using a normal keyboard. Early trials were very positive and now ten teachers have joined the project. Some teachers have free SMS available on their mobile plans and will use that to message students about their attendance or courses.

As you can see I'm enjoying my new mobile - and I'm also engaging my students :-)

Labels: , , , ,