Wednesday, 20 June 2012

5 ways to strengthen a #BYOD #mLearning community

When setting up a mobile learning course, it is not always easy to get everyone on the same page. There are a lot of factors that can vary from learner to learner. Nevertheless, any learning will benefit from a strong learning community that feels connected to each other. So I went through my mobile strategy notes and filtered out 5 ways that I have been using to grow the community spirit of a new mLearning group at the  beginning of a course. Feel free to share yours, I feel that there are much more ideas out there.

In my case the mobile courses are mostly developed for people already having a personal, mobile learning device (smartphone, tablet, internet enabled cell-phone...) and using them to access the course (BYOD). This pushes me to combine community activities that also increase mobile skills. BUT before asking newbies to get their mobile devices out and use them, I always stress the importance of WiFi for financial reasons.

So here are my 5 ways to strengthen a mLearning community:
  1. Ask learners to take a picture/record a movie (e.g. Qik) of a famous landmark of their own country/region, or their front door (easy and fun) and load it to a central location via e-mail (I would recommend Posterous for this, easy and quick).
  2. Asking learners to share their wildest mLearning dreams (a good way to stretch the possibilities and let them know the scope and opportunities of mLearning).
  3. Ask them to share the URL of their mobile learning device details (this gets learners interested in the details of their own mobile device, it is techy, but will get them aware of the tech details and on how to choose future mobiles. A great step towards a general mobile device tech session: wifi, pixels, bluetooth...). This will also allow you to get some idea of the variety and most common mobile devices for your course.
  4. Organize a fun contest (e.g. the first one to get 3 mobile media types uploaded gets a box of Belgian chocolate)
  5. Set up a Crowdmap, this is an easy and mobile friendly (tweet, phone call, sms) worldwide map based on the wonderful Africa Ushahidi principle. It allows people to use their phone to simply add content to the map, which pinpoints their location at the same time. The only thing you need to ask them is to share something that is contextual to all: e.g. their favorite local recipe, the best mobile store in their neighborhood, ...)