Wednesday 28 December 2011

Content from the Social #Mobile #Networking for #Informal learning roundtable #somobnet

A quick recap of some of the SoMobNet International Roundtable on "Social Mobile
Networking for Informal Learning" that ran on 21 November 2011 in London:

Guy Merchant's keynote:
From which I quote some key ideas here:
What happens when mobiles are founds in formal educational contexts? They get banned! Classroom ecologies: possibilities for different kinds of learning relationships. BUT institutions are patterned by established relationships. Institutions find it difficult to break into new approach.

David Parry coins the term mobile literacy. Understanding info access, hyperconnectivity and the new sense of space. Latter, is location specific, e.g through QR codes.

But, there are 3 concerns.
  • Is the fact that we can do new things sufficient justification?
  • How can teachers, trainers manage the the potential levels of distraction?
  • Which students have devices that are sufficiently nimble, who owns them and who pays for them?
More positive story. 2009 Campsmount secondary school, when burnt to ground. After fire no coursework, student contacts, VLE. Within 24 hours Wordpress blog, Twitter feed, Facebook group (1,500 members) and YouTube video press release (3,000 views). Worked with donated laptops, iPod touch. Got going as a school I a new form within 1 week and school became mobilized and mobile. Changed way school worked spurred on by extensive blogging, QR clouds etc. Head sprints around school ‘capturing learning’ using Soundcloud etc. But some questions, What (and whose) device are most appropriate in different learning contexts (smartphone, iPod touch, tablet)? What should we be teaching about mobile social networking?

Conclusion: What practices are seen as legitimate/legitimated in learning contexts? (Need to remain safe). What constitutes ‘advantageous practice’? Especially for disadvantaged students ...

Another keynote came from Charles Crook's:
Giving some stats on UK access (the video is to be found at ), here are his slides:

Christoph Pimmer, Sebastian Linxen: The transformational role of social
mobile media in the context of the Nepalese medical education system
In this contribution the transformational potential of social mobile media in developing countries are addressed from a socio-cultural perspective. Networking sites – like Facebook – that are often accessed by means of mobiles are highly popular in developing contexts. They can be regarded as a catalyst for mobile internet use in general. From a learning perspective they enable students and teachers to participate in social professional communities beyond local and even national boundaries. The technological artifacts do not only lead to new and emerging educational practices in informal learning contexts, they also affect the overall educational system. The on-going change has to be critically viewed with respect to media literacy, privacy as well as to ethical and legal issues. In the light of the achievement of the UN Development goals it’s pedagogic implications, however, appear to be far more powerful than those of the numerous initiatives that distribute technology and knowledge - bottom up - in formal learning settings.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

#Mobile design webcasts by @bdconf

Breaking development is organizing a variety of mobile conferences and webinars and as I was going through their September 2011 mobile webcasts, some of the videos got my attention. Great stuff. Here are the two webinars that I found very interesting, but there are 18 (!) videos on mobile design, and each of them have key ideas that affect learning with mobile devices.

The presentation by Stephanie Rieger explores how our use, and perception of mobile devices is changing, and how these changes may impact how we should design for them going forward. The nice thing about her 1 hour presentation is that she connects mobiles to our contemporary society (banks, revolutions, how data moves all around us...). Stephanie also stresses the importance of being simple when any of us wants to share our own content/data... so flexible, light weight websites are the way to go with m-design. Progressive development is another key point in her speech, as the user will decide what they find is the 'best' thing, so let the people choose their own meaningful enhancement (nice approach, a bit of crowd-sourcing approach for m-design). Different sites for different data space, bringing it together as patterns. "Create the best experience for all the audiences"

Breaking Development April 2011: Beyond the Mobile Web from Breaking Development on Vimeo.

Another webinar that got my attention was the presentation by Stephen Hay on Responsive mobile design. Responsive design is a hot topic, as he talks about fluid grids (grids that go in and out depending on how big the viewport is) and media queries (feature detection of a device), combining these two is responsive design. Stephen explains responsive design in a pleasant, humorous way. Referring to Paul Rand who said that design is putting form and content together. He also refers to progressive enhancement and the similar discussions that appear in m-design and who were discussed a decade ago when discussing computer web-design. He then goes on showing some coding examples for m-design.

Breaking Development April 2011: Real World Responsive Design from Breaking Development on Vimeo.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Warm wishes to all: how the potential to learn and network blessed me this year

The last couple of years I have been racing: racing to stay on top of the latest eLearning and mLearning news, racing to be at a maximum amount of events that I perceived as 'important', racing to combine working life with personal life (failing at it), racing to get a degree, racing to be found interesting and 'a person to know', racing ... luckily life suddenly stopped me from racing.

Two major changes happened this year: my boy was born (Isaak is wonderful) and I got diagnosed with diabetes 1, my pancreas is no longer functional. I understood that less than a century ago, I would have been dead, not being able to see my son grow up... or share laughter's with those that are so dear to my heart, both professional and personal. My own mortality hit me like a brick wall. I am living on borrowed time!

So is racing a good speed for life? No, ... it probably never is no matter what life you lead. It never pays to chase status, illusion ... This is the year that I fully realized the idea of living in the moment. Nurturing and savoring the present. It is not about who I am compared to imaginary boundaries or levels, it is what I do compared to what I belief in, action to get closer to the wishes of my heart. Working to come closer to my own humanity.

Less than nine months ago I had to decide whether to go ahead with a personal mobile learning project, called MobiMOOC or not. It was a tough decision looking at the circumstances (just diagnosed with diabetes, tough time at work, baby coming), but I decided that this was what I wanted to do, and so I went for it. There was no financial gain, it would only mean: work and engagement. But what a pleasure that turned out to be. Thanks to MobiMOOC I got to connect with a wide variety of really wonderful, driven people that are into mLearning for the sake of it, just to make the world a better place... I felt as if the world gave me a small, very valuable gift: people are willing to join hands and wonderful moments no matter where they are, no matter when. So thank you to all those wonderful people, my heart goes out to you. MobiMOOC also resulted in a research collaboration that really got all of us to the next mLearning understanding: so thanks from the bottom of my hear to Michael, Sean, Nilgun, Rebecca, Osvaldo and Apostolos... thank you for showing me that all can be done when in good company, and thank you for all your kind support all along the way.
MobiMOOC also got me closer to people I have wanted to or was working with already: the wonderful, sometimes reserved John and the driven, extravert Adele, the ever spiritual Devaji, and the ever inspiring believer in openness Stephen (thanks for showing me that it is one of life's wonderful options).

Thank you also to all the people I (re)connected with, and that I am still connected to (Patrick, Ingo, Kim and Luka, you are all dear to my heart). Thanks to all of you I now fully understand that connecting - digitally or face-to-face - really makes a difference. At numerous occasions I felt your warmth and kind spirits and it made my heart float and sing more openly then it did for a long time. I am very grateful to all of you, that are scattered around the globe and have sent me so much kindness all throughout the year.

And of course I am truly thankful for my whole family (Mom, Dad, Amber, Kris, Leo... and all of you), especially Isaak and Ciska. Isaak for showing me how natural learning is and that it occurs organically and informal, and I thank all of the gods and the universe out there for Ciska, for always being there, supporting me and trusting that my mind will learn how to cope with any new challenge. It is truly a wonderful world that surrounds me, and I hope to spread it to all the people I meet and will have the pleasure of meeting.

In some strange way I have been able to feel the christmas spirit of peace throughout the year (and feel free to swap christmas with any holiday that is similar to this mostly western tradition, or simply peace).

So I wish you all a prosperous 2012 and warm hearts!

Friday 16 December 2011

#unesco_mlw Mike Sharples on #mLearning pedagogies

Appropriate pedagogy and learning with mobile phones. Still liveblogging from UNESCO mLearning symposium 16 December 2011.
He gave an overview of different learning models for mobile learning. I pick up from where Mike said it would be an asset for UNESCO. We need to look at education that could not be done in traditional education before, that is the strength of learning with mobile devices.
One important remark: the public empowerment potential of mobile devices is an incredible strong point for learning (formal and informal).

Constructive learning with mobile devices for meaningful, collaborative learning
first they solve the problem themselves, then they discuss with peers to see what the others did and how this works or not with their own solution, after that the teacher gives feedback. So it is a three step process towards collaborative knowledge construction. This was a successful mLearning project in Chili. It is an iterative process.
This model can be used for a variety of learning problems and goals, every time constructing on the learners solution.

Situated learning: making sense of the world, across locations, in context. For instance landscape learning with 3D models, mobile devices with augmented reality capacities. This offers more relevant information to the learner, allowing a more comprehensive knowledge construction to take place. This allows to really explore landscapes, rooms, architectures... and put for example an environment from the past over it to really get into the content you want the learners to understand.

Another option is empowerment, by sharing perspectives with basic mobile phones. For instance the project with male sex workers in India that offer help and support to one another to engage in collaborative support as well as learning (legal issues, narratives). This particular project used game based learning to offer them information that would help them in their vulnerable situation. Where culturally relevancy is also very important.

Mentions the three C's of effective learning
Construction, conversation, collaboration.

  • how can you connect the learning that goes around inside and outside the classroom?
  • how can you enable effective 1 to 1 learning in the classroom?
  • how can you manage children that are increasingly going to bring their devices to the classroom?
  • how can you support learning through construction and collaboration?

Reply on the keynote by Don Knezen
Occupy Wallstreet, Arab spring... these are real new world developments in which mobiles were key. I see this as examples for new pedagogical uses for mobile devices.
He offers Mike an option to collaborate on this

question from me to Mike on a potential research strand
Has there been any research on informal learning from youngsters to construct their own 'formal' learning (like for instance the surfers getting to the world top by using mobiles)?
Mike: not yet, although there are known examples of this happening, like sports and computer coding and gaming. This is an interesting potential for the computer science.
IT or computer science, the young learners that are networked learning and construct their own learning dispite the school education system.

Context outside the classroom becomes fluid: context that you are in, context that is part of your own understanding.
We learn by conversations, with others and with ourselves. So this should be materialized to fully understand learning and how it constructs from conversation. There has been some learning theories which uses conversations.

#unesco_mlw #mLearning thoughts picked up in between sessions

Barbara Reynolds from Unicef
Change is immense, in our lifetimes, before our own eyes, there is so much change going on... the question is not: will we have teachers, but WHO will be our teachers? will it be the technology? Will it be all of us? It may even change every few seconds.
We need to agree on the term of What education is for us: there are two extreme options: is it to keep all of us at the same place, or is education transformative: it will not only change us, but the whole of society.
So what is the goal of education? Anything between these two poles probably. So let us ask: what is knowledge. When we were growing up we needed to learn literature etc. But if we look at the volume of knowledge right now, it is overwhelming. What will ensure good citizenship, what will make sustainable dinners for all of us on the globe. So currently technology is driving us, but is it in the direction we want it to be? It is our task as educators to push the transition towards more humanity.

Sara Vannini (@saraksha): with all the world in crisis, cutting educational budgets, how can we have faith that budgets will be made available for education4all in countries that are struggling with their finances?
Ronda Zelezny-Green (@leadingleo): all the projects seen here are very interesting, but I have yet to see a critical mass of projects that have shaped educators on the ground for education. Not much movement seen to address mLearning acceptance between educators, and even learners. If we do not engage with teachers, we will never reach the volume to get mLearning on a large scale accepted.

STeve Vosloo (@stevevosloo) just arrived at UNESCO five weeks ago and he is in full swing organizing this symposium and getting the word out. He is a critical researcher and all through the day he has been mentioning key factors for learning with mobiles: sustainability is a goal for all mobile projects, but it is not reached everytime. He also stresses that big companies and institutes need to get up to speed with the educational changes and opportunities. Mobile devices are also all about communication.

Shafika Isaacs (@shafikai) mentioned that change is necessary, but that the system itself is only taking small steps towards that change, although technologies and some of the young people are moving a head with great speed. She also mentioned that big institutions, as well as many of the people running it are not aware of the full impact of mobile learning and technologies. It is not simply a small device, it is a connection, a communication
Adele Botha mentioned on many occasions that it is necessary that our minds focus on getting things done, not just talking in an endless circle. Although there is a need to draw up national policies on learning with mobiles,

My thoughts: this symposium was an asset so far. The reason why this symposium had just that bit more than other gatherings was - to me - the human factor. The fact that the importance of changing with humans in mind should be at the centre. If we cannot attain a better world for all of us, then all the efforts for change are futile. But for me, I still am hungry, hungry for action, for getting into it, organizing a course, a curriculum, getting all of us stronger. Mobile learning, and any learning for that matter is about a human capacity to connect. Let's make it work, by doing it. Let us all find what works, in our settings, local context, local solutions, local partners... but always with the bigger human goal in mind: getting more enlightened, increasing quality of life.
Nevertheless I do have some questions: I did not hear a lot about new pedagogical formats (well, this would be the focus today, so it will come, but a quick remark right now): although Paul Kim mentioned that young people are eager for learning, self-directed learning was not mentioned anywhere else (yet). And to me self-directed learning is key in an ever changing world, for surfing the upcoming knowledge waves is the only way to stay on top of what you/I as a learner want to know.
I did get thoughts for the next MobiMOOC though, simply because of the ideas that were not mentioned, yet are in my head. I also feel there is a discrepancy between the focus and innovative approach of many individual actions (by teachers, by young learners, by people with a passion for learning) and the endorsed projects coming from big institutes... I feel there is too little effort to get successful small initiatives promoted and out there for others to see. It is as if individual learning initiatives are part of the learning underground. coming to think if it, that would be a good subtitle for MobiMOOC: the mobile learning underground, connecting with others just like us.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Benefits in #mobile technology development: the implications for #education #unesco_mlw

Panel: Mario Deriquito, Jill Attewell, Don Knezek, Jonghwi Park on mobile tech development benefits
Mario Deriquito,
beliefs in mobile technology for improving the educational system (works in Philipines). But the mobile solution will not be immediate, nor will it be a total solution. Looking for mLearning solutions that can be mainstreamed. Not all knowledge that young kids can learn, can be delivered through mobile phones. But what about values, leadership, relating to people... that needs to be learned through personal interaction. So there are barriers in harnessing mobile technologies for education. So we need to look at the contexts, the needs. We need to look for mLearning solutions that can enhance existing situations.

Jill Attewell, we need to engage with and convince stakeholders and gatekeepers. Staff development is essential. Its not all about delivery and content. Its not just about kids and schools.
constructing meaning is at the core of learning. An iPad for every learner is not going to improve learning, it is the holistic approach which will lead to better learning.
Listing barriers for mLearning (particularly for teachers):
  • pedagogy
  • teachers lack ict skill confidence
  • fear of change/loss control
  • cost/cost effectiveness/sustainability concerns
  • safeguarding healt and safety
It is the way technology is used by teachers who want to innovate. Maybe mobiles can help in getting back in touch with school dropouts.

Don Knezek,
Lists some positives on mLearning:
mobile technologies improve access to learning, and it will be a global technology. But we must use that access to also come to equaty. He beliefs with care equity will be achieved. He emphasizes literacy and the relief brought by mobile technology... (personal thought: but this raised a thought in my head: literacy did not eradicate poverty in literate regions. So will mobile learning be able to tackle this? Or can anything tackle poverty unless we transform the whole of society?)

Jonghwi Park
benefits of mLearning: key is the creative use of technology, not the technology itself that will make a difference. Mobile tech can be used as a collaborative tool, to produce ideas, knowledge and sharing thoughts. Our mindset must be taken away from 'the tiny screen', it needs to be on using mobile technology as a participatory tool, so that the students can become learning agents.

Future trends in #mobile technology what can we expect in the next 5, 10, 15 years #unesco_mlw

Keynote Paul Kim, Stanford University. Good talk, but a bit technology utopian.
He focuses on success stories from his projects with children around the world while using mobile devices. He speaks with such enthusiasm, that he sounds like a promotional movie for mobile learning created at Stanford. Main idea: pedagogical paradigm shift, learning by students. (a live blogpost, so excuse me for mistyping words etcetera).

In the next 15 years, we will no longer have mobile phones, innovations evolve towards embedded technologies.
If there is a competitive benefit, it is always temporarily... for most human fields. Education however has always changed slowly, however in the recent decade, there was a phenominal transformation. Now we see electronic pads, mobile devices...
So we move from time consuming learning (getting to school etc). So learning is becoming much more durable and sustainable. New kinds of literacies are increasing (note from myself: in Northern and richer areas). He says that although technology is changing at an incredible pace, schools are tredding behind.
Quality learning is created with the learning, in the middle of all this teacher learning is the last of the transformation equation.
He got into a project: programmable open mobile internet 2020. So he is involved in creating mobile technology to be used in 2020 (thought: what is the audience he has in mind?). Tested various mobile learning games: maths, literacy, with tracking feature to know which buttons the children (in different countries: Peru, India) they tap to play the game.
Charging mobile phones by charging while riding a bike. In order to increase sustainability different connections were made with policy makers, universities, ministers of ICT.
Mobile learning creates opportunities for those who have not been reached before: conducted mobile stories with children in refugee camps in Uganda. Conveying the message of peace. Digital stories of cultural heritage even in language that are stressed because they are used less and less.
He beliefs if children are provided the right tools, children all over the world will florish. With mobile efforts, alliances are being created.

From all the lessons he has learned: technology must be linked to pedagogy, for the combination will create more opportunities for the upcoming generations. Sustainability is important, but this means all stakeholders need to be involved. All ICT initiatives for education must start with knowing the complete learning ecosystem, with all stakeholders.
Mobile phones will be cheaper in the future, but we must also learn children to be constructive, self-exploratory and critical in and out of classrooms.
If we can make the phone smarter, it will be able to taylor itself to every learner, making every device a unique and optimal learning device. Links to smart telemedicine devices,

creating mobile learning database that will enable to identify which learner needs to learn what, or has achieved what.

If people are not connected, they will not be able to connect to content. Social DNA: what we belief, what we perceive... will be monitored and the delivered content will be an answer to these data mining algorithms.

"This product will be available in three years time".

Scanning the status of #mLearning across the globe #unesco_mlw

Straight from UNESCO's first mLearning symposium: panel: Jan Hylen, Hyo Jeong So, Shafika Isaacs, Maria Teresa Lugo, Keith Kruger

Focus: Learning with mobile phones: the implications for national policy - drawing on the regional review on mobile learning

There seems to be a lot of one person talking, most listening, so I was looking forward to the first panel of the day (liveblogging what is said, so these are my words paraphrazing the speakers). Many of the people in the panel are educational consultants in a variety of settings.

Shafika Isaacs, YEAH (yes, I think she does great work, and she speaks MUCH quicker than I can follow!!!), immediately starts with a gender picture. sub-saharan region reveals that this continent is most at risk for achieving education for all by 2015. There has been improvement in gender parity and education, but at a number of levels the millenium goals are challenged. The goals were build on the industrial model, which can explain the fact that this model was not attained. Can we reach the education for all goals when it is build on failing systems (industrial model). So maybe we must look at other models. The phenomenal rise in mobile devices and mobile subscriptions, bigger then than textbooks, toilets... so this is an indication that infrastructure is changing, but still challenged. For instance, South Africa is mobile rich, but textbooks poor. The goal is to deepen education quality and education equity. In scanning 15 illustrative projects, if this is mapped to a formalized system (industrial model), and how mLearning is given rise to emerging, innovative projects on education. Also alludes to Arabic spring as a good example of the impact of learning , most mathematics are currently learned outside of the classroom in South-Africa (mobile math projects, e.g. momath). Very important : how are mobile disruptive, and they could and will change the system. From a policy perspective that opens up a significant gap in policy guidelines on how to engage with this disruptive.

Maria Teresa Lugo gives an overview of South America
A very big discrepancy between all the Latin American continent and the adoption/implementation of mobile learning. A lot of social inequality. The potential of learning initiatives: education has improved, but only 4 countries have mandatory secondary schooling. there is an increased expansion of secondary schooling at mandatory level, but a lot of countries have debts, which reflects on education. But teacher training is lacking, which impacts education over all. The indigenous people in Latin America is also a vulnerable group. All of these problems are made worse when you look at the most vulnerable populations across Latin America. When starting to use new technology, you also need to understand its potential, in order to use it to its fullest potential. So we need to come up with new curricula in different formats, also for teachers. And infrastructure needs to be transformed in order for everyone to have access to education. The mobile labs that are set up across Latin America, yet they do not reach the students. Investments are still highly needed in education. The potential of smartphones is underused: to provide real time information that is reliable and viable.

Keith Kruger on education in North America (US and Canada)
k-20 Keith kruger focuses on the fact that communication is the main feature of learning via mobiles. How are mobile devices changing learning (formal and informal), and spaces where learning is happening. Engagement is key for learning motivation, yet there is an increased amount of drop-outs. There is more personalized learning and the expert becomes more of a facilitator.
He emphasises that the US has a vision on education (which is something we all hope our national policy makers will have a vision as well :-D

Jan Hylen focuses on policies on mobile learning in Europe
Lists a couple of European initiatives, like MoleNet in UK, emphasizes changed government role in UK. Focues on promising Danish model with regard to mobile learning, netherlands which has national support for deploying mobile learning. Just like the American model, students are asked to bring their own device (risk of new digital divide, not yet thoroughly researched). A lot of bottom up innovation. Barriers and drivers for mLearning: policy makers and public are often barriers (my own idea: is this really true? Can this not be linked to Innovation Theory of Rogers, and early adopters versus majority? maybe only a 'natural' evolution towards innovation adoption). He also emphasises on the need to see education as a holistic approach, where integration, durability and sustainability can be assured.

Hyo Jeong So focusing on Asia Pacific region
Mobile phone penetration is also very impressive, and increasing fast in those countries who are still catching up. Big gender gap, India has good poor mLearning projects. Descriptiveness of mobile phones, lead to the minister of Maleysia to send a recommendation to ban mobile phones from schools (like in many other countries around the world). Mobile learning frequently falls under ICT for education, this is not always the best => links it more to indirect learning than direct learning. mLearning involves different stakeholders (policy makers, teachers, students, telecom providers, researchers... ). Refers to knowledge ladders framework of Kozma (2011). Our vision needs to take into account micro-level to fully actualize the learning potential of mobiles.

Any innovative #mLearning thoughts on education for development regions? #unesco_mlw

Today is the start of the first mobile symposium on learning organized by UNESCO. It is a joyous occasion, and I have been looking forward to it for weeks. There is only one problem… will this gathering of people result in new ideas on how to get relevant, impactful mLearning on the rails in regions that are lacking trainers/teachers and resources? Or more personally, can I make a difference, can any one person make a difference in such a large gathering of experts?

Ever since I read A&M Texas University’s research conclusion on brainstorming and the fact that it is not useful in big groups, I have been in dubio on how to get my voice heard during large conferences or symposia. If brainstorming only makes sense in one-on-one discussions (the Texan research concluded that in larger groups only consensus of existing ideas is reached, not innovation), then trying to get the one question in after a debate between an expert panel can only … result in some self-flattering idea that I dared to speak up… but it would not mean that my idea of any of the ideas would be picked up unless these ideas would have been launched and discussed beforehand.

The ol’boys (or ol’girl for that matter) network was a familiar concept, but now there is yet another impact factor of that network: if I am not part of the pre-conference network, my ideas will not fall into fruitful soil. So how can I get my voice heard, let alone get the voices or opinions out there from all the educators, teachers, trainers, support workers… that are spread around the world and are working with mobiles to enhance education day in day out?
The only conclusion I could draw at 3 o’clock in the morning was… I should have skyped with the key actors to get my ideas on the agenda. Which inevitably got me doubting my very presence during the next couple of days.

Luckily for my motivation, I am never shy of facing opposing walls, so I want to get one main idea across during these couple of days and if that does not work, I will at least take notes and share it with all of you so we can get into the discussion and build new mLearning opportunities. If you have any thoughts on mLearning, twitter them #unesco_mlw ... looking forward to hearing your ideas!

There is a need to get the format of big gatherings optimized to get all the ideas heard and discussed. Well, some conferences do organize pre-conference discussions (OERu, Networked learning…). Okay... off to record what is said... and looking forward to it!

Monday 28 November 2011

#IRRODL : Why the #chaos of #MOOC s and #mlearning will be a benefit to #education in the long run

To all of us who think education is stressed for change, this paper on using mLearning and MOOCs to understand chaos, emergence, and complexity in education is a collaborative effort to embrace chaos in new educational formats (MOOC, mLearning) to come to a new educational balance... in the end.

The paper focuses on MOOCs and mLearning and links it to connectivism in order to suggest that these new formats of education have their chaotic side, but ... the chaos which accompanies these new educational formats will eventually result in a new educational balance (well... you cannot blame us for thinking BIG :-D

So to all the MobiMOOC research team: congratulations: +Michael Sean Gallagher, +nilgün keskin +Sean C. Abajian +Rebecca Hogue +Osvaldo Rodriguez +Apostolos Koutropoulos +Ignatia/Inge de Waard (I am really grateful to be part of such a dynamic and diverse group!).

The article was published just this weekend in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Leanring (IRRODL), vol 12, No 7 (2011): which is a Special Issue on Emergent Learning, Connections, Design for Learning. There are many other great articles in it.

Table of Contents


Editorial: Volume 12, Number 7 HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Rod Sims, Elena Kays i-vi

Research Articles

Designing for learning: Online social networks as a classroom environment HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Gail Casey, Terry Evans 1-26
Pointillist, cyclical, and overlapping: Multidimensional facets of time in online education HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Pekka Ihanainen, John Moravec 27-39
Emergent learning and interactive media artworks: Parameters of interaction for novice groups HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Marta Kawka, Kevin Larkin, Patrick Alan Danaher 40-55
Aligning the quantum perspective of learning to instructional design: Exploring the seven definitive questions HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Katherine Joyce Janzen, Beth Perry, Margaret Edwards 56-73
A pedagogy of abundance or a pedagogy to support human beings? Participant support on massive open online courses HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Rita Kop, Hélène Fournier, John Sui Fai Mak 74-93
Using mLearning and MOOCs to understand chaos, emergence, and complexity in education HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Inge de Waard, Sean Abajian, Michael Sean Gallagher, Rebecca Hogue, Nilgün Keskin, Apostolos Koutropoulos, Oscar C. Rodriguez 94-115

Research Notes

"Chaos rules" revisited HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
David Murphy 116-134
Emergent, self-directed, and self-organized learning: Literacy, numeracy, and the iPod Touch HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Carlo Antonio Ricci 135-146

Book Notes

Book review - Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Nataly Tcherepashenets

Friday 25 November 2011

Business models for #gaming #medialearning2011

A panel of game developers who all shed their light on how they got their games funded/financed during the media and learning conference in Brussels, Belgium. It was amazing to see that the main route was via government funding (national). In-game advertising was not discussed (though would be interesting) and no corporate sponsors were mentioned either, though I can imagine that Disney would be interested in providing Disney land decors for an educational game?

Below you will find my transcript of what was said
Members of the panel: Lieve Achten (empowering via gaming), Balthazar Fernandez-Manjon from Universidad complutense de Madrid, spain (computer science background working on eLearning platforms and standards) and Swen Vincke from Larian Studios, a gaming company who built the fabulous MonkeyTales game to enhance math skills for all learners.
Getting money from the parents, as they want the best for their children.
Quickie on Monkeytales math for different ages, international (currently UC,US, Belgium, Poland... growing). The game adapts with an algorithm which enables the program to see how s/he good that student is, the program will adapt to the capacities of teh child in order to keep a motivational pace going that will stimulate the child and not demotivate it.
So even if you take it as an adult, the program will give you increasingly difficult challenges.

Which partners, main challenges for these funding partners
Lieve, works very low-tech so sponsorship for logistics (classrooms, providing students, ...) so she went to the ministry of education and youth to collaborate on this project. She got a lot of skeptical remarks on the 'serious game' idea.
She emphasizes the need to find out what language the different stakeholders understand, so diversifying your business and logic case.
At this stage the governments are more positive towards educational gaming.
Her games are aimed at disabled learners. The teachers are involved from early on (learning labs). The game starts from real life school content, translated to their own experience, then redesigning it towards a game. The teacher often get coaching roles, which the learners can connect to. Once the ball is rolling, it becomes easier to get funds. A game must also feel un-learning, otherwise, with too much pedagogy, the learners think 'get a life' and leave it.

Swen: governments are quite open to it, but frightened by the cost of building a 'real' game. The challenge is to put yourself out there against the competition, so you need research proof that the game HAS impact. So get research funds, manage the enormous amount of curricula. so you will need to be able to sell on the international market, this makes it depending on the curriculum standards in all these countries (quite challenging). you need to demonstrate that the kids will learn more by playing this game. But every algorithm takes years to develop, implement and evaluate. So time is an important factor. You also need to offer the learner a satisfying feeling, the game must deliver what it says it delivers AND without exploding in your face as you are playing it. So finding the strong common denominator with regard to public expectations. Strong surplus of gaming is memorization, by playing it again and again.Multiple disciplines need to be collaboration to get a game going.

Balthazar: problem to incorporate each of the stakeholders language to get positive results on your demand. You risk a deadlock if one of the key stakeholders stalls. The qualitative methodology of the game is also essential. The pedagogical end of the game is tricky, for educationalists come with a long list of learning needs. you need to combine all of the stakeholders concerns to get a high quality result that can stand the test of time and learning. Funding is also a challenge: ministry of education, but a lot of paperwork, but once the money is provided by the government, sometimes the gov contacts the gaming industry, they want to make a clear profit out of it... and this risks your project to become obsolete or missed. So what Balthazar did: sell it to Harvard. This enabled them to get local funding, as the local gov saw the Harvard sell as a quality mark. You must also make the game sustainable (will it be able to shift to 3D, new computers, new devices...), how will you tackle this? You need to make any educational game update-able. Games should be authentic learning. So in-game assessment should be integrated as well. Otherwise you have a discrepancy between learning (gaming) and assessment (paper and pen). The game must also be secured, at all levels... so this costs as well. And if a security breach happens... you risk liability. this is the reason Balthazar builds simple user games, not multi-player games as security is different for each of them.
Working with national standardization institutes of a country REALLY helps in getting funding, as this includes national compliance across that nation.
Games are the new narrative of education, previously it was movies. In the end games could be monetized. (Refers to scratch platform of MIT)

Remarks from the audience
Currently there is no serious game market. Military is one of the key funders of serious games, but what about ethics?

The funding risks killing the serious game market. As the research is subjective, but far too much money is spend on poor research. But the consumer market could be revived. But another risk is the open content which risks killing developing countries as well.

There is a discussion on ethics because of the negative views on killing games. So how to bridge learning and gaming via gaming traditions (shooter up...).

Another option is the learning apps that are on the market, and the completely self-generated games. But to produce this, it takes expertise and you always will and this takes years. That is why teachers will not be able to build games just in a jiffy.

Thursday 24 November 2011

The importance to stimulate children/student/youngsters #brain #medialearning2011

Peter Adriaenssens (expert in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at KULeuven) speaks at the conference of Media and Learning in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Some notes from his speech.

Brain and educational practice
All starts at the neuron level. These neurons and their branches will form a neural network. From birth to 2 years, this neural network is growing at a quick speed.

this process is genetically determined, but not all will be needed, this is were the genetic will meet nurture. Parts of these will be pruned as theings are 'not needed'. So it is imperative to take this neural plasticity into account when stimulating children from early on.

These synapsis will keep growing all the way to half of the twenties. This is the work that needs to be done for the biggest part in the first 18 years. Exposing the young brain to a wide variety of stimulus will decide the quality of emotion and behaviour. It is a continuous process of adaptation of the brain. this brain needs meaningful interactions to grow, so exposure to media, creativity, ... will actively stimulate growth (language, concentration, ...). This will result eventually in adolescent behaviour.

Children that are not exposed to stimulae, will result in a very poor set of neural networks.

As such society and all of us in it, are responsible for brain stimulus.

Exposure to stimulae are at the center of the discussion about violent exposure by media etc. But why do not we set up research centers about 'good media' instead of looking at the negative impact (personal note: good point!).

The Brain
cosists of many different parts that work together to make meaning of the world
nees appropriate nutrituion to reach it maximal potential
needs appropriate sleep in order to work effectively
needs ongoing developmentally appropiate stimulation
learns most effectively when information is provided in the child's prefrered larning or thinking style

Important to explore the language at which children feel at their best, might be dance, physical, creativity.... this push for positive stimulae is important for their brain as children have different preferences (or their brains have).
Provide children with camera's, internet, media tools...

Critical though of myself: lack of infrastructure will result in a sustained digital divide with low resource areas and/or groups.

Are we able to prove that media stimulus will result in an improved child development?
We do not have the data to found this, but we can set out some guidelines.
Growing importance of social skills. And making them open to democratical, critical analysis to be ready for this world. Lifelong learning is a need, but does education taking care of this need? Are schools redesigned to allow them to provide lifelong learning?

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Join #UNESCO for the first symposium on #mlearning in Paris

Last week I got a kind invitation of Steve Vosloo to join the first symposium on mobile learning which is organized at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, France on 15 - 16 December 2011 (near the Eifeltower, so great venue). The event is set-up in collaboration with Nokia.

To facilitate the discussion, discovery and experimentation of creative ideas about how to use mobile technologies to transform educational processes and outcomes, all of mLearning specialists are invited to gather there and let your voices be heard.

Officials of Ministries of Education, international experts and practitioners in mobile learning, as well as representatives from major partners are invited to share innovative solutions of learning with, and through, mobile technologies to accelerate the achievement of Education For All (EFA) goals and improve the quality of education.

The programme can be found here. The symposium follows a mLearning expert meeting that runs from 12-15 December and which is part of the mobile learning week.

The main objectives of the Symposium are to:

  • Share the main findings of the regional reviews of mobile learning in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America, with specific focuses on the policies that promote mobile learning as well as the effective ways in which mobile technologies can be utilised for teacher support and professional development.
  • Share the latest developments of mobile technologies and their implications for education, and envision innovative ways in which mobile technologies can be used to enhance the quality of education and transform learning processes.

You can register online to the event on the UNESCO ICT in Education Website. The organizers indicate that following your registration you will receive a confirmation email with your invitation letter attached.

Should you have any questions or requests, please contact Mr. Jongwon Seo at

Please note that registration closes on 28 November 2011. Unfortunately UNESCO cannot provide travel assistance to the event.

And for those of us with great ideas, the Education For All challenges are still open, so get your ideas in! The next challenge to take part in is the one on Life Skills and Lifelong Learning which will be launched on the 12 December 2011.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

5 Calls for #papers, presentations or/and proposals for #mlearning and #eLearning

If anyone is organizing a conference, workshop... feel free to send it to me @ignatia I will gladly add it to the next call for papers post.

EdMedia conference organized by the Association for Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)

Where: Denver, Colorado, USA
When: 25 – 29 June 2012
Deadline for submission: 12 December 2011
More information:
Short description: This annual international conference serves as a multi-disciplinary forum for the discussion and exchange of information on the research, development, and applications on all topics related to multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications/distance education. EdMedia attracts more than 1,500 leaders in the field from over 70 countries. We invite you to attend EdMedia and submit proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, tutorials, workshops, posters/demonstrations, corporate showcases/demos, and discussions

eLearning Africa 2012
Where: Benin, Africa, at the Palais des Congès de Cotonou
When: 23 – 25 May 2012
Deadline for submission: 9 January 2012
More information:
Short description: Meeting the networking needs of the pan-African eLearning and distance education sector, the annual eLearning Africa conference is the key networking venue for practitioners and professionals from Africa and all over the world. eLearning Africa is the premier gathering place for all experts and stakeholders engaged or interested in ICT-based education, training and development on the African continent. Everyone concerned with eLearning in Africa is welcome to share and learn.

Special Journal issue on Social Networking and Mobile Learning
Name of Journal: British Journal of Educational Technology
Editors: Guest editors: Norbert Pachler (Institute of Education, University of London), Maria Ranieri (Department of Education, University of Florence), John Cook (London Metropolitan University) and Stefania Manca (Institute for Educational Technology, National Research Council of Italy).
Deadline for submission: 9 January 2012 (published July 2012)
More information:
Short description:
The aim of this Special Issue is to explore educational and socio-cultural perspectives on the use of the increasing convergence of mobile devices and digital media for social networking in formal and informal contexts of learning.
We invite papers that address the following issues:
• Theoretical analysis of and perspectives on user agency and practices in mobile networked environments;
• Exploring individual practices and community spaces in mobile networked learning;
• New approaches to the design of and research into experiences that incorporate mobile media as personal and social learning tools;
• Methodological models and tools to assess learning in formal and informal contexts through mobile networked environments;
• Learning through a mobile networked environment at the interface of formal and informal contexts in K-12 education;
• Learner practices and perceptions of mobile social networks as contexts for learning in higher education;
• Effects of mobile networked communities on learning by adults in informal contexts and for professional development.

Conference on open education: ECER 2012
Subject: the need for educational research to champion Freedom, Education and Development for All
Just for all the gender enthusiasts in learning: Rosi Braidotti is one of the keynote speakers.
Where: Cádiz, Spain, Europe
When: 17 – 21 September 2012
Deadline for submission: 1 February 2012
More information:
Short description: EERA, European Educational Research Association and the University of Cadiz, Spain, invite Educational Researchers to participate in and to submit proposals for the European Conference on Educational Research 2012.
The conference theme "The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All" will provide a focus for the keynote addresses and for other invited events. It may also be taken as a reference within the conference sessions organised by the EERA networks. However, proposals for contributions are welcome from all fields of educational research. Participants are invited to hand in up to two abstracts for papers, posters, workshops, round tables and symposia. All proposals must be handed in electronically via the online submission form. PhD students and emerging researchers are especially invited to participate in the Emerging Researchers’ Conference by submitting proposals to the Emerging Researchers’ Group.
The ECER is the annual conference held by the European Educational Research Association (EERA). It welcomes close to 2.000 scholars each year, representing views and research traditions from all parts of Europe and also attracts researchers from other parts of the world

Global TIME 2012: Online conference on Technology, Innovation, Media and Education Where: … online
When: 7 – 9 February 2012
Deadline for submission: 5 December 2011
More information: http://www.aace/org/conf/gtime
Short description: (well, this is one of the shortest and vaguest descriptions I must say)
• gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world's educators.
• provide a platform for the world's best visionaries, thinkers, teachers, researchers, and developers.
• discuss, examine and disseminate the best ideas from and for the global community.
• worked together as a global force to change, improve, and create a better future for education.
• It's about TIME ... Global TIME (Technology, Innovation, Media and Education)

The picture shows the manuscript of Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road', which he typed on one big scroll that he put through his typewriter. The picture was taken by Steve Rhodes.

Sweeping away the #occupy movement, is like sweeping away #critical #education

The Occupy movement has gotten yet another blow yesterday as the campsite on Liberty Square (Zucotti Park in New York) was 'cleaned up', simply because they have a critical, minority opinion which is in favor of most of us. Peaceful occupation on ideological grounds is a worthy cause, so why is it that in many cases it is a risky business? I feel that crushing freedom of opinion is actually a very practical example of suffocating critical thinking and true education overall. Crushing freedom of opinion does not coincidentally happen at the same moment in which most countries decide to cut down on education or welfare to get them out of an economic crisis. Educated citizens will question regulations and policies, and powers that be do not like to be questioned no matter what era, what region.

Being critical is a human asset which lifts all of us
Being critical, demanding transparency of policy makers and the powers that be is a very democratic action. Strange enough, it is also mainstream corporate action, for transparency allows for improved business action. So why are demands for financial transparency that affects citizens then crushed by people in power positions? For it is simply a sound policy action. Unfortunately the action is undertaken by non-policy people (or mostly).

Being critical, engaging in discussion to enable mutual growth and free speech is at the basis of us human beings, it is also at the core of education. It demands looking into current situations, analyzing it for its strengths and weaknesses and coming to conclusions on which you or we want to act. To me it is the basis of any critical learning of any movement to strengthen our evolution towards becoming more human. Crushing down on a small group of people, simply because they use their voice to get their opinions out in the open, is a brutal yet very open act of censorship and of what some powerful people feel should be numbed. How can transparency and human, peaceful action ever be a bad thing? And what if even believers of economic power structures propose themselves to give back to the country in order to give back to the people (e.g. Warren Buffett asking for higher taxation of the rich)?

Where do we go? Where can I grow?
In ‘grapes of wrath’ the Oscar winning 1940’s movie directed by John Ford in which a Midwestern family seeks fortune in California amidst the depression there is still an illusion of the new frontier, the new world. But even then it was clear that it was only an illusion. 70 years onward, amidst another economic crisis that is affecting the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free … there is no longer a lamp beside the golden door.

Where do we go? Where can I go? There is no longer ‘the Western frontier’, no longer the land of the free no matter where we look, it is not in the America's, it is not in Europe... It feels as though when I really want to be free, the only frontier left, is my own inner voice, my inner space in which I can ask ourselves: who am I, what do I do in these changing times?

Enable, promote, follow open education to enhance critical thinking
To get an action plan going, there is only one option: to learn. And to be able (financially, socially) to engage in education that will allow ideas to emerge to better the world around us – all of us. For as an educated citizen, I will be able to engage, to put my two cents into causes that I belief in. Hence there is only one option: promoting, following, building critical education, education open to all. In order to lift us towards a more human world where citizens from all regions can live a happy life in their own country, region, part of the world.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Are #mLearning projects in Africa really successful? #ICT4D critique

Although a propagator of learning with mobile devices, in this seminar John Traxler takes a look at learning with mobile devices from another angle, a critical one while looking for answers from all of us. He moves away from the main trend of depicting mLearning as successful simply because it brings education to people that did not use technology for education before and of the main narrative that mLearning is a sure benefit.

This is a description of a seminar given by John Traxler at the London Knowledge Lab (London, UK): “Too many elephants in the room: learning with mobile devices in developing regions" on 8 November 2011. It is how my mind interpreted the talk, so I could have misinterpreted some ideas, or put the wrong emphasis on some points. Open for remarks.

John Traxler lives and breathes mobility. His expertise on learning with mobile devices is well known internationally and as he advizes, supports and plans mLearning projects, his air/land/water mileage must be well that of any average global citizen adding to his mobile persona. He is at the crossroads of different views/accounts (government, practitioners, researchers, users…) on learning with mobile devices which makes his critical views on the subject of interest for mLearning practitioner (well, from my point of view that is).

During his seminar, John raised two major questions:
  • Are learning projects based on mobile devices really helping Africa forward?
  • How can we move ahead getting all the major, willing stakeholders around an ethical educational project development table?

Are learning projects based on mobile devices really helping Africa forward?
John starts of the seminar with putting question marks on widely promoted mLearning projects like Nokia Maths project.

Potential of mobiles and learning specifically in Africa, is it really a fact and do these projects make a difference? Various stakeholders barking up the wrong trees. Looking back on the presentations of the past (both his own and those of other mLearners). He takes away the ‘magic’ on the combination of mobiles, learning and Africa.
It is a fact that at the moment there are no reasonable alternatives (no secure buildings for computes, no reliable connectivity/electricity…), so mobiles seem to be successful for education.
Why address this concept: the zeitgeist, as US funders start to move into mobiles in Africa, pushed on their school system, prices for projects (UNESCO and US, GSMA took onboard mobiles for learning, …) the idea behind it is that mLearning in Africa is a big market. So education might just be an excuse to dig into that market via a more human need, which is actually nothing more or less than a mask. But simply wanting to get into a market, does not assure that the projects to get into the market have a sound educational basis.

(reflection of myself: what makes up successful education initiatives? Is there some kind of 'ideal factors' template that can be derived of local and national projects that are set-up around the world or even just in small regions? The schools from the industrial age delivered for industrial needs, but which system or projects can deliver learners for the knowledge age? I would think knowledge driven schools and/or projects, but then where resides knowledge?)

So can we build scaled, durable mLearning projects?

Many African representatives are willing to move into mLearning. But what are they buying into? Is it real progress? Momentarily it seems a bit naïve belief. So it seems corporates sell mLearning as the only development way to go, but is it? Belief in technology, and thinking that the Western model will move Africa forward (as well) might not be the best basis to move ahead in a continent that has many challenges to tackle.
Globally education seems to be heading the same way, but that is mainly a Western way of thinking and does this model work across the globe, does this model work in the West? (reflection of myself: good point.).

Most projects in Africa were/are small scale, short term. If these projects get adopted on a bigger scale, problems might arise.
Trojan horse: technology brought into Africa can be importing Western ideology into the African setting. But these technologies are embodying alien pedagogies that might not link to African learning (e.g. VLE). So Northern technologies might embody morals, ideas from the North.
Every region has different pedagogies, but not all learning technologies have been adapted to these pedagogies.
Connecting small, vulnerable cultures to the global might be disastrous for their culture (UNESCO indicates that from the 400 African languages, 200 are under thread of extinction).
The onward march of American English and corporate thinking threaten many of the identities (Stephen Fry on language and identity – Inge check youtube options, should come from mid October).
(reflection of myself: looking at this question from a pragmatic viewpoint and thinking about the book Guns, Germs and Steel written by Diamond, one could wonder if small projects or ethical considerations need to be taken into account, for up until now it seems to be that only the big powers have prevailed throughout history, no matter where they were located. Not a comforting thought, but maybe it is romantic to think that the diversity of the small, local groups will add to the survival of humanity in the end? - having written this, I do feel that diversity is our only hope, but then why does it seem to be cast aside when looking at history?)

Common denominator of projects that have small scale, fixed term, run by enthusiasts but they have not sustained. In part that might have been the mindset around problem solving that pays a lot of attention to the artifact and not much attention to the environment and the host. There are a lot of reasons why this happens: what gets funded is the project, not the host. Additionally, the funders have funded what THEY thought was worthwhile, not what the grassroots target audience found useful. The mLearning projects have not worked enough with local populations (cultures, contexts…).

Is there a solution for this? And can that solution be found by getting stakeholders together but with some ethical ideas behind it?

How can we move ahead getting all the major, willing stakeholders around an ethical educational project development table?
(from here a search for connections between sometimes opposite views)
Many of us mLearner’s take our small pilots to bigger institutes/bodies, which they pick up for bigger projects, but this has those challenges in it.

How can researchers influence big scale projects supported by government that work top-down (in contrast to small scale projects which are grassroots)? So how can we get our voices (as researchers) heard and with what type of evidence? And does this allow regional learners’ voices to be heard as well?

Interesting view: the causal relationships of mLearning projects is viewed according to that persons own frame: a technologist will view positive/negative results of a mLearning project as due to technology; a policymaker will find it was/is due to policy. How can we make sure all of these views match the ultimate goal: educational benefit for learners?

As you are your own group/culture, you make and live by your own rules. These rules come from cultural motivation, culture group narratives… so who are the others to judge on it?

There is never a narrative of a failed mLearning project. Looking at the amount of projects, that is impossible. There is a momentum of mLearning successes, but are they truthful? Do they deliver complete pictures? And if the evaluation is not transparent, then how do we know if the results that we derive from them are the correct interpretations?

So how do we connect the dots if the complete picture is not (well) documented?

Additionally, a uniform hardware platform is delivered to mLearning projects in many cases. But we will never be in a position to give everyone those same devices (let alone while keeping in touch with the evolution of devices by the time we can reach big groups).

There have been successful projects in non-educational fields: phone banking for example. But these projects are not perse transmutable to educational projects. So why do we fail to deliver educational mLearning successes.

John asks us how can we bring together a combination of corporate, government, grassroots to deliver education in sub-Saharan Africa? To come to a sustainable mobile learning ecology? Without delivering globalized content? So how can we keep it indigenous and local although we bring big groups together. What is the role of local people/citizens that would allow sustainability: community teachers, free schools…

What does it take to make mLearning projects/educational projects economically sustainable? Social entrepreneurs (remarked that Bill Gates asked the audience what was meant by social entrepreneurs in 2009, Doha – ict4d), they might make a difference. How to make it a way forward on many levels: education and economy.

M4D has an impoverished idea of education: ‘pushing stuff down tubes’.
Misses out on education to be transformative (remark Inge: but then how many projects in the North have given rise to transformative education?)
Mobiles have the potential to gives all of us more insight in how we learn: potential for transient knowledge for example, we should use this new meta-analysis tool to develop future educational projects (remark myself: transformation of education has impact on the whole of society and its production logic, should make a post series from this, then link it to future of education and society as a whole).

Some examples he gives along his talk:
Digital doorway (cfr Mitra’s whole on the wall, but African example)
Meraka supports livinglabs in South-Africa: they come from science and technology way of doing things, but they (from government) need to build social useful programs/applications.