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!