[IR7.0] Pre-conference on mobile learning

Well, I was blogging this as we were working, since I had a machine in front of me. But somehow as we came to our break, I was chatting with someone and my left hand, entirely without my permission, reached up and Apple-Qed away my post. Too bad, too, since it was an exemplar of conference blogging: witty, link-filled, and informative. And probably a bit too long. Browsers ought to check to see if you have “unsubmitted” form data before closing on you.

There will be a public wiki built up around some of the projects being done at QUT and elsewhere in Australia surrounding mobile learning. There were a lot of interesting little ideas, some of them seemingly cultural. The idea, for example, that someone would drive by the campus to grab something off the wireless network is absolutely foreign to me. While we may not have the broadband penetration common in some places, I get the impression most have as good, or better, connections at home these days than they do on campus.

Richard Smith related an experience of unintended mobile-enhanced public backchannelling (MEPB). He runs a piece of software called BluePhoneElite that communicates the incoming text messages from his mobile to his laptop. Students in one of his classes stumbled across his phone (I guess), and started messaging it. As people realized that this showed up on the overhead projector, they started using it to ask questions and the like. Eventually, he used to to do things like ask questions of the class, and they would text in short responses. With some manipulation, he was able to tally up responses, etc.

The BluePhoneElite folks have been promising scripting hooks for newer versions of their software. With that, you could bypass the whole clicker infrastructure that seems to be seeping onto campuses lately, and just have students use their mobiles.

In any case, I’ll be experimenting a bit with this. The trick is that most people still don’t use text messaging, and so it may be a bit of hurdle to get folks to try. Would have been fun with a big class though.

As I said, I took decent notes, but they are gone. I enjoyed the session, though I think I would have liked a bit more structured look at what people are doing–from a technical perspective–and case studies of what worked and didn’t. While I appreciated the broader focus on active learning, I suspect that those interested in a workshop like this already lean pretty heavily in that direction.

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One Comment

  1. Posted 9/27/2006 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    What an interesting case study – especially as I am also a BluePhoneElite user! It does rely on the SMS delivery network working fast – you wouldn’t want to end up with your comment arriving 5 minutes after the lecturer stopped talking about something.

One Trackback

  1. […] Checking in with Technorati, the blogging scene still seems pretty disappointing in terms of academic bloggers. Terry and I were just talking about how so many Internet researchers don’t have a blog, let alone an online presence at all. Leading the charge, Alex Halavais has started blogging about the mobile learning session he attended. He found a neat hack for SMS in the classroom, where the instructor would use BluePhoneElite to receive SMS from students in class and have these messages displayed via his laptop to the class projector. Students would typically send questions in a backchannel fashion, which is less invasive (less pressuring) for them than say disrupting the class in real life. […]

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