Virtual, Mobile Connections

This week we will examine the role of mobile devices in learning. One of our shared readings, the 2011 Horizon Report, predicts that mobiles will increasingly become part of our teaching and learning environments and sooner rather than later. Several institutions of higher education, such as Abilene Christian University, have taken the lead in action research projects focusing on the educational uses of mobile technologies, as discussed in the other common content we share for this week.

It would be hard to argue that the iPad and similar devices will not change the way we teach and learn. And with the introduction of natural language, voice-based computing as exemplified by Apple’s Siri, it seems more likely that Pattie Maes’ and Pranav Mistry’s SixthSense prototype demonstrated in the video above could see mainstream adoption.

What is it about these devices that could fundamentally change the way we interact with our world?

Have they already? If so, in what ways?

How are they similar to and yet different from our desktop and laptop computers?

How do you plan to deal with mobile devices in your classrooms?

Posted in mobile. Tags: . 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Virtual, Mobile Connections”

  1. edadedebas Says:

    The article “iPads Could Hinder Teaching, Professors Say” by Ben Wieder is published in The Chronicle of Higher Education recently. The article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of iPads and their possible uses for educational purposes. Because of some of the apparent problems such as typing difficulties, problems of the programs not running on the iPads, students preferred using their laptops instead of iPads. The students complained that they could not take notes. After stating the possible problems and hindrances of using iPads, Wider, then, lists the advantages and disadvantages of iPads over the laptops. The iPads have a smaller size, longer battery life. They allow the students have their texts ready all the time and enable collaborative work and group assignments. After giving the advantages of iPads, Wieder lists the disadvantages: 1) they require special formatting. E-books may not be iPad friendly 2) there is a problem of annotation. It is not easy to do it. In the last part of the article, he complains about the fact that not only Apple but also other companies did not really focus on educational uses of technology. They are more oriented to business and personal uses. At this point, Wieder concludes his article by pointing out that the colleges, professors, and students will make the final decision on the device they will be using.

    I think the most interesting aspect of Wieder’s article is his explanation that the companies do not focus on students and colleges. They never consider the educators as the target audience. I think as more professors and students use mobile devices more frequently in class and for educational purposes, there will be more improvement in the devices. I support using personal mobile devices in classroom but I think they should be adapted according to the physical environment of classroom, class type (seminar, discussion, or lecture), class size (large or small), and course content. I think they should be implemented only when they are necessary and they contribute to learning.

    • loisramirez Says:

      As an Ipad user, I agree with all the points that this article states. It is difficult to type and it does take pratice but after you have the practice and you are all ready to go, the apps available for “note taking” need much improvement. Also software restrictions such as flash not being able to play on the ipad or iphone, makes it really frustrating, when you try to open a site and its flash based. I agree with you and I think that the educational market needs to increase, and that demand needs to come from, not only the people using it but also the academic world accepting the need for new technologies. I think once this door begins to open with less hesitation, we will start seeing a demand for educational apps.

    • marineuconn Says:

      It sounds like there is a market to take over! I sometimes wish my students could all use a tablet computer (or an appropriate iPad) in class in order to take a test or do an assignment. Even when we are doing group activities, I wish they could look up for words for example. Instead, I have to (or they have to) print the documents we are working on. iPads have several advantages over laptop computers as quoted in Eda’s summary. Yet there are not designed for students. The iPad has numerous limitations when we compare it to a laptop. The first step would be to bring the iPad to the efficiency of a laptop and the second one would be to turn it into a tool appropriately designed for classrooms. I am pretty sure that both things will happen in a near future. Once the iPad will have taken over the classroom, it will totally change our way of teaching. I believe students will have much more independence and also more opportunities to progress at their own path.

  2. soledadre Says:

    Articles Social Media in Africa, Part 2: Mobile Innovations and Social Media in Africa, Part 3: Democracy by Jonathan Gosier speak,obviously, about Africa. Their author shows us the importance that mobile tools are having in the development of the continent. The conference PICNIC2008 hold in Amsterdam spoke about all those innovations that are coming out form Africa. Why does it happening? Why is Africa the fastest growing mobile market in the world? Due to the lack of infrastructures such as telephone lines or limited satellite Internet connection,creativity to solve those shortcuts arose. The message for investments was “If it works in Africa, it will work anywhere”. Following this idea Google invested in O3B Networks bring three billion people (mostly in Asia and Africa) online by launching sixteen inexpensive, low-orbit satellites. Obviously, it would also mean three billion people more likely using Google products.
    Some of the applications that the mobile industry has created for the continent are Micro-payments and Mobile Banking (MPESA; Wizzit), Mobile News Reporting (mPedigree; Winafrique;; Ushahidi) and new Mobile Applications (for instance, and anti-theft and tracking system for vehicles).
    However, the most important factor of the use of mobile tools in Africa is the door that it opens to democracy. As the article state “a number of web and mobile applications are undermining the efforts of dictators and totalitarian governments, allowing them to be more readily be held accountable for their actions.” For instance, information (before under single control of the government) is now being democratized through technology: in Ethiopia, the developers behind Feedelix created an application that uses GPRS, to mimic SMS and bypass the censoring filter put in place by the government on SMS. Another example (you can find more in the article) relates to the Moroccan blogger Mohamed Erraj’s imprisonment for being critic against the government and how he was let free tanks to the efforts of other bloggers and people using applications like Twitter.
    Finally, the author concludes that Africa is producing some very unique and innovative technologies and that it has a great significance:”The number of African developers who are beginning to create applications that offer solutions for their own communities is increasing and that, more than anything else, will shape the future of Africa.”
    Last week, rights and safety made us to be a little be scared, I think that ideas as those appearing in those articles can give us some hope on humanity.

  3. rosariopollicino Says:

    The article Cell Phones in the (Language) Classroom: Recasting the Debate shows how mobile phone have changed not only our social life but also our way of learning . We could think that the use of mobile phone and telephone more in general is not related to the learning of a foreign language, but exactly because this tool make the user talk it can be used, indeed, to develop the speaking skill of a language which is the, probably, the hardest to develop in a foreign language course.

    The article present, in fact, the use of google voice as a tool to push student not only in talking as they have to record the message but also to really put an effort to do it well as they know that a recording stays so they try their best to prepare the assignment required. This is has been a very strong point towards the use of this tool to make student talk because it was noticed before that student tend to prepare better as they are fully aware of the assignment given so they feel a kind of smart in preparing as much as they could. Moreover they are also aware that practicing is key to perform well in this kind of task so they really do their best. More interesting maybe is the reason why some student did not do the assignment of recording a message in the target language on google voice. Some student have actually written on the survey received that they did not like to be listen in class by all his/her class mates. That is an important reflecting point for all of us as educators as we have to think to the feeling of that particular student whenever we decide to share an activity he/she made with the rest of the class. I believe this can be a problem also if we do it anonymously because most of the time it is all down to the student personality.

    Google voice, however, is not only a tool to record messages and then be used for this purpose only but is an important tool which can make people talk from everywhere there is an internet access and, allow its users to send free SMS. With google voice the foreign language professor receive the students mobile numbers which can be used to give feedback of encouragement, to take an appointment with the student if needed and create in any case an efficient and direct way of communication.

    This article finishes pointing out something I have never realized myself, mobile phone represent indeed an innovative and well accepted learning too from all students. And, instead of investing money in a very expensive computer or other language tools which, may not be accepted in the same way, as mobile we educators should encourage our student to use their phones. At the end of the day they like using them and it is less expensive than more complicated computer o more affordable for all school too as everyone has a decent mobile phone nowadays.

  4. loisramirez Says:

    The article Mobile Perspectives: On teachingMobile Literacy by David Parry, emphasizes the issue that we have been approaching throughout this semester on how to lose the fear of using technology in a classroom and make it work in favor of the student and teacher instead of against them. Mr. Parry talks about how it is important to stop prohibiting such technology in the classroom and instead teach student how to properly use in their advantage, something he call mobile literacy. He has taken different approaches such as allowing students to use twitter in the classroom to comment on the topics that are being discuss; this allows the conversation not only to go beyond the classroom but also to reach other people that might have similar interests. He also encourages student to make themselves aware of how technology is being used all around them, such as taking taking pictures of security cameras and uploading their location here. This practice not only encourages students to be self-aware of how technology is really part of their lives, but it also serves as a way of contributing to the data collected by websites like this one. Mr. Parry brings up an excellent point, literacy, as he refers to it is the only way to break the taboo of laptops/cellphones/tablets in the classroom, and instead is using them to encourage student to explore different ways on using this technology and products of it such as social media, to further their educational interests and maybe find new ones.

  5. marineuconn Says:

    Mobile Learning Environments
    By David J. Gagnon

    This article deals with mobile communication and how certain applications based on mobile devices such as iPhones can help contextualize teaching an learning.

    Over the last decades, mobile devices have replaced FM radios in terms of spreading knowledge. Still, as a teacher or a learner, you can decide to use your mobile device for traditional uses or to try the new applications. According to David Gagnon, “new technology can provide a reason to rethink a course from the ground up and reassess its core educational goals.”

    Here are some amazing examples of how teachers and students can benefit from these applications.

    Dow Day
    Dow Day is a location-aware service that enables a place-based learning by recreating a historical event both simulated and real thanks to its GPS that locates the place where you are. Students can walk around Madison’s campus and be part of the history that took place there in 1967.

    Mentira is an application that enables situated learning. It allows students from Albuquerque to practice beginner Spanish in an authentic context. While being part of a story, students interact with physical and virtual Spanish speakers in real places.

    WeBIRD is an application for hobbyst birdwatchers. Once the audio of the bird has been recorded, the app identifies the species and the location of the recording as well as the date and the weather. This data is collected for research on migration patterns as well as for public use (bird-seing).

    I already allow my students to use their iPhones and Blackberries in class to look for vocabulary in particular. Yet, mobiles devices potentially possess many more resources for the classroom. It is our role as instructors to develop them.

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