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?

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Virtual, Mobile Connections

The 2010 Horizon Report predicts a one year or less adoption of mobile computing in the higher ed arena. Of particular interest are references to actual classroom examples that show the varied ways faculty are exploring how mobile technologies could support and transform their pedagogical practice. An interview with Lonnie D. Harvel of Georgia Gwinnett College and Steve Kolowich’ article, The Mobile Campus, describes some of the tentative results from such projects while Malcolm Brown’s chapter in the Educause E-Book, Educating the Net Generation, expands on the traditional execution of learning spaces.

In a three part series Jonathan Gosier describes how mobile technologies are shaping the political, economic and social structures in Africa in ways that might presage their adoption elsewhere.

In an interesting counterpoint to the ban on cell phones in many classrooms here at UCONN and elsewhere, Spanish teacher Ariana Leonard shares how she takes advantage of those nearly ubiquitous student cell phones to engage students in learning Spanish, both inside and outside of class.

The Christmas gift of an iPhone one year ago led Travis Allen, currently a Kennesaw State University student, to create the iSchool Initiative in order to “advocate, support and implement technological advancement for students and educators in the 21st century”. We’ll have a chance to talk with Travis about his initiative and personal mobile learning experiences in our Friday Elluminate Live! session (scroll down to ‘Other’ and click on the ‘post-event’ link to access our recorded session).

Do mobile devices have a place in learning and teaching and if so, how, when and where?

Virtual, Mobile Connections

New Hampshire H.S. students begin voter registration process via mobiles. Courtesy Mark Warner

New Hampshire H.S. students begin voter registration process via mobiles. Courtesy Mark Warner

I’m looking forward to this week’s session as we’ll have a chance to talk with Liz Kolb, whose book, Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education
has just been published by ISTE. We’ll be chatting with Liz via Skype and hope to be able to record the session for possible inclusion here on our blog.

You may remember from our review of the Horizon Report at the beginning of the semester, that the authors saw the timeline for adoption of mobile broadband as merely two to three years from now. They also provided some very intriguing examples of how mobiles are currently used in education. I’m sure as we talk with Liz, she’ll be able to share with us even more ideas about how we could use cells with our students.

In countries where the infrastructure for land-based broadband Internet access is lacking, mobile phones appear to have met that need in some very powerful and empowering ways as you can see from their use in various parts of Africa as described in this series of articles from ReadWriteWeb. You’ll find these articles listed in our diigo group bookmarks for handy reference.

This session won’t be solely devoted to mobile phones, however. We’ll also take a look at a variety of browser-based environments that support online collaboration that could be useful for distance learning, blended learning, conferences, research and projects, to name just a few examples.

As you complete the readings for this week, be sure to start formulating the questions you’d like to ask Liz. You can post them here if you’d like to start the discussion going.