JNXYZ training site debuts

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Just a quick post to let readers know I have launched the beta version of a site dedicated to those who need innovative training for their staff around technology and learning. Head to JNXYZ training if I can help you in this way!



Computers aren’t so special anymore, but the kids may be better off: An introduction to mobile ‘appliance computing’ in Queensland schools







A strong case can be made that a revolution is underway in how computers are being perceived and used in schools across the world. In Australia it could be said Queensland is one of the epicenters of this change.

How do we know this? Several recent reports have shown that Australia has just about the highest uptake of smartphones and ‘mobile’ computers in the world.

  • Figures from analyst house Telsyte show that 1.4 million tablet computers were purchased in Australia in 2011 and that Australians are taking to tablets – especially the iPad – at a higher rate per capita than other countries (http://delimiter.com.au/2012/02/15/apple-australia-sold-1-million-ipads-in-2011).
  • The results of a Telstra Neilsen survey from July 2011 revealed that Australian smartphone ownership may already be as high as 46%, a 10% jump from 2010 (http://www.telstra.com.au/abouttelstra/download/document/fact-sheet-telstra-smartphone-index-2011.pdf).
  • Google research from September 2011 showed not only that Australia is number two in the world for smartphone ownership (behind only Singapore), but that Australians also download more apps than users in the US and UK (http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/australias-white-hot-smartphone-revolution-20110908-1jz3k.html).
  • In Queensland, Optus reported that by October 2011, 55% of regional phone owners (traditionally a sector that lags behind in gadget adoption) had a smartphone (http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2011/10/14/smartphones-hit-regional-qld).

This high uptake of mobile computers could mean that Australia is a key place to observe the move from computers being seen mainly as specialised machines that sit in their own category, to one where they are readily available at hand to enhance learning. This process can also be described as a move towards ‘appliance computing’, where the low cost and wide-spread use of mobile computers reaches a point where society views them as expected utilities, or everyday appliances in the same category as TVs, DVD players or microwaves.

It’s a situation which may be the norm for many of today’s students. For example an informal survey of over 600 students conducted by the Principal at a lower-socio economic school north of Brisbane in 2008 showed that more students already owned a mobile device such as an MP3 player, Nintendo DS and digital cameras than used a PC regularly (and this wasn’t even counting mobile phones!).

This rapid uptake by the Australian and Queensland public is one of the two main factors supporting the belief that this country is in a position to lead the way in pioneering ‘appliance computing‘ in education. The second factor is the growth in availability of these devices in schools. While some teachers in Queensland participated in a small PDA (personal digital assistant) trial in 2005, and others purchased small numbers of Nintendo DS handhelds, it has really been the release of the iPod touch (and then iPad), as well as the introduction of the XO mini-laptop program from One Laptop per Child Australia (OLPC), that has boosted the numbers of devices in schools.

Twenty–eight schools across Queensland ranging from lower-socio economic schools in northern urban centers, to the most remote in the very far west and in the Torres Strait have now been joined the OLPC program. Some schools partner with OLPC to deploy only one class-set, while others such as Doomadgee have over 350 across years P-7. OLPC Australia has been recognised for its training program that focuses on educational outcomes rather than just the laptop itself.

In addition, With mobile phone subscriptions now outnumbering computers, TVs and even FM radios (T. Ahonen, 2010) to the point where by as long ago as 2004, 45% of 13-15 year olds owned one (Allison, 2004), it is inevitable that such devices are having an impact in Queensland. Much has been said about the parental responsibilities involved with students having mobile phones by experts such as the Queensland Governments bullying adviser Michael Carr-Gregg who has advised parents not to “outsource responsibility to schools” (Brisbane Times, October 26 2010).

There are many schools that have reacted responsibly to the high ownership of mobile phones by students by instituting mobile phone use policies that suit the needs and expectations of their communities as well as legislation and state policies such as those posted at http://education.qld.gov.au/strategic/eppr/schools/scmpr003. One example that can be googled forms part of the Drillham State School ʻResponsible Behaviour Planʼ (see p20).

Apart from the behaviour management side of the impact of mobile phones, there are many examples of teachers gaining prior-approval and taking advantage of the mLearning (or mobile learning) capabilities of such devices such as their portability, simplicity and potential for improving the personal learning productivity in ways that donʼt actually use the ʻphoneʼ capabilities but rather the devices other features.

One of the main educational uses sees old or second-hand mobile phones being used as audio and video recorders. At Tullawong State School Learning Support Teacher Jonathan Nalder employed an old phone in this way to allow students to listen back to their reading and correct their own errors. A Year 6 Teacher at Worongary State School has supervised students to use them as mobile sound effects recorders to capture sounds not available in the classroom that are needed for stop-motion video creations.

At Strathpine West State School, a year seven teacher has also used old phones to record student verbal responses which would otherwise be lost on those occasions when they are working outside the classroom. These same students have also used them capture images whilst on excursions for later integration into learning tasks back in the classroom. Senior students at Kelvin Grove State College, which has begun incorporating the use of reference Apps (or software applications) into its Science Department ICT Strategic Plan, are using phones that can download apps to allow learning tools such as calculators, timers, stopwatches, periodic tables and biology charts to be available on a much wider basis to support ‘just-in-time’ learning as it happens than was possible before.

Not all educational use of mobile phones is driven just by teachers however. A Physical Education Head of Department at Palm Beach Currumbin State School has had his students approach him to request permission to use their mobile phones to improve their learning productivity by recording lessons. This allows them to better concentrate on the class because they can now review and study what was written and said at their own pace later on.

It is widely acknowledged that tablet devices are also becoming more popular, and an official Department of Education trial of iPads was conducted in Queensland in 2011 in two schools (http://education.qld.gov.au/projects/educationviews/smartclassrooms/2011/feb/ipad-110224.html). As well, enough other state schools had also purchased iPads such that a site was established in 2011 in the online community known as the Learning Place to support them. Several private schools such as Redlands College and The Southport School have also run trials or initiated 1:1 deployments of iPads. The latest development is the policy of the new LNP government in Queensland to deploy 20 tablet devices to every special education school, and 10 to every school with a special education unit to support students with special needs.

While it would be easy to assume that schools are just jumping on the latest bandwagon, the reality is that innovative professional development is being conducted to maximize the use of these devices as enablers of learning. All teachers from schools who join the One Laptop per Child program receive an initial 15 hours of training, with options for further accredited training to become local expert trainer. Students also can receive certificates for learning and then through demonstrating their skills, including becoming an ‘XO Mechanic’ become qualified to pull apart and conduct basic repairs on the devices.

Schools using other mobile devices such as iPads have been able to access for some time, numerous training sessions provided by the Department of Education and Training’s ICT Learning Innovation Centre. This centre, which is based at the University of the Sunshine Coast, delivered several online and in-person iPad-related workshops in 2011, with others already also conducted in 2012. In addition, the Department’s Division of Indigenous Education and Training Futures ran an in-person day of mobile device workshops in Cairns in late 2011, and due to demand, this was expanded into a two-day forum known as ‘Learning@hand’ attended by 130 educators in April 2012 (http://www.learningathand.info).

What has the impact been of all of this activity? A number of research projects overseas show that mobile devices have had a positive impact on learning; for example one from Maine in the United States where kindergarten students’ literacy and engagement levels saw a dramatic increase when using iPads (http://www.loopinsight.com/2012/02/17/ipad-improves-kindergartners-literacy-scores). Indications closer to home also show similar improvements.

In one of the first documented iPad trials anywhere in the world, Trinity College (TCFS) in Victoria deployed devices across eight classes and conducted a number of surveys (with 106 responses). They found that not only did the use of paper dramatically decrease, but that iPads were “effective, durable, reliable and achieve their educational aims of going further, faster and with more fun” and that they “have advantages for TCFS over other technologies such as netbooks and laptops”. As well, 80% of students and 76% of staff indicated they would recommend the iPad for others as a learning tool. (http://www.trinity.unimelb.edu.au/Media/docs/iPadPilotReport2011-1b1e1a52-79af-4c76-b5b6-e45f92f2c9e9-0.pdf)

A pioneer in this area has been Hambledon State School in Cairns who initiated an MP3 player program in 2009 that has since expanded into a parent-supported and Showcase for Excellence Award winning iPod touch and iPad project that ran from 2010-2012. Results from students participating showed that the number of behaviour tickets issued decreased markedly, and that 96% of students themselves reported they were learning better.

In its trial of iPads with Year 9 students in 2011, Brisbane’s Kedron State High School found that 15 out of the 24 students involved “improved their performance in comparison to previous grades” and assessments (http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/pdf/ipad-trial.pdf).

At Doomadgee State School in far north west Queensland, use of XO laptops has been partially credited by the Principal Richard Barrie, with helping the school’s Year 3 students achieve what the Courier Mail described as ‘stunning’ results (http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/doomadgee-state-school-produces-stunning-naplan-results-thanks-in-part-to-technological-advancements-in-teaching/story-e6freoof-1226137211426) in national numeracy testing (results went from 31% to 95%, where the state average is 95.2%). Overall, the school, which has 350 XO laptops in total and 30 iPads, saw NAPLAN scores lift in 13 out of 15 categories.

Using community engagement as another measure of success; the recent explosion from 65 to over 100 Prep enrollments at one Cairns school who promised XO mini-laptops to their 2012 Prep students as a way of addressing a local ‘digital divide’ in access to technology.

So it is not just the increase in numbers, but the positive examples of mobile technology use in Queensland schools and the willingness of schools to engage with these devices as additional tools to enable student success that demonstrates the possibility and flexibility these devices value add to the technology toolkit available to students, families and teachers.


UNESCO series of mLearning working papers

UNESCO are releasing several working papers focusing on different regions of the globe and mapping what mobile learning initiatives are in place, particularly in regards to policy, and teacher professional development.

You can read them all at Edutechdebate: https://edutechdebate.org/archive/mobile-learning-initiatives/

Here are my thoughts on the Latin America report:

- I really found the drivers, enablers and blockers section to be very useful – a simple way to communicate a lot about what the issues are.
- BridgeIT and SMILE sound very interesting – although SMILE seems to be the innovative one in actually going beyond just the ‘substation’ level of the SAMR model.
- Sadly, or perhaps, to be expected, virtually all are still ‘early days’ with no results of the wider impact (apart from user numbers) reported.
- Most seem to have neglected teacher PD therefore are just re-inforcing traditional pedagogy (ie. bridgeIT videos) – I know this must change soon.

Kids Apps: as selected by miss 4

As tested and selected by my Miss 4 1/2 – a 3 1/2 year iOS veteran.
Nearly all of these have iPad and iPod touch/iPhone versions, and are in the free->$5 range (some also have free ‘lite’ versions you can try out).

Special mention:



This was the first app our then 9 month old used. Very simple of course, just tap the image that links to the sound being made. Ask what the name of the old iPhone that she uses is tho, and even to this day she will reply ‘Clara’ .

Her top choices (based on which apps she independently goes back to and spends the most time on):

Puppet Pals


- choose characters, move them with your finger and talk – and Puppet Pals turns it all into a movie. Great for imagination and developing oral language.

My PlayHome


- interact with 5 spaces in a play house – amazing level of detail and interaction possibilities.

Art Maker by Playschool


- free and provides great picture making options and scenes

Ansel & Clair


- a little more advanced, but even at age three this was a hit with lots of sections and animations to explore on a journey around Africa

Park Math or Draw and Tell, or anything by Duck Duck Moose


- all apps by Duck Duck Moose have great graphics and animation as well as songs and hidden interactions.

Red Writing


- aimed at Australian kids, it includes the right school font used by each state as kids practice letter formation

Montessori Crosswords


- allows kids to explore letters and sounds as well as to see how to use them to build words



- just a simple look around and find animals with some quiz questions, but this one has proved very popular on a recent week away.

Seuss Band


- Great for co-ordination and getting a sense of the fun of playing music

Talking Carl


- the original talking creature app – repeats what you say in fun and interactive ways – very good for developing oral language skills

iWrite Words


- a letter tracing and word making app with fun activities like tipping the device to slide the letters around

Me Books – Lady Bird Classics


- animates old classic books and allows you to record as many animal sounds or readings of the story as you like yourself.

Monster at the end of the book


- just pure fun as you drive Grover more and more crazy as the story unfolds

A little more advanced:

Pirate Treasure Hunt


- younger kids may require help as there are some great problem solving puzzles

Bartelby’s Book of Buttons volume 1 & 2


- a step beyond Pirate Treasure hunt with an involved story and puzzles that prove a great challenge for kids when they are ready.

Also – Moms with apps is the best parent site for keeping up apps aimed at kids:

What does the new iPad mean for education?

Significantly, my number one item for how the new 2012 iPad will impact education is not the new 2012 iPad at all – its the fact that the 2011 iPad 2 is now much more affordable for schools – $100, or a permanent 20% discount in fact. And if schools take the tip of buying refurbished units when they can (these still have the full warranty) you can now get an iPad 2 for US$349.
The screen. I don’t think anyone will start off talking about the boost to ram, the additional graphic cores etc. I’m guessing that the sharpness of the screen will be the number one new feature that people purchase the new iPad for. For students (and readers in general), I’m positing that there will be less eye strain – a good outcome for schools that are deploying iPads to large numbers of students.
The camera. Sure most schools have separate digital cameras for taking photos and video recording, and yes the iPad is a little hard to hold for this kind of thing, but as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you – so there will be times when being able to capture decent shots without having to reach for another camera means action gets captured that would otherwise be missed.
The specs. Ok, perhaps in terms of future-proofing, schools may choose to spend the extra money on the new iPad simply so they know that the device will be usable for a longer period of time due to its extra ram and processor speed. iPads typically support more years of updates than other tablets already, but $100 or so for an extra year or two that you don’t have to replace your iPad fleet could be significant for some institutions.
Voice dictation. Maybe not so vital for the everyday student, but for those with physical disabilities or even just those that think in more auditory terms, this could prove a very useful addition. Pity its not the full Siri voice control as well though.
200,000+ tablet apps. All the great hardware in the world is useless unless there is software to run on it, and the iPad has this in spades. Many schools are looking at Android tablets for various reasons at present, but the fact that there are only a few hundred tablet apps, and because experienced educators such as this one see them as only a gadget, not platform choice for schools makes those 200,000+ choices all the more pertinent.

Keynote Speakers for Learning@hand mobile learning forum

Learning@hand is a first of its kind mobile learning forum being held in Cairns April 29-30. We are very excited to have Wayan Vota, Victor Steffenson, Dr Chris Sarra, Theresa Feletar as our keynote speakers and wanted to share their speaker bio’s so you can learn more about the amazing level of wisdom that attendees will have access to from these speakers, and from Rangan Srikhanta of OLPC, Richard Barrie of Doomadgee State School, as well as Slide2Learn.net team members.

Visit www.Learningathand.info for more details.

Download the PDF: Learning@hand Keynote Speakers



Thoughts on a Post-PC era Phase 2 – Tablets and ‘Appliance’ computing

I hold very strongly to the idea that there are two ‘tablet device’ markets – the first is the much older ‘slate PC’ one that saw PCs and laptops gain expensive convertible options around 2003. These slate PCs are still around today and provide a reasonable compromise between a full PC and touchscreen device, but generally come with a higher price. One still has to know how to operate a full computer to use one.


Since the rise of smaller, mobile devices that mark the start of a Post-PC era, elements of ‘full computing’ have increasingly become available as part of their feature sets. Such things as the light productivity of email and web surfing, as well as viewing and consuming documents and media can all now be done almost anywhere at anytime, and with better battery life and often direct touch control. I have been calling these ‘Tablet PCs’, but the launch of the Amazon Fire tablet has got me thinking that phase 2 of the Post-PC era is upon us, and that we should instead be using the term ‘appliances’, or ‘Appliance computing’. Why?


In phase 1, I think large segments of the tech industry and their user base have stuck to the idea that a slate or tablet computer should just be the classic PC plus touch, and nothing else really needed changing. When the iPad debuted and didn’t try to be just a PC-replacement, it really messed up all these notions and led to nearly two years of discussion about what a tablet PC should be. Most similar devices released since by Motorolla, Samsung, Sony, RIM etc have tried to hedge their bets by ape-ing the form factor while still advertising their ‘PC’ features – USB ports and multi-tasking. Perhaps they do offer a useful middle ground or transition zone for those used to the PC-only era, but the general public has not adopted them in numbers any greater than they did the previous convertible Slate PCs. So what have they been adopting?


I think we all know. Not a tablet focused on being a PC replacement, but one that I see as having deliberately left-out USB ports and as many buttons as possible so it can’t be confused as a PC. Now for almost the first time since it debuted, a tablet is being released by a major player that also doesn’t seek to be seen as a PC-replacement. The Amazon Kindle Fire is a touchscreen eReader and media consumption tablet – and e-Content appliance basically – and at US$199 is also priced as such. So now that another ‘tablet as appliance’ device by a major company has entered the market, I think this space just got a whole lot clearer – Slate CPs for the older and smaller ‘PC in a tablet’ proffessional market, and and ‘appliance tablets’ for everyone else. Which market would you like a company that you hold shares in to target?


NB. Of course what I haven’t stated is why the appliance tablets are the ones that are selling – just for the record – its because they are simpler (and in many cases, cheaper).

NB2. Of course Microsoft’s Windows 8 on tablets may muddy this space again in 2012, but I think you can see that if all it does is go for the ‘a tablet and PC should be the same’ model, then they will miss the ‘computing for everybody-else’ potential of the Post-PC era.

NB3. Of course these are my own thoughts entirely and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer or other professional groups of which I am a member.

Post PC phase 2 – appliance computing 2.pdf Download this file

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder

iLearn iPod touch personalised learning project Journal 2: Critical thinking via the App store

iLearn iPod touch personalised learning project, Week 2 & 3:


This has been the part where the kids get very excited, something to do with the fact that they get their hands on the iPod Touch at this stage. Why do they get excited? Is it because the touch’s are so ‘cool’? Or is it in fact because they are so relieved to get to use something from the real world, something they are familiar with, when normally this only happens rarely at school? Up to this point, the students had not even seen the iPod’s; I’d made them wait so that we could work through some of the critical thinking goals of the unit first.
After a brief keynote demonstrating to the kids the basics of using the app store again and how to save a screenshot to record their choices, it was off to the space outside our admin block where we can access the wireless network. Obviously the wifi is crucial to this stage, and true to form, it was in and out, working fine for some lessons and not others. But they say that through trials comes learning and I was able to find couple of solutions to the wildest problems, although why the exact same settings work one hour and need to be re-entered another is still beyond me (3COM are you reading this?!).
Just as I’m asking the kids to continually be reflecting on the learning process, so am I attempting to do the same with the unit as a whole. So I’ve already made two adjustments, both arising out of conversations with members of my personal learning network. One was with a project officer who was interviewing me – the process of answering allowed me to reflect and also pick up on one of his ideas. So even though I had set verbal discussion moments up to occur every two weeks where the students reflected on their learning choices, I will now formalise this a little with set questions. The idea is that I can gauge their progress towards independent critical reflection by how much scaffolding they need to answer these questions, with the goal that they will need no help by the end of the unit. The second adjustment is that I found a free app where students can build T-charts to put down the pro’s and con’s of their initial app choice. This is how they will justify to me which ones need downloading (especially for the paid ones).
So that’s pretty much week 2 and week 3. The students have made their choice of a focus area based on their own learning data, and have narrowed down a choice of solutions (apps), with some even starting on completing T-charts to analyse these selections.
I’m still trying to get email setup on the devices so we can easily share content to and from them… But have been successful in getting assistance from our wonderful Principal and P&C to get some of the furniture resources (storage, lockable cupboards etc) that we desperately need.

Show support for mobile learning innovators! Vote in @HHL awards

I have been privileged to have been shortlisted for a 2009 Handheld learning award in the ‘Primary Schools’ category. Good on the Poms for having the awards democratically decided – by the distinctly ‘mobile’ technology of SMS – so if you care to, why not vote between now and September 28 and show your support for myself but also any others that take your fancy who are making mobile learning happen.
So if you haven’t already, and would still like to vote for me,
txt NALDER to +44 7786205637.
More than anything though, taking a look at all the finalists is a great way to see whats happening out there in this area. Full list of categories and finalists (with bio’s of each) are available HERE.
NB.  You will receive a response acknowledging your vote. SMS charges vary according to operator but this is a non-premium rate service so your contract may include free SMS. If you are unsure check with your provider.

SMS messages can be also be sent via Skype. Only 1 vote per finalist per originating number will be counted. We stop accepting votes at midnight UK time on Monday 28th September so please don’t delay!

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous