Want to point you all to this story published in major newspapers across Australia recently that gives a positive look at where tablets in Education are going rather than the ‘we did alright with pencils’ view thats often offered up. I was privileged to be interviewed for it:
“SCHOOL technology is no longer limited to communal computer labs and a laptop lugged in every backpack.
Just as tablets, iPods and other handheld devices are changing the way we do things at work and play, they’re changing the way students learn … and not always in the manner makers intended.
A year ago Apple amped up its iPad push into the education market with the launch of iBooks 2. Apple’s worldwide marketing vice-president Phil Schiller described education as “deep in our DNA”.
Schiller’s pitch was for iPads to become a replacement for textbooks. But while iPads are replacing some books, the technology is also branching off in other directions, with tablets seen as creative tools by educators rather than something passive.
A recent look at 18 different studies into the use of tablets in education found the use of iPads could increase students’ test scores, improve engagement and increase students’ ability to work independently.
To read the full article, including my contributions, go HERE.
I’ve started using Twylah.com to compile all the links and stories I tweet and re-tweet – its a central curated space to see what I’ve found to be the best mLearning, PostPC, EduTech etc stories at any one time. Enjoy.
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).
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):
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.
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.
(Disclosure: Assisting OLPC Australia to support schools has been one of my primary employment duties since mid-2009).
(Full PDF with higher res figures can be downloaded HERE).
There has been a new buzz word added to the education lexicon of late (as if one were needed) – the flipped classroom. This is an idea thats not so much brand new or revolutionary as it is one whose time has come. Technology now allows anyone (ie. any teacher or lecturer) to quickly and easily record and share lesson demonstrations online. Access to such a capability is now allowing teachers to schedule the content-consumption aspect of the curriculum as pre-lesson time work so students view it in their own time and come to a lesson already with a basic understanding. Thus the lesson is ‘flipped’ and class time can focus on discussion, interaction and tasks that build upon the basic content, rather than just on the content itself.
Case in point is Salman Kahn whose prolific creation of online science and maths lessons is often cited as one of the best examples of the flipped classroom. Salman is not a trained teacher, but through his creation and sharing of the online Khan academy, and indeed by using tools like a video camera and YouTube, or even a mobile app like ‘Explain Everything’, any teacher can provide students with content that prepares them for lessons that they can access in their own time, at their own pace. Indeed, students world-wide can also access (and create) such content themselves, without having been directed by a teacher to do so.
There is understandably much potential in this model thanks to the extra ease and accessibility current technology such as ubiquitous video cameras and internet access is providing it, but it is by no means an answer of itself. In fact, too much focus on the technological side of this model could be its downfall if educators use this aspect as a substitute for a solid curriculum and pedagogy underneath the learning itself. This is a trap that many ICT in education programs have fallen into in the past.
One high-profile example where the focus on the tech itself has at times become the problem rather than the enabler is the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative started by Nicholas Negroponte at MIT university in the United States. This project has five core principles: child ownership of devices; low ages as the target; saturation of whole schools; connected learning; and free and open source software. It has delivered over 2.5 million XO personal learning devices to countries across the world. But what does their strategy for supporting and nurturing the learning experiences that the XO can enable look like?
Some sense of the OLPC thinking in regards to this may be gained from the recent plan announced by Negroponte to deliver XOs by helicopter (‘I Want To Give Poor Children Laptops And Then Walk Away’, New Scientist, December 2011) and have no actual contact with those receiving the devices until one year later. Not to mention how many extra devices could be procured for the cost of the helicopter hire. If there is no local buy-in, planning or commitment – what is the purpose of such an exercise? A research experiment?
As my own experiences over the last four years supporting technology deployments here in Australia have shown me, the initial stage of getting the hardware out to schools can be such a massive job, and the excitement of the students when it arrives so rewarding, that its often easy to confuse this stage with what George Bush once called ‘mission accomplished’.
An example of this is a 2010 OLPC laptop deployment that I now have mixed feelings about having been a participant in. A remote community in Western Australia was taking delivery of 60 devices in the middle of a busy term. Teacher training that had occurred prior to delivery? None. Planning by the school on how such laptops fitted with their existing learning goals? None. Time until the school stopped returning our calls or replying to our emails? Three months. And yet this model of bringing the hardware, meeting with teachers for a few days, and then leaving has been a common one here in Australia whether it’s laptops or interactive whiteboards or any of the other technologies regularly deployed into classrooms.
Also known as ‘shiny object syndrome’ or ‘miracle transformation falacy‘, the belief that a new piece of technology is itself enough to ‘transform’ education is either an agenda of supreme hope or extreme negligence. Hope and belief are necessary traits for those working in difficult schools and regions, but placing that hope entirely onto a device, no matter how well designed (and the XO is one of the best education-tailored devices) leaves no room for investing in people, ie. those whose lives and futures are at stake.
So we’ve seen briefly that some of the best intentions of OLPC have foundered at the delivery stage, the ‘engaging with the very people expected to run, operate and learn with the XO’ stage. Indeed, the failure to provide teachers with appropriate guidance in a rural OLPC deployment in India led to the Write activity being used simply as a ‘routinised’ worksheet substitute almost to the exclusion of other XO tools such as “the group and community collaboration features, the Internet, the Chat activity, pedagogical activities such as Turtle Art, and the Hindi keyboard language feature”(2009, p154).
In ‘OLPC laptop: Educational Revolution or Devolution’ (2007) authors Bastiaens and Carliner own survey revealed that before there could be any guarantees regarding the XOs potential to provide an education, a deployment program that includes planning around curriculum and evaluation needs to be developed. Further, a 2009 review of global OLPC projects by the Australian Council for Educational Research suggested that all future projects needed to “embed an evaluation framework at the very beginning of a deployment, preferably at the project design and planning stage” because the paucity of evaluation conducted by deployments to that point meant it could not be known what impact they had had, if any.
Around the world however, there have been regional OLPC organisations that have recognised the need to flip the XO deployment model that early on assumed countries would sign up for 1 million devices without ever having run a trial – to move the emphasis from the pre-delivery to the post-delivery stage in much the way that the flipped classroom attempts to move basic remembering of content from being the centre of a lesson to just the setup for the lesson.
- Figure 1
OLPC Australia is one such regional arm, and they are accomplishing this ‘flip’ in several ways. The first is by putting school-based demand at the top of their deployment model (figure 1) such that the program is one done for schools rather than one done to them. A second is that remote and disadvantaged schools themselves contribute funds ($80 per device) to the project to cover training, spare parts and ongoing support. This local ‘skin in the game’ as it is called, means that the chances of schools abandoning their initial work are greatly reduced, while still allowing the program to exist at a low cost-of entry.
Another unique modification has been adding of two extra ideals – empowering teachers, and community engagement – to the five OLPC core principles. Take note that both of these could not be delivered on from a helicopter in the sky, nor from a delivery visit of a few days. Instead, it means that OLPC Australia interacts with schools over a longer term to initially provide training (through the laptop.moodle.com.au course) even before class devices are scheduled for delivery. This training (which is itself another major investment not often seen in technology deployments) is targeted not just at teachers, but includes tailored versions for local teacher aides and assistants, as well as for community members.
Following the pre-deployment training, which includes planning and lesson-creation, other training modules are available for staff to become local trainers so their use of the XOs becomes one that is driven by local knowledge and know-how (see figure 2). Even community members can now become an ‘XO-local’, while students now have targeted modules where they can become ‘XO Champions’ and ‘XO Mechanics’ as a way of recognising the skills they are developing. To further build on and support the knowledge staff in XO schools develop, the program in Australia also has a dedicated Yammer social network where support can be provided by OLPC Australia staff but also by other teachers and community members.
- Figure 2
Finally, OLPC Australia have begun to work closely not just with schools but with state education departments, (and in my case, the Indigenous Education and Training Futures Division) to ensure that the program can be aligned with existing education frameworks (such as the Smart Classrooms Professional Development Framework in Queensland) rather then existing separately (and thus adding to teachers’ workloads). They are also partnering in training events such as the Learning@hand mobile learning forum to share what they have developed.
This engagement has also seen them develop localised versions of the Sugar OS that XO devices run which can be easily updated from USB drives, and seen OLPC Australia supply its own unique warranty for XOs as another sign they are supporting schools on a longer-term basis.
In starting with school demand, being committed to teachers and communities, providing pre-deployment training and post-deployment followup, as well as by working with education departments, OLPC Australia is now in a position where all their work on fundraising can translate to an ongoing project with a chance of sustainable connected learning in schools that in the past have often been the ones to miss out on the benefits of such an approach. Hopefully the flipped classroom movement can similarly learn from past experience to keep focused on the learning, not just on the technology that enables it.
Spanish Translation (only by Google Translate) for South American readers:
(Revelación: Asistencia OLPC Australia para apoyar a las escuelas ha sido uno de mis funciones principales de empleo desde mediados de 2009).
(PDF completo con mayores cifras de resolución se puede descargar aquí).
No ha sido una nueva palabra de moda añadido a la educación en el léxico de la tarde (como si se necesita) – el salón de clases vuelta. Esta es una idea eso no es nuevo tanto o revolucionario ya que es uno cuyo tiempo ha llegado. La tecnología ahora permite que cualquier persona (es decir, cualquier maestro o profesor) para grabar rápida y fácilmente compartir lecciones y demostraciones en línea. El acceso a dicha capacidad está permitiendo a los maestros para programar el aspecto de contenido el consumo del plan de estudios como el trabajo a tiempo antes de la lección para que los estudiantes que ver en su propio tiempo y llegar a una lección ya con un conocimiento básico. Así pues, la lección es “volteado” y el tiempo de clase puede centrarse en la discusión, interacción y tareas que se basan en el contenido básico, y no sólo en el contenido mismo.
Ejemplo de ello es Salman Khan, cuya prolífica creación de la ciencia y en línea las clases de matemáticas a menudo se cita como uno de los mejores ejemplos de la clase volcó. Salman no es un maestro capacitado, sino a través de su creación y puesta en común de la línea de la Academia Khan, y de hecho mediante el uso de herramientas como una cámara de vídeo y YouTube, o incluso una aplicación móvil como “explicar todo”, cualquier profesor puede proporcionar a los estudiantes con el contenido que los prepara para las lecciones que pueden acceder en su propio tiempo, a su propio ritmo. De hecho, los estudiantes de todo el mundo también se puede acceder (y crear) el contenido de tales a sí mismos, sin haber sido dirigido por un profesor para hacerlo.
No es comprensible que un gran potencial en este modelo, gracias a la facilidad adicional y las tecnologías de accesibilidad actual, tales como cámaras de video omnipresentes y acceso a internet que ofrecen, pero no es en absoluto una respuesta de sí mismo.De hecho, centrarse demasiado en el aspecto tecnológico de este modelo podría ser su perdición si los educadores utilizan este aspecto como un sustituto de un plan de estudios sólido y la pedagogía bajo el mismo aprendizaje. Esto es una trampa que muchas de las TIC en los programas de educación han caído en el en el pasado.
Un ejemplo de alto perfil donde el foco en la propia tecnología ha sido a veces convertido en el problema, más que el facilitador es el One Laptop per Child (OLPC) comenzó por Nicholas Negroponte en el MIT, la universidad en los Estados Unidos. Este proyecto consta de cinco principios básicos: la propiedad de los dispositivos de niños, las edades más bajas como el blanco, la saturación de las escuelas integrales, el aprendizaje conectado, y el software de código libre y abierto. Ha entregado más de 2,5 millones de dispositivos personales XO de aprendizaje para los países en todo el mundo. Pero, ¿qué hace su estrategia para apoyar y fomentar las experiencias de aprendizaje que permitan a la XO puede parecerse?
Algunos sentido de un pensamiento OLPC en lo que respecta a esto puede ser adquirida en el reciente plan anunciado por Negroponte para entregar XO en helicóptero (‘Quiero darle a los niños pobres Portátiles y luego a pie “, New Scientist, diciembre de 2011) y no tienen real póngase en contacto con aquellos que reciben los dispositivos de hasta un año después. Por no hablar de la cantidad de dispositivos adicionales podrían ser adquiridos por el costo del alquiler de un helicóptero. Si no hay participación local en la planificación o el compromiso – ¿Cuál es el propósito de este ejercicio? Un experimento de investigación?
Como mis propias experiencias en los últimos cuatro años de apoyo a las implementaciones de la tecnología aquí en Australia me han mostrado, la etapa inicial de conseguir el hardware a las escuelas puede ser un trabajo tan masivo, y el entusiasmo de los estudiantes cuando llega tan gratificante, que su a menudo fáciles de confundir a esta etapa con lo que George Bush llamó una vez “misión cumplida”.
Un ejemplo de esto es un despliegue de 2.010 portátil OLPC que ahora tengo sentimientos encontrados acerca de haber sido un participante in una comunidad remota en el oeste de Australia fue aceptar la entrega de 60 dispositivos en el medio de un término ocupado. La formación del profesorado que se había producido antes de la entrega? Ninguno. Planificación de la escuela acerca de cómo las computadoras portátiles de ese tipo con sus metas de aprendizaje ya existentes? Ninguno. Tiempo hasta que la escuela dejó de responder a nuestras llamadas o responder a nuestros mensajes de correo electrónico? Tres meses. Y sin embargo, este modelo de lo que el hardware, reunirse con los maestros durante unos días, y luego dejando ha sido muy común aquí en Australia si se trata de computadoras portátiles o pizarras interactivas o de cualquiera de las otras tecnologías de la regularidad desplegadas en las aulas.
También conocido como “síndrome del objeto brillante” o “falacia de transformación milagrosa”, la creencia de que una nueva pieza de la tecnología es en sí misma suficiente para “transformar” la educación es tanto un programa de la esperanza suprema o negligencia extrema. La esperanza y la fe son los rasgos necesarios para que las personas que trabajan en las escuelas y regiones difíciles, pero la colocación de esa esperanza por completo en un dispositivo, no importa lo bien diseñado (y el XO es uno de los mejores dispositivos de la educación a la medida) no deja lugar para invertir en las personas , es decir. aquellos cuyas vidas y futuro están en juego.
Así hemos visto brevemente que algunas de las mejores intenciones de OLPC han fracasado en la fase de entrega, el “compromiso con las mismas personas que se espera ejecutar, operar y aprender con la XO etapa. De hecho, la falta de profesores con la orientación adecuada en una zona rural de implementación de OLPC en la India llevó a la actividad de escritura que se usa simplemente como un sustituto de ‘rutinizada’ hoja de trabajo casi hasta la exclusión de otras herramientas de XO, tales como “el grupo y las características de la comunidad de colaboración, Internet, el chat, las actividades pedagógicas, tales como Turtle Art, y el teclado Hindi característica del lenguaje “(2009, P154).
En ‘OLPC laptop: Revolución Educativa o la devolución “(2007) Bastiaens autores y las encuestas Carliner propia reveló que antes de que pudiera haber ninguna garantía con respecto a las XO potencial para proporcionar una educación, un programa de implementación que incluye la planificación en torno a las necesidades del plan de estudios y evaluación que se desarrolló .Además, una revisión de 2009 de los proyectos globales de la OLPC por el Consejo Australiano para la Investigación Educativa sugiere que todos los proyectos de futuro necesaria para “integrar un marco de evaluación en el comienzo de un despliegue, de preferencia en el diseño del proyecto y la etapa de planificación”, porque la escasez de la evaluación llevada a cabo por las implementaciones de ese momento significaba que no podría ser conocido el impacto que había tenido, en su caso.
En todo el mundo, sin embargo, ha habido organizaciones regionales de OLPC que han reconocido la necesidad de dar la vuelta al modelo de implementación de XO que desde el principio asumió que los países en firmar para arriba para 1 millón de dispositivos sin tener hacer un ensayo – para mover el énfasis de la pre-entrega a la etapa posterior a la entrega en gran parte la forma en que los intentos de clase volteado para mover básica recordar el contenido de ser el centro de una lección a poco la configuración de la lección.
- La figura 1
OLPC Australia es uno de los brazos regionales, y que están logrando este “tirón” de varias maneras. La primera es poner la escuela basada en la demanda en la parte superior de su modelo de implantación (figura 1) de tal manera que el programa es un hecho para las escuelas en lugar de uno hecho para ellos. La segunda es que las escuelas remotas y desfavorecidas contribuir con fondos propios ($ 80 por equipo) para el proyecto a cubrir la formación, repuestos y soporte continuo. Este local de la piel en el juego “como se le llama, significa que las posibilidades de las escuelas que abandonan su trabajo inicial se reduce en gran medida, al tiempo que permite el programa a existir en un bajo costo de entrada.
Otra modificación único ha sido la adición de dos ideales adicionales – los profesores empoderamiento y participación de la comunidad – a los cinco principios básicos de OLPC. Tome en cuenta que ambas cosas no se pudo entregar desde un helicóptero en el cielo, ni de una visita de la entrega de unos pocos días. En su lugar, significa que la OLPC Australia interactúa con las escuelas de más de un más largo plazo para proveer inicialmente de capacitación (a través del curso laptop.moodle.com.au) incluso antes de que los dispositivos de clase se han programado para la entrega. Esta formación (que a su vez es otra gran inversión no se suele ver en las implementaciones de la tecnología) está dirigido no sólo a los profesores, sino que incluye versiones adaptadas para los asistentes de maestros locales y asistentes, así como para miembros de la comunidad.
Después de la capacitación previa al despliegue, que incluye la planificación y la lección de la creación-, otros módulos de formación están disponibles para el personal para convertirse en capacitadores locales de modo que su uso de las XO se convierte en uno que es impulsada por el conocimiento local y know-how (ver figura 2). Incluso los miembros de la comunidad ahora puede convertirse en un ‘XO-local “, mientras que los estudiantes ahora se han centrado en los módulos donde se pueden llegar a ser los Campeones’ y ‘XO XO Mecánica”, como una manera de reconocer las habilidades que están en vías de desarrollo. Para construir más allá y apoyar al personal los conocimientos en las escuelas XO desarrollar el programa en Australia también cuenta con una red dedicada Yammer social donde el apoyo puede ser proporcionado por personal de OLPC Australia, sino también por otros profesores y miembros de la comunidad.
- Figura 2
Finalmente, la OLPC Australia han comenzado a trabajar en estrecha colaboración no sólo con las escuelas, pero con los departamentos estatales de educación, (y en mi caso, la educación indígena y de la División de Formación de Futuros) para asegurar que el programa puede ser ajustado a los marcos de educación existentes (tales como el Smart Marco de las aulas de Desarrollo Profesional en Queensland) en lugar de existir por separado (y por lo tanto añadiendo a las cargas de trabajo de los docentes). Ellos también se han asociado en actividades de formación como el foro de Learning @ por el aprendizaje móvil para compartir lo que han desarrollado.
Este compromiso se ha visto también a desarrollar las versiones localizadas del sistema operativo de azúcar que se ejecutan los dispositivos XO, que puede ser fácilmente actualizado de las unidades USB, y he visto OLPC Australia suministrará la garantía propia y única para la XO como otra señal de que están apoyando a las escuelas sobre una base a largo plazo .
Al comenzar con la demanda de la escuela, estar comprometido con los maestros y las comunidades, proporcionando formación previa al despliegue y el seguimiento posterior a la implementación, así como mediante la colaboración con los departamentos de educación, la OLPC Australia está ahora en una posición en la que todo su trabajo en la recaudación de fondos se puede traducir en una proyecto en curso con la posibilidad de aprendizaje sostenible conectados en las escuelas que en el pasado a menudo han sido los que disfrutan de las ventajas de este enfoque. Esperemos que el movimiento del aula volteado de manera similar se puede aprender de la experiencia del pasado para mantener la concentración en el aprendizaje, no sólo en la tecnología que lo permite.
Visita www.laptop.org.au para leer más sobre One Laptop per Child es uno mismo.
I’m sure a whole ecosystem of support products will arise to help educators get the most out of the interactive features in iBooks Author – 3D object galleries etc. The tips below are even better in that it concerns a program that’s already out so you can start right now:
Looks great, but I’ll need to see the software optimized for touch (can’t believe they demo’d it without this!), & an actual ship date… In the meantime, the XO 1.75 will be available from March (my brief hands-on with one showed it to be way faster).
So, version 2 of the device that has spurred the tablet computing market into the mainstream over the last 12 months (15 million sold) has been announced. Despite being a consumer device, it has seen massive adoption by professionals in business, medicine, and education. In Australia, there are iPad trials occurring in nearly every state, with over 500 deployed officially in Victoria alone. So it only follows that there will be great interest in the next version (to be released in Australia March 25). Here are the top 3 things that iPad 2 has going for it as far as education is concerned:
1. Screen Mirroring – Almost from day one of the release of the original iPod touch, the number one question that educators have asked is “can I display the screen on a projector or tv?”, and the answer has been “no”, then “no, but yes if you use a document camera”, then “yes some apps can, but its still limited”. Now FINALLY, the iPad 2 (and presumably all iOS devices going forward) will support full screen mirroring of everything via the VGA cable or the new HDMI cable. For showing apps and using the iPad as a shared whiteboard etc, this is a huge leap forward.
2. Lighter – apparently the new iPad is 15% lighter – just enough of an improvement to make it more usable by students. I know my first generation iPad does get heavy even for my adult arms after 15mins or so – for primary school students especially, the weight drop might be just enough to allow for extended mobile use of iPads without as much hand/arm strain.
3. Price drop of the old model – for now at least, the iPad 1 has had its price dropped by large amounts – up to AU$200 on some models – so its a great time for schools with limited budgets (ie all that I know) to do a learning and management plan, then purchase iPads at the cheaper price point.
So what does the iPad not have yet for education? As mentioned above, the iPad is a consumer device – its not been designed with the needs of education in mind specifically. So we still need a good system for managing and syncing more than a few iPads. We also need clarity around education use off apps and iTunes content. The hope is that the app volume licensing program available in the US will be extended overseas and enhanced with provision for iBooks and music/movies as well as apps. For Mac users, the next version of the Mac OS (due in around 6 months) will reportedly include iOS device management built in. Until then, proceed with caution; join an online iPad in education community, and create a good learning/management plan as always!
> www.slidetolearn.info – beginners guide for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone in Education (updated regularly)
Nearly two years ago, I closed down my Google top ten Mobile Learning blog after 3 years and over 10,000 hits. I felt that the time of calling from the roof tops that mobile learning existed was over. People had started paying attention to the rise of mobile phones etc as the preferred computing platform of those who education should be centered around, ie. students. Reports like New Media Consortiums ‘Horizon Report’ were including mobile learning as one of the top educational trends. Game-changing next-gen devices like the iPhone were just appearing, and when I went to write an mLearning paper for my Masters thesis, I discovered there were plenty already.
So I was forced to research where mLearning was going, and to think about what was the next phase that the world of education needed to be hearing about. It seemed logical after a time that of course as computing became more miniaturized and mobile, it would eventually become ubiquitous, or an unnoticed part of everything – invisible as all other technology that has proceeded it has after enough time has passed. So in a world such as that, what will ubiquitous learning need to look like?
I’m still not really sure exactly what it will look like, but as you know if you’ve been following this uLearning blog, I’ve been continuing to follow several mLearning developments as a way to track the overall journey. There are two in particular I’m most involved with here in Australia, and I’d like to detail whats been happening and what learning that takes them into account looks like.
1. Single use – multi-use – ubiquitous uses
The first is the continued convergence of the standard mobile device from being a phone or a mp3 player into one that does everything. Dedicated devices will always be around, but what has also occurred is that the average device, especially now that touch-screens have replaced buttons and mobile app stores are proliferating, is becoming ubiquitous-use devices. Its safe to say for instance that the 300,000 apps in the iOS App store provide at the very least thousands of potential uses, be it as a digital level tool for building, or a portable weather radar etc, as well as the more traditional phone, camera, GPS etc.
In Australia, the uptake of the iPhone is the highest in the world. That alone has to tell you something about how deeply entrenched these kinds of devices are here already. The state of Victoria is trialling 800 iPads, and I personally know of over 40 schools (there will be many times that number I don’t know about) here in Queensland who have deployed iPod touches and now iPads. In fact the second Slide2Learn conference focusing on these devices in education recently sold out 80% of its places in only 2 1/2 days.
Here are some links to explore more of what the actual practitioners are doing:
Also significant has been the spread of educational net-book programs into countries that have skipped the desktop PC era (for various reasons) and gone straight into the mobile computing one. In this category we have the One Laptop per Child XO laptop, as well as the Intel Classmate. OLPC has seen over 2 million XOs deployed, with many more ordered. Classmate numbers are harder to get a hold of, but large orders have been placed in addition to the many schools that have opted for standard netbooks.
Like the iPod touch and iPad deployments happening here in Australia, the OLPC XO laptop is much more in the complementary/ personalised learning device category. What this means is that most schools already have PC labs and other ICT infrastructure, but they don’t have mobile devices that allow students constant, anywhere access to the potential benefits of having connected, personal tools in student hands. The rugged nature of the XO device in particular makes it ideally suited to use by early and primary school aged students, especially in remote locations far from repair sites.
Here are some links to see more of what has been happening:
As part of the Sunday Service we are delighted to be hosting a series of inspiring talks from some of the world’s leading teachers and practitioners who are using mobile, video game, social media or other affordable and disruptive technologies to improve the quality of learning.
During these quickfire 20 minutes talks practitioners will share their passion, practice and experiences.
So, you’ve decided to give these new-fangled mobile devices a place at your 21st century education (a term I use because I know so many can’t stand it) table. Your students will thank you. During the initial planning and implementation phase of your work to tap into the potential benefits of mobile learning (such as portability, simplicity, agility and personalisation) I’d like to encourage you to turn your mind, and that of your students even, to problem solving.
Of course any successful integration of 21st century pedagogy (oops said it again) will require plenty of problem solving. But in this post I’m talking specifically about the physical environment into which these devices will need to fit. Is it one thats set up for large PCs and traditional content-transmission teaching? If so, you have a wonderful challenge ahead. And if your school has anything like the strained budget of mine, its a challenge that could be posed like this:
“How can we creatively adapt to the unique space and accessory needs of a mobile device project, without the total cost of ownership of the project making the whole thing too expensive?”
Questions stemming from this directly might be: “How will we manage all the cords for syncing and charging or storing styli?” and “is there a stand that works in multiple locations so we don’t have to buy many different kinds?”
Sounds like a great challenge-based or project-based learning task. And here’s where I suggest you start – at one of those cheap web stores full of gadget bibs and bobs – where a bit of creative thinking just net you what you need.
Example 1: the Cable clip
Despite the presence of wifi in more and more device that fall into the mobile learning category, most still require cables for charging if not for syncing as well. It doesn’t take too long before even a few devices means many cords and cables snaking around desks. Big potential workplace health and safety issue. Now, you could try cheap cable ties to group some of the cords or keep them tidy, but these have to be cut every time the cords are moved. Enter the cable clip. By peeling off the adhesive, you can stick it (and re-stick) wherever its needed for grouping power or syncing cables. I’ve also seen it used as a holder for a stylus if your art teacher wants students to use those with you mobile device. Even better, these can be had from some online stores for under $3.00 for a pack of six.
Example 2: The windscreen mount re-purposed as a multi-purpose stand and mount.
With the amount of apps available on many devices these days (wether they be iPod touches, tablets, phones, even Leapster devices), the best return on any schools investment naturally is if students have them at hand to be used as much as possible. Going on the out of site out of mind idea, its especially important in the early stages of a deployment when you and your students aren’t used to having the capabilities of your chosen device to draw on that they be visible. To this end, my idea is to repurpose a windscreen GPS-type mount for holding a variety of gadgets in place around a learning area, especially for viewing podcasts or playing and replaying voice recordings etc. This one that I found (simply called a ‘universal car windshield mount’) has three rotating sections and I’ve been able to angle it pretty much anyway I’d want for devices in both a portrait and landscape mode. Plus despite being cheap (ie. under $9.00), its quite sturdy and the holder can adjust from about 5cm to 10cm wide, meaning it can be used with a variety of devices.
Ok, so there is a couple of ideas. I’d love to hear what others come up with.
PS. I did my ‘creative thinking’ at budgetgadgets.com, which is also where the pricing in this post comes from.
Turns out this figure is actually only 3.71% of all the nations ICT workers, so maybe thats why. You see what I did there? The big picture perspective does matter.
I’m fortunate that my job does have scope for analysing research around ICT integration and pondering these kinds of matters so I can best support schools who are moving towards mobile and transformational learning programs (specifically the XO laptop, but also other platforms such as iPad’s and iPod’s). This led me today to this big picture article: Global trends in ICT and Education http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/10-global-trends-in-ict-and-education that lists mobile learning, cloud computing, 1:1 computing, ubiquitous learning, gaming, personalised learning, redefinition of learning spaces, teacher generated open content, smart portfolio assessment and teacher managers/mentors as the top 10 trends happening in ICT and education right now. Shorter and easier to quickly read than the similarly useful Horizon reports (http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD5810.pdf), this blog post has however inspired a series of comments many times its length, my summary of which is: ‘lofty ideals vs on the ground realities’.
We seem to waste so much time in this field debating which of these two extremes deserves to be the guiding light. In response, I’m going to commit the cardinal sin of saying – there is an easy solution (more on that in a moment). Basically the commenters were saying either that yes, these big picture trends should be what educators aim at, or that no, realities close to the ‘coalface’ (there’s that industrial vestige still hanging around) of schools and classrooms should be the priority. One comment from a teacher in Morocco in particular really effected me (‘the true trends’, anonymous). This teacher states that “that in most parts of the world teachers are still fighting to get colored chalk from the administration of their schools”. Wo. Didn’t see that one in the top ten trends. They go on to say that while their school has one multi-media room with PCs, its little used, and that a training program for teachers to encourage ICT use only focused on theoretical topics, not practical issues, and thus was largely irrelevant. The teachers own efforts in using a blog to enhance learning had gone completely unnoticed and supported by the schools administration. You can understand a person like this questioning the if the global trends were trends or just buzz words.
So instead of ‘global’ trends, perhaps we should say ‘western’, or ‘for those who can afford it’, or ‘for those who live in cities’ etc. My own work in partnership with One Laptop per Child Australia’s 1:1 XO laptop deployments is giving me a unique and treasured chance to see what education in some of the disadvantaged schools of my own country is like. One Laptop per Child could certainly be said to have lofty goals. “Give poor, disadvantaged children a laptop?!” Many people say “What about food, clothing, and water?” Even those who can see that a digital education is key to help give students a chance to connect with a wider world and create their own solutions to such problems may have other questions such as “what about our existing curriculum and mandated testing?”, or “we don’t have a culture of individual ownership here, how can we give laptops to kids to take home and expect them to come back to school?”.
So, should we aim high? Or take care of local problems first? If we do aim high, how can we stop on the ground complications from impacting the benefits that ICTs might otherwise bring? Does it have to come down to a one or the other choice?
“There is another” (- Yoda, Empire Strikes back). My offering here in this debate, gleaned from spending a few years now working in my own school, with teachers across my state, and now across the country to help teachers integrate technology in their pedagogy amounts to this – there is a middle way. See, easy! Don’t take one or other side – look for the exact mid-point. Ok? Article over.
So why doesn’t this occur? Why is it that the continuous commentary on the success or otherwise of One Laptop per Child on a site like www.olpcnews.com, or the debate on the Global Trends post referred to in this article always come down to aim high, OR focus on local problems almost exclusively?
Hard work, thats why. Not that educators are avoiders of hard work, far from it. But whether you are an administrator planning a technology deployment, or a teacher dealing with a busy classroom, you are no doubt already working at your limits, and finding an approach that marries the best of two lines of thinking is always going to be harder than sticking with one or the other.
So am I going to specify what this middle way is to ease the burden so to speak, if I really am saying this is the way to go? I would, except I don’t fully know yet myself… , sorry.
See what I did there again? I raised your hopes, only to leave you somewhat disappointed. Why would I do that to someone who has faithfully read the last 850 words? Because, you don’t need my solution. In effect, you are your solution, as long as you know not to stick just to one camp or the other.
What I do humbly suggest though, is these two things:
1.Plan plan plan: The most lofty but potentially transformative ideas tend to convert into hot air if left to do all the work themselves, or if its assumed that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is sufficient. Please don’t allow this to happen. Effective transformation opportunities in schools are too rare to not do the hard work behind the scenes of planning every step, and answering every local question first before they get asked. In this way, you can base your plan on the right big picture goals, but address on the ground issues as well.
2. Change the minds. “THERE IS SOMETHING WHICH COMES BEFORE TECHNOLOGY. It’s the mind of people.” So says our anonymous teacher from Morocco. Research shows that teachers are the biggest factor effecting the long term success of technology deployments (see page 10, http://escholarship.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1236&context=jtla). Therefore, it is vital that teachers engage in processes that allow their pedagogy to best support the possibilities that 1:1 classrooms and technology rollouts in general offer. This means effective teacher training that gives the theoretical big picture argument as well as the means to apply this locally in ways that enhances existing practice as a means to starting them on a journey where the potential of ICTs to inspire transformation can begin.
I’ll have more to say about this stage of the process in a future post…
NB. The thoughts and opinions expressed in these posts are all mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, including my employer.
Its hard to deny that in the book that tells how computing has become more and more mobile such that its already almost ubiquitous, the current chapter would be titled ‘tablets’. While they have been around for some years in various forms, the recent maturation of mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS to match the slate style has seen an explosion in the adoption rates of tablet computers. The iPad is selling over 1 million devices a month, and it seems that conversely, about a million different Android tablets get announced each week. The Dell Streak, Asus EePad and Samsung Galaxy are all examples of high profile Android tablet computers that will be released in the next 4 months. There are also education specific initiatives around Android tablets in the shape of the Marvel/OLPC $99 project, and India’s $35 slate. Of interest also is what HP releases in the way of a ‘PalmPad’ tablet that will run the WebOS they bought along with Palm.
Ok, so enough about the hype of devices. What can they do? And specifically, what can they do for learning? Not having access to an Android tablet yet myself, my observations are based on the using the iPad. For a list of Android education apps though, go here.
I’m aiming then to post semi-regular articles on what these tablets can do, starting today with this example: iBrainstorm (free from the appstore). This app (an others like it) allow you to map out ideas, plans and thoughts visually. Where it really provides a new experience is that, being available on a tablet, all the work is done by direct touch, just as we would have once done pre-PCs. So we get to arrange notes and draw in a paper-like way, but with all the advantages that working digitally brings – such as instant sharing and storage of the brainstorm session. And, you also get to instantly collaborate. iBrainstorm allows other devices (iPhones or iPod touches as you’d expect from this platform) to connect via bluetooth and create their own sticky-notes which can be passed to the main iPad with a flick of the finger.
In a classroom, I can just see the group work possibilities. You could have four – five students summarising a topic, with up to four students creating sticky-notes of key points and flicking to a fifth student with the iPad tablet who then arranges them. I am really hoping that in near future the developers will add a video-out capability so the work could be projected to a big screen to show the brainstorm taking place live – that way the whole class could contribute.
If this is any indication of the kind of applications that tablet computers of any platform are capable, I for one am excited about the the kind of learning they will help enable. Of course it all depends on teachers facilitating their use – would love to hear from other teachers attempting to do so.
I recently had the great pleasure of presenting these slides both at the Slide2Learn event in Victoria, and for 80 teachers of students with hearing impairments on the recent pupil free day. The slides aim to show how mobile devices are able to help teachers and students to keep up with the speed of learning that should be a feature of any contemporary, complex classroom now that ubiquitous, everyware computing is almost upon us.
It draws on Blooms Taxonomy and challenges teachers to aim higher and to engage with how mobile tools are becoming an increasingly necessary tool for all of us as we seek to prepare students for a digital future (and present). Each slide includes notes explaining what the PDF files are showing. The slides basically fall into these three sections:
A. Assumptions about schooling, then and now, B. PART 2. Blooms Taxonomy, higher order thinking, and where the complex contemporary classroom and mobile devices come in, C. PART 3. Focus on the iPod touch platform in relation to how it fits the complex classroom – with actual examples from my school.
You can view the slides HERE thanks to slideshare.