Mobile learning in the Asian-Pacific

Gráinne and I are preparing, along with Mark Childs, to jointly conduct a 2-day workshop and to deliver individual presentations at MobiLearn Asia 2013 Conference, 2-3 October in Singapore.

Airport information workers with iPads at Singapore airport

Airport information workers with iPads at Singapore airport

This will be my second time at this conference; MobiLearn Asia 2012 was the maiden voyage of this conference series, and I was privileged to present two days of workshops and 3 presentations last year. I took the photos in this post during that trip. The airport photos show where Singapore is at in terms of understanding the benefits of mobile and smart devices in cases where ‘situated’ is everything. It makes perfect sense to give iPads to information assistants in the airport, so they can have up-to-the-second correct information to share. It makes perfect sense, if you want to collect feedback on the state of the airport loos, to put up a screen by which you can register your opinion with a single touch.

Loo feedback screen in Singapore airport

Loo feedback screen in Singapore airport

What about mobile devices in learning? When I was there last year, I heard the Singapore government was planning a major rollout of mobile devices in schools. I attended an engaging session in which school teachers demonstrated augmented-reality-enhanced field trips to Thailand’s historical sites. I compared this to our high school scene in the UK and in the USA, where mobile devices are often banned or only very carefully being allowed into the classroom, although we do have a growing number of one-iPad-per-child schemes at the primary school level. This conference is therefore a good forum to exchange ideas, stories, and plans across cultural divides.

Serampore Skyscrapers

Serampore Skyscrapers

Our pre-conference workshop applies the 7Cs of Learning Design and e-pedagogies to mobile learning, resulting in the notion of m-pedagogies, and adding a focus on augmented reality in learning.  Have a look at the workshop and materials here.

I will deliver two presentations: ‘BYOD in UK Schools – Premise, Promise & Precaution’ and ‘Mobile and Social Media: The Power of the Learning Network and Digital Literacy’ . Gráinne will be delivering a keynote: Disruptive Learning: Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Disruptive Technologies. Mark will deliver a presentation on Perceptual and Psychological Immersion: Making Sense of Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality.

It’s a challenge to present in a conference with so many industry leaders and speakers at the cutting edge of technology-enhanced learning. Other keynotes include John Traxler and Daphne Koller who co-founded Coursera. it will be worth rising to the challenge if I can gain insights helpful to the educational requirements I tend to right here in Leicester.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

Pianos – New Facebook? A Story About Non-Digital Disruptive Innovation and Bishops Itchington

It is hot, hot, hot, isn’t it? And with everyone trying to make the best out of the British summer while it lasts, people are crowding the Great Outdoors – i.e. any horizontal patch of grass they can spot.
Take Leicester Square in London. On Tuesday it contained hoards of people, certainly equivalent in numbers to the population of Bishops Itchington (I have no idea what that number actually is, and if you insist, yes, I did choose it as example because of the name, and yes, it is a real place.)
There were people sitting on the benches, lying on the grass, splashing in the fountain, presumably some were pick-pocketing while others were buying ice-cream, smudging ice-cream on their clothes, removing ice-cream smudges from their clothes – the usual pastimes. And then, there was someone playing the piano. Only in this case, it was not the usual street performer. It was a young guy, looking a bit shy and a bit like a tourist and playing a bit out of tune a Rihanna tune. And yet, he was surrounded by people, listening intently, smiling, applauding him encouragingly, some recording his performance on their phones. Passers-by stopped, joined the little crowd surrounding the piano, listened and started conversations with other people. When the player finished, he got up and his place was taken by a girl who had been standing in the audience, until her friends pushed her forward. She played beautiful classical music, attracting more people to the little crowd. What was going on?
It was all part of an art project – Piano in The Street – by the artist Luke Jerram. The project involves placing 30 pianos in open public places. Anyone can play them. On his website the artist says that the pianos in the street are meant to be an interconnected resource for people to express themselves, and like Facebook, to connect and to create. This is what Luke Jerram says on his website:
“Why is it that when I go to the laundrette I see the same people each week and yet nobody talks to one another? Why don’t I know the names of the people who live opposite my house? Play Me, I’m Yours was designed to act as a catalyst for strangers who regularly occupy the same space, to talk and connect with one another. ..Disrupting people’s negotiation of their city, the pianos are also aimed to provoke people into engaging, activating and claiming ownership of their urban landscape.”

In Leicester Square it was fascinating to watch how a piece of technology without a single computer chip in it, a technology which has existed for the past 300 years can be re-invented to bring people together in an innovative and creative way. Especially as the little old piano, covered in stickers and graffiti, was surrounded by the big billboards of the cinemas in Leicester Square, with the images of the super-tech, overpowering Transformers 3 and Terminator 4 staring down coldly at the busy chattering human crowd. I couldn’t help but connect the little piano’s magnetism to the playfulness, inquisitiveness and social learning in human beings, beautifully illustrated by Prof. Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall. And it made me think – how much space is there in the pedagogies of today for curiosity, experimentation and creativity by the learners? How much do we want it to be tomorrow?

02/07/09 University of Leicester BDRA
Sandra Romenska

“Give up texting for Lent”

recent BBC News item reported that, the archbishop of the Italian city of Modena wants young Catholics to give up text messaging, social networking websites and computer games for Lent. Monsignor Benito Cocchi is reported to have said that foregoing the activity would help young people “cleanse themselves from the virtual world and get back in touch with themselves”. Other Italian bishops are reported to have given their backing to the appeal. If one discounts the religious context within which the above remarks were made, one cannot ignore the profound implications for learning with technology amongst student with some religious persuasion.

  • Is there such a thing as technological addiction e.g. iphone-itous? (apologies Matt Wheeler)
  • To what extent do individual or collective beliefs, be they religious or secular, shape use or non-use of technological tools either for socialising and/or for learning?

Recently, a participant in a project I was involved with insisted that learning without technology is much better because it frees the mind to focus on the learning. For this individual, technologically mediated learning is “disruptive” to her learning lifestyle. Sadly, she may not be alone in holding such view; the notion that technology is disruptive to daily lives has been the subject of much academic writing.  (See for example Conole et al., (2008) on “disruptive technologies” in Computers and Education vol 50/2).

The call for “virtual cleansing” from mobile technological use raises a challenge for shaping the attitudes and beliefs of members of our society who may still trapped in the Dickensian age.

The role of “Learning Technology Evangelist” as coined by our Media Zoo Keeper remains a realistic option for changing such attitudes.

Sahm Nikoi (18 March 2008).

Disruptive Technologies

Those of us who attended the JISC “Next Generation Technologies in Practice” conference at Loughborough, or maybe followed the event on Twitter, may have been taught a new phrase last week, I know I did – “Disruptive Technologies”

Those of you who have already heard of this term may be laughing at those of us who, until this point have never heard of it, and when you read on you will kick yourself because the number of examples in our field in recent years is endless…

A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is a technological innovation that improves a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced or designed for a different set of consumers.

Disruptive innovations can be broadly classified into two:
• A new-market disruptive innovation is often aimed at non-consumption (i.e., consumers who would not have used the products already on the market);
• A lower-end disruptive innovation is aimed at mainstream customers for whom price is more important than quality.

An example that jumped into my mind when I thought about this were the new ‘Netbooks’, you must have seen people tapping away in meetings, on the train and at other events – these are a type of laptop computer designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet which enable web browsing and e-mailing. Netbooks rely heavily on the Internet for remote access to web-based applications and are targeted increasingly at cloud computing users who require a less powerful client computer.

Can you think of any other examples, not just within the educational field, if so reply with a comment!

Matthew Wheeler
Keeper of the Media Zoo

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