Designing learning for mobile: Theatre for a Change

7Cs of Learning Design Workshop with Theatre for a Change

7Cs of Learning Design Workshop with Theatre for a Change

Theatre for a Change (TFAC) is a London-based charity engaged in training teachers to give instruction to middle- and high-school age students about reproductive health issues. TFAC is active in African countries including Malawi and Ghana. Their courses have taken various forms including theatre workshops, art, and radio programmes. After reading about our work to help deploy our Criminology’s MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development with its iPad and app model, TFAC contacted us to help them extend their reach to students in more remote areas by transforming to a mobile learning model.

We held a 7Cs of Learning Design workshop with TFAC in May 2013, and helped them to storyboard a new ‘mobile’ version of the course. I recall at the time the above photo was taken, the group was discussing how to ‘chunk’ each learning unit in a way suitable for mobile phones, how to refer students to audio-recorded material, and how to include feedback and discussion through mobile methods. Since that workshop, I have helped with transforming the material into mobile-ready formats, and working on using social media as a simple virtual learning environment / learning management system.

This project is a great opportunity to create a different kind of mobile learning model, and we are very much figuring it out as we go along. It was great also to think about designing for mobile learning, from the beginning. Designing the learning for mobile, from the beginning, has got to be the key to mobile learning success. I plan to update this blog as the project rolls out, so stay tuned!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

An Initial Reaction to the iPad

Steve Jobs’ 27 January unveiling of the Apple iPad has drawn reactions running the gamut from adoration to ridicule.  Most comments in the latter category take aim at the device’s name. Other negative opinions focus on the iPad’s inability to multitask, lack of a camera, or the fact that it isn’t more like a netbook.

I for one agree with Jobs’ quip in his keynote: “The problem is, netbooks aren’t better at anything.” He goes on to show how the iPad is designed to do chosen tasks better — the chosen tasks being email, displaying photos, watching videos, playing music, browsing the web, playing games, and, yes, reading e-books. In addition, one can create Keynote presentations, spreadsheets, and word-processed documents using iPad versions of these apps, features which look quite impressive and set the iPad notably ahead of both the iPhone and arguably netbooks.

Those who have test-run the iPad testify to its clever usability and speed, courtesy of the new custom-silicon A4 chip. The iPad’s price tag is very reasonable, and its 3G data plan with AT&T is surprisingly low-priced and flexible, with no contract to sign. This alone well positions the iPad for all kinds of users — businesspeople, artists, students, academics, everyone. And since, in many parts of the developing world, 3G is the most common method of internet access, the iPad is in this respect well-positioned for new inroads into international markets.

For me, the most interesting, even revolutionary, news about the iPad was not only that e-books would now be available for purchase through Apple just as music and films have been, but also that Apple has been negotiating with textbook publishers to this end. In the UK we have had Sony e-readers and Waterstones, while the e-books scene in the States has been dominated by the Kindle and Amazon, but neither Waterstones nor Amazon has been offering very much in the way of textbooks for e-readers. We at Beyond Distance have been evaluating the use of e-readers by masters-level distance students as part of our DUCKLING project. As a part of this project, publishers Routledge made a special deal to allow us to include their textbook on the e-readers supplied to students, and we will be sharing with Routledge the results of our research. Now that Apple has taken the major step of promising textbooks on iPads, we should begin to see textbook publishers not only provide their materials for e-readers but hopefully benefit from Apple’s consistent “cool factor” with students.

Vive la revolution!

Terese Bird

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