Tag Archives: bluetooth

Engineerlingly Small

One of the nice things about my job and working on the MoLeNET programme is the fact that I can try out new pieces of equipment and wonder about their impact on our learners and learning.

I have written (and spoken) about the new breed of micro-laptops that surfaced last year starting wirth the Asus EeePC. Since then the number and type of micro-laptops have blossomed. So much so that the original 7″ Asus EeePC is now no longer available. Asus have improved upon their original concept and others have copied them. The Asus 901 for example has the same form factor as the first model, but now has a 8.9″ screen which does make a difference in how usable it is.

One micro-laptop which I did like was the HP 2133 which came with the bigger 8.9″ screen and importantly a 90% size keyboard. Though I liked the Asus EeePC the keybvoard was rather too small for me and I know others found it difficult to type large amounts of text on it. The HP 2133 was well suited to those who found the smaller micro-laptops too much of a microscopic size. However no point in recommending the HP 2133 as HP have decided to withdraw that model. Their replacement, the HP 2140 has a similar form factor to the 2133, included the nice keyboard, but now has a10.1″ screen. You have to ask is it a micro-laptop or is really no longer that form factor and more a subnotebook now?

One factor common to both of these was the linux operating system used instead of Windows. The Xandros on the Asus is very easy and simple to use, whilst the Suse Desktop OS used on the HP 2133 allowed more flexibiloity in installing software, not impossible on the Asus, just easier.

More recently I have been using a totallt different type of micro-laptop, the Sony VAIO P Series. In many ways this couldn’t be more different. It runs WIndows Vista. It has an 8″ (20.3cm) widescreen screen with a 1600×768 screen resolution. One aspect I do like about it is that it has a Apple’esque nearly full size keyboard which works for typiing for me. This blog entry for example was written on it.

Engineerlingly Small

As well as wireless and Bluetooth it also supports HDSPA. remove the battery insert your 3G SIM card and using a simple application, adjust the setrtings use the VAIO with a 3G connection without having to worry about plugging in a dongle or tethering to a phone as a modem.

It also looks like Sony have been listening to their customers and as well as a Memory Stick slot the VAIO also has a SD card slot. Considering how much use I now make of SD cards with cameras, mp3 recorders and sharing files, the SD card slot is very welcome.

The one thing which everyone comments on is the size and weight, it weighs very little and is only 24.5 by 12 cm.

Such a small device has to make compromises and the screen resolution and size means that some people may have difficulty with the Vista interface.

Battery life is pretty good and you can purchase an extended battery which will last twice as long. I am currently getting about 2 hours out of the standard battery.

So why wouldn’t everyone get one?

Well the price of course!

The VAIO UX1XN UMPC which came out in 2007 cost nerly £2000. The TX series of micro-laptops from Sony cost about £1400.

The P series is about £850 though you can spend more and get the model with the SSD drive. So for the price of one P series you could get three Auss EeePCs.

cn we uz mobz 4 LernN?

Today I ran my mobile learning workshop which I felt went really well.

It was much less about me talking, but much more about the delegates talking to each other and sharing their practice, issues and solutions.

I did ask people to scribe their ideas and then got carried away answering questions that I forgot to collect their collective writings in. Please pass them onto me, or hand them into the conference reception and I will pick them up from there.

In the workshop I demonstrated some mobile technologies and explained mobile learning scenarios that we are already using at Gloucestershire College or are planning to develop further over the next few years.

We had quite a bit of fun with Bluetooth, and for the first time ever, my Bluetooth photo printer was “hijacked” and some people printed their own pictures to them!

Excellent.

I did also show how to print from my Nokia N73 to the printer.

I also demonstrated ShoZu which worked well.

As usual never enough time to cover everything and discuss everything.

Oh where shall I go…

So here we are on the first full day of ALT-C. Over morning coffee I had another look at the programme to see where I shall be going this morning and this afternoon.

I will need some time to prepare for my workshop so will be “missing” some of the day to setup and ensure I have everything ready.

I have decided to go with a mobile learning theme today. I will be going to the Tensions between personal space and social space in mobile learning symposium and then a series of short papers, projectBluetooth – delivering large-scale content and support to the mobile generation and Which side of the wall are you on? then I will go to Web 2.0 and informal learning which all look interesting.

Hopefully (wireless access permitting) will be blogging and adding photos to my Flickr account over the day.

Check out my Jaiku for intermittent thoughts over the day.

cn we uz mobz 4 LernN?

At ALT-C this year I am running a workshop entitled cn we uz mobz 4 LernN? or in English, Can we use mobile devices for learning?

The abstract is as follows:

Wouldn’t it be nice if all learners in an educational environment had access to a wireless laptop and free wireless access to their digital resources at a time and place to suit their needs. The reality is that learners don’t always have access to what we as practitioners would like them to have to enable them to access their learning.

However they do have access to some mobile digital devices which could be used, these include mobile phones, iPods, mp3 players, portable video players, PSPs… These devices are used extensively for entertainment, but rarely used for learning.

Should we be exploiting the technology learners bring with them to the classroom? We live in a time where technology changes at an extraordinary pace. Despite increasing expenditure on computer equipment and associated peripherals, such as interactive whiteboards and projectors, many institutions still feel under-resourced and unable to meet the technological requirements demanded by the next generation of learners.

The investment in computer based technology requires a major annual expenditure for most institutions because computer equipment has a relatively short life-span and the requirements for running today’s cutting edge software changes rapidly. This can be a drain on over-stretched budgets and results in a need to look for cost effective alternatives.

In a world where mobile technologies are becoming increasingly mainstream, shouldn’t Universities and Colleges be exploiting these technologies and encouraging their use as part of the teaching and learning process?

Studies are beginning to show that mobile telephones, ipods, mp3 players and other portable devices can be used effectively to deliver learning materials. It should be possible for institutions to capitalise on the successful integration of these technologies into every day life and to exploit the teaching and learning potential inherent in the already familiar devices.

However can we really use mobile devices for learning, can they effectively provide a learning experience via a small screen? What about personalisation, interactivity, communication?

James Clay (at the WCC) researched and developed the use of mobile devices for learning. Now at Gloucestershire College of Arts & Technology (Gloscat) he is planning the embedding the use of mobile devices across the whole college.

This workshop will demonstrate some of the latest devices which can be used for mobile learning and allow participants to try them out and consider how they can start to utilise mobile devices to enhance and support learning in their institutions.

After introducing the concept of mobile learning participants will then be organised into small groups to look through a series of pedagogical case studies on mobile learning and see if they could apply these to their own institution.

Participants will then be challenged in small groups to create a series of exemplar scenarios which they could take back to their institutions to initiate or extend the use of mobile devices to enhance and support learning. These scenarios will then be shared with the community via the web.

I am looking forward to running the workshop as I feel over the years the concept of mobile learning has taken root in the FE and HE communities and has also moved beyond the idea that mobile learning is just about giving PDAs to students.

I will be demonstrating various mobile learning scenarios including the use of mobile video and Bluetooth as well as showing off my new Sony VAIO umpc, the UX1XN.

Facebooking

We are in the process of looking at Facebook because our learners are wanting to use it to engage and interact with the college. It is in the main for the social and sports side of college (which is why a lot of learners come to (and stay at a college)).

Gloucestershire College Facebook Group
(note you need to be a member of facebook to access this page)

Facebook

It is in the main going to be used for marketing.

Whether we use it for teaching and learning…  well this is a different question.

There is already a college Facebook network (set up by the students)

The learners are already engaging with Facebook, we as institution need to consider how we are going to engage with both Facebook and the students who are using Facebook.

As for blocking facebook, we don’t.

We do however (for some reason) block bebo, however students (and one or two staff) are using bebo on a daily basis in college…

Interesting Facebook links

Facebook: Engage with it or leave it alone?

12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally

Bluetooth helps Facebook friends

I personally think there is real potential to utilise social networking to support teaching and learning.

Our students network socially (in the offline world) already to support their learning, they meet for coffee, they create study groups, they share information and resources.

An online social network allows them to do this at a time and place to suit them, it also allows some students who would be discrimnated in a physical social network to engage.

An online social network will not replace an offline social network, it is not an “either or” situation, for me it is about supporting learners to learn.