Category Archives: m-learning

State of play updated

On this day nine years ago I was presenting and giving an  overview of the current state of play of mobile tech and MoLeNET for the JISC Cetis Mobile Tech Event on the 15th June 2010 in Bolton.

Here are the presentation slides I delivered.

I created the slides in Apple’s Keynote application before saving them as images which I then imported into Powerpoint.

I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what we thought then was the state of play then and what the current state of play is.

June 2010 was just two weeks after the iPad was available in the UK and people were still wondering what to do with it and what it’s potential was, I used the image of iPad boxes to show that this was going to be a “something” and I think we can say it certainly had impact. 

Not just putting the tablet as a mobile device into the heads of consumers and educators, but also the influence it had on smartphones as well. I don’t think we would have the huge large screen smartphones we have today if it wasn’t for devices such as the iPad and notably the iPad mini.

In most of my presentations I usually put a slide like this in.

There was still a culture of presenters asking people to turn off devices, give me your full attention and all that. Today I think we have more idea of if we want to use our device or not at conferences and presentations. I certainly wanted people to think about what I was saying, but also join in the conversation using new tools such as the Twitter!

In the presentation I started to look at the news headlines of the day

Apple had released their iPhone in 2007, now three years later it was having a huge impact on the market for phones.

Today the figures are somewhat different, there is no more sign of Nokia, RIM, HTC or Motorola, but look how Samsung dominates that market along with Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.

Another headline was the success of the iPad.

What was interesting was how much the iPhone (and the iPad) were used to browse the mobile internet back in 2010.

Today most smartphones are capable of web browsing, mainly as most websites are now mobile optimised, making it a much easier experience than trying to navigate a desktop enabled site on a mobile browser. The other big change has been the growth of smartphone apps.

Back then the data limits with mobile contracts was really limiting.

Though these limits are still here today, having an unlimited data contract is no longer the realm of business accounts, consumers and students can access contracts with unlimited data more easily and quite cheaply as well. The data landscape has changed as well with 4G speeds being widespread and we are on the edge of the 5G world as well. The other factor that has changed is the widespread availability of wifi.

I really find these data usage patterns for the O2 network for 2010 incredibly low compared to today.

I have been known to use between 50GB and 100GB per month on my mobile contract.

What’s the difference?

Hello Netflix!

I then had a link to a Jisc report published in 2009, on issues in mobile learning.

Identifying Emerging Issues in Mobile Learning in Higher and Further Education: A report to JISC

This report describes the results of a series of discussion workshops where experts and experienced practitioners explored visions of how mobile technologies and devices will influence practice in Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) in the near future. The workshop series was funded by the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) as part of the Emerge Community within JISC’s own Users and Innovation research programme. This exploration focused on identifying emerging issues for the sector arising from the increasingly likely large scale use of Smartphones, PDAs and camera phones by learners in HE and FE, both on campus and in the workplace. 

One of the things that is apparent from the report is how different mobile learning was back then compared to now. The main difference is the increase in bandwidth and connectivity. Then there was quite a bit of reliance on offline mobile learning and SMS texting. Today we see the use of mobile optimised web sites and apps.

However some of the issues in the report, highlighted in my presentation are still relevant today.

Training is still an issue, and not just with the technical side of things, understanding the affordances of mobile devices and mobile learning as well isn’t something that just happens and people instinctively know.

As discussed above, the issue of connectivity. Luckily today we have much better and more reliable wifi and mobile connectivity. This allows for mobile learning without the learner having to worry about being connected. Faster speeds allow for real time video chat, as well as streaming high quality video whilst on the move.

Collaboration back then often meant asynchronous textual conversations, as poor or expensive connectivity meant that real-time chat and conversations were not a possibility. Today collaboration is so much easier and can be done with audio or even video chat.

I also mentioned the Twitter.

As well as issues I also in the presentation talked about the fears that practitioners often felt when it came to mobile learning.

The cultural shift towards the use of mobile devices and learning whilst mobile, was something that hasn’t really gone away. 

There is still resistance to change despite advances and increases in the use of mobile technology. Often though people are happy to discover and use mobile devices for their own stuff, using mobile devices for learner is still a step too far for some.

One reference I think still stands is how as learning technologists we often think we come over as Luke Skywalker, here to “save you”.

We do need to remember that others mainly see us as…

Resistance is futile.

One important aspect that is equally important today was privacy.

With the increase in data gathering, location data gathering and increase in analytics, what was a real issue in 2010 is a much bigger issue today.

Having discussed the state of play back in 2010, I then went into discuss the MoLeNET project.

It’s interesting to see what has changed and what has remained the same.

References 

Clay, J. 2010 ‘Mobile: The State of Play (featuring MoLeNET)’ [PowerPoint presentation] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/jamesclay/state-of-play . [Accessed 14 June 2019].

e-Learning Stuff. 2010. Mobile: The State of Play (featuring MoLeNET). [ONLINE] Available at: https://elearningstuff.net/2010/06/15/mobile-the-state-of-play-featuring-molenet/. [Accessed 14 June 2019].

Wishart, J & Green, D 2009, Identifying Emerging Issues in Mobile Learning in Higher and Further Education. JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), Bristol.

Forty Four Years Ago

using a mobile phone and a laptop

The first handheld mobile phone call was made forty four years ago, on the 3rd of April 1973. There had been mobile phone before, in cars and lorries, but forty years ago saw the first phone call from a handheld cellular mobile phone. Well you also needed to carry a bag too (for the battery).

I suspect most (it not all) the people reading this blog post have a mobile phone, or if they don’t they did at one time.

It’s interesting that a technology, which has reached such a milestone, is still seen by many teachers and practitioners as disruptive, and should be banned in classrooms.

Six years after this first experiment, we saw on Tomorrow’s World how they were being introduced to the UK, with some barriers and problems coming from the Post Office (of which the telephony was eventually spun off and sold off as British Telecom).

Even then, you could see the usefulness of the device as a way of making phone calls on the move, and whilst mobile. What was less apparent was the potential of the device as a mobile portable computer, even in 1979, personal computing was very much in its infancy. Even the first few pocket and portable computers didn’t have connectivity.

It is the smartphone’s connection to the internet and the web, which makes it a very different device to those early handheld mobile phones. The mobile phone today is a transformative and enabling device and in many ways a different concept to the one we saw back in 1973. The mobile phone today is much more than just a voice communication device, it can do so much more. I have done this exercise at many mobile learning workshops, I ask the participants to list all the different things they do on their phones. Interestingly, making phone calls is either not mentioned or very low on the list. The sorts of things that people today do on their phone includes (and is certainly not limited to) texting, social networking, photography, film making, audio recording, playing games, reading books, looking at magazines, listening to music and other recordings, watching video, streaming video, doing quizzes, creating content, and so much more…

It is this functionality that makes the mobile phone so much more than what was first seen back in 1973, and it is this functionality that teachers see as disruptive and challenging to manage.

using a mobile phone

The reality is that learners don’t use mobile phones in classrooms in the way they were envisaged, for making actual phone calls! The problem many practitioners have with mobile phones is not with the phones themselves, neither with learners making phone calls in lessons, the problem is a very different issue.

Banning mobile phones or asking students to turn them off, is not a real solution, at most conferences and events when delegates are asked to turn off their phones, most will turn them to silent mode. So much so that conference organisers seem to ask people now to turn them to silent mode rather than turn them off. I am sure many learners in a classroom situation will do something similar.

The question you have to ask is why are learners switching off in lessons and using their mobile phones? Yes there will be the odd learner who is addicted to their phones and can’t help themselves using it. However these learners are in a very small minority. Think about if this was the case for all learners, then in all lessons, all learners would be disengaged and using their mobile phones; now that doesn’t happen.

Rather than blame the learners, the key is to think about why they are disengaging in your lessons. Why are they switching off from learning and switching on their phones?

Another possible solution is to embrace the use of the mobile phone and make it part of the learning process, as well as making the learning engaging and interesting. The very functionality that can be so disruptive or attractive to learners, can also be effective in supporting learning and assessment.

Engaging doesn’t always mean interactive and doesn’t mean that it can’t be hard or difficult. Thinking about challenging problems is an effective learning process.

using a mobile phone

The mobile phone is forty four years old, in many ways the disruptive nature of mobile phones is new, but only because the mobile phone has evolved into something very different from a device used to make mobile phone calls.

version of this article was first published in 2013 when the handheld mobile phone call was forty years old.

Emerged Technologies

oldtools

Four years is a long time in technology, but how much has happened since 2011?

Back in November 2011 I was asked by the AoC to present at a conference with Donald Taylor on emerging technologies and how FE Colleges should be preparing for them.

My slides and Donald’s are in this slidedeck.

My notes from that presentation are here, but how much has changed since then and had education really embraced and started to embed these emerging technologies.

Continue reading Emerged Technologies

We are all of these…

Avon Gorge

Over on “Don’t Waste Your Time” David Hopkins posts a nice cartoon of how to support staff in using emerging technologies and his interpretation of the roles within the cartoon.

Supporting emerging technologies

‘Laggards’. Those who follow on once a technology has proven itself.

Late majority. Those who will join the implementation of something new once the initial buzz has quietened down and the research is starting to support its use.

Early majority. Like those in the ‘late’ majority, they will wait for the back to be broken on the testing and development before adopting and implementing, but will have been keen observers from the start.

Early adopters. Being involved and helping developing new uses for existing technologies (as well as driving developments) the early adopters will often be closely tied with the ‘innovators’ through professional connections.

Innovators. The first to know, the first to try, and sometimes the first to fail. These ‘technology enthusiasts’ will not stop when something doesn’t work, they’ll often try again, alter their approach or expectations, and keep looking around to see if there’s anything else they could use to improve work or learning efficiencies.

This is a nice model and people who are responsible for embedding the use of learning technologies will very likely recognise these stereotypes.

David asks with whom you identify with?

My observation is that we are all of them. Which one we are depends on which technology we are using.

For a long time I was a laggard (sceptic) with regard to Second Life and virtual worlds, really couldn’t see the value and how it could be used in an effective (and efficient) manner to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. It took a while and I remember seeing a fantastic presentation from Bex Ferriday on how Second Life was been used to create art displays that couldn’t exist in the real world. However despite that really nice exemplar, I still remained very much a conservative sceptic with regard to Second Life.

On the other hand, having used mobile technologies for years before the iPhone and the iPad (going back to the 1990s), I would describe myself as an innovator with regard to mobile learning. Very much the enthusiast and early adopter.

I would describe the model above more of an continuum than discrete roles that we fit into, and that where we sit on that continuum depends on where we are and how we use the technology. When you start to talk like that you suddenly realise that the Visitor and Residents model from David White and the work undertaken by him and Donna Lanclos resonates much more.

You could describe the enthusiast and early adopters as resident’esque behaviour and the behaviour of sceptics and the conservator majority as that of visitors.

One of the aspects of the V & R model I like is that as well as the horizontal continuum you also have a vertical continuum where technology is used between a professional and personal capacity.

Many years ago I was delivering training to a group of sixth form staff, one practitioner was quite proud of the fact that she was a technophobe, however when questioned further she not only used the internet, but used IM and Skype on a regular basis to talk to her daughter in Australia! What is apparent talking to many practitioners who don’t see the need or feel they can use technology to support teaching, learning and assessment, in their day to day life use technology all the time for their own needs and in their non-work life. These individuals can be sceptics in a professional capacity, but early adopters in their personal use of technology.

Models like the one above which shows learning technologists as bridging the chasm assume that there is a chasm that needs to be bridged and that people aren’t willing to cross it. It assumes that people’s view of technology is consistent across all technologies. It can be a starting point, but if you then move to the mapping exercise of the V & R model then it helps practitioners (and managers) realise that they are early adopters and sceptics and everything in between and that all of them can help each other to cross the many different technological chasms out there.

Of course one of the real challenges is to do this is from an holistic organisational perspective and get everyone to start to embed and increase their use of learning technologies where appropriate to enhance and enrich teaching, learning and assessment.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #084: The Legacy of MoLeNET

MoLeNET was a three year multi-million pound programme of mobile learning projects for Further Education, funded by the LSC and managed by the LSN. Two years on what is the legacy of MoLeNET and where are we with mobile learning now in FE. Have other sectors listened and learned from the lessons of MoLeNET. Listen to the legacy of MoLeNET.

With James Clay, Lilian Soon, David Sugden and Ron Mitchell.

This is the 84th e-Learning Stuff Podcast, The Legacy of MoLeNET.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: The Legacy of MoLeNET.

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

A Mobile Learning Journey

I recently gave a presentation at an event about my mobile learning journey, here are the slides.

Of course one of the challenges with a Slideshare presentation is the lack of context and what I actually said. I think it demonstrates how a presentation in isolation is less useful than the presentation in its entirety. Something that practitioners needs to consider if they are uploading presentations to the VLE or using a service such as Slideshare. Of course you could upload an mp3 recording of the presentation, but that implies you did make a recording… alas I didn’t.

So what of the future?

Can you predict the future?

Do you know what life will be like next year, in five years, in ten years?

Over the last year or so I have been doing a few keynotes and presentations entitled the future of learning. I do start with a caveat that I don’t know the future for sure and that no one can really predict the future…

Though as a reflective person I do look back at the work I have been doing on mobile learning and I think there are lessons to be learned about the journey I have travelled.

This is me in 2006 based on work I was doing in 2004 and 2005.


This work came from mobile stuff I was doing back in the late 1990s. Back then I worked for an organisation called at-Bristol, a hands-on science centre in the middle of Bristol.

One of the projects we started working on was with HP looking at how we could use an HP Jornada on our then fledgingly wireless network to allow visitors additional and enhanced information on webpages about the exhibits. One of the key questions at the time was how we got the URLs into the devices at the right place. Then we decided to use HP’s Jetsend IR technology to “squirt” the URL to the Jornada. Of course since then the technologies have moved on and importantly so have the public. Today you would probably let the visitors use their own devices and smartphones. You would use QR codes, Bluetooth or more probably in the future RFID to find out where the visitor was before sending them the information (or letting them access the information via QR codes). If the attraction was outside then GPS could be used. The key though was not the technology but the concept of enhancing a visitor’s experience with additional content through a mobile device.

After leaving at-Bristol and joining the Western Colleges Consortium, I continued to work on mobile learning; at that time there was no funding available.

When I was working on mobile learning all those years ago, the reason was that mobile phones and mobile devices were becoming more sophisticated and more useful to consumers and business. I knew then it would only be a matter of time before they become useful to education and importantly a focus for policy and funding.

And in 2007 along came MoLeNET, millions of pounds of capital funding with a focus on mobile learning in FE.

There is no way that I would call myself a futureologist, but from an FE perspective I am looking at how new technologies can enhance and enrich everyday life, as before long these technologies will enter education.

So the big question is what am I working on now? What do I think will have a real impact in education, not just for learners, but also for funding and projects.

Well I am not working on Second Life or MUVEs. These do have some great application to learning, however until consumers start to use these technologies a lot more, than we won’t see a big change in their use in education.

Social networking and Web 2.0 are very big in the consumer field at the moment, Facebook is everywhere and corporate and entertainment use of these tools is now much more widespread than it was just a year or two ago.

As a result policymakers will start to think about how these tools and services can be used in education. And where thinking starts, funding usually follows…

So what about next year or the year after?

Well for me the “next big thing” is e-Books and e-Book Readers. These will hit the consumer market big time over the next three years. We will see many more people reading books, magazines and newspapers via devices such as the Apple iPad, Microsoft Courier and other devices not yet on the market. More publishers and broadcasters will start to think about how they are going to use these devices and start offering content on them, think of BBC iPlayer and its availability on the iPhone.

As a result policymakers will start to think about how these new technologies can be used in education. And where thinking starts, funding usually follows…

You see at the end of the day, it will not be how these products are used by educators, it’s how they are taken up and used by consumers and business. Whether that is right or wrong, is not really the case, as more often this is how it happens now, and has happened over the last twenty to thirty years, with most technologies.

MoLeNET Conference 2009

Today is the MoLeNET Conference, the second conference MoLeNET has had. Last year the conference was at the Emirates Stadium, this year at the Grange Hotel near St Pauls.

Gloucestershire College will be there in force today. Last year I did a ten minute slot on the Glossy Project. This year, Alan Graham will be presenting in the research strand on what we did in the Shiny project in terms of research. Whilst Rob Whitehouse will be doing the ten minute slot on the use of video assessment and the impact on learning. Rob Allen, who has done some fantastic work on mobile learning in plumbing and heating will be on our stand. And…. myself and Greg Smith, the college Principal, will be delivering one of the keynotes.

Glossy and Shiny have had a real cultural impact in the college and I hope to share how we achieved this in the college.

In case you were wondering, our third MoLeNET project is called Sparkly and is about sharing what we do with two partners, Stroud College and Royal Forest of Dead College Royal Forest of Dean College.

Update: Oops that should be Royal Forest of Dean College, must have dead on the brain!