Friday, August 10, 2012

Chapter 10 - U-Learn, M-Learn, We-All-Learn

This chapter, I think, captures the true essence of the new learning environment.  M-Learning (mobile learning) is empowering many who would not normally have access to education while allowing.  Handheld devices are becoming  a huge force in this e-learning revolution. I am behind the curve with the smartphone movement, but many of friend have them and use them all time from getting directions, checking the weather, updating their Facebook, instantly uploading trip and event photos with their phone.  The power of these M devices is that the learner can learn how they want, when they want, and where they want. The learning can take place at the user's convenience and not at exactly 8:23 - 9:23 M - F as we see in a traditional learning environment.

Most kids have one if not several mobile devices that can be used in learning and education so access these is not an issue.  The issue is that sadly many schools (mine is an example) ban mobile devices out of hand, because of the fear of lack of control. True there are a few isolated instances where kids abuse the privilege and use them in a way that is problematic....but that is the exception.  And these devices are often much cheaper then traditional computers.

An hot spots are everywhere to Ipads and laptops can function and we can do work while flying in a plane or eating lunch at many chain restaurants (fast food).  I have, on a number of occasions, eaten lunch at McDonald’s just to be able to tap into their WiFi and get some needed school work accomplished. With 3G (or 4G) technology so many wireless devices have a virtually limitless ability to connect and keep us connected.

Chumby - It was interesting to read about the Chumby, which the author refers to as a learning appliance.  A entry into mobile learning that enabled its users to do it all.  Not of course with smartphones and the I-Phone it is going the way of the dinosaur.
The image  Chumby_in_hand.jpg  under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Chumby halts hardware sales, long-term support looking mighty unlikely by Darren Murph

Audio - The Ipod and its kin are some examples how learning become more portable. We can listen to music, lectures, podcasts, and so much more on these devices. The smartpen (Live Scribe) and the Kindle are other examples of devices that can support audio recording and playback. In fact, I listened to my Kindle read this book on my lovely commute to and from Boston a couple of weeks ago.  It was cool. Like the author says “Many of us no longer can afford the time to sit down and read a book cover to cover. “ And the newest Ipods can support video as well as record audio. A video Ipod could help a student learn sign language or watch complicated engine repairs that the written word does poorly to replicate.  The ole’ a picture is worth a thousand words effect.

Twitter - 
The image Twitter - What are you doing?.jpg is used  the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Twitter is an interesting mix.  It has some awesome educational and informational powers.  The authors talk about several examples to how it can transformative.  We have all seen how it was used to great effect in the Arab Spring uprisings. I have used Twitter on occasion to keep informed with events and communicate with friends but my “need” to keep up with it fades.  I am going to attempt this year to create an account for my classes where I will send out homework and class announcements.  This might be a great avenue for student collaboration as well as outline in the book.  We shall see. Email is too “old school” so twitter (and texting) are more typical for many students.

It is encouraging that not all schools are banning them and some are even embracing these tools. The example of K-Nect, in North Carolina, that used mobile devices to help with math and science content is a great step forward.  Higher Ed is likewise moving, at a faster pace, in that direction as well. Simple things like the example of MIT and Boston College being able to check the availability of laundry machine or Georgetown late night snack ordering functionality show how practical and common place M devices have become.  And for kids that is so true.  Many of these devices are like extensions of themselves.

I-Phone - This tool as a wide range of uses and applications from recording interviews (like the example of the one done on Habitat for Humanity), watching podcast lectures and using I-chat for video conferencing. There was even one student cited as claiming that they no longer needed backpacks because everything they needed was on their I-Phones. The Apple I-Phone is often referred to as the ultimate M-learning tool because of its functionality and ease of use.

18 Educational Apps

M-Learning giveaways  - Great recruiting tool as well as an effective means to leveling the “learning field” and great way to ensure all your students have the tools needed to succeed. 

I found the discussion about how other culture embrace M-Learning very profound....and boy are we behind the eight ball.  From the Japanese reading on their phones. They are even working on lightweight screens that could be worn on or as clothes. Their online learning opportunities (Cyber University) are far superior to what we currently find in the US. Koreans use smartphones for so many every day activities and are on top in mobile tech innovation and use.  And the learning opportunities for Koreans with EBS and other similar initiatives demonstrate their belief in E-learning.   One thing we must consider is how we fit in with all this?  How will our students compare to their students in the competitive workforce that is more and more connected and wired?  We have to innovate as well or fall further behind.

Of course in Africa its the opposite.  Computers, laptops and WiFi are far and between but cell phones and 3G are not.  So it makes sense for M-Learning to be a driving force in their societies.

Lastly the One Laptop per child initiatives in many counties reveal their commitment to technology and E-learning.  From the programs of wealthier nations to the inexpensive $100 laptops (XO or the ones that MIT promise to produce)  the idea is that to be connected is to be able to be educated.  There are some many free resources available as we saw in earlier chapters.  The accessibility to these online resources in increasing.  It is really interesting to see how this program and similar ones are helping educate so many.  Their is an interesting map ( that shows where many of the $100 laptops are deployed through

The image OLPC XO Laptop.jpr by Scott Beale is used under a the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

$100 Laptop to Sell to Public


  1. Ok- I'm confused. I thought I was supposed to chapter 9, but you posted for 9, so I thought I was doing chapter 10?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi,

    The Chapter 9 post is just my reflection. There was no primary post and I was trying to stay on top of this since I will be gone most of the next two weeks. Post away.

  4. Thanks for including the photos. Seems like the Chumby didn't make it. The XO is so cute and I love that it is rechargeable with a hand crank. I am wondering how the users in the poor countries will connect to the Internet if there is no infrastructure.
    My guess would be that cell phones are the most commonly used device that would allow for M-learning so it would make sense to make apps for that and to beef them up to be more capable.