Educational Moblogging

29 05 2006

Moblogging is the practice of being able to update an online journal (or “web log” – or “blog” for short) using a mobile device. Since early 2006, a number of services have sprung up, presenting moblogging as a new, viable option for learning activities.

moblog_screenshot_smOne that is already in use by teachers here at CIT is moblog.co.uk, which allows users to create free accounts. After a simple sign-up process, a user needs to define the email address they wish to send to to update their blog, and provide the service with the information on the email addresses that will be used to send updates (for authentication purposes). Once this is done, the moblogger can easily email updates to their moblog, using a phone or PDA (or even a normal desktop computer). The user can even attach picture or movie files which then display in their moblog as graphical content.

How can educators use moblogs? One immediate and practical use that a teacher at my Institute suggested, is as an ongoing online journal, recording examples a learner may encounter of applications of their area of learning. In marketing, for example, the teacher could ask the students to record examples of advertising using various advertising strategies: using fear, humour, or expertise, for example. Students could attempt to hunt down advertisements with a different strategy each week, and students would be able to view each others’ moblogs and comment on the various examples presented by their peers.

An activity like this would enable students to become active learners in their own environments. Whether they were at home and noticed a promotion on a food item, or at a library and spotted a great newspaper ad, the learner would be able to record and communicate their influences using their moblog.

While strict moblogging requires the use of a relatively recent mobile handset (capable of recording pictures and sending emails), issues of equity are somewhat addressed by this particular service, as learners could use a desktop PC to participate fully in moblogging activities using standard email (combined with, say, a standard digital camera); alternatively, the teacher could ensure that all assessment requirements could be equally met by the use of a normal, non-mobile blogging service. Moblogging would then simply provide a convenient, mobile alternative for those students who chose it as their journalling approach.

My example mobile learning moblog can be accessed at http://moblog.co.uk/blog/mobilelearning. I’ll continue to add content to this moblog to make it an example of what’s possible with moblogging!