QR-Coded E-Learning Conference Guide!

31 10 2007

Simply brilliant. Brent Schlenker at the Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development blog has created his pocket version of the E-Learning Guild DevLearn conference guide, incorporating QR Code links. This innovation enables participants to check conference information on their mobile devices, schedule their personalised programs electronically, and annotate each session with brief notes.

DevLearn2007 PocketGuide

The feedback on this simple system has been tremendous so far… Roger Fischer describes this as a “conference Killer App,” and I’m inclined to agree. If this concept was developed further – for example, to enable the attachment of media and longer notes to various conference sessions, and then, to be shared – I think it could become a conference m-learning system people would pay good money for. Which is good timing, since Nokia is willing to pay for great mobile technology business ideas at the moment, with their Mobile Rules competition (get your entry in soon).

Ahem… Handheld Learning 2008? M-Learn 2008? Are you listening???!!! :)

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Free "E-Show” Online Sessions for M-Learning

31 10 2007

The E-Learning Network is putting on its free, online “E-Show & Tell” conference between November 7-9 inclusive. It’s a fully web-based event that allows e-learning (and m-learning) practitioners from around the world to share what they’re doing.

Register to attend for free here: http://networksevents.flexiblelearning.net.au, and check out the three days of online meet-ups on a plethora of e-learning subjects. M-learning practitioners may be interested in attending the following sessions:

Wednesday 07 November 2007

  • 3:15 pm – 4:15 pm AEDST: New Practices Projects – Making it Real and Turning Point (Sally Drummond, Michael Brown): Sally presented this project at the mLearn 2007 conference. In this implementation, young people used mobile devices to capture videos – which they edited and made available to other mobile devices via Bluetooth “kiosks” around Melbourne city. The results were terrific!

Thursday 08 November 2007

  • 10:30 am – 11:30 am AEDST: E-standards Supporting Content Development (Owen ONeill): Owen will be presenting on how teaching and learning resources can be more easily shared across various platforms (including mobile ones).
  • 3:00 pm – 4 pm AEDST: The use of mobile phones to e-profile electrical apprentices (Sue McShane): “…apprentices and supervisors in the Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd pilot group have been issued with a mobile phone, which is used to scan a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This innovative mobile phone solution is enabling these supervisors to verify on-the-job training and work experience undertaken by electrical apprentices using their mobile phone, which feeds directly into a computerised profiling system…”

Friday 09 November 2007

  • 3:00 pm – 4 pm AEDST: New Practices Projects – Immersive e-learning and Extending the QTI mPlayer (Delia Bradshaw, Julie van der Klift, Brad Beach, Peter Higgs, Sam Meredith): The QTI mPlayer is a Windows Mobile application that allows quizzes, tests and surveys to be deployed on Pocket PCs. Assessment and evaluation content can be imported and shared using the international Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) standard format.

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Ideas that Spread, Win

30 10 2007

Another gem from the TED conference: Seth Godin explains why some innovations succeed… and some fail (even (initially) sliced bread… which is now the benchmark for great ideas, as in “the greatest thing since sliced bread”).

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBIVlM435Zg

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/xBIVlM435Zg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Seth uses the word “remarkable” to describe ideas that work: simply put, things that are “remarkable” are things worth remarking about; and these are ideas that spread!

While Seth’s talk has its basis in marketing, there are significant lessons in here for educational innovators about how to spread ideas. For example:

  • The “otaku” principle: sell to the people who are listening; they will tell their friends.
  • Safe is Risky: “safe” ideas are boring. The *real* safest thing to do right now is to be at the fringes!

Check it out!

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HHL07: Creativity and Mobile Devices

29 10 2007

Now I *really* like *this* presentation from Handheld Learning 2007.  Although it’s advocating a proprietary product, nevertheless, the paradigm of using a mobile phone as a creativity tool – and rewarding students for appropriate use of mobile phones as a means of capturing and sharing creative content – is brilliant, and clearly explained in this visual presentation (unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any accompanying audio).

Original video source here.

(via HHL07 Podcast)

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Handheld Learning 2007: Keeping up with Change (Marc Prensky)

29 10 2007

I’m slowly reviewing the videos of Handheld Learning 2007, which have been generously recorded and shared in audio and video podcasts.

In this keynote, Marc Prensky presents his thoughts on the speed of change, the need for educators to embrace change and look to the future of learning, and rethink what and how students of the future will learn.

Marc’s a terrific and passionate presenter, with a distinguished career. His presentation touches on his ideas of the past which have gained him his reputation as a thought leader: digital immigrants and digital natives, and the importance of technology as the “future” for our students.

Having watched this video, however, I could not help but wonder if Marc is becoming increasingly obsolete himself. His role in the past has been a crucial one – to “prophesy” and evangelise the speed of change and the generational gaps between teachers and students. But Marc does not seem to have grasped that the world has already changed (again). You see, my feeling is that evangelising the need for change at a mobile learning conference is preaching to the converted. Educators and technologists engaged in the exploration of mobile learning area are already innovating at a coal seam of educational technology. While slower, less progressive educators may still be comfortably exploring e-learning on learning management systems or off CD-ROMs (or, indeed, still doing chalk-and-talk), educators investigating mobile learning are very much at the cutting edge of educational innovation, along with other educators investigating other areas such as the use of social web tools for education, and the use of virtual worlds as learning environments.

My experience at mLearn 2007 was that conversation centred around solutions – how educators are successfully deploying and using new technologies to support and enhance learning. There was *no* debate about whether or not technology was important to learners of the future, or whether m-learning could work, or whether young learners can, or want to use technology. Those issues have been settled comfortably (in Marc’s favour) at least a year ago (if not before).

We already know this stuff is important Marc! What educators need now are frameworks and paradigms for deploying mobile technologies to engage learners and enhance learning; open, scalable mobile learning products and systems that educators everywhere can use, deploy and develop to allow learners to create, share, and reflect; and content that works across mobile platforms.

Realising that “the world is changing” is for keynotes of the past. Now, keeping up with change means proposing and developing solutions and sharing best practices.

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Handheld Learning 2007 (Version 2.0)

29 10 2007

Like James Clay at e-Learning Stuff, I couldn’t go to Handheld Learning 2007. Its location half a globe away made it rather more sensible to concentrate my efforts on mLearn 2007, which was held here in Australia, in my favourite Australian city, Melbourne, a fortnight ago.

But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I’m now able to explore and participate in Handheld Learning 2007, thanks to the wealth of materials generated by the conference. It’s wonderful that the conference has embraced the Web 2.0 philosophy of sharing the knowledge, and I’m enormously grateful that I have an opportunity to sift through the following troves, looking for m-learning treasures!

You’ll now find a lot of media from the conference now online with much more to follow:

Handheld Learning TV is at:

Podcasts are at:

Presentation slides at:

Pictures at:

Tony Vincent provides a review at:

And Bob Harrison at:

A large list of other people’s reviews can be found at:

Terrific stuff! I’ll be poring over these and avidly comparing them with mLearn’s outcomes (which should also be documented online in as much detail within the next week or so)…

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Learning Performing Arts with Mobile Devices

25 10 2007

This is an accidental topic – one which I hadn’t planned to blog on at all – but could possibly be one of the most interesting areas for the application of mobile learning approaches.

My colleague Helen Lynch posted a YouTube video on our team blog today, featuring an accomplished Australian jazz pianist and teacher (Doug McKenzie) performing an improvisation of “Some Day My Prince Will Come” – with video of his hands and a captioned explanation of his technique. Here it is for your viewing pleasure;


[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/LmcTByrO_ow" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

This comes just a week after meeting Megan Iemma at mLearn. Megan is a music teacher who has terrific ideas on how to use iPods to support teaching and learning (and, in particular, music education), with many of her ideas and resources available on her blog. At the conference, she had asked me if it was possible to display the musical notation on an iPod while a song was being played. I had no idea at the time, but delving further into Doug’s videos, I found this:


[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/KAoQjoJl8mI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Yes – a musical performance, together with video of the performer’s hands, a digital version of the keyboard (making the fingering a little clearer), the musical notation, chords, and explanation of the performance, all in one. Wow.

This made me think about how I started learning violin (though it’s been over a decade since I last had lessons, and sadly, things are now rather rusty). I started learning with the Suzuki Method, which is basically a method of teaching a musical instrument by teaching technique, but learning songs by just listening to them. I started at the age of four years old, and didn’t even see musical notation for the first three years of my violin classes – everything was done by ear.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means that it’s possible to learn music just by listening to it – as easily for a child as picking up a language. The Suzuki Method has been around for decades now, and has been proven with scores of virtuosos (myself definitely not among them!). Anyway, this would effectively make an iPod a powerful learning tool for picking up musical pieces, even if you *only* had audio. The addition of video – which can allow the annotation of a musical performance with live demonstration, musical notation and commentary makes an iPod even more interesting as a tool for learning music.

I’ve certainly tried out the use of mobile devices for learning performing arts before – for example, as described in this previous post. Learning new dance moves requires me to constantly practice them until my body develops a subconscious “muscle memory” for them; until then, however, it’s easy to completely forget how to replicate any given move, or to introduce errors of timing, movement or technique. This is why I started videoing instructors performing dance moves – so I would have a reference for revising dance moves correctly; and it’s been the most effective method for learning dance (certainly better than my initial attempt to keep a textual database of the moves!)

I also have a teaching qualification in Speech and Drama, and it got me thinking about how my Speech teacher used to do taped recordings on audio cassettes for me to listen to her delivery – for example, changes of pitch, pace, pause, power and timing – that would help me as I memorised each piece of prose or poetry. I would also have to tape myself and listen to my own recordings to pick up ways I could improve my own performances. How easy and effective this would be on today’s mobile, digital devices, compared with the low-quality, clumsy tape deck I had to use as a child! Using Gavin’s voice-based system, which I explored in a previous post, it would even be possible to exchange performances between teacher and learner for guidance and feedback easily and remotely.

There are some really terrific opportunities for the use of mobile devices in teaching and learning performing arts – it will be fantastic to explore this area of application for mobile learning in more depth in the future!

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Online mLearn 2007 Review TODAY!

24 10 2007

A reminder for mLearn 2007 delegates and m-learning enthusiasts who couldn’t make m-Learn but would like to take part in this wrap-up session online. From the Flexible Learning Networks Community:

Caryl Oliver (Chair -Mlearn 2007) will host Mlearn 2007 Post Conference Discussions. This session will review the conference, its objectives, program, and content. This live Elluminate session will be held on Thursday 25 October 2:30 – 3:30pm (AEST), Please log in at least 15 minutes prior to session start here or http://tinyurl.com/2xznmx (don’t forget your microphone and headset).

Please come and join us if you can!

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QR Codes at mLearn 2007

24 10 2007

I attended mLearn last week to present a long paper on some of the outcomes of the Australian Standards for Mobile Learning, but I also had a range of other m-learning issues I was keen on sharing and discussing.

One of these topics was the use of 2D barcodes (or ‘mobile codes‘ as they are sometimes referred to) – specifically, Quick Response or QR Codes. Since I initially proposed the use of QR Codes as a way to link physical objects or locations with electronic and online learning materials, several excellent educators and educational developers have picked up on the potential of this technology – which is free to use and develop, and well-supported by free software, to both create QR Codes and decode them using ordinary camera phones.

I had the opportunity to mention QR Codes in my mLearn presentation, and provided a bit more information during question time; but I also did many demonstrations at other times during the conference, using QR Codes I screen printed onto all of my shirts for the conference, or QR Code stamps I had made to print codes directly onto my business cards. The QR Codes I used provided a link to a mobile-enabled Winksite page with all of my contact details for the conference.

Screen printing QR Codes successfully onto both light and dark t-shirts required both positive and negative versions of the screen print image (to print in either white or black ink). Printing both white and black ink onto the red shirt was a matter of combining both the positive and negative screen prints – the image itself provided its own very accurate registration marks, thanks to the three corner “squares” on each QR code, which made overprinting easy and very precise indeed. [Disclaimer: while I'm familiar with creating complex screen prints, this probably isn't everyone's cup of tea. However, I can create custom QR Code t-shirts for other educators for about A$20 (or even less for multiple items); the other alternative is to send your design to CafePress who will professionally print any design you like onto a t-shirt (or other item) for you].

I also ordered two stamps from Canberra Rubber Stamps and Signs, and they obligingly made self-inking and standard versions of my QR Code on a 28mm blank, within 3 working hours of me placing my order. I was very impressed (and grateful!). :) The standard stamp cost under A$20; the self-inking version was a little more expensive, but under A$45.

Using these stamps I was able to print QR Codes on all my business cards and
do over 20 live demonstrations of the creating and decoding QR Codes to other conference attendees. I had a green stamp pad to show how different colours could be used to create QR Codes (a bit more interesting than black-and-white), and I also brought self-laminating plastic pouches to demonstrate how to waterproof the cards.

Anyway, all this was a lot of fun, and apart from allowing me to share one of my particular interests in mobile learning, it was another conduit enabling me to meet many other terrific conference attendees. No doubt I’ll do something similar for future conference attendances!

If you’re attending an m-learning conference in the future, consider having a QR Code for your own contact information added to your business card; getting a QR Code stamp made; adding a QR Code for your contact details or website to your presentation; or even having it printed on a t-shirt so other attendees can “snap” your details in seconds! :)

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Using Mobile Phones for Voice-based Assessment

23 10 2007

In this video, recorded at mLearn 2007, Gavin Cooney, CEO of Learnosity.com, provides a personal demonstration of an application that allows a learner to call in, authenticate themselves, and then verbally respond to various questions. The responses are stored for marking and can be retrieved and even podcast.

YouTube link:  http://youtube.com/watch?v=F3PkIdF1R04

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/F3PkIdF1R04" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

It’s a simple and terrific idea. Learners can call in using any kind of phone – no need to use a top-end mobile phone like Gavin’s iPhone seen in this demo, even a landline or Skype phone can be used – and using an application like this can make the process of assessing students more flexible and efficient: students can be assessed whenever is convenient, and the work can be marked later whenever convenient for the teacher.

Gavin’s company is already using this technology to support Irish language learners, and in this video he also discusses the wider applications of this simple, effective and accessible mobile learning approach.