Top 10 Freeware Apps for M-Learning

This is my personal list of ten of the most useful, free software applications you can use to design and deliver mobile learning. It does not cover social mobile web apps, which will be the subject of a future post, or applications developed specifically for mobile learning, which will also be covered in the next two weeks or so.

  • NoteM audio recorder for Windows Mobile PDAs: unlike the standard audio recorder provided in Windows Mobile (in Notes), which records to WAV file format, NoteM records to MP3 format. This saves an enormous amount of storage space, and enables the recording of complete lectures or podcasts, rather than merely brief notes. It is also much more configurable than the standard Windows Mobile audio recorder.
  • iTube video downloader for iPods/PDAs/mobile phones: iTube videos range considerably in educational video, but it is still a superb resource of video content. Unfortunately, the Flash Video format used to package UTube videos isn’t really playable on anything, particularly not mobile devices. iTube allows users to download YouTube videos in MPEG and MP4 formats – the formet of which plays on most PDAs, and the latter of which plays on iPods and many mobile phones. Playability of video content on PDAs is considerably assisted by the following application. (previous blog post)
  • TCPMP video player for Windows Mobile PDAs: The Core Pocket Media Player (TCPMP) supports many more codecs than the standard Windows Mobile Media Player, making it much easier to download and use video content for mobile learning. It also has some excellent capabilities beyond what the standard player can achieve, such as stretched full-screen playing of videos, making videos both easier and more enjoyable to watch on a PDA. Another one to try out is SOMPY Media Player.
  • Opera Mobile web browser for J2ME (Java) Mobile phones: Usable on most mobile phones and some PDAs, Opera Mobile is the best mobile web browser I’ve ever used on any mobile platform. If you’re deploying mobile web content, encourage your users to try Opera Mobile. (previous blog post). PDA users might prefer Minimo, the PDA version of the Firefox browser with many features in common such as tabbed browsing.
  • ADB Idea Library allows the user to create and organise pictures, sounds, text – and other files – into collections. Great for getting learners to assemble their own ideas and demonstrate the construction of knowledge.
  • CERDISP screen sharing for Windows Mobile PDAs: the Windows CE Remote Display application enables you to put a copy of your PDA screen on a computer monitor or light projector to share it with other users. It includes a zoom tool for making the screen more visible, and uses your PDA’s standard computer cable and ActiveSync connection to do this most useful of tasks. (previous blog post)
  • XSForms/XSDesigner for Windows Mobile PDAs: allows creation of mobile databases, complete with user forms to make it easy to both add and search data. Enables students or teachers to remotely log data for research or learning purposes, and can be customised to synchronise with a desktop PC Access database. (previous blog post) Another database program to try is HotWax.
  • BUZZeeBee (formerly ProximityMail) for Windows Mobile PDAs: allows spontaneous, ad-hoc creation of wirelessly connected, proximal messaging groups, using free Bluetooth technology. I haven’t tried out the new BUZZeeBee version of the software yet, but the wireless, group-based text communication and sharing enabled by this product has many uses in education. (mentioned in this previous blog post)
  • SmartFlash Flash player for Windows Mobile PDAs: a much more flexible and powerful player than the standard Adobe Flash Player. Plays Flash files without needing to embed them in a web page, as they must for the standard Flash player.
  • PaintWinCE for Windows Mobile PDAs: not everyone’s a fan of doing things in text, or even audio. For learners with a visual learning preference, consider using Mobile Pencil – which turns a PDA in to a portable sketchpad/notepad – just draw with the stylus. Complete with a number of different pencil effects and colours to make it easier to communicate graphically, using a PDA. Similar applications include Pencil Box and Mobile Pencil.

Other useful PDA applications I couldn’t fit into my top 10:

Finally, while it isn’t really mobile software, but rather runs on a PC, Levelator makes the process of creating podcasts (for playback on pocket media players, PDAs and even mobile phones) so much easier it deserves a mention. Dropping an audio file on the application creates an output audio file with the volume optimised for playback, without having to fiddle with levels in Audacity. (previous blog post)

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