I’m at mLearn 2012 in Helsinki, a primarily academic conference from people working on mobile learning across schools, higher education, informal learning in both European, North American contexts and South Africa and Bangladesh. I’m interested in both contexts.
Wed October 17
KeyNote Eric Klopfer, MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program and the Education Arcade
Theory of Change? and App Inventors
Explaining the American context of computer labs, huge lists of contents that need to be ingested by students, the ‘No child left behind’ policy which leads to a lot of testing, all leading to a shortage of students and teacher’s time. Eric and his team at MIT ubiquitous learning have created a series of mobile web games to support STEM learning amongst school going students.
The games they made are designed to encourage short bursts of play repeatedly over time, much like Farmville. The based on the idea that students can play in the times between class, or lunch time.
What? I’m wondering what the theory of change at work here is? Do they not wish to challenge the status quo of chasing grades in old ways. Is this not operating on the presumption that the time in between class and lunch is otherwise empty or useless. Don’t students need time to talk, reflect, play sports, not learn?
In the second half of Eric’s Keynote he went back to his opening statement which I love:
Games or playful learning is not about making learning fun, it should be about showing that learning is fun.
In the games they are designing and measuring Eric’s team are critically exploring the use of badges and what they reward. If I understand correctly he is advocating for smarter use of badges, we shouldn’t reward behaviour that gamers/learners would do anyway such as just showing up, or simple task but as games designers we should reward solving puzzles of gradually increased difficulty with differentiated badges and rewards such as entering the sandbox.
He says: ‘Structured, goal orientated feedback-driven can be fun. Structure is fun’
Finally Eric promotes the designing of apps by younger students, Yeah!
Using App Inventor created at Google, it includes a ‘block’ interface (such as Scratch) to make programming easier for beginners.
They have the App inventor curriculum. In a few weeks from now there will be a MOOC on app invention and entrepreneurship. Going live in 3 weeks, in Spanish.
Low Cost Mobile Phones for Large Scale Teacher Professional Development in Bangladesh
English in Action
More about the presenters here
I already got good insights into how this program works in Bangladesh, from Marc Stouwe when I was in Dhaka last May, so excellent to get this presentation from the Open University team from the UK.
It’s all about supporting the teaching of English language in Bangladeshi schools. Currently they support 5000 teachers with this program and they aim by 2017 to take this up to 18.000 teachers catering for 10 million students across Bangladesh. So the scale is quite substantial for a mobile learning program.
The technology being used is an interesting model to me, it’s quite like what we do in Afghanistan in the Great Idea project, they use Nokia C1-01, 4GB SD card and portable rechargeable speakers. The premise being that in the long term teacher’s have already these phones, so that is both cheaper and poses no technology adaptation obstacles. The portable speakers, allow for use in off the grid classrooms.
What teacher’s said about the program:
Teachers work in pairs, they often find this a significant improvement in their teaching practice and the other equally named improvement are the video and audio helps which supports the in-school curriculum. (Both primary and secondary) There are 400 audio filesNote, how do they navigate these files?
There are also 4 videos on phones that show both a pedagogical approach to be used in the class which encourages a more participatory delivery style than is perhaps usual currently in Bangladeshi classrooms.
The kind of indicators that EIA has been measuring to check the impact of this program, are: how much of the class is spoken in english language, pronunciation skills of both children and teachers. Assessment was done independently through a large scale interviewing of participants.
Investigating learner interactions via ubiquitous accessInge de Waard
In September this year Inge ran a MOOC called MobiMOOC (Which I lurked in)
which was a highly informative and friendly Mooc which I thoroughly enjoyed lurking. All the materials are still online so if you want an introduction to a wide range of Mobile Learning topics.
Inge is investigating (alongside providing and moderating the whole MobiMOOC) how well it worked in general and the importance of learner interactions in MOOC’s. You can see her slides here
Or follow here on twitter @ignatia for her ongoing research into this topic.