workshop No 1 done

workshopIt went well, despite the fact that there was confusing about the venue. Sorry about that. But we did it and I am really happy that the pilots are keen and want to get involved. Smaller group than expected, but I know that there are at least 3 more people who have expressed interest. We started late… but we made it.

The biggest issue I can see at the moment is the technology to create the accounts and link us all together. The group blog within wordpress was easy and I was able to connect accounts almost instantly. The challenge was and still is http://www.ipadio.com. Well, I had done mine but it is more challenging explaining it to others and then there are all the passwords and usernames etc. and people do get confused… I do! I hope I didn’t confuse anybody.

In the end we all managed to set up the http://www.ipadio.com accounts and only had time to test it using my own ipadio account. It was strange to talk to a phone and then listen to our voices online. But we will get used to it.

During the session I felt that it was important to emphasise on the focus of the project and not the tools. The tools are there to enable what we want to do. However, sometimes it just feels to complicated. I hope we will get over these hurtles together and be able to start.

After the workshop, we will probably have one week of testing and connecting until we all get started. There might be 3 more people joining and I am not sure if there will be time for face-to-face training, which is an issue but I am more than happy to arrange an online elluminate session or communicate with the pilots in any way they are comfortable.

After all testing is completed, the pilots have to post their first mp3 which will contain information about themselves and their relationship with reflection and the reflective journal they have been asked to keep.

planning face-to-face meeting No. 1

owls

owls


I have started putting the first face-to-face meeting together. This will happen in January 10. Hopefully, I will have the ok from my mpilots soon so that we can get started.

Putting the workshop together was quite challenging, since I discovered that there are loads of things that need to be covered. Is it too much? I think it is manageable but we will need around 3 hours. So, it should be light, fun and hands-on and effective.

I decided to use a powerpoint but spiced up with images and colours. Additional aids and resources will be used as well. I don’t like flat classrooms where learning is offered passively and in which you can’t really measue if learning is happening and to what extend. Learning should be exciting, engaging and fun too. It should increase motivation and the appetite for more learning. This is my goal. If I get the pilots on board of this plane then we will fly together.

So, what I have planned so far for the first workshop.

I fell that I have to introduce the project, the research questions and what my expectations are. Sharing these will help to identify and record expectations by participating students. Then find a match. What will happen and when, how we are going to work, what we have to do, for how long and how we are going to evaluate the pilot. Yes, I am using ‘we’ because I feel that this is a collaborative project and I really would like the pilots to have a voice and participate actively throughout.

We need to explore the tools we are going to use and actually trial them. This will be very important. I would like everybody going away from this meeting and feeling comfortable and confident in using them. No, we are not going to buy new tools, we are going to use tools we already have and tools that are freely available. Yes, this is a non-funded pilot. Actually, I think the fact that it is not funded will hopefully increase sustainability. But we will find out!

The focus of this pilot, which is recording audio reflections on teaching practice, has to be analysed. We ask our students to be reflective and many times we don’t actually explain what reflection is, what it involves and how to do it. We assume they know or will find out. Even if they don’t know, will they learn from their mistakes? Yes, we all learn a lot from our mistakes and these made by others but if I persue this string of thought any further at this moment in time, I feel that we should actually let our students discover for themselves what reflection really can be. Back though to my initial thought. If we don’t give them some hints, the basic characteristics of reflection, how can our students get better at it? How will they know if they are on the right track? Yes, of course, there is formative feedback during the process and this will also be happening throughout the pilot but it will be more in the shape of peer feedback. So, I am going to introduce participating students to reflection during that meeting in a very practical way, in a way it will hopefully make sense to them.

After completing all the above, yes, the pilots will go away and actually complete a task in their own time which does involve using the tools explored during the workshop, on their own. The task is linked to the project and if there are any issues, support will be provided not just for completing this task but all the tasks during the project as well. I would like them to know that the support will be there when needed.

We now have a platform for the project at http://mpilots.wordpress.com – note: this is the old one, see later post for the new space.

What else? I have now come up with a proper name for the project (tried to use Blender to create a 3D logo but am having some difficulties at the moment… unfortunately) A bit too late for a prope name? MoRe as in Mobile Reflection. Sounds good, I like it anyway, it is memorable, and says exactly what it is on the tin. Lets hope that it will go well and we will all learn loads from it ;o)

questions

Yes, more questions, loads of questions, closed questions mainly at this stage, to identify where the starting point is, what tools the mpilots have and can use with confidence and how they feel about blogging in general.

Yes, I am putting a questionnaire together within www.surveymonkey.com (up to 10 questions are free and more would be just too long anyway).

I will have to identify what tools the mpilots have (access to a phone, landline and/or mobile, mp3 player or phone that plays mp3s)and what training is needed that will enable them to use http://www.wordpress.com and http://www.ipadio.com and the tools they have for the mobile learning project.

My questions so far

    Do you have access to a landline? yes/no
    Do you have access to a mobile phone? yes/no
    Have you ever accessed a blog? yes/no
    Have you ever had your own blog? yes/no
    We are going to use http://www.wordpress.com and http://www.ipadio.com. Would you require training to use these tools? yes/no
    Do you agree with making the content available, including your own contributions, to the public to encourage a wider discussion? yes/no
    Can you download mp3 files from the web to a mobile phone or mp3 player? yes/no

What else? Well, I think I need an introduction about the project and some information about what the mpilots hope to get out of it. Yes, we should have project outcomes and shared goals but also personalised outcomes, and personalised goals! I hope the motivation will stay high and we will be able to measure progress, success and achievement at different stages of the pilot.

I am a bit concerned at this stage. One of the mpilots has, sort of, disappeared… and I am wondering if it is just because of festivities or something else. I am really keen to get started with this pilot in January and am currently exploring alternative pilots who would be interested…

The first surveymonkey questionaire is now ready and will be distributed as soon as the mpilots are ready ;o)

Excited!

spider web

spider web


While surfing the web (I don’t actually like that phrase) but I am using it, as you can see… I found www.ipadio.com. When you are Greek, like me, it is difficult to pronounce it properly. Padio looks to much like Radio in Greek, which means radio. So, I seem to call it iradio at the moment.

Anyway, while I was surfing in a more focused way… I was looking for an online service that I could use for the mobile learning pilot from January. I know I had mentioned www.gabcast.com before and this was the one I knew. But the problem with gabcast is that you have to purchase units in advance and this could be a problem since the pilot I am running with my pilots (I like to call them pilots!!!), will not be a funded one and I try to remove barriers and keep the cost to a minimum and enable easy participation. Do you know something else? You can actually call an ordinary landline (from a landline, if you wish) and reduce costs further if you have a specific call package such as with www.talktalk.net. Isn’t this great!!!
So, I was excited when I started reading about ipadio at http://www.cellphonesinlearning.com/

I had to try it and setting up and account was fast and painless. Even the first phlog worked without problem. Yes, the option is there to link the phlog to an ordinary blog. Exactly what I wanted. Super!!! Would you like to have a look how it looks like within ipadio? Here it comes. Just click here.

Now, my question is, can the embedded mp3 files be downloaded directly from the wordpress blog (that would be ideal!) or only through ipadio or iTunes? I hope that this is possible to download from wordpress directly or that this option becomes available very soon (before the start of the pilot maybe?) since it would make it supereasy. If the pilots phlog to the blog and then are able to download the mp3s from the same site and use on their phones or mp3 players so that they can listen to the recordings on the go. This definitely would be learning with and from each other on the go. Do I ask for too much?

Trying not to be overexcited… about the possibilities and I hope that the mpilots will feel at least as excited as I am at the moment ;o)

Got connected

connected
note: Why this image? Love and passion for a shared vision have the power to connect people. That is how I felt during the conference. People can make a big difference to how we feel, about who we are, where we are, what we are doing.

The conference is now over. It was a full and exciting day. It definitely provided food for thought and confirmed that thinking is changing and enthusiastic educators in different institutions are driving chance. This is great. Participating in the social network workshop and another one about e-portfolios were the highlights of the event and enabled me to find out what is happening in other institutions, HE and FE.

My workshop on mlearning went ok. We started a bit late and I think we were the last ones there. Loads had signed up but not everybody turned up. People are generally fresher in the morning. However, the dialogue was rich and some were interested in exploring mobile tools within teaching and learning. I had planned too much. We only had 45min. Time is definitely something I need to look at, to be able to become more flexible and mix ‘n’ match depending on how the session goes. Afterwards, it felt as if I was sticking too much to the original plan. The grouping didn’t really work very well, but in the end we did have two groups, the teachers and the students which came up with innovative ideas on how to use mtechnology to enhance a specific teaching/learning aspect.

I would have liked to discuss the pilots that I plan to start in January. Unfortunately, it was getting too late and I had to cut that bit out. However, it is all recorded on www.prezi.com and I hope that some will look at the handout and if interested get in touch.

A colleague from another college, was interested in the pilots and he might contact me about it. I think it would be great if I could find somebody to run similar pilots/a similar pilot in another college, again within teacher education and then compare findings.

I think I will have to focus on one pilot at the time, otherwise, I won’t have time to do anything well. I just wish the day had more hours. There are so many things I would like to explore…

So, I am deciding now, while I am writing, that the start will be with the two dyslexic students and explore how mobile technology can be used to develop reflective skills. Just this pilot for now. We have a home now, but need to test it first. Here it is http://mpilots.wordpress.com

Over the next weeks, I am going to refine my approach and then meet with the two students and discuss the pilot, process and milestones. I have started adding my ideas but I would like to finalise it with the students and check if they would be happy with it. I feel really excited about this pilot and am hopeful that my students will benefit from this investigation. Both students are keen to get started, which is super great!!!

Next step: Check out gabcast again and find out if we can actually use it for the pilot. I haven’t used it before.

Eureka, mPilot 2

I am now clearer about the focus for the second pilot. Still exploring mobile learning and this time around using audio to develop reflection within initial teacher training. Participating students are dyslexic and I would like to investigate if audio can make a difference to these students and if this approach could be used for the wider community of students to stimulate more senses during the learning process and achieve better results in developing reflective practice.

… more details will follow

ideas floating around

Yes, I think that is how I feel at the moment. But I need a plan. I decided to capture the starting point for students who will participate in the pilot. What pilot? Yes, I am going to carry out one for which we couldn’t need to purchase any equipment. Students will use their own. I am thinking about mobile phones. Is there a student in my class who doesn’t have one? Well, I will find out from the survey I put together at www.surveymonkey.com .

Also, I wouldn’t like anybody to participate if they don’t want to. So, I will ask them all and they can decide. It would be great to get 100% of students participating. Then I could evaluate qualitative and quantitative. We will see.

So, the survey is ready. I need to make it available for my students.
Then, I am going to get them all together and explain what it is all about and that I would like them to participate in the pilot and emphasise that the purpose of it all is to establish if mobile technology that is widely available can enhance more rapidly teaching skills.

Actually, the pilot will have 2 focuses. Already sounds complicated. Maybe I should decide to go for one at this stage. On the other hand, I am really keen to explore both and am considering to run one sub-pilot more organically. Not sure yet.

Confused? Well No. 1 is creating interactive resources for recap of what is covered in class that can be downloaded to a mobile phone. I have created an account within www.mobilestudy.org which seems to work on my old mobile. So, after a test run which will happen next week, I will be able to decide if this tool can be used. If not, I need to find another tools. I have seen different ones but have not tested any of them, just http://www.mobilestudy.org. So, yes, I created the very first PIG activity (I thought a title that would be memorable, what does it actually stand for? Well it could be personal/portable interactive games) and it is linked to what we do next week in class. So, it will be perfect to trial it and then get feedback as well.

At the initial stage, I would create the activities, but progressively, students will get more involved and in the end, they will be the ones creating the resources. Will it work? Well, we will see. Should I use the mobilestudy for organisations? Not sure at this moment in time…

Here comes the link to the PIG(s) ;o) Pick the option ‘Install onto Phone’ and download the .jar file. Enjoy, feedback would be very welcome, if anybody tries it. Thanks.

give learning-on-the-go a go

For a few weeks now, I am thinking about mobile learning more intensively and how I could get involved in it further. I find it so exciting that there are so many possibilities to provide exciting learning opportunities on-the-go. I started exploring possibilities within my own teacher training courses and my ideas are work-in-progress at the moment… but I am getting there.

However, I have been given the chance to present at the Success North Winter Conference about mobile learning and this is going to happen on the 11 Dec 09, here in Newcastle. I started working on the ideas, the concepts, the pedagogies, the process and structure of it all and decided to use www.prezi.com again. I have a patchwork there with ideas that I can re-use, adapt and enrich and will provide an opportunity to showcase another presentation tool. Death by powerpoint? Yes, it feels like that many times, despite the fact that I try my best to spice my presentations up and make them exciting and add interactivity. The title of this post will be the title of the workshop that I plan to offer within the conference… unless I decide to change it which is very possible. At the moment, I have to admit, that I like it a lot and actually mirrors well what will be discussed during the workshop.

Also, in the back or front of my head, or all over, I am also thinking about my next module on the MSC BOE which is customised study. I have already had the chance to discuss my idea about mobile learning with my tutor and he encouraged me to explore it further. And that is what I have started doing.

Will I be able to submit a ‘patchwork text’ as an assignment? This has to be discussed and agreed but I think it would provide a highly personalised study and research opportunity and very relevant to my work context.

… more to come…