Week 13 Mobile, Wireless, and Ubiquitous Learning

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

April 9, 2012 Mobile, Wireless, and Ubiquitous Learning

Articles I Read:

1.  Traxlar, John (2007, June). Defining, discussing and evaluating mobile learning: The moving finger writes and having writ…. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 8(1). Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/346/875

2.   Carlo Ricci, Canada (2011, November). Emergent, self-directed, and self-organized learning: Literacy, numeracy, and the iPod Touch. International Review of Research on Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 12(7). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1157/2046

3.  Paul Kim, Stanford University. (2011).   PDF of “SMILE” Technical Description.  Retreived on April 24, 2012, from https://resources.oncourse.iu.edu/access/content/group/SP12-BL-EDUC-R685-24955/SMILE_Technical_Description.pdf

4.  Harmeet Shaah Singh, CNN (2010).  India unveils $35 computer for students.  Retrieved on April 24, 2012, from http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/07/23/india.thirty.five.dollar.laptop/index.html?npt=NP1&hpt=Sbin

source:  http://www.offthemark.com/cartoons/mobile+devices/

In the first article, the writer says, “Finding information rather than possessing it or knowing it becomes the defining characteristic of learning generally and of mobile learning especially, and this may take learning back into the community.”  I find this statement especially intriguing.  I have read in other articles that it is more important for students to know how to find information, instead of memorizing it.  I too, believe that this is more important.  Of course, there are some things that just have to be memorized, like the times tables.  But since science and history, for example, are always changing, it is better for the students to know where to find up-to-date information and where they can find different types of resources.  Mobile devices provide students with the opportunity to access the information quickly, any time the need arises.  My iPhone, iPad, and MAC laptop have given me instant access to anything I need.  I used to be stuck in my office attached to my desktop, but now that I have mobile devices, I can continue to work anywhere, no matter what my schedule is.  If I’m in the car, as a passenger, of course, I use my iPhone.  If I’m at school, I use my laptop.  If I’m at home, I read with my iPad and work with my laptop.  I can work at soccer practice.  I can check emails while waiting in the line at the grocery.  It’s great because I never feel guilty for being away from my work.  That may be a problem too because I do feel guilty that my mobile devices get more love from me than my friends and family 😦 Before my Apple devices came into my life, books were my favorite mobile technology.  I especially love my iPad because I can catch up on TV episodes (a rare treat) that are available when I need them.  I can watch the episodes while I’m putting laundry away, I can look up recipes  while I’m cooking in the kitchen, I can read anywhere I want, I can attend online classes no matter where I am, and I can toss it in my purse and take it with me without the burden of lugging a big heavy bag.

Mobile devices are not a technology fad.  They add value to our lives.

In my K/1 classroom, I used a PDA to assess the students reading and math fluency.  The PDA had strengths and weaknesses.


1.  It documented test results quickly, efficiently, and accurately.  These could be shared digitally, or I could print them out for parents.

2.  It was portable, so I could go in the hallway, where it was quiet, to assess the students.

3.  The DIBELS program generated charts and graphs using the student data.  This allowed me to quickly see who was on, below, or above the target.

4.  The results were available to me at school, at home, or anywhere I may be.


1.  The PDA needed to be charged frequently.  If I forgot to charge it (I’m not perfect you know) then I couldn’t use it when I needed it.

2.  The PDA was so sensitive that one wrong tap would cause the whole assessment to be compromised.  The tests were timed so if the teacher did not tap in the right spot at the right time, then the student’s data would be inaccurate.

3.  The PDAs were shared in our hallway, so they got a lot of use.  After time, the PDA did not respond correctly, no matter where you tapped.  Even worse, the program would crash and precious data would be lost.

4.  If you lose or break the stylus, or the PDA, you’re out of luck.

A great benefit of mobile technology is instant gratification.  If I need to know what something is or how to do something, I don’t have to wait.  I can get my answer right now.  Better yet, I can get a variety of answers from experts and from the community.  Even better, most of the information is free!

In my future classroom, I imagine all of the students with mobile devices to use both at home and school.  I imagine students playing apps that relate to what they are learning in the classroom because they are fun and they want to improve their skills.  I imagine a space, such as a learning management system, that holds everything the student or parent needs.  This space would have homework assignments, newsletters, assessment data, achievement goals, games, and a space for students and teachers to interact either synchronously or asynchronously, a space to share…anything, and a space for students to express themselves.  This space would be a documented portfolio space that students could revisit anytime they wanted.  Questions could be asked and answered by students or the teacher.

The iPod article by Carlo Ricci reminded me of another benefit of mobile devices- they have everything in one device!

This is especially beneficial for teachers because (1) purchasing a class set of anything is expensive, and difficult to store and replace, (2) it is convenient and accessible for learning that needs to happen right now.

I appreciate the natural learning concept that Carlo Ricci mentions in the article. As the student uses the device, he naturally discovers new things.  This creates tension because he wants to know what it is and how to use it (motivation to learn).

The clock example in the article reminded me of the little plastic and paper clocks I used in my K/1 classroom.  The hands would never stay put.  As I explained the difference between the hour and minute hands, I walked around and asked each student to explain the difference to their partner.  We also used the wall clock to review the time.  However, some of the students couldn’t see it well and it was difficult for me to point to the numbers unless I used a really long pointer.

If each student had iPod with an educational clock app, they could get instant feedback as much as often as necessary.  The app could reinforce the skills more times than a single teacher ever could.  Also, the iPod could be pulled out and personally used by each student whenever he needed the information, not just when the teacher asked him the question.  Sigh.  Would have been nice to have this access then.  This excites me to use them with my students in the future!

Carlo Ricci continued to point out such simple features such as the alarm clock and the weather app.  I suppose I have taken my kid’s iPhone Touches and iPhones for granted.  Instead of asking me for the answers all the time, I can tell them to look it up on their mobile device.  If I told them to go look up the weather forecast on the weather channel of the TV or in the newspaper they probably wouldn’t do it.  But since their iPhones are magically and magnetically attracted/attached to them, they probably wouldn’t mind looking it up there.  How convenient.

I love the idea of the Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE) program.  The students create their own questions for a quiz.  When I was a student-teacher in a fourth grade classroom, I had the students write their own questions for a social studies test.  They really enjoyed doing this and they also loved that their name were posted next to the question they wrote.  A mobile device would make this task easy to do.  I can remember that it took quite a bit of time for the students to write the questions, time for me to edit the questions, and time for me to write the test.  It’s really cool that the students can upload their own pictures.  They are creating their own content!  This has to be more motivating than a boring teacher-created assessment!

I am amazed that computers can be offered for $35.00 apiece!   I am of course skeptical because if they are like most toys, they aren’t used for very long.  Usually, they break, they get lost, they don’t perform as you expect them to, they get boring, or something new and improved comes out.  The article mentioned that they have a browser and a pdf reader but did not mention any other applications.  It is certainly better than nothing, but I am still curious about how useful they will be in the long run.

I predict that mobile learning devices will get even better in the future.


One comment on “Week 13 Mobile, Wireless, and Ubiquitous Learning

  1. brhoey says:

    Instant gratification is becoming so important when regarding information in the digital age (as we know in our class discussions earlier in the semester!). How did previous generations manage to survive without this instant access to knowledge?
    When I was an undergrad studying history, there were times I asked myself “why are you even bothering memorizing these dates, that persons name, the order of events of this war or that event, when you have access to it on the computer?” I wonder, with even wider access to information and knowledge (my case was when phones could text and were just getting color screens, so we had to go to a computer…), how will education change? Will someone like Ken Jennings, the famous Jeopardy champion, still be considered Smart, even though anyone could find the answer to the question through a simple Google search? Will schools transition more to a skill-based curriculum over a content based curriculum?

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