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Walking the streets

Doing something as simple as walking down the street now presents new possibilities to me. The only catch is that I think I will need to buy a new mobile phone to try these out. The kind of phone I am talking about is really a mini, although rather impressive, multi-media capturing device. My phone is less than a year old and already I want to upgrade.

I have to ask myself am I being seduced by today’s technology hype?

Marg (standing) and Anouk (sitting) are deep in discussion on the virtues of Moodle as an LMS. Notice the mobile phone in Marg's hand!I have just had my first moblogging experience thanks to Marg O’Connell who is visiting from Australia and who spent the day with us at The Open Polytechnic.

Moblogging is the practice of posting content (text, images or media files) to a blog using a mobile phone or other portable device.

Marg and I were walking down the street – she took out her mobile phone, and before I knew it I had the phone handed to me with a request to reflect on my day. I wasn’t ready but I went for it anyway. She then posted the audio file we had just created directly to her Blogger blog.

This was all new to me.

It’s like leaving a voice mail except … it gets published to your blog as a sound file that people can play right from your web site.

The Nokia phone Marg used to do her audioblog

I was fascinated. I wanted to create an audioblog by myself.

After playing around with my current mobile phone I discovered that it too had the capability to capture audio (so I am not completely in the dark ages) but only in 18 second bites.

“That’s not very long,” I thought.

“Mmmm, you could create a form of mobile-audio Haiku though,” continued that voice in my head.

Long conversations beside blooming irises –
joys of life on the road
Basho

Maybe it didn’t matter that my mobile couldn’t record for a longer period of time. I would simply have to choose my words carefully. The aim would be to communicate my message in as few words as possible without losing any meaning.

It seems easiest to liken haiku to a photograph, which captures a moment in time. A pure photograph describes a scene, and this description causes an emotional response in its viewer. There is no caption on the photograph that tells us what emotional response we are to take from it. It is instead a simple moment in time, unencumbered.

Haiku is the same thing. When a butterfly lands upon an open flower, what does the haiku poet take from this? The same thing that his reader will take from it when he describes the moment in verse. But he trusts his reader to sense the same emotion from his accurate description of the scene. He does not need to say “How beautiful!” in reference to the moment, because his words should evoke the correct response in his reader.

Source: Lesson Plan, Writing Haiku

“This will take a bit of practice but I’m sure I can do this,” I thought.

“This might be a way of helping me to organise my overflowing brain,” was my next thought.

I started to think about how I could use this new found application to help me cope with my own learning. I became excited. I could use it to record my thoughts when I didn’t have pen and paper or my laptop available to me. I would now be able to record all those ideas that pop up while I’m on the go – trying to remember them for later never seems to work!

I discovered that Audioblogger only works with Blogger and I use Word Press. Never fear, there is Odeo.

I signed up all excited, ready to give this a go. As I searched the Odeo site to work out how I would go about posting to my blog from my mobile phone I came across this message …

Notice: Odeo Phone Posting is Going Away

As of November 1, 2006, Odeo phone posting will no longer accept calls. We will continue to host and serve all MP3s made with the service indefinitely, but you will no longer be able to use it to post new audio.

Why we are doing this?

Phone posting, while nifty and all, has not been a very popular feature of Odeo since it launched. And, ours being a small company, we need to very carefully apply our time and money on those things we think will be most successful. We can’t afford to continue to support phone posting.

Notice: Audioblogger is Going Away

The message was the same!

I felt thwarted before I had even begun. I do however have until the 1st of November to play if I want to. I am sure there is a way around this and it is – after all I have survived until now.

One thing this experience has taught me is the possibilities associated with using mobile devices and I started to think about how this could be applied in a learning context. Mobile devices cannot be ignored. Wherever one looks, the evidence of mobile penetration and adoption is irrefutable: cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), MP3 players, portable game devices, handhelds, tablets, and laptops abound. No demographic is immune from this phenomenon. From toddlers to seniors, people are increasingly connected and are digitally communicating with each other in ways that would have been impossible to imagine only a few years ago.

Source: Wagner, E.D. (2005). Enabling mobile learning. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 40, no. 3 (May/June 2005), pp.40–53.

Jill Walker reports some interesting statistics on mobile penetration in Norway from Rich Ling’s presentation The role of mediated ritual in mobile communication:

100% of 16-24 year old women and 100% of 20-24 year old men in Norway have mobile phones. You basically can’t find a teen without a mobile phone. Statistics from the US (recent survey from University of Michigan) show high adoption but at least 20% below Norwegian use. Today 70% of Norwegian ten year olds have mobile phones. That, not coincidentally, is the age at which kids stop going to after school care. Before 2003, only 20% of ten year olds had mobile phones – back then, you got your mobile phone as a confirmation present, when you were 14.

If you ask Norwegians between the ages of nine and thirty-four what forms of mediated communication they used yesterday, SMSes are the most used form. They are clearly above email, voice phone.

There are many questions that need to be asked relating to the use of mobile technologies as learning devices. Some can be answered based on previous experiences of implementing technology in the learning environment, but many questions cannot be answered as they are connected to the domain of the future. These answers have yet to be revealed.

Will brevity of expression—characteristic of wireless communication—trump depth of knowledge? Will the “filter generation”—learners who multiprocess and multitask using multiple media—learn how to think critically and communicate effectively while using today’s and tomorrow’s digital tools?

Source: Wagner, E.D. (2005). Enabling mobile learning. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 40, no. 3 (May/June 2005), pp.40–53.

There are some important lessons we have already learnt in relation to the use of technology in learning that need to be kept foremost in our minds as we embark into the world of mobile learning. According to Wagner these are:

  • Learning is a deeply personal act that is facilitated when learning experiences are relevant, reliable, and engaging.
  • Different kinds of learning demand appropriate strategies, tools, and resources.
  • Technology in and of itself may not guarantee better learning.
  • The better the experience and the more intentional the results, the greater is the likelihood that learning will occur.

I have heaps to learn about mobile learning but this new branch in my learning tree has begun to grow.

Do I need a new mobile phone? Probably not.

Do I want a new mobile phone which offers me sophisticated multimedia options in one tiny package that can sit in a pocket? I have to admit I am very tempted.

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