Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is mLearning Really 'The Future'

I've once again stumbled across another presentation that decries mLearning as 'The Future' of learning. This time, this very detailed and well presented article by Marcus Ragus got me thinking...

...Is mLearning the future or is mLearning all around us already?
I've seen many presentations over the past few years declaring mLearning 'the future'. I would like to challenge that not only is the future now, the uptake of mLearning is greater than most of us realize.

The challenge is that the modern generation of learners are quick to challenge any label and to them, mLearning or Learning 2.0, or Social Network Learning, or any of the newest trend buzzwords is simply business as usual.

In helping my wife with some Spanish language podcasts and a quick search we found hundreds of teachers producing podcasts for their students.

mLearning is here now, it just has defied labeling- it is business as usual.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Learning Circuits Asks- Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging?

The Big Question is a new monthly feature on Learning Circuits Blog. Each month a new question is offered that is of interest to the learning community.

The Big Question for October is:
Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging?

-My answer is a resounding NO. My main concern in this question is the qualifier 'SHOULD' as if this is a commandment. Although Blogging is one of the newest technologies to hit the learning scene, my concern is learning professionals will once again fall into the trap we always seem to, taking a technology and holding on too tightly. What once was the next big thing today, tomorrow will be yesterday's news. Just as you have learning professionals hung up on PowerPoint being the be-all-end-all of training, the next generation may consider blogs (or Wikis) the be-all-end-all.

My second concern is that learning professionals will embrace blogging technology just because they are told it is the 'next big thing' in learning, and yet, it may not be the best for their circumstance. I've seen many cases where technology or software was embraced because it was 'cutting edge' only to sit on the shelf.

I look forward to a time when all learning professionals are open minded to new technology not because they have to, but because they have determined that technology is best for their circumstance.

We need to take a measurable and calculated path to ensure we don't pollute the technology with poor implementation.

This may seem odd coming from a learning technology professional, but we all remember the day when everyone embraced PowerPoint for every learning solution, only to have the technology watered down by poor presentations. We now have the situation where the learning community cringes (or laughs under their breath) when anyone mentions PowerPoint.

Monday, October 02, 2006

More Podcasting Educational Resources

My wife is a Music and Spanish teacher at a local private school and I've been working with her for the past few months on how she can enhance her teaching through mLearning and other technology.
Recently, I've discovered a plethora of podcasts available for Music and Spanish education that anyone from elementary students to adults can use:

Spanish Learning Podcast Blog - This is a great site that is full of podcasts and other resources to learn Spanish. Applicable for all levels. Download a sample podcast here-> Also check out Voice Genesis , a service that InstaSpanish uses to download podcasts to mobile phones.

EdTech Musician has podcasts and video casts available for more advanced music students. Download the feed here. Or download a sample podcast here.

Some more educational podcasting resources for teachers:

The Education Podcast Network
Podcast Directory List
Podcast Directory for Teachers - from the UK
Podcast Networks
Podcast Alley
Podscope - search on a specific word in a audio file
VodStock - a vodstock directory

The more I work with my wife on her lessons, the more I realize that mLearning is far more prevalent than once thought. Teachers, designers, and enthusiasts all around the world are creating mLearning tools without realizing it. I am beginning to think that once everyone gets over the stigma of mLearning being somehow cutting edge and out of reach, there will be a worldwide explosion.

Texting Improves Literacy - lol

Don Clark may or may not be serious with his new post, Texting Improves Literacy. This does have implications when considering mLearning in school systems. This does remind all designers out there to continually be aware of basic grammar and spelling rules. The intesting parts of this study where the improvements in phonetics- especially considering podcasts I've been working with my wife on for the Spanish class she teaches.

Is texting responsible for all of this poor spelling and literacy? NO.

In a study by Coventry University, Mrs Beverly Plester and Dr Clare Wood took 11 year olds and asked them to
translate from text to English and vice versa, then put them through standards tests in spelling, reading and writing. The concluded that, “the use of text message abbreviations is linked positively with literacy achievements”.

Regular texters strong in literacy

The results showed that far from impairing spelling, reading and writing; texting correlates well with strong performance in the use of the English language. In fact, regular texters were strong readers and writers.

Increased awareness of phonetics?
It is thought that texting may increase their awareness of phonetics, which leads to better spelling, reading and writing. This is in line with the research that shows phonics as being far more effective in teaching literacy.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Break Out of the Box - From Breakthrough eLearning

I wish I had a nickel for every time a client told me "we can't do that" when we suggest that they connect their learners in online discussion groups, or introduce audio elements to increase engagement, or add interactive Flash exercises to better explain complex processes. Usually, the reason they say that they cannot do these things is because of the limitations of the authoring software or learning management system that they happen to use. They feel they are "boxed in" by the technology choices they have made previously.

It does not have to be this way. Sometimes the boxes in which we find ourselves are more real than imagined (kind of like the boxes that mimes indicate with hand gestures).

You can break out of your technology boxes with a little creative thinking. Some strategies that immediately come to mind include:
  • Mixing and matching differing learning technologies that have different strengths to achieve desired results (e.g. seamlessly linking to discussion board software from a learning system that does not have this functionality)
  • Work-arounds to enhance the functionality of existing learning technology (e.g. using existing telephone bridges for audio when teaching with web conferencing technology)
  • Introduction of easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools (e.g. Blogs and Wikis) to provide missing communication elements
  • Doing away with ridiculous and over-zealous IT policies that do not allow for any flexibility concerning the introduction of new technologies in aid of learning (or having these hosted externally)

Read the rest here->