Mobile project?

Just a thought for a simple use of mobile technologies to enhance learning in (and out) of the language classroom.

A very simple way to use mobile devices to revise vocabulary and use specific language for directions, thus it could be used with fairly low levels of ESL learners.

  • Teacher records a tour (possibly different for each group) with some historical facts, learners follow directions and learn about specific places.  This could be in their own town or another.
  • Students follow tour, taking photos of each location, and notes.
  • Students return to class and prepare a presentation about what they’ve learned in groups.

This could be adapted in various ways,and there are various issues such as management, but they could be overcome.  As a follow up results could be posted to a blog, presentations could be made about their own favourite places…

Obviously this assumes that all students have a smart phone, or suitable mobile device (ipod with camera perhaps)




Perhaps the first question I asked myself was whether open educational resources, while very good for myself and others who can get free access to them, would be good for society.  I’d also thought about this previously regarding other areas of society, e,g, music, films, etc., and wondered how it could work.  After all, we often hear musicians complaining about their royalties being taken away from them by file-sharing, for example; is this the same in education/the world in general? (Although some would say musicians, for example, have been fleecing the public for a long time)

Yochai Henkler outlines how society has changed from companies/ gvts having to pay a fortune for infrastructure, to these tools being available to society at large. He says it can develop alongside the traditional industrial model, and that free tools such as Skype, for example, can replace traditional telecommunication companies who have traditionally dominated (and cleaned up, making HUGE profits).

Interesting interview with the head of Harvard libraries, who points out information can be shared in repositories by members of the Harvard community for the benefit of all, while maintaining some journals on a pay as you require basis, for example for extremely specialist topics.  Here

George Siemens‘ has the opinion that more radicalism is required in open resource sharing.   but show someone willing to stick their neck out for their principles, which I admire.  A summary of the responses to this post were collated by Brian Lamb.  Lamb points out that with govt cuts in education looming/underway, open resources may be a way to allow progression;  universities all over the world sharing resources to help each other.  Siemens’ point about democracy being used too often strikes a chord somewhere.  I find the point that ‘open’ may now just become a term bandied about by big companies to sell their resources, and thus maintain their stranglehold on the market and thus the status quo, extremely salient.

The video about copyright, outlining the length of copyright being 100 years and some of the key issues, was interesting to me; I didn’t, and still don’t, know much about the topic.  100 years does seem a bit long, however.

I think from reading and listening to different resources, some of them mentioned, it seems the model of media is changing, that the market is moving towards more of  collaborative community.  I think that clearly not everyhting can be free, but just as in the music world where people have been paying top dollar for too long to the few who had control of the market, collaborations and OERs can help the ‘wee’ man.  I have only one rankling, however, which is this: how many people would lose their jobs in publishing firms,and I don’t mean high powered executives, were OERs to become the norm?  This is not meant as a polemic, just a thought, and I suppose could be countered by the argument, at least in part, that more democratic open educational resources can help people who have traditionally had less access to education.  Is this just utopian thinking?

Learning spaces

This week has been extremely interesting, as always, and now it’s time to catch up on thoughts about learning spaces.

Learning spaces are changing, and will undoubtedly continue to do so.  The traditional classroom-teacher-student paradigm, with teaching in class and set homework, will surely change in many, if not all subjects (certainly in its rigidity).  Teachers will be present not just to teach (in fact some argue whether they(we) should do this at all, but to aid in learning.  Thus individuals’ PLEs will be born/grow.  PLEs, by definition, are personal, so I don’t think there’s a right or wrong model; this is probably very obvious.  Attwell recognises that we do not, and never have, learned only in class.

The reason I say that the PLE will be born, and then grow, is because of my own experience; before this course my PLE was extremely basic.  I relied on books and the internet for my information, which is normal I suppose, but didn’t use BB or any SNS, blogs or wikis for my learning, or organisation of it.  For this reason, my own (new) VLE started by using BB for the first semester, and has grown to include this blog, the emtech course wiki, Google Reader and Twitter, which I haven’t really started to use at all but hope to do so.  One problem with all of this is time management, as when you’re teaching 30 plus hours you have to organise yourself very well in order not to go mad.

I am convinced, however that with an efficient use of my PLE I can use my time to get the most out of my teaching and studying, it’s just a case of adapting my PLE to suit my needs (which will, ironically, take some time).  These points are basically all made by Attwell.

I guess the question of using an LMS or not comes down to the size of the course/institution for one thing.  It is useful, to my mind to use an LMS simpy because it is easier to manage, although personal PLEs can develop around this;as Attwell suggests, they can work together on different layers.  I know people will disagree with this, and that’s what makes it interesting; I may be convinced to change my opinion as I learn more.


Social Networking

It’s been interesting this week, as I’ve got very limited experience using social networks.. in fact prior to joining Twitter this week I didn’t use any of the ‘new’ social networks (Facebook etc.)

I like using email, and value its obvious benefits for contacting people in my circle of friends.  I also use Skype to keep in contact with the same people via chat, online calls and landline calls.  Nothing new there really.

Looking at Twitter I can see the benefits, as pointed out in the slideshow posted by Cormac on the course site.  As James usefully notes here, links to resources can be sent out instantaneously on Twitter which students on the move can receive on their mobile device; man, that sounds old.  My own mobile device can just about send messages and make calls, maybe in the future I’ll be teched up to the max and able to do it on the move myself.

As for Facebook,  I can see the benefits of being able to share your photos with everyone, but that’s about it.  This may be an extremely closed attitude, but I can’t see any real benefit to putting all my information out there for all to see.  From my experience, many people seem to just use it to check out what everyone is doing and pry into others’ business… maybe that’s just me though.  Also, from what I read in Raynes-Goldie and many people don’t have too much regard for their privacy, or respect for that of others.  Might just be that I’m getting old, but I think that Facebook is not for me on a personal level.  I’m open to suggestions as how it can be used for education though… The same goes for the other social networking sites it’s all about learning

I especially liked the link posted by James about managing Twitter on his page (link above), as it could become all-consuming of our time (as many of these things have the power to do).



What strikes me from reading about wikis are two main strands of how they can be used.  The first regards Wikipedia and its uses, while the second regards producing wikis.

I was very interested by how Henry Jenkins talks about using Wikipedia as a method of teaching learners how to find out about different subjects, using Wikipedia as a starting point.  Students can then verify information they found there; this can help them to become more ‘information literate’, understanding that not everything on the internet is true.

I also like the fact that students may take more interest in an activity if they are going to publish it online.

As an aside, Wikipedia has also ‘found out’ a couple of journalists/presenters who didn’t have the info literacy mentioned above, and couldn’t be bothered doing their research, and have cut and pasted false information from Wikipedia;  it’s not just youngsters who have to learn about information literacy.. (see this for example

As for producing wikis, Tim has made some very good points about how to use them in the EFL class.  I have used them for peer correction; this enables students to become more aware of their own errors (grammar/ vocab).


The assertion by Richardson, , that blogging in education is contrived, is a valid one in my opinion, as students like myself (in this particular situation) are indeed writing in the knowledge we’ll be seen by their teacher; however we are also hopefully writing to help organise our thoughts and what we have read.  Further, by reading about others’ experiences in different situations it can help us to think about what is happening in many situations, and indeed what could happen in our own.


Having watched the video at Teachers TV about the use of blogs in educational settings, it struck me that they could be incredibly useful in many ways, but must also be handled with care.  This is probably obvious, as much web 2.0 technology has the advantage/disadvantage of being editable.  I was also interested to read another student on the course saying that the same thing could be done on a traditional DTP.  I’m not too tech savvy, not using too many technologies in my current educational setting, and I’d never have thought of this.  So I’ve learnt something already from another blog!

The first thing that hit home was how youngsters could teach their teachers.  This may frighten some educators, but it is surely a positive thing for these professionals’ development, digital natives showing we immigrants how to do it.

In my own professional context, as an EFL teacher, in an ideal world I could use blogs for students to post pieces of writing on, and students could post positive comments on each others’ posts, making it a more informal way of writing, say, articles for the class.  Problem: some students may be nervous about publishing for all to see, although once they get used to it will probably enjoy it; what’s more, it’s probably oldies like myself who are more apprehensive about others seeing their work.  Furthermore, seeing the work of their peers can often provide stimulus as students can learn from each others’ errors and comments, which they may take better than those of a teacher (as noted in the video, students don’t feel like they’re being judged), although this may also depend on culture among other things., maybe even gain more self confidence.

Homework could also be published on blogs, so parents could see what had to be done.  Paper could be saved, obviously.

All writing skills could be developed, such as producing articles, reviews etc., and as noted in the link proof reading is a very important skill.  It is also something which is often overlooked  by students( and by me too).

The caveat to all of this is that the blog would have to be carefully watched by the teacher in order to make sure content was always appropriate, which is true for most/many web 2.0 technologies I would imagine.  Replacing inappropriate content, I have read is easy, although I haven’t had to do it myself.

Finally, the benefit of having everything on a blog is the fact that it’s all in the one place and easy to find.

I should point out that in my current context I don’t use blogs, and won’t in the foreseeable future, at least not for assignments with classes, as  administering them would, for the time being at least, be a little difficult.