August 27, 2006

Making Musselburgh Mobile

  My new classroom! 
  Originally uploaded by OllieBray.

Tomorrow I'll be heading over to see Ollie at Musselburgh Grammar to talk over a plan to get the school using the power of the 1400 mobile phones brought in every day. I'm very much a novice of the mobile in the classroom and have put together some my basic thoughts on the MFLE for languages teachers as well as my slightly more futurologue ideas on QR codes (coming soon enough, though!). Come October I hope to add to my knowledge - and what we're able to do in Musselburgh - after attending the Handheld Learning conference. Ollie himself has made use of the GPRS connection on a triband phone when he went Absent With Leave a ouple of years back to Alaska, feeding back meteorological news to his classes as he climbed the peak (the picture is from quieter times this summer). Musselburgh will present other, perhaps just as adventurous challenges!

In the meantime, what uses of mobiles have worked for you in the classroom? What things have not worked, too - any pitfalls we should look out for? Even if you've not done something in your classroom I'd love to hear your words of warning or encouragement. In return, Ollie and I will let you know how we get on.

Update 1: More moblogging goodness this time from David's lecture hall.

Update 2: Pre-meeting notes on possible ways of trialling mobile phone use in Musselburgh; just click the link below

Musselburgh Mobile Project

Possible plans of action

One class:

  • Letter to parents explaining trial:
    • Reasons for trying this out (make use of all technology, motivate, better organisation, better understanding of how to make use of home technology.
    • Lack of phone not important; sharing of phones not ruled out; paper-based/traditional means always open
    • No cost to students
    • Awareness of staff participating in project
    • Support for new projects
  • Session with students explaining trial and exploring uses:
    • Reasons for trying this out
    • Responsibility that they have
    • Responsibility that the teachers have (to others’ safety and privacy)
    • Examples of malpractice
    • Examples of good practice
    • Principle of using all available technology
    • Principle of best tool for the job

Limited range of teachers:

  • Session with teachers explaining trial and exploring uses:
    • Reasons for trying this out
    • Responsibility that they have
    • Responsibility that the students have (they have been ‘trained’)
    • Examples of malpractice
    • Examples of good practice
    • Principle of using all available technology
    • Principle of best tool for the job
    • Continuity (one term)
    • Feedback (blog, paper questionnaire, online surveymonkey questionnaire, F2F?)

Limited uses:
Only free uses:

  • Calculator
  • Stop clock for paced tasks
  • Stills Camera (and Bluetooth) for evidence of progress in work (learning log) and for digital storytelling project
  • Motion Camera (and Bluetooth) for digital video project
  • Diary (homework diary: do we keep paper, too or does this defeat the purpose?)
  • Alarm clock (time for breakfast, healthy eating…)
  • Notes (limited space for limited prompting during speaking)
  • Voice record (record, review, improve; record teacher explanations)

Guaranteeing conformity of use. Possible scenarios:
•    Nervous teachers:
All teacher can do the same things (lowest common denominator)
•    Nervous teachers:
Menu of acceptable use in each classroom, but this is inconsistent and will lead to behavioural issues
•    Enthusiastic teachers:
Limit use of other functions by displaying acceptable use policy

Addressing safety and security:
•    Signing of mobile AUP by teachers, students and parents.
•    Respect the wishes of teachers and students – no task undertaken unless it relates to the work in hand.
•    Publishing images or sounds of a teacher or student on the web without their prior written permission not allowed – would lead to disciplinary action.
•    Participating students carry special mobile photo-ID card
•    No calling or texting allowed at any time. No answering of calls allowed
•    Phones set to silent mode all the time.


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Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow! Ollie

Macu Sanchez at Trinity, Dublin has done some cool stuff using handhelds with cameras linked to her college wireless network. 'Roving teams' went out to spot and 'grab' images and sounds which were fed back to an edit team working at a desktop. Used skype to communicate as the story built. The whle thing was then stitched together using a video editing package.

Great to hear from you again, Conor. Hope you had a good summer. I think I remember seeing this - or something similar - at one of your eTwinning talks. Would that be right? It's good to be reminded, though, as I might have forgotten it. Thanks. Any more ideas out there?

Simple use is using them as a stopwatch.

S3 are going to be learning (again!) aller next period, so wondered if they could record it as we chant to listen to again at home.

Hello Ewan

Thanks for the link to my recent post. I'm still trying to get my head round some of the implications. For example, I noticed one of your bullet points is: "No cost to students". That one did worry me a bit. I'm not sure how much it costs to send an email with a photo attachment but more than a text for sure. While I don't have a problem about asking my students to send photos (they are grown ups and it was optional) there are issues about getting pupils to do it - specifically who pays and how?

I was also interested in another bullet point near the end: "No calling or texting allowed at any time. No answering of calls allowed" What, never ever? What if the teacher was sending the text, could they read that? What if the task set by the teacher involved calling, texting or answering (e.g. Ollie's mobile field work) is that banned too? I wonder if that point could be modified to allow for uses under certain pre-defined conditions?

Just another thought re homework diaries - in THS we sign pupil planners every week to check homework recorded,time taken etc and parents are expected to do the same. I would imagine that in bigger schools there are planner checks, which may not be possible on a mobile?

Recording of the verb "aller" seemed to go well - real test will come on Wednesday!

Some good points here from you guys. To answer David's point:

The reason we are working on a strict no-cost basis is simply to get a trial off the ground quickly and without too much hassle. One of the main arguments against mobile use has been cost, so we get rid of it this way.

As such, calling and texting are not included in our trial. We are not wanting to look at these yet - they may form part of a future, more developed trial. But delimiting what we do is important to us working out which parts of mobile phone use are helpful.

Finally, we will be working with senior students. Homework diary checks do take place at home and in school but with this group we are looking at what happens when the device does the checking and reminding for us - does it remove the need for human checking? It might not, but we need to see. Normally, checking is retrospective - why haven't you done - rather than proactive - remember you've got. So the mobile might provide a more positive way for students to consider their time-keeping.

Yet another bit of the phone I haven't learned how to use - the diary and reminder, it's a thought though.

Looks like a great plan Ewan,best of luck (I have trouble making a phone call, age I guess)
I saw a great example in finland (I have not got a link or ref) where some of the class did a field trip and sent photos back to school to be organised etc by others in class. They had some sort of software that the devices sent to automatically, but now flickr, comments and notes might be better. An idea I liked was they used big bit of paper to write on, photograph and send back too, but maybe your guys can text faster.

  • Examples of malpractice
  • Examples of good practice
might be better the other way round;-)

Oooh, it's the old chestnut. My music instructor always said to save the best to last, as that was what people remember. That said, starting negatively might set them off on the wrong route (yes, I do remember Masterclass 2.0!!! ;-)

What would the others do?

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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