October 12, 2006

M-Learning gets Tribal

Tribal is a startup that has at least woken me up after a couple of dreary presentations on how blogs and YouTube are "soooo powerful". At least these guys are honest: the batteries on mobile devices do run down, connecting them together can be a pain.

But, they say, this merely makes us more imaginative in how we exploit the tools. I agree. When I was at MGS I had so few tools I had to be imaginative to get anything out of them - or curl up and let the lack of motivation beat me, and the kids, to a pulp.

They've got me hooked in right from the start: our perception of knowledge is not so much about transmission of knowledge than creation of it. We can find out information in so many outlets now that finding it is really not where the learning is going to come. It's how we exploit it, remix it and share it again that counts.

Bsm Tribal have enjoyed helping educators and learners to find what 'shards' fit best together for them. (I like this idea of shards coming together to make a whole, different shards for different people). Tey ahve created tools and resources that use the learner's own phone, combining paper resources and text message feedback, for example. I'm going to find their free mobile phone trial of the road theory test particularly useful on my own mobile - though I'm not sure if I'm meant to use it while driving.

I also like mediaBoard, a mobile multimedia take on the discussion forum. I'd love to get this for the MFLE. Annelie - c'est possible?

Teachers as creators of mobile media
I like these guys better and better. They've also made some great authoring tools for teachers which will allow them not only to spend their cash on Tribal products but also to make up their own. These guys have got both ends of the personalisation agenda tied up!


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I liked the Tribal site but I think they're missing the big picture. Mobile phones, especially are great tools for allowing students to produce stuff of their own. It means allowing them to produce videos, podcasts, photo shoots with their phones and then editing and publishing it using PCs.

It's not enough just to download a sms quiz. That is just turning their phone into another text book.

Your are, of course, spot on, but what they are doing is adding another tool. I also do like the way we can make up - simply - quizzes for kids' phones. It's doing something now and then that is different, using their media and equipment. These guys weren't about using their stuff and their stuff alone - they were about using all the stuff there is to make as varied an experience as possible.

I have the impression that IT-related companies are constantly trying to sell me something which I could do by myself anyway. In this case I discovered the opera mini browser http://www.opera.com/index.dml which shows existing webpages quite adequately in many cases. I do not have the technical knowledge to judge whether interactive quizzes would work in your mobile phone. In fact I just tried with some quia exercises (in the simulator on the Opera page) and was told that I lacked a Java applet so that one didn't work but maybe others would. Maybe the trick with going mobile is simply to create ordinary webpages with a little adjustment for the mobile screen.

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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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