Tuesday, March 21

Google announces $50m in support to EdTech in the developing world

UNESCO estimates that there are over 130 million students around the world who don’t have basic maths or literacy skills. Google take that even further, estimating that 221 million students in schools are being taught in a language that is foreign to them and 32 million primary school-aged children can’t even reach traditional classrooms because of violent conflict and displacement.

Today, during Mobile Learning Week in Paris, Brigitte Hoyer-Gosselin from Google.org announced a massive $50 million donation towards addressing this gap.

These grants are aimed at three main areas:

  1. getting to students in combat zones, 
  2. providing quality learning materials and 
  3. aiding in teacher development. 
The details are still emerging, but it looks like any EdTech projects by not-for-profit organisations that aim to address these would be in scope.

As Brigitte says: "Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective"

The announcement was today(21 March 2017), and it looks like 9 projects have already been offered funding, with more to follow.

More info on CNN.

Exciting times! Can you, or your business help? Talk to Google.org!

Monday, March 20

EduApp4Syria - 2 awesome, free apps to teach arabic to kids

Check out these 2 prize winning apps aiming to teach refugee kids stuck in a camp with no access to learning.

Antura and the Letters and Feed the Monster were funded by Norad, the Norwegian Development Agency as part of a competition to encourage innovative mobile learning solutions to support Syrian kids in refugee camps.

They are both great apps. If (like me) you don't know any Arabic, see whether Antura or the Monster can help you remember a few basic letters.

Norad have some great promo videos about the apps in action:

The contest conditions are pretty cool. The apps will be released as open source to encourage wider adoption and adaption. In addition, it looks like their is additional funding to iterate, and improve on the versions that hit the public app stores this week.

Thanks, Norad for funding this! You can find out more by searching for eduapps4syria

Monday, March 24

20 Awesome iPad Apps for Primary (K-12)

The best apps for learning and teaching are likely to be those recommended by other teachers, and learners. Today's list comes from TCEA (A Texas association of teachers helping to encourage good uses for technology in the classroom). They have collated their best, mostly free iPad apps for a range of different ages / stages / approaches:

Here are their top recommendations. And there are a lot more than 20!

The shaded ones are free. Use the top links to filter down to different types of apps. Full screen version here

This sheet, and all the info within it provided by the team at TCEA

Friday, February 21

Google Glass - a tool for learning?

Google glass is seriously overhyped at the moment. So much that it is hard to see the wood for the trees, or to separate out the real learning possibilities from the general technical enthusiasm.

That is why I really enjoyed David Kelly's presentation at Learning Technologies this year. He has been wearing them for a while, and gives a really grounded assessment of the ways that glass can empower work-based learning, as well as explaining several of the downsides.

It was a great session. Click the button, below, to see a recording of it. What do you think?

(If you are not seeing a button, try clicking this link instead)

Tuesday, January 28

Future of Mobile Learning - an interview with Geoff Stead

What's the future of mobile learning? Which trends should we be watching, and which ones are nonsense? What about NFC / iBeacons / Geofencing? How to get started with m-learning?

I recently did an interview with Learnnovators, an energetic and enthusiastic learning tech company in Chennai, where they asked me these, and similar questions. Here are a couple of extracts, or check out the full interview on elearningindustry.com
Q: We see a lot of promise in capabilities such as Mobile Augmented Reality, Near Field Communication (NFC), and QR Codes holding for ‘contextual mobile learning’. What are your thoughts?
Mobile Learning can offer 2 very different things:
1) mobile, and flexible access to learning you were doing before: (like e-learning, looking up information, phone calls, etc.)
2) new ways to learn, very often connected with your context. The ability to find out critical information at the precise moment of need
These new ways to learn start getting really exciting when you add contextual information. Where is the learner? What are they doing? What do they need information about? This bringing together of Real and Digital is really empowering, but needs some form of connector to join the two together. The technologies you mentioned are all ways to do that (NFC / AR / QR-Codes / iBeacons / Image Reco / GPS, etc, etc.).
I am excited by connecting Real and Digital, not for the technologies themselves, but for learning possibilities they offer us!

Q: How will smart phone capabilities such as Geo-location and Geo-fencing evolve further to power up Predictive Personalization? How do you think learning will benefit from this feature?
This is another example of connecting Real world to Digital / Virtual. Geo-fencing lets you define a physical area (using GPS, or similar) that can act as a trigger on your phone, when you enter that zone. Qualcomm develops an open source toolkit called Gimbal that lets you extend these to inside a building too.
To test this out in a meaningful activity, we used Gimbal to create a mobile tour guide, adding contextually relevant information into our Qualcomm Museum.
We placed small Bluetooth LE beacons (similar to iBeacon) around the museum, and developed an app that allows visitors to get extra information on their phones as they walk around the exhibits. The response has been awesome and we are now talking to several public museums who want the same thing. This may feel futuristic, but the cool thing is that the technologies are all already there (and cheap!)
See worklearnmobile.org/articles/mobile-museum-tours-apps-and-indoor-positioning for more details.

Q: As we know, m-learning is not e-learning on a mobile device. Learning designers who have been masters in designing e-learning interventions for years are facing a major challenge with transitioning to mobile. What would be your advice to help them to detach from the traditional mindset and relearn new strategies?
I’d say “Break it up!” and “Hand over more Give up some control”.
Break up longer courses into shorter interventions, and recognize that you need to hand over navigational control to the learner. One of the skills in creating e-learning courses was the story-telling dimension. This changes with mobile. You can no longer control the narrative in the same way. Learners have less time, and may want to jump straight to chapter 3. This needs to be supported, and woven into the narrative.
There still is a space for mobile versions of e-learning, but it is dying out fast, as mobile learners discover more effective ways to find out what they need to learn.

Q: What would be your advice to organizations who wish to integrate mobile learning with their e-learning strategy to improve productivity?
  • Just do it! Start small, iterate and evaluate.
  • Don’t be constrained by how you currently use PCs. Rather start from what mobile does best, and think how that could benefit your employees.
  • Work with your IT team to make sure you get the optimum balance between security and openness.
  • Look up to the leaders in your sector: High performing organizations are twice as likely to be doing mobile learning already. Learn from them.
My team at Qualcomm are sharing what we learn on at WorkLearnMobile.org

Do you agree? What are your thoughts? (see the full interview on learnnovators and  elearningindustry.com)

Thursday, October 24

Top mobile apps for presenting

We all know that mobile can be very effective in a classroom as a tool to "do stuff". Here is a fantastic round up of all the best apps, and websites that your students can use to record, show and tell what they have done.
Even if you think you know it all - I guarantee you'll get a few new ideas by the time you finish reading this infographic!

How are you planning on using this?
Thanks to Tony Vincent at learninginhand for the excellent round up!

Thursday, October 17

Youth, Work, Mobiles and Poverty: everything you need to know

Across the world, kids are our future. They are also unemployed, under-resourced, and working hard to put things rightmywd-report-document

If you are interested in youth workforce development, and the empowering opportunities of mobile, I'd encourage you to look at the brand new Mobiles for Youth Workforce Development (mYWD) Landscape Review. It's a meaty read, but contains an excellent summary of most of the current, significant initiatives in mobile development, targeting youth employment across the globe

To quote from their overview:

Youth make up 17 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of the world’s unemployed, according to the International Labor Organization. A number of factors combine to make sustainable, decent employment an enormous challenge for youth the world over, including low levels of education and technical skills, slow job growth, lack of information about available jobs, and difficulties accessing financial capital to start small enterprises. Decent jobs are especially difficult to find for rural youth, girls and women, and youth with disabilities.

In addition to the growth in youth unemployment, access to and use of mobile technologies among youth worldwide is also expanding. This has created excitement about the potential of mobile devices to catalyze new approaches that address some of the constraints keeping youth from finding and sustaining decent livelihoods. Documentation and evidence of impact in the broad field of mobile technology and youth workforce development (mYWD) is lacking, however, meaning that it has been difficult to identify where mobile technology and youth workforce development initiatives overlap and where mobile may have the greatest added value.


After a year of hard work, we’ve launched the mEducation Alliance’sMobiles for Youth Workforce Development (mYWD) Landscape Review, an effort supported by The MasterCard Foundation and USAID. The review maps out who is doing what and where, and to the extent possible, discusses evidence of what is working. The body of the report answers questions such as:

  • What organizations and programs are using mobiles to help overcome the barriers to employment for youth?
  • What type of programming has been implemented and how?
  • Where do prime opportunities exist for integrating mobile devices into youth workforce development programs?
  • What are relevant considerations related to gender and disability in mYWD programming?
  • What factors facilitate or hinder mYWD in specific contexts?
  • Are there any research findings that show the impact of mobiles on youth workforce development?


If that isn't enough, there is a thorough annexe at the end, listing 80 initiatives and over 275 publicly available documents that have fed into this review

Well worth a read. You can get the review here: http://www.meducationalliance.org/sites/default/files/mywd_landscape_review_final2013.pdf



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