Wednesday, September 27

free SIM cards?

if, like us, you have a lot of mobile devices hanging around for trialling and testing, you will also be familiar with the pain of SIM swapping.

(picture the scene. You have 10 different phones you need to test your new phone game on. Each of the phones need a SIM in them to start up. But since you only lkeep the phones for testing you don't have a contract per phone.)

well, the solution to your problem may be pay-as-you-go, and every now and again the phone providers offer free PAYG sim cards.

now is one of those times: here is a free sim promotion from Orange. I haven't noticed any nasty smallprint, yet.

thanks for the link, Kelly

Thursday, September 21

Great tools for learning about IT

Many of the learners on our m-learning projects started as very unconfident users of PCs.

One of the surprise findings was that involvement in mobile learning was a very solid launch pad into mainstream ICT learning. Mobile learners were building confidence to become ICT learners.

This finding has been confirmed in several LSN reports and papers

But what next? What are the tools you can use to inspire learners, and teach them about the web at the same time?

Here is a list of some great ones. if you live on the web, you see these apps everyday, but if you are only just starting, they are probably exactly what you need to start enjoying your new journey into IT.

Forget the primitive "this-is-the-mouse-and-this-is-a-monitor-and-this-is-the-CPU" genre. This is exactly what a cautious student does NOT need. Rather, get them into photography! Help them publish their holiday snaps. Record a tune.

The list, below, is only a small selection of ideas. I have posted it not with Blogger, but with a Google Notebook. Yet another great tool to help you publish yourself online, simply:

Notebook list of great, FREE, ICT-learning applications

Wednesday, September 13

Lost in translation? Try a podcast!

About six months ago I wrote an article for a becta publication about the future technologies for learning (Full publication available for free from Becta)

In it I quoted an african lady, moved to europe, who created podcasts for her euro-family to teach them her home language. These podcasts were a surprise hit worldwide!

Today I tried to track her down - but she has gone missing. Instead, several other similar sites have sprung up around the world. It seems language learning is alive and well!

To celebrate, here are a couple of sample lessons from the world of free podcast language learning:

Shona (Zimbabwe): "introducing a friend to mum"

  • Mhoro mwanangu. Wakadini? / Hello, my child. How are you?
  • Unobva kupi? / Where do you come from?
  • KuUniversity unodzidza chii? / What do you study at the University?

Shona-2005-07-22nd.mp3 (1.2 mb)
from - an english husband and zimbabwean wife team

Mandarin (China): "preparing for the olympics"

Learn how to vit in when you visit Bejing for the olympics (as if!). In this lesson you find out about “Olympics” and “players” from Jenny and Ken.

chinesepod344_A114_20060910.mp3 (8.3mb) from - a far slicker online tuition site

English for non-native speakers: "2 words a day"

Suffice = be sufficient, be adequate, be enough or meet the needs of.

Sature = to soak something with liquid, to fill something with so many people or things that no more can be added. Supply a market beyond the point at which the demand for a product is satisfied.

JV162.mp3 (2.7 mb) from - a daily double word dose from sunny South Africa


Tuesday, September 12

m-learning in the cleaning sector

We are working with Newham college, running several trials with different work based sectors. We have been getting some great feedback from them, and I have just seen a entertaining little promotional DVD that Newham made showcasing one of the trials with hospital cleaners.

I have uploaded a vastly-compressed version of the video. It is well worth a few minutes of viewing!

If you are interested in getting a higher res copy drop me a comment, and I will point you towards the people who made it.

Feedback from the project thus far looks good. I quote from the project manager:

The experience of the project as it is emerging is that
  1. it is hugely popular with learners
  2. tutors are beginning to trust it to the extent that they are abandoning paper based materials in its favour (assessment)
  3. it is entirely suitable for the small chunks of time tutors have to operate within in the hospital cleaning industry
  4. contextualised and generic sfl and vocational materials have been developed for use at all stages of learning, from engagement through initial assessment, delivery, drill and practice, to practice assessment and preparation for national tests - and this is important so that mlearning can be introduced and continue to be used within the working environment (and as part of a blend of materials).
  5. the specific sectors of the transport and cleaning industries have a clear strategic use for this technology. There is a good fit with national strategies for upskilling staff.
  6. Partners are having no trouble engaging employers - they really see the benefits

Monday, September 11

Good podagogy

If you are on this site, I assume you know what podcasting is, and how it can be used for learning. (if you are unsure, try wikipedia)

the good news: many learning institutions know this, and are starting to use podcasting or it's younger brother "audio-based learning" to extend their reach (albeit slowly).

This blog-post is dedicated to some of the really nice sites that help you know what you need to do to get started:

add some comments if you have other good links to add.

ps: I see more and more schools are starting to invest in mobile resources: in this case ipods!

Friday, September 8

Create-A-Scape: another futurelabs adventure!

Create-A-Scape looks like a great, free set of tips and resources to enable teachers and pupils to create digitally-enhanced, personalised learning experiences.

You use HP’'s Mediascape authoring toolkit to ‘attached a collection of location-sensitive sounds and images to’ the local landscape, and then you discover tham all using mobile technology.

From what I can see, it looks like a really well polished set of tools to get teachers started. Visit the Create-A-Scape website to see for yourself.

Free SMS: "call me back"

The third world has led the way for quite a while, when it comes to creative uses of the most simple phone technologies.

Pay as you Go started there. Sending credits via SMS started there. Using private mobiles as pay phones is common there. But here is yet another great idea, this time from an operator in the Maldives

If you have run out of credit, how about being able to send a free SMS message to your friends, telling them to call you back!

This is one of a few, similar ideas being used by the Dhiragoo network in the Maldives

You know it makes sense

India’s mobile phone users increasing by 1m a week

pipidn.gif More than 1 million people a week are becoming new mobile phone users in India, reports The Business Online.

"According to the Cellular Operators’ Association of India, the number of mobile users in India has topped 110m.

About half of India’s towns and villages now have mobile reception and the Indian Ministry of Communication and Information aims to reach 90% coverage by the end of the year."

more mediaBoard-style action

At the risk of sounding a bit like a stuck record, I still think the apex of creative, constructive, empowering mobile learning with ANY phone is all about sending and sharing media. I tend to go an about the mediaBoard, in this regard, but I only just stumbled on another, game-play variant called the Go Game.

Techologicaly, it is way behind the mediaBoard. But where it scores is in the efforts that have been made to pre-create different adventures and scenarios. The Go team host the game for you, and plan out all the activities (instead of leaving it up to the local teacher).

there is a good, promo video that describes it well, as does the text, below, thanks to

PO05.JPG One of the pioneers of the alternate reality game, The Go Game has provided a cell phone driven, urban adventure game to over 100,000 players since it's first community game in San Francisco's Mission District on December 1st, 2001.

Each team is issued a Superhero lunch box with a cell phone, a digital camera and a map of the game zone inside. Clues are downloaded and solved on the cell phone (which is wireless enabled), providing instant feedback of their performance, speed, rank and time left in the race.

Throughout the game, teams will be solving clever puzzles, finding our secret agents hidden throughout the game zone, and even getting a chance to show off their creativity with photo and video challenges.

These videos and photos are the gems of The Go Game, as they offer a wide variety of creative and hilarious responses which are voted on at the end of the game by all of the players.

Wednesday, September 6

QR Codes anyone?

QR Codes have been around for a while. They are one of several different attempts to improve on barcodes, offering a small image that contains machine readable data.

You may not realise, but your phone could tell you that the one on the right says ""

QR Codes are one of several similar systems to start being used with camera-phones, and this is where it gets interesting to us mobile learners. I can embed a URL, and attach the code to a picture in the museum. If I point my phone at it, I can get taken to a mini-website with more information about that picture.

Or for the tech-savvy businessman - why not include your email or phone number in a QR Code. It will save your contacts typing them in.

But the main reason I am blogging QR Codes, is that Nokia has started shipping the reader as standard in their Japanese phones. And that this format is fast becoming mainstreamed there. Consumers are finding links on supermarket shelves, bus shelters and magazine ads.

So - if it is being taken up by industry, why not at school too?

There are (as always) many different ways to do the same things. Semacode is another variant, and hypertag is a more feature-rich and advertising-friendly approach. But for me the big take-up in Japan is a taste of mainstreaming-to-come.

If you are interested in the specifics, wikipedia has a good summary of QR Codes (of course!)

and hypertag have made a great animation, to show what can happen when your phone starts getting real digital data from the world around you!

for more on the Japan usage, see Mike Love's links on SmartMobs

mobile literacy?

What are the key skills we need our mobile learners need to have?

Have a look at this great starter-list for mobile literacy on the Keitai site.

It feels like the computer-list is quite a bit more complete than the handheld-one, but they are both fantastic starting points

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