Monday, February 26

Learning english via SMS

The mlearn2006 effect must be contagious. Athabasca University in Canada hosted the conference last year, and this year they are in the news for a pilot project using mobile learning to teach english grammar on their phones.

Excellent news!Students at the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers are testing mobile learning - downloading an English grammar lesson, then answering a series of multiple choice, or true or false questions.

It is a great subject area, because the learners are often very motivated, and there are ways of supporting language learning via all sorts of media, including podcasts, web, email, skype and of course SMS.

In this case they are doing grammar exercises, working both in and out of their learning center.

The CBS article has some great learner and tutor quotes:

"You're controlling it, which is so nice," said Tracey Woodburn of Athabasca University. "A lot of people have been telling me, 'Oh, I can do this when I am watching my kid's soccer practice or when I am on the bus coming to school.'"

Student Fadieh Al-Kaloti said cellphone learning works well for her.

"You learn where you are — in the bus or in the train or maybe in the plane," she said.

thanks to Andy for the link

mobile assessment?

We have had a lot of interest from schools and HE recently about using mobile quizzes, and mediaBoards for assessment. In fact, I was taken a bit by surprise by the eagerness of different practitioners to assess learner skills - though in hindsight I guess it makes sense.

Assessing learners and learning with technology is both a complex and a rewarding process.

There are many examples of rather crude multiple choice assessments being used as gauges to measure knowledge and understanding. This basic approach has a valid place, but to deal with some of the higher-level knowledge, understanding and "practical-skills" required by many HE and FE learners it is critical to offer a broader range of tools and methodologies, embracing e-evidence as well as multimedia statements from the learners about what they have achieved.

Here are some examples of partners we have been lucky enough to try these ideas out with:

Mobile, multimedia evidence: Leeds Metropolitan University is using the mediaBoard to collect and collate pictures, sounds and texts captured by their phones, while working directly with clients.

Mobile skills assessments: London Foyer association used roaming PDAs configured with our locally installed skills checks to assess the basic skills levels of all residents, across 45 different residences. Each learner logs in, takes a few tests, and logs out. Results were stored locally, and then bulk-uploaded to the online tracking system over the air.

Text message skills checks: We have rolled out contextualised SMS Quizzes to over 150,000 learners across 20 different industries as an "awareness campaign" to get them back into learning

Online skills checks and, if needed, detailed (adaptive) skills assessment: We currently provide this service, accompanied by learning resources, to plug skills gaps for several very large UK-based employers. This scale of assessment requires robust, audited and quality reviewed systems of delivery, tracking and security

so - this blog post was mostly an update on where we are at with "mobile assessment", as well as a chance to mention the various partners we have been working with to try it out.

Thanks all!

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