Wednesday, December 10

Which book changed your life?

Mobile learning works for lots of reasons.

  • It might work for you because you can learn where you want.
  • It might work for me because my phone is the only connection I have to the internet, and my classmates.
  • It works for some of our excluded learners because it reaches them, and (if we are lucky), is part of their "ah-ha!" moment.

I love stories of those "ah-ha!" moments. The sudden thing that turned on a light for a learner who had stopped engaging in their learning. Several years ago we made an adult numeracy product (the numbers disc) that had an entire section dedicated to learner stories. Collecting them was a real inspiration.

Today I found a great one. It was nothing to do with "mobile", but all to do with "learning". I stumbled on it on one of the OU discussion forums asking which book changed your life.

'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' by Gibbon. I was 21, on state benefits, with a baby and a toddler. I kept renewing the library book in the hope that one day I might finish it.

On about the 8th renewal the librarian asked me if I had ever considered studying with the Open University. He gave me a leaflet with the contact details.

I graduated BSc Hons 2.1 nine years later.

I will always be grateful to that kind librarian. 'Decline and Fall' changed my life.


Is that inspiring, or what!

Friday, December 5

Teddies and telephones in space

It is a "proud dad" moment. teddies5_sm

My daughter has been working on a science project to send 4 teddy bears into space.

They launched successfully a few days ago, and this morning almost every newspaper in the UK today is reporting on it (with all the predictable puns):

  • Teddies Boldly Go Where No Bear Has Gone Before
  • A giant leap for bear-kind (sun)
  • Space bears are teddy for lift-off (metro)
  • Giant step for teddies as Britain rejoins space race (times)
  • British teddy bears are out of this world
  • Ground control to major Ted (guardian)

She and her friends are justifiably glowing with pride - her bear, called MAT, is pictured on the left

The teddies went up with a helium balloon, got to an altitude of over 30 km, (temperature below -50 C) and landed safely on the coast after 2 hours of flight.

They travelled in style, connected to Nova 9 (the "mothership") built by CUSpaceflight - a group of Cambridge University students inspired by low-budget space flight. Spaceship2

On board was a few cameras, a super lightweight computer and GPS chip to track it, a radio to report back to the team on the ground ... and ... in case of emergencies ... a mobile phone!

Any teenager could tell you that in case of emergencies, you need to be able to send a text message to someone to pick you up. Nova 9 was no different.

The project was part of an outreach by CUSPaceflight, and the kids - science clubs from two local schools - were experimenting with different insulation and protective layers and clothing for their bears, to keep them from freezing solid.

Find out more by Googling Teddies in space or pick a couple of these links: flight

Local TV news

Press releases

Photos and more

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