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Editors: E. Canessa M. Zennaro



A Collection of Essays

Mobile Science & Learning

For more information about this book visit: Editors: Enrique Canessa and Marco Zennaro Publisher ICTP—The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics 2012 ICTP Science Dissemination Unit, e-mail:

Printing history: June 2012, First Edition ISBN 92-95003-47-0

Disclaimer The editors and publisher have taken due care in preparation of this book, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the use of the information contained herein. Links to websites imply neither responsibility for, nor approval of, the information contained in those other web sites on the part of ICTP. No intellectual property rights are transferred to ICTP via this book, and the authors/readers will be free to use the given material for educational purposes. The ICTP will not transfer rights to other organizations, nor will it be used for any commercial purposes. ICTP is not to endorse or sponsor any particular commercial product, service or activity mentioned in this book.

product, service or activity mentioned in this book. This book is released under the Creative Commons
product, service or activity mentioned in this book. This book is released under the Creative Commons

This book is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- NoDerivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For more details regarding your rights to use and redistribute this work, see


Contents Introduction   Book Overview ! 3 Enrique Canessa 4G Technologies for Education and Science !



Book Overview!


Enrique Canessa

4G Technologies for Education and Science !


Marco Zennaro



UNESCO Science Education !


Imteyaz Khodabux

Upwardly Mobile !


Fernando Quevedo

mSense – A low cost mobile application for disabled people to make call, send text messages and to control appliances using Brain Mobile Interfacing!


Kiran Trivedi

A Mobile Science Index for Development !


Enrique Canessa, Marco Zennaro


m-Learning in Classrooms and Research !


Roger Les Cottrell

Collaborative m-Learning Applications !


Permanand Mohan

m-Learning, e-Learning and Learning: Some Comments !


Donald Clark

Can you graduate from MIT by using iTunes U?!


Enrica Salvatori

Atmosphere Design for Mobile Interaction!


Antonella Varesano Barbara Rita Barricelli, Stefano Valtolina

Mobile Access To Knowledge !


Marta Pucciarelli, Lorenzo Cantoni

Designing an m-Learning Application !


Permanand Mohan

m-Learning for Languages !


Pankaj Nathani

Teaching Physics with the iPad !


Carlo Fonda

About this Book

This book is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivative Works 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share, i.e., copy, distribute and transmit this work under the following conditions:

Attribution: you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor;

Noncommercial: you may not use this work for commercial purposes;

NoDerivative Works: you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

See for more information about these terms.


This book was prepared for the ICTP Workshop on “Scientific Mobile Learning” held in Trieste, Italy in 2012, organized by the Science Dissemination Unit (SDU).


Enrique Canessa is a PhD Physicist working as Coordinator of ICTP-SDU. His main areas of research are in the fields of Condensed Matter and scientific software applications, with particular focus on disseminating science to and within Developing Countries using open source and rich-media technologies.

Marco Zennaro received his Engineering degree in Electronics from the University of Trieste, Italy and his PhD from KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. He is currently working at ICTP in projects involving wireless sensor networks, multimedia and Open Access. His research interests are also on Information and Communication Technologies for development.


Development and publication of this book have been made possible with funding support from The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy.

Special Thanks

Our sincere thanks go to the many authors of the Mobile Science & Learning contributions written for the book. We have given proper attribution to the author(s) of each section and/or chapter included in this work. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution and support of Professor Fernando Quevedo (Director), Ms. Patricia Wardell, Mr. Carlo Fonda, Mr. Raffaele Corona and Mr. Vincenzo Maroth from ICTP and everyone else who has made this project possible.

Corona and Mr. Vincenzo Maroth from ICTP and everyone else who has made this project possible.
Corona and Mr. Vincenzo Maroth from ICTP and everyone else who has made this project possible.
Corona and Mr. Vincenzo Maroth from ICTP and everyone else who has made this project possible.

Science Dissemination Unit


Book Overview

Enrique Canessa ICTP Science Dissemination Unit, Trieste, Italy

Mobile applications offer tremendous benefits and opportunities to academic research and education, and to society as a whole, especially in less developed areas where mobile phones are the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users than in the industrialized world. The number of mobile phone accounts worldwide is to date nearly six billion. As discussed in the book, the modern day mobile phones perform almost all the functions of a high end desktop computer, have an easy to use interface (with cutting edge technologies like touch, voice and gesture input) and improved access of being usable anywhere, anytime. Today, almost every one carries a mobile phone and the concept of m-Learning, modernly described as "learning on the move", makes the mobile phone an effective educational tool. With higher penetration of mobile phones, the opportunities to access learning resources have increased multifold.

to access learning resources have increased multifold. Mobile learning or m-Learning, allows to freeing education

Mobile learning or m-Learning, allows to freeing education from a place or a specific time.

Today we can build our own learning path! It is not necessary to follow a single teacher’s course, but it’s possible -for passionate and eager to learn persons- to compare different methods of teaching, to draw on multiple sources from different parts of the world, to expand one’s own learning environment and to enlarge dramatically one’s knowledge and point of view on science. We can follow from home and almost for free who teaches best (in science and other fields) and not one but many. We can skim all useless for our purposes, deepen the useful and well done, try to do, although not enrolled, tasks and readings, normally published in the syllabus, contact the teacher for advice, etc.

Mobile science (m-Science) on the other hand, is becoming an state-of-the-art discipline because of unprecedented technological developments being done in the field of Information and Communications Technologies. m-Science as such comprises three main subjects of interest with a great impact on the society: Sensing, Computing and Dissemination of scientific knowledge by the use of mobile devices. These, in turn, incorporate:

mobile data gathering by the use of sensors and mobiles, the analysis and process of mobile data (by mobile devices too) and the access to on-line services and applications directed to support scientists and scholars (with mobile access to e-Journals, podcasts, web lectures and webinars, social networks, conferences, m-Learning, etc.).

This book is a collection of essays on mobile science and mobile learning, written by experts, relating experiences from academia and discussing the implementation of research projects using mobile technologies of particular interest to developing countries. The goal of this book is to create awareness and discuss how mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and netbooks can be used for educational purposes and carry out scientific research of excellence. It is our pleasure as authors and editors to offer this new book for free to the whole interconnected community of scholars that use mobile devices to access science and education.


There are also complementary series, reviews, etc on the subject of m-Learning that we can suggest to the

reader with examples on the way mobile technologies are providing professional development opportunities:

• UNESCO Working Paper Series on Mobile Learning

• The Mobile Learning infoKit (JISC)

• Mobile Learning Toolkit by J. Parker

4G Technologies for Education and Science

Marco Zennaro ICTP Science Dissemination Unit, Trieste, Italy

The “m” in m-Learning can be interpreted in several ways. It can be considered as spatial mobility, where the learner moves geographically (e.g., learning in the park). In can be considered temporally, where the student learns at different times during the day (e.g., learning in the evening). It can be considered contextually, depending on the environment where learning takes place (e.g., learning at work vs on the bus). How will 4G, the fourth generation mobile communications standard, affect these three aspects of m-Learning (spatial, temporal, contextual)? This is discussed next.

The incredible growth of Mobile Communications

The growth of mobile phone subscriptions in the last few years has been tremendous.

With 5.9 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions, global penetration reaches 87%, and 79% in the developing world 1 .

p h o n e s h ave

impacted the way people

access the Internet. Mobile- broadband subscriptions have grown 45% annually over the last four years and today there are twice as many mobile-broadband as

b r o a d b a n d

M o b i l e

as many mobile-broadband as b r o a d b a n d M o b

fi x e d

subscriptions. This means that people use the Internet on the move more than they do at home.

Researchers state that never a technology has reached saturation so quickly, especially among those with "last mile" problems—bringing electricity cables or telephone wire to individual homes 2 . It took almost a century for landline phones to reach saturation, or the point at which new demand falls off. Mobile phones achieved saturation in just 20 years. Smartphones will halve that rate yet again, and tablets could move still faster, setting consecutive records for speed to market saturation.

What is 4G?

4G is a successor of the third generation (3G) standard which is available right now. A 4G system provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access, for example to laptops with USB wireless modems, to smartphones, and to other mobile devices. Applications of 4G include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing and 3D television.

Two 4G candidate systems are commercially deployed: the Mobile WiMAX and the Long term evolution (LTE). LTE is gaining a lot of attention and is the mobile network technology being deployed by mobile operators on both the GSM and the CDMA technology paths. Depending on the spectrum available, LTE networks can deliver very fast data speeds of up to 100Mbps in the downlink and 50Mbps in the uplink. LTE’s compatibility with existing GSM and HSPA networks enables mobile operators to continue to provide a seamless service across LTE and existing deployed networks. LTE networks have now been launched by mobile operators worldwide.

LTE-Advanced is designed to enable a further step change in data rates. Allowing multiple carriers to be bonded together into a single stream, LTE-Advanced’s target is to achieve peak data rates of 1Gbps. In March 2008, the International Telecommunications Union — Radio Communications Sector (ITU-R) specified a set of requirements for 4G standards, named the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) specification 3 , setting peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).

4G and Africa

Internet user penetration in Africa grew over 20-fold in the decade to 2010, from 0.5% to 10.8%, according to the ITU. At the same time, according to a survey by industry body GSMA, Africa is the fastest-growing mobile phone market and will be home to 738 million handsets by the end of 2012.

The advance of 4G will be critical in Africa, where personal computers are still rare and most Internet access is via mobile phones. The rise of 3G has given millions of Africans Internet access for the first time. The World Bank estimates that in Africa a 10 percent rise in broadband penetration is linked to a 1.3 percent increase in economic growth.

While Africa's mobile infrastructure lags well behind more developed markets, the continent's biggest players are already testing 4G. With some basic smartphones now selling for as little as $50, operators see fast connections as the main edge in the race to tap increasingly tech-savvy users.

Telecoms research firm Informa sees at least six African markets migrating to LTE for the first time in 2012, along with 39 other countries globally. For example, Globacom, the second largest operator in Nigeria promoted enterprise-centered trial commercial services in LAGOS, and declared Globacom as the first LTE provider in Africa. Vodacom of South Africa conducted two LTE testing in 2010, actualizing the peak rate at 120Mbps, and promised the LTE commercialization in 2011. Safaricom of Kenya also began its LTE testing. Namibia’s Mobile Telecommunications Limited launched the LTE technology in the country’s capital city, Windhoek, making it the second in Africa after Zambia’s AfriConnect which launched the technology earlier this year.

Windhoek, making it the second in Africa after Zambia’s AfriConnect which launched the technology earlier this

4G and m-Learning

According to Cisco 4 , Internet video was 40 percent of consumer Internet traffic in 2010

and will reach 50 percent by year-end 2012. Video-on-demand traffic will triple by 2015. The

amount of VoD traffic in 2015 will be equivalent to 3 billion DVDs per month and by 2015,

high-definition Internet video will comprise 77 percent of VoD.

The download speed offered by 4G, which is more than double the one of current 3G

technology, will open new opportunities in education and science research. Learners on the

move will benefit from the availability of the huge amount of educational videos available on

the network, given the download speeds. It will be possible to interact with students via

video connection, in different contexts and at different times of the day. What can be done

right now using high speed wired networks in Universities, will be available on mobile

devices to students worldwide. William Gibson’s quote “The future is already here — it's just

not very evenly distributed.” is not valid anymore. The future is more evenly distributed now

than ever.

2 Technology Review: Are Smart Phones Spreading Faster than Any Technology in Human History?,

3 ITU global standard for international mobile telecommunications ´IMT-Advanced´, http://

4 Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2010-2015


UNESCO Science Education

Imteyaz Khodabux Science education, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO, Paris

The steady decline of enrollment of young people in science is cause for concern, and it is in this endeavor that UNESCO's work in Science Education aims to make a difference. In a

world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology, UNESCO recognizes this and has made it its mission to not only spread education but to make an interest in the Sciences a prominent and lasting feature wherever it is offered. Through different methods, we push for updating curricula where needed, offering hands-on workshops, providing kits and guidebooks free of charge, training teachers and students alike, and finally helping Member

States ensure that a sound basis in Science is not a just privilege.

UNESCO lists Women and Africa as priority areas for development, thus Science Education aims not only to generate a more science-oriented youth, but places particular emphasis on the education of girls and shows role models to inspire young girls and women to enroll in the sciences. It also hopes to have a positive impact on economic and social

development by influencing teachers and curriculum planners

Microscience kits, for example, provide a hands-on approach to teaching young students. Supplementary guide books and textbooks are made available free of charge for teachers and students. Working hand-in-hand with the UNESCO mandate on Science, Science Education applies its capacities in a wide variety of sectors, as our projects show.

From the 'World Library of Science' interface to 'Girls into Science', these modules are trailblazing techniques that ensure UNESCO's vision regarding Education is executed. Science Education can be seen as a practical approach to UNESCO's philosophy. UNESCO Science Education Unit brings science to less advantaged areas of the world, while abolishing gender stereotypes.

UNESCO promotes the following projects:

The UNESCO Global Microscience Experiments Project is a hands-on science

education project that gives primary and secondary school students as well as university

students the opportunity to conduct practical work in physics, chemistry and biology,

using kits that come with booklets (UNESCO teaching and learning materials)

describing scientific experiments.

Girls into Science, A training module: This training module addresses the under- representation and under-achievement of girls in science and technology subjects.

The World Library of Science (WLoS) UNESCO, through its function to reinforce capacity building in the sciences and strengthen science education worldwide, and Nature Publishing Group, publisher of Nature, Scientific American, and 70 other leading science journals, have joined

together to create a definitive, open, high quality, globally accessible, on-line learning resource in the life and physical sciences for secondary-level and university-level students. The World Library of Science is

intended to be a transformative event in the world science education landscape, by creating a common ground of current, research-oriented, vetted information and curriculum across all countries. The Library will contain 2500-3000 learning modules in all concepts of life and

physical sciences, arranged into standard

c u r r i c u l a


sciences, arranged into standard c u r r i c u l a l b u

b u t

c a p a b l e

o f

f u


customization by all institutions; and a robust web-based and mobile-based delivery system providing access to materials, tutors, and academic information to any faculty or student with basic connectivity.

UNESCO-Intel partnership for teaching science through free professional development, tools, and resources that help K-12 teachers engage students with effective use of technology and encourage students' interest and participation.

International Travelling Exhibition in Mathematical Sciences (Experiencing Mathematics) This hands-on Mathematics exhibition has been developed by UNESCO and the French organization Centre Sciences, following the World Mathematical Year 2000, with the support of several mathematical organizations, among them the International

Mathematics Union (IMU) and its commission for education (ICMI). Since 2005, the Mathematics exhibition has already been presented successfully in more than 90 cities of 32 different countries in Southern and West Africa, China and East Asia, Latin America, Russia and Western Europe. It has attracted near to 1,200,000 visitors, of whom about 70% were young visitors, and more than 20,000 teachers.

70% were young visitors, and more than 20,000 teachers . The mathematics exhibition is a dynamic,

The mathematics exhibition is a dynamic, hands-on educative tool based on active learning methodology translated in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, where all the experiments are conceived so that teachers will be able to use them in their classrooms.

Engineering UNESCO collaborates with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, (IEEE), which is the world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity in the:

(a) Teacher In-Service Program (TISP) which provides a forum for IEEE volunteers to demonstrate the application of engineering, science and mathematics concepts by sharing their real-world experiences with local pre-university educators. (b)The IEEE Student-Teacher and Research Engineer/Scientist (STAR) Program was developed to address the growing concern that, at a young age, girls are discouraged from careers in mathematics, science, and engineering. This educational outreach program promotes involvement of IEEE members with local junior high and high schools in order to create a positive image of engineering

careers. Through a one-to-one interaction between society volunteers and a Student-Teacher Team, STAR's aim is to create a technical support network for teachers and a mentoring program for students.

Active learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) UNESCO works to ensure that the physics education goals adopted in 2005 at the World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development are achieved. The Organization’s mission to enable youth scientifically is clearly mirrored in the Active Learning in Optics and Photonics workshop (ALOP). An estimated 1.9 million more teachers will be needed in classrooms by 2015. Moreover, with the 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report calling for "strengthening of the learning environment by providing highly skilled teachers" this program aims to provide the solution. Tackling the problem at its source, ALOP trains educators with hopes that it will enable them to develop professionally and pass on their skills to the youth. Holding workshops in 45 countries (15 in Africa) and follow-up workshops in Argentina, Tunisia, Nepal and Peru, ALOP disseminates a technical introduction to the field of photonics and optics. These workshops feature a number of theoretical modules as well as hands-on application set up with low-cost materials. Experienced university professors shared their thoughts on overseeing such classes and difficulties encountered.

Upwardly Mobile

Fernando Quevedo The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy

In recent decades science has made steady gains in the developing world. Large, emerging developing countries such as Brazil, China and India are now home to institutes and scientists of growing international prestige, thanks in part to healthy economies that have allowed them to increase investment in research and development, and also to long-term support they have received from international organisations that has helped them to form the base of their research infrastructure and development.

Technology is another key factor behind the huge strides being made by the developing world -and indeed everywhere- in science. Thanks to increasingly cheaper and easier access to the internet, for instance, scientific collaboration has never been easier, with access to international colleagues or data just a mouse click away. With billions of mobile phone subscribers around the world accessing the internet on the go (outpacing fixed line internet users), the technology trend now is focused on innovative uses of cell phones and other mobile devices to perform tasks traditionally assigned to desktop computers.

For international organisations that are focused on sustainable development, this trend is important. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), about 70% of mobile phone users live in developing countries, making the devices the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users there than in the

developed world. Cell phone usage in Africa is growing almost twice as fast as in any other region, jumping from 63 million users to 152 million in just two years.

as fast as in any other region, jumping from 63 million users to 152 million in

© The Tenth Dragon

What does this mean for science, especially in developing countries?

Because the majority of new generation phones can access the web, mobile technology can be used in powerful new ways to carry out scientific research. Indeed, the process of sensing, computing and disseminating scientific knowledge by the use of mobile devices now has its own name: mobile science, or "m- Science".

has its own name: mobile science, or "m- Science" . © David Dennis m-Science is becoming

© David Dennis

m-Science is becoming a state-of-the-art discipline as a result of unprecedented technological developments in the field of information and communications. It incorporates:

Mobile data gathering by the use of sensors and mobiles;

The analysis and process of mobile data (also by mobile devices);

The access to on-line services and applications directed to nurture scientists and scholars (such as mobile access to e-journals, podcasts, web lectures and webinars, virtual conferences, mobile collaboration tools, m-Learning, etc).

conferences, mobile collaboration tools, m-Learning, etc). Earhquake Monitoring Centre, Plymouth, Adelaide, Australia:

Earhquake Monitoring Centre, Plymouth, Adelaide, Australia:

mobile technology is increasingly being used in remote and isolated places to gather scientific data that would be impossible to retrieve by other means – © Chris Betcher

Mobile phones are, for instance, being used in remote and isolated places to gather scientific data that would be impossible to retrieve by other means. Scientists, acting alone or in groups, are starting to use mobile devices and web- based mobile applications to systematically explore interesting scientific aspects of their surroundings, ranging from climate change to earthquake monitoring worldwide. By attaching sensors to GPS- enabled cell phones, it is possible to gather

the raw data necessary to begin to understand how, for example, urban air pollution impacts both individuals and communities.

The wide availability of cellular telephones equipped with cameras opens many other opportunities for inexpensive, portable, photometric measurements suitable for educational purposes. Spectrophotometry can make more sense to students around the world when they can see light change intensity when passed through a sample rather than just seeing equations, sketches or the output of a computer screen or meter. These interactive learning experiences foster students' interest in science from a young age, and encourage them to pursue further studies.

All of these advantages point to the possibility of building the largest scientific instrument ever made, consisting of millions or billions of sensors (attached in some cases to mobiles), aggregating data on an unprecedented scale. This instrument could operate on a truly societal level, reaching across economic, social, geographic and political boundaries, illuminating how our environment affects us, and how we affect our environment. Supercomputing on a cell phone using this vast source of data could also become a reality.

using this vast source of data could also become a reality. GPS-enabled cell phones can play

GPS-enabled cell phones can play a pivotal role in the study of urban air pollution – © Avlxyz

Mobile devices are as important to disseminating information as they are to collecting it, and increased access to the internet is bringing new educational opportunities to an expanded audience. Throughout the developed world, many institutions devoted to higher education are making their lectures available to the wider public through on-line platforms. These collections often include videos of seasoned lecturers discussing core concepts, and aim to give the viewer as authentic a classroom experience as possible. Soon, anyone with a mobile device, no matter what continent they live on, will have access to a solid curriculum of post-secondary level science-related courses.

m-Science as a social indicator

That m-Science requirements are simple -participants need only to have a mobile phone and an internet connection- suggests that it is poised to revolutionise the way science is done. Increased access to information and decreased cost of consumer electronics levels the playing field, allowing curious individuals across the globe to set up simple science experiments and become primary investigators. m-Science could also prove useful in gauging a country’s level of scientific and technological development, and could help observers of the field to quantify the worldwide expansion of, and interest in, m-Science in years to come.

The concept of m-Science is clearly a product of its time, born in an era of rapid economic and technological change. UNESCO, which tracks scientific development and produces periodic reports on trends, noted in its latest World Science Report (published in November 2010) that during the past five years ‘the increase in the stock of "world- knowledge", as epitomised by new

digital technologies and discoveries in life sciences or nanotechnologies, is creating fantastic opportunities for emerging nations to attain higher levels of social welfare and productivity’. With the ITU forecasting that half of the planet's population will have access to the internet through a mobile device in only a few years, m-Science will tap new reserves of human knowledge and creativity, in addition to terabytes of raw data, and make contributing to scientific research as easy as sending a text message.

to scientific research as easy as sending a text message. © American Center Mumbai © Reproduced

© American Center Mumbai

© Reproduced with the kind permission of Ltd 2012 (Public Service Review: European Science & Technology: issue 12)

mSense – A low cost mobile application for disabled people to make call, send text messages and to control appliances using Brain Mobile Interfacing

Kiran Trivedi Dept. of Electronics & Communication Engineering, S.S. Engineering College, Gujarat Technological University, India


m-Learning in general is learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies 1 , mSense (mobile Sense) is basically a mobile application with a low cost hardware which measures brainwave parameters and takes necessary actions based on the developed embedded algorithms. There has been continuous effort in the field of Brain Computer Interface (BCI) in the past few years and now this is the time to give a little shift to this technology to integrate brain with mobile devices. There are many portable EEG devices with wireless interfaces are available in the market today. Such devices are using Bluetooth standards to send out brainwave data to the nearby mobile devices. There are options available to get raw brainwave data for further processing and some proprietary algorithm based data which gives directly some calculated values via Bluetooth.

mSense is basically an Android based mobile application which connects to the B3 (cube) Band which is product of Neuro-Bridge, Japan having one dry EEG sensor with quite good form factor and Bluetooth data connectivity and powered by small battery. The user with disability can wear the EEG headset and once connected with the mobile device he/she can perform various basic tasks of making a voice call or to send text message. The mobile

application can be configured with auto passkey for the B3 Band Bluetooth address and can be connected easily and the user can also see the actions being taken on the mobile device. The user can make a call by just changing the brain wave level for attention or meditation and based on the preloaded encoding algorithm in the mobile application various alphabets or digits can be generated. The details for this are discussed in the first part of the paper.

People with disabilities can also control various home appliances or can change TV channels with B3 Band if it is connected with Bluetooth enable Arduino open source platform having controlling relays. This is discussed in the later part of the paper.

Types of disabilities

The disability is a situation and inability compared to the normal humans. Mainly it includes various functionality including physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual illness, and various types of never-ending disease. Mobile devices have been a great help to such people but interaction with mobile devices by disabled people can be a really challenging task. This chapter discusses a low cost EEG based mobile application for the disabled people to perform various tasks.

Let us quickly have look of various types of disabilities for which this m-Learning based system can be helpful. There are various types of disabilities ranging from partial to full disabilities like Mobility and Physical Impairments, Spinal Cord Disability, Head Injuries - Brain Disability, Vision Disability, Hearing Disability, Cognitive or Learning Disabilities, Psychological Disorders, Invisible Disabilities.


Healthy mobile users use device keypad to send a text message or a remote control to change the TV channels or to control home appliances but it becomes very difficult and almost impossible for the disabled person to use mobile device or remote control. The effort has been made in the direction to use simply the brainwave frequencies to fulfill the task. Nowadays there are many handy low cost EEG hardware are available with wireless connectivity like Bluetooth and access to raw brainwave is also possible. There are many

popular products from Neurosky and Emotiv which allows access and measurement of various brainwaves and to analyze them for research and development. Emotiv EPOC and Brainband/B3 Band are one of the popular and widely used products among universities and research institutions.

About Brainwaves

There are mainly alpha, beta, gamma and delta brainwaves available all the time having some significant EEG power based on the current state of the humans. The brainwave frequencies are ranging from 0 Hz to 30 Hz and more. Researchers have proved various state of mind based on the frequency measured. Delta Brain Waves ranges from 0.5 to 4Hz, Theta Brain Waves ranges from 4 to 8 Hz, Alpha Brain Waves ranges from 8 to 12Hz and Beta Brain Waves ranges from 13 to 30Hz.

In this section Neurosky's TGAM chip based B3 Band is discussed which has Bluetooth connectivity and has one dry EEG sensor to measure the brainwaves. The Bluetooth outputs

mainly power values of alpha, beta, delta and theta with proprietary meditation and attention values known as eSense. Attention eSense and meditation eSense ranges on the scale of 0 to


and meditation eSense ranges on the scale of 0 to 100. B3 Band EEG Headset with

B3 Band EEG Headset with Bluetooth facility based on Neurosky Chip.

App Inventor

For development of the mobile application the platform selected is Android and technology chosen is MIT's App Inventor, to use App Inventor, we do not need to be a professional developer. This is because instead of writing code, we visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app's behavior.

Android Mobile Application Development Using MIT's App Inventor diagram.

Development Using MIT's App Inventor diagram. Courtesy: MIT App Inventor, MIT Center for Mobile Learning.

Courtesy: MIT App Inventor, MIT Center for Mobile Learning.

Screenshot of App Inventor IDE. Screenshot of Block Editor for App Inventor. 23

Screenshot of App Inventor IDE.

Screenshot of App Inventor IDE. Screenshot of Block Editor for App Inventor. 23

Screenshot of Block Editor for App Inventor.

System Design

The system block diagram is shown here which contains mainly two hardware, one is mobile device and the other is EEG headset. The EEG headset is worn by the user and the mobile application running in the device will automatically connect to the already defined passkey enabled EEG headset, the user can visualize the level of attention he is having while using the application. Based on the option selected from the mobile application he/she can send text message or make a voice call.

he/she can send text message or make a voice call. EEG headset and Dry Sensor. Human&Brain

EEG headset and Dry Sensor.







Block Diagram.

Encoding of Digits and Alphabets

There is a very simple encoding method used here to generate various alphabets using eSense values. As the attention or meditation eSense values are ranging from 0 to 100, we can select a band of value in the steps of 10. For example to generate alphabet K, being a 11th digit in the Alphabet, the user can take bring the attention level in between 0-10 value twice to get 11 (twice the digit 1). The mobile application can continuously monitor the data being captured from the EEG band and its value and matches with encoding table. The application can be used easily after few training sessions. When the user blinks the eye, a unique brainwave value is generated which can be used as ENTER or press OK kind of action.





















































































&&& alue&range&&&


MeditaZon&e&&&& Sense&val&&&& ue&range&&&&


Eye&Bli&&& nk&encodi&&&


0X100&in&s&&& &&& teps&of&10&&&& &&& &&=&10&& &&& &&&


0X100&in&step&&&& &&&&

s&of&10&=1&&&& &&&& &&&& 0


0&or&1&&&& &&& &for&drivin&& &&&


Example: To type mobile number 919998339966 using brainwaves and App Inventor based mobile application we can either select Attention or Meditation value. Person with blindness can use the meditation eSense values.































[A] Dial a Number

























[B] Create a text message

Controlling Devices with Brainwaves

Interfacing Arduino with B3 Band EEG Headset This is achieved in two steps, to Interface with the B3 Band EEG Headset with the BlueSMiRF module for Bluetooth communication and acquiring the Attention and Meditation

eSense values from the data stream. Let us see how to setup the BlueSMiRF module quickly for communication with the B3 Band and parsed output stream can then be used to perform various tasks such as to control the speed of a motor, to light up LEDs, and to control the position of a servo motor or change the TV Channels using IR LEDs.

Required Items: This application requires the following materials: B3 Band EEG Headset / MindSet from Neurosky, Arduino Diecimila or Duemilanove, BlueSMiRF Bluetooth Module, Arduino development environment, LEDs and IR LEDs, etc.

The block diagram shows the interfacing of B3 Band with Arduino, there are two options to use Arduino, one to use directly the Arduino BT or to use Arduino with BlueSmirf or Bluegiga Bluetooth chip interfaced. Arduino can be programmed to receive data from Bluetooth of EEG headset. The received data can be further parsed and processed to take necessary actions in order to control device or any other user choice defined. Based on the eSense values actions can be taken. Even text to speech is also possible using this.


Arduino&Code Door&Control Algorithm& Brain&Band& Arduino&with& TV&Channels IR&Tx

Brain Band EEG Headset Algorithm for Parsing Speaker Arduino with Bluetooth IR Tx TV Channels Text to Speech Door Control Options Arduino Code

1 "Guidelines for learning/teaching/tutoring in a mobile environment". MOBIlearn. October 2003. pp. 6. Retrieved June 8, 2009. guidelines.pdf

3 NeuroSky's eSense (TM) Meters and Detection of Mental: files/neurosky_esense_whitepaper.pdf

4 Learn about App Inventor:

A Mobile Science Index for Development

Enrique Canessa, Marco Zennaro ICTP Science Dissemination Unit, Trieste, Italy


There are billions of mobile phone subscribers today around the world out pacing fixed- line Internet users with more than thousands new users added every minute. About 60% of them live in developing countries, making mobile phones the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users there than in the developed world. For example, cell phone usage in Africa is growing almost twice as fast as any other region and jumped from 63 million users two years ago to 152 million last year 1 . Most of these countries have reported impressive adoption levels of mobile phones, a phenomenon that is now creating a paradigm shift, namely, computing and rich-media communications moving from traditional PC's to mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, netbooks and others).

Originally, Internet and mobiles were separated technologies but now they are merging together. Mobile technology is becoming a regular part of everyone's daily lives both in the developed and developing world. Advancements in the smartphone technology have produced such powerful gadgets and applications that can compete with PC's in this 21st century. With this kind of new computer power of mobiles, analysts and programmers can now develop scientific applications to address numerous challenges. These include helping to prevent disease outbreaks, building a census or tracking agricultural stock levels. Data gathering with mobile devices can help to save time and money for organizations while also improving information accuracy including those needed from/for developing countries. The world-wide adoption of mobile devices is opening new ways for development including, directly and for the first time, the poorest regions of the world.

Data forecasting from the International Telecommunications Union 2 indicates that in only

a few years half of the planet's population will have access to the Internet through a mobile

device. The possibility of connecting with mobile devices to the Internet via broadband UMTS networks at reasonable subscription prices is growing fast everywhere. This means that

a majority of the world's population will soon access to the Internet via their mobile devices. While this is a proxy for actual phone and Internet usage, it is nonetheless also an indirect indicator that interest on mobiles is increasing in education, academia and scientific sectors too. Motivated by this revolution on mobile access to Internet, we discuss here a simple Mobile Science (m-Science) Potentiality Index which could reflect a new signal of world development through the capacity for a interconnected community to participate collectively in, and carry out, scientific studies using mobile devices.

m-Science and mSP Index

Mobile Science (or "m-Science" in short) is becoming an state-of-the-art discipline because of unprecedented technological developments being done in the field of information and communications. m-Science as such comprises three main subjects of interest with a great impact on the society: Sensing, Computing and Dissemination of scientific knowledge by the use of mobile devices. These, in turn, incorporate:

mobile data gathering by the use of sensors and mobiles,

the analysis and process of mobile data (by mobile devices too) and

the access to on-line services and applications directed to nurture scientists and scholars (such as mobile access to e-Journals, podcasts, web lectures and webinars, virtual conferences, mobile collaboration tools, m-Learning, etc).

The release, under a Creative Commons license, of a premier open book on m-Science by the Science Dissemination Unit (SDU) of the ICTP in Trieste, Italy 3 , is an effort to engage the scientific community, engineers and scholars worldwide in the design, development and deployment of the newest mobile applications. The goal is to create awareness on the huge possibilities of Mobile Science as well as to motivate a new generation of learners, scholars

and scientists. The book gives a balanced mix of technical detail, general overview, societal impact and a sense of the possible.

We devise here an approximated Mobile Science Potentiality Index (mSPI) to be used as a barometer reflecting the potential and capacity for a community (for example a group of researchers) in a nation or region to develop and participate in m-Science. The mSPI we introduce is based on a simple relation: "The ratio of the mobile broadband subscriptions available by country and the amount of researchers in labor force (working full time in different fields of science) in a country". For illustrative purposes, an example of how the mSP Index may behave on a nation wide scale follows in Table I by using recent published data based on the OECD’s definition of wireless broadband data (2010). The broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants (2009) includes satellite, terrestrial fixed wireless, dedicated and standard mobiles, which certainly gives a crude estimation for mobile access to Internet in the sense given within m-Science, but it can be a useful ratio to obtain a reasonable indication of the current potentiality of m-Science in some places of the industrialized world where discrete data is only available so far. Hopefully, data for developing countries will be made available with the increasing usage of mobile devices and the participation of these countries in the internalization of science.


From Table I it can be deduced that when communities have greater access to broadband facilities, then researchers (even if fewer than other work forces in a country) and broadband subscribers can participate in m-Science experiments leading to a greater mSP Index. In a thought experiment, this mSPI index may in principle score and monitor over time, a community (consisting of "not only" researchers) on a scale from 1 (fully mobile and connected community) to 0 (highly localized and isolated community). As m-Science through mobile sensing, computing and dissemination continues to become less and less expensive, more integrated and more ubiquitous, the hope is that projects in this new field will increasingly be within reach of scientists in the less industrialized world too. A world- wide mobile accessibility will help bootstrap participatory and truly societal scale networks for science research. An increasing mSPI measure could well be a useful, reliable instrument

to attempt quantifying the world-wide expansion of, and interest on, the new growing m- Science discipline in years to come depicting a rapidly changing landscape.

The mobility of the phone provides some other important scientific and economical opportunities. Data collection with a mobile phone has the potential to dramatically improve services that relies on accurate and up-to-date information. The more time-critical the information, and the more remote the location, the more scientists have to gain from a mobile phone based solution. Thus, m-Science offers tremendous benefits to academic research and to society as a whole and the mSP Index could be a new signal for world development. It is surprising to note that the maximum reported mSPI value of 74,20% is for the Netherlands and the minimum is 25.57% for Japan, contrary to what it would it be expected.

Based on information extracted from the Web of Science (Thomson Reuters) database of scientific publications spanning from 1980 to 2009, the world's scientific production has grown from about 400,000 to 1,200,000 publications in the last three decades. This increment of interest in science, together with the recent technological developments in mobile technologies, is helping to make of the new m-Science a completely new research field. The potential for m-Science and science-related mobile Apps, is unlimited. Since the majority of new generation devices can access the web in some way, mobile technological tools can be used to collect basic information as well as to exchange information and to access scientific computing among other services and carrying lots of benefits that permeates into society.




Researchers in labor force per 10000 inhabitants (1999)

Broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants (2009)

mSPI (%)

























United Kingdom




New Zealand












































1 Data from OECD:

Table: Mobile Science Potentiality Index (mSPI) - data from OECD 4

Mobile technology can be used in powerful new ways to carry out scientific research, analyze and share results to many. Mobile phones are, for instance, being used to gather scientific data from remote and isolated places that would be impossible to retrieve by other means. Scientists, acting alone or in groups, are starting to use mobile devices and web- based mobile applications to systematically explore interesting scientific aspects of their surroundings ranging from climate change to earthquake monitoring world-wide. Accurate and timely field data gathering is possible with mobile phones. By attaching sensors to GPS- enabled cell phones, it is possible to gather the raw data necessary to begin to understand how, for example, urban air pollution impacts both individuals and communities. While integrating a sensor into a phone and transmitting the data that it gathers to a database is posssible, doing so at low cost, on a societal scale, with millions of phones providing data from hundreds of networks spread throughout the world makes this possibility a challenging one. This is a unique m-Science occasion that deserves further attention and promotion world-wide 5 . At the expense of sampling a given location continuously, a sensor in a user's

smartphone can provide significant geographic coverage. Also, mobile sensors will be heavily biased towards locations in which people congregate, so for human-centric applications, sensing in mobile devices will often provide coverage exactly where it is needed most. In over-sampled locations, the precision of the sensing system can be increased by carefully averaging the readings from several nearby sensors.

All these advantages point to build the largest scientific instrument ever built, consisting of millions or billions of sensors (attached in some cases to mobiles), aggregating data on an unprecedented scale. This instrument could be truly societal scale, reaching across economic, social, geographic and political boundaries, and illuminating the corners of human activity, how our environment affects us, and how we affect our environment. Besides, super-computing on a cellphone using this huge data will become also a reality.

The development of scientific mobile applications need certainly still to be simplified without the needs for having high computer literacy. There is a useful and simple blocks language for mobile phones as for example "App Inventor for Android" 6 . This is a visual programming environment for building mobile Apps by putting together blocks that represent the phone's functionality so, even those with no programming experience can use App Inventor to create mobile Apps. On the other hand, mobile application development with the alternative Python (better known as "Python on Symbian or PyS60") is also a powerful simple code to build/prototype mobile applications rapidly with interface for telephony, messaging, multimedia, camera, sensors and location tracking.

The wide availability of cellular telephones equipped with cameras opens many other opportunities for inexpensive, portable photometric measurements suitable for educational purposes. Spectrophotometry can make more sense to students around the world when they can see light change intensity when passed through a sample than when just seen equations, sketches or the output of a computer screen or meter. Mobile social networks are rapidly being organized by young people for the dissemination and credibility of information. Besides, m-Science technology through Internet access opens up also amazing educational opportunities. With m-Learning, students can also take advantage as learning is now freed from the restrictions of location. Mobile learning programs can specially foster Physics and Mathematics m-Learning.

All of this novel m-Science activity aims to engage the scientific community, engineers

and scholars world-wide in the design, development, deployment and usage of the newest

mobile applications which benefits many and giving a substantial contribution to the world

development. The proposed Mobile Science Potentiality Index can be used to best assess a

country's development in science and mobile technology innovation and as a barometer

reflecting a new signal of world development through the capacity for a interconnected

community to participate collectively in, and carry out, scientific studies using mobile


© Adapted from International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM) Vol 6, No

1 (2012) p4-6 under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY)

1 EPROM –Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobiles of the MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

2 ITU –International Telecommunications Union,

3 E. Canessa and M. Zennaro (Eds.), "m-Science: Sensing, Computing and Dissemination", ISBN 92-95003-43-8 (2010)

4 OECD –Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development,

5 E. Canessa, C. Fonda and M. Zennaro, "Supporting Science in Developing Countries using Open Technologies" (2009) Eur. J. Phys. 30, 651–660.

6 App Inventor for Android,


m-Learning in Classrooms and Research

Roger Les Cottrell SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, USA

Think of a classroom from Charles Dicken’s time (mid 1800’s) with students at their desks with books, pen and ink and paper notebooks, and a teacher at the front with a blackboard and chalk. For over a century little changed. The pens and the ink were merged into ball point pens, whiteboards replaced blackboards, and more recently classrooms were equipped with overhead projectors. Changes that enabled mobility began to appear in the 1970’s with the use of technologies such as cassette tapes, CDs, followed by book-sized computers, and in the 1990s the early Personal Data Assistants such as PalmOS devices, and latterly wireless based smartphones, tablets, etc. So now, there is no need for the instructor and the students to be co-located, scheduling is more flexible, and worldwide access to information is available via the Internet.

The benefits for non-colocated synchronous classroom learning are enormous. There is less need for travel. It is easier to get students and the instructor “together”. The mobile devices are lighter and more up-to-date than a stack of books (dictionary, encyclopedia, atlas, subject matter) and provide a multi-media experience. They introduce new technology to the classroom, enable easier feedback, e.g., by text SMS and multimedia messages, voting, and group collaboration etc. The instructor can also use a handheld projector 1 to share information in person with a small audience.

The challenges may include connectivity and battery life, wireless bandwidth availability for streaming, support for Bring Your Own Devices 2 and multiple standards (OS’, screen sizes, file formats, keyboards), cost barriers for end users (this can be particularly important for end users on the wrong side of the Digital Divide).

For developing countries experiencing the Digital Divide on the other hand, there are opportunities to leapfrog technologies such as wired phones and desktop computers, instead skipping directly to more affordable wireless intelligent mobile devices that provide many more capabilities such as a camera, a phone, music player, navigation, etc. This is increasingly the case, as the costs of these devices continues to fall and the costs and availability for WiFi 3 and cell phone coverage improve. In addition one can avoid many of the fixed and ongoing costs and inconveniences of classical classroom training. For unstable regions, the ability to give classes without traveling through risky areas and the ability to hold classes without the risk of attacks aimed at gatherings, could be a big plus.

Besides classroom instruction the new mobility is and will continue to bring huge gains to scientific research. One obvious way this is achieved is for scientists in the field who need to make and record their measurements. Firstly devices such as smartphones already enable note taking via a keyboard, voice, and in a few cases handwriting recognition. They enable recording via photos and videos of important scenes and Near Field Communications 4 provides the ability to read reference points. Also they have Global Positioning System 5 support to record where (x,y,z) and when an event was observed. Further via the wireless connection (phone or WiFi) they enable uploading of results either in real-time or later when one gets back to base. To this can be added built in measurement and control capabilities such as a: microphone to measure noise, magnetometer/compass 6 , accelerometers 7 , gyroscopes 8 , ambient light sensor. Also devices to read temperature, humidity or barometric pressure, heart monitor and even a Geiger counter 9 , can be attached and in the near future many are expected to be built in. Add to this the device is programmable and has existing applications, or special purpose applications can be written by researchers to take advantage of the measurement, control and reporting capabilities. Also for communication in remote areas one can add satellite phone capability 10 . This huge arsenal of tools enables scientific researchers to make and record measurements in remote areas with little or no infrastructure, for example studying mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, studying underground caves, in remote mountainous areas etc. It also enables the deployment of many distributed sensors making automated frequent measurements, such as floating robots using GPS-enabled smartphones to track water flow in the Sacramento River in California 11 , or the deployment of ground based magnetometers in remote regions of Africa or polar regions for the observation of ionospheric and space weather processes 12 .

1 Hand held (also known as pico, mobile, pocket wiki/Handheld_projector

6 Yamaha shrinks smartphone magnetometer to 1.5mm, see

8 Researchers develop pinhead-sized gyroscope for smartphones and medical devices, see

9 “Radioactivity-meter” Turns Smartphone into Geiger Counters, see http://


projector, see

10 SPOT satellite phone connection for a smartphone, see

11 Floating robots use GPS-enabled smartphones to track water flow, see http://

12 Closing the Gaps: New Magnetometers and New Researchers, see http://

Collaborative m-Learning Applications

Permanand Mohan University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago


Researchers agree that collaborative learning holds out tremendous potential as a means of improving learning outcomes. Social constructivists such as Vygotsky view learning as a social process. They claim that meaningful learning takes place not only within an individual but also when individuals are engaged in social activities. Referring to Vygotsky's 1 theory of the "zone of proximal development", Mitchell and Cisic 2 indicate that the level of development that learners achieve when they engage in social behaviour and collaborate with peers is greater than what they can achieve by working alone.

There are many success stories reported in the literature. For example, Sancho et al. 3 presented evidence which shows that students collaborating on a learning activity performed better than students who were using traditional learning methods. Roschelle and Teasley 4 developed a set of collaborative learning activities where students collaboratively work together to solve problems. This proved to be very successful.

Mobile learning offers interesting possibilities for collaborative learning. Mobile phones equipped with communication facilities such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enable individuals to connect to each other either within a close range or across a wide geographic region. Mobile learners can therefore interact with other learners as they solve problems, study together (not necessarily at the same location), go on field trips, or participate in other learning activities.

A number of research studies have been conducted to determine how collaborative mobile learning applications can improve learning outcomes. Some of these are described in the next section.

Research Studies

Zurita and Nussbaum 5 argue that weaknesses in coordination, communication, organization, negotiation, interactivity, and lack of mobility in traditional classroom settings can be solved by using collaborative mobile learning. They recommend that learning activities should be developed using handheld computers which are wirelessly connected to obtain a collaborative environment. The authors provide evidence to show that this approach can result in learning gains.

Soloway et al. 6 and Tinker and Krajcik 7 also highlight the benefits of handheld devices:

students essentially have their own portable computer with the advantages of mobility and flexibility which allows them to engage in highly collaborative activities anywhere and anytime.

Cortez et al. 8 developed a collaborative learning system using mobile computers (wireless handheld devices) to support teachers. According to the authors, the system promotes student collaboration and constructivism without losing face-to-face contact. The system was tested during a five week period in a high-school Physics class. Students and teachers responded very favourably to the system and the experience also had a strong social impact outside the classroom. Moreover, high levels of motivation in the students were observed.

Deng et al. 9 discuss their work on designing a mobile computer supported collaborative

learning tool. They indicate that the tool influences learning in a positive manner by making

it more interesting. It also promotes better social interaction resulting in students working

more productively together in groups. The authors claim that this type of learning provides several advantages such as mobility, exchanging data, and negotiation among the learners.

More recently, the MobileMath system which was developed for the learning of high-

school Mathematics 10,11 provides several collaborative activities for learners. MobileMath has

a Bluetooth game and several GPRS games. These games allow two players to practise

algebra if they are connected via Bluetooth or GPRS. The Bluetooth game is a variation of the well-known game, Snakes and Ladders. Each player has to answer an algebraic question correctly in order to make a move in the game. These games have not been evaluated as yet because of a number of connectivity challenges.

A Simple Collaborative Application

In this section, a simple collaborative mobile application for two learners (A and B) is designed. The application first presents the following instruction to the learners:

Solve the following equation: 12x^2 + 3x - 4 = 0

Assuming that A starts off the solution process, the following choices will be presented to A:

Which of the following can be used to solve the problem?

1. Quadratic formula

2. Make x the subject

3. Substitution

If A chooses the correct answer (1), the following choices will be presented to B:

Which of the following can be used?

1. x =

presented to B: Which of the following can be used? 1. x = 2. y =

2. y

= mx + c

3. x = rc +u

If B chooses the correct answer (1), the following choices will be presented to A:

Choose one of the following:

1. a = 12,

b = 3,

c =


2. a = -12, b = 3



= -4

3. a = 12, b =3, c = -4

If A chooses the correct answer (3), the following choices will be presented to B:

Which of the following is correct?

1. x = - 0.72 or x = 0.47


x = -0.37 or x = 5.3

3. x =5 or x = 9

Thus, A and B get a chance to collaborate by solving the equation together, one step at a time.

Technology Requirements

Collaborative mobile learning opens up many possibilities for learning. However, it requires a technology infrastructure to be present in order for it to be successful. To use Bluetooth, each mobile phone must be equipped with a Bluetooth radio and must be separated from each other by no more than 100 meters. This makes it suitable for mobile learners who are fairly close to each other such as learners on a field trip or museum. Bluetooth operates in a master-slave mode and special software must be written to allow mobile devices to communicate together (either as a master or a slave) and to generate the learning activities. This is referred to as a "native application".

If the mobile devices have Wi-Fi, learners can collaborate with each other through a wireless hotspot. This constrains how far the learner can be from the hotspot. However, the learners can be geographically dispersed from each other. As long as each learner can connect to the hotspot, he/she can collaborate with another learner. However, learners will need to communicate through a server that is connected to the Internet. Technology such as GPRS removes the need for the hotspot and allows a mobile phone to communicate with another mobile phone through the intermediary of a server connected to the Internet.

Two types of applications can be used to enable mobile learners to collaborate via the Internet and a Web server. The first type is a Web application that is downloaded from a Web server and runs off a browser on the mobile phone. The second type is a native application that runs on the mobile phone itself (typically written in a language supported by the phone such as Java).


The author would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of Vani Kalloo in the preparation of this note.

1 Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

2 Mitchell, A., and Cisic, D. (2006). Using mobile game-based technologies to engage young adults in lifelong learning, 29thInternational Convention MIPRO, Opatija, Croatia, 22-26 May, 2006, pp. 133-136.

3 Sancho, P., Fuentes-Ferna'ndez, R., and Ferna'ndez-Manjo'n, B. (2008). NUCLEO: adaptive computer supported collaborative learning in a role game based scenario. 8th IEEE International Conference: Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2008), July 1-5, Santander, Spain, pp. 671-675.

4 Roschelle, J., and Teasley, S.D.(1995). The construction of shared knowledge in collaborative problem solving. In C.E. O'Malley (Ed.), Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 69-97.

5 Zurita, G., and Nussbaum, M. (2004). Computer supported collaborative learning using wirelessly interconnected handheld computers. Computers and Education, April 2004, 42 (3), pp. 289-314.

6 Soloway, E., Norris, C., Blumenfeld, P., Fishman, B., Krajcik, J. and Marx, R. (2001). Log on education: handhelddevices are ready-at-hand. Communications of the ACM, 44(6), pp.


7 Tinker, R., and Krajcik, J. (Eds.). (2001). Portable technologies: science learning in context. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

8 Cortez, C., Nussbaum, M., Santelices, R., Rodriguez, P., Zurita, G., Correa, M., and Cautivo, R. (2004). Teaching science with mobile computer supported collaborative learning (MCSCL), 2nd IEEE International Workshop on Wireless and Mobile Technologies in Education (WMTE 2004), 23-25 March 2004, Taoyuan, Taiwan, pp. 67-74.

9 Deng, Y., Chang, S., Hu, M., Chan, T. (2005). PuzzleView activities: Encouraging participation in mobile computer support collaborative learning, 5th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2005), 5-8 July 2005, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, pp. 682-684.

10 Kalloo, V., and Mohan, P. (2011). A mobile learning study in high school Mathematics:

challenges, lessons learned and recommendations, 11thIEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, 6-8 July, 2011, Athens, Atlanta, pp. 45-47.

11 Kalloo, V. and Mohan, P. (2009). MobileMath, A mobile learning application for learning of high school Mathematics in the Caribbean. 8thWorld Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2009), Orlando, Florida, 26-30 October, 2009, pp. 72-79.

m-Learning, e-Learning and Learning:

Some Comments

Donald Clark Brighton, Sussex

m-Learning -be careful- a 7 point primer

Warning -market's a mess Anyone who says cross-platform, m-Learning content development and delivery is easy, is lying. A wander round the Learning Technologies exhibition induced a rash of promises that were at best economical with the truth. Mobile leaning vendors seem addicted to the word "YES" in answer to any question. It ain't that simple. Walk into any mobile shop and witness a fragmented market. Latency, bandwidth, screen size, methods of display, methods of input and the lack of universally adopted or agreed standards -that's your technical environment. A quick glance will reveal iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian and Palm. It's all a bit of a mess. So be careful about what’s phones are promised.

Learning limits Early research on mobile learning showed something that is conveniently ignored by mobile learning evangelists. Attention and retention may be seriously affected by small screen size. Few watch movies, read entire e-books or perform long pieces of linear learning on their mobiles. More worrying is research by Nass & Reeves that shows that retention falls rapidly with screen size. This pushes m-Learning towards performance support, recording performance and collaborative learning, rather than courses. So be careful about what type of learning you want to deliver.

Technical complexities Most serious developers use a tool that creates core code then cross-compiles to create native Apps across a range of platforms. This is not easy as these things are difficult to write but the Apps will be fast. A variation is to use a VM (Virtual Machine) which may be a bit

slower but gives you control and flexibility. Or, more commonly, they will create web applications as browsers increasingly cope with worldwide standards such as HTML5, Javascript and CSS3. So be sure that you understand the means of mobile production as it will affect speed and options.

Content complexity How complex will your content be? The three letter word "App" covers everything from a simple text feed to complex geo-location, camera integrated applications with serious internal logic, interactivity, games and media manipulation. This is not easy in web Apps, so be clear about the exact functionality of the Apps you want to deliver. You may end up with some very limited options.

Managing through LMS/VLE You have to consider whether you want integration with your LMS/VLE such as Moodle, Totara or Blackboard? m-Learning isolated from your LMS/VLE may be difficult to justify and participation in the LMS/VLE functionality may be desirable. Do you want SCORM compliance?

Performance portal Do you want the device to control and record performance in more "learn by doing" or vocational applications? This evidence may need to be fed into an e-portfolio. Do you want to use the camera or GPS as part of the learning experience?

Collaborative learning Is collaborative learning required? Do you want to integrate social media into your app? Or does the device already do this through their normal phone activity?

Conclusion Take these seven issues seriously and you're in a position to make a serious decision about whether you want to enter the m-Learning market. Don't get me wrong, I think this is now happening and would encourage participation. But you have to think context as well as content. Mobile learning may be more suited to some target audiences than others, younger

not older, mobile not static, vocational not academic. Go into this with your eyes wide open or mobile will simply mean they take your money and run.

Why m-Learning changed my life

I'm a mobile learner. In fact, I'd say that of all the learning experiences in my life, m- Learning has been the most productive. How so? Learning is a habit and I’ve habitually learnt on the move, largely in what Marc Auge calls "non-places" -trains, planes, automobiles, buses, hotels, airports, stations. I'm never without a book, magazine or mobile device for learning. It's been boosted recently by my new iPOD 6.0, which is about the size of a watch (indeed it can be worn as a watch) which contains 400+ podcasts. m-Learning has become my dominant form of informal learning.

Young people not driving Isn't it interesting that, according to the University of Michigan, the number of US 17 year olds with a driving licence has fallen from 69% in 1983 to 50% in 2011? Among the several explanations for this, is the rise of the internet. The explosion of communication through texting, IM, BBM, chat, Facebook and email, has lessened the need for physical contact. Indeed, driving prevents you from being in the flow, as you can't be on-line (legally) when you drive. Young people also choose to spend their money on small, electronic shiny devices, like smartphones, rather than large, hugely expensive, shiny, mechanical cars, which they may see as environmentally unsound. On top of this costs have soared, especially for fuel and insurance.

Non-driver This caught my attention as I've never driven a car in my life. Don't get me wrong it's been more happenstance than moral stance. I've lived in cities such as Edinburgh, London and now Brighton, where a car is just not that useful. I've never really been stuck, in terms of getting anywhere, with just two exceptions; when I was a student on a campus University in the US and when I worked in Los Angeles. Other than that, my familiarity with public transport, has got me to some pretty obscure places around the world.

Learning time By luck this has literally given me years of time to read and learn in the isolated and comfortable surroundings of buses, trains and planes. I actually look forward to travel, as I know I'll be able to read and think, even write in peace (writing this now on a 6.5 hr flight from Middle East). Being locked away, uninterrupted in a comfortable environment is exactly what I need in terms of attention and reflection. I calculate that over the last 30 years, of not driving, I've given myself about 20 days a year study time, totalling 600 days, so I'm heading towards a couple of years of continuous learning.

Non-places It was the French anthropologist Marc Auge in his book Non-Places, who pointed out that many of us, especially heavy users of public transport, spend considerable amounts of time in railway stations, airports, hotels and other neutral, non-spaces, in transit to somewhere else. The good news is that these places have become havens for learning. I stock up on books, read in the lounge, browse magazines, buy newspapers, and generally see these places as opportunities for reading and refection. Witness the rise of airport bookshops and the commonplace appearance of a Kindle or laptop on trains and aeroplanes.

Conclusion If you redefine m-Learning, as learning on the move and get away from the idea that it's just content delivered via mobiles, it becomes an important part of the learning landscape. So buy a Kindle, iPOD, notepad or load up your phone with content. Or stick to books. The important thing is to get into the habit of learning on the move and see non-places as learning spaces.

Montessori (1870-1952) method, materials and self-directed 1

The founders of Google and Amazon, have Montessori schooling in common. Sergei Brin and Larry Page both attended Montessori schools. Both credit their Montessori education for much of their success. It was the Montessori experience, they claim, that made them self- directed, think for themselves and pursue their real interests. Jeff Bezos's mother tells of his single-mindedness at his Montessori school, being so absorbed in the tasks he chose, that

they had to drag him off to give him a change, the same, self-directed, single-mindedness that was a feature of his Amazon adventure.

Casa dei Bambini As the first woman to graduate as a Doctor in Italy, Maria Montessori, worked with children with special needs, but quickly drifted towards education, as she saw in her patients the results of a constricted approach to education and learning. She opened a school for the poor of Rome, the Casa dei Bambini, and developed her theory and practice from this real experience, first captured in the Montessori Method in 1909. It was a worldwide sensation but the Second World War came and Mussolini closed down all of her schools and the educational establishment in the US closed ranks and attacked her work. It is a testament to her theory that the movement, and Montessori schools, are still a feature of the educational landscape in many countries around the world.

Montessori method As a modern heir to Rousseau, she sees the need to let children develop naturally with a strong emphasis on individualised learning. This is based on her belief that a child learns best when left to make their own choices within given constraints. Children have ‘tendencies’ to behave and learn and we must let them develop these tendencies to realise their potential. The method is perhaps best known as a system of auto-education where children are taught in mixed-age groups and not coerced into learning but given choices within a range of options. There is a great emphasis on discovery and learning by doing, making and manipulating things, rather than direct instruction, and the specific use of Montessori learning materials.

and the specific use of Montessori learning materials. Classrooms Classrooms are open environments and, as

Classrooms Classrooms are open environments and, as children do not have assigned seats, they work on floor mats or at low tables. These are in specific areas that contain selected and designed materials, carefully placed, in different subjects in a specific order and children are

encouraged to work with their hands. Montessori materials are often made of wood but painted and made attractive to children. Low shelves are provided as children are encouraged to tidy away materials after use.

Teaching Lessons are given but the structure is not rigid and teaching takes place with individuals or small groups, not to the whole class. Although assessment is largely through observation and not tests, the learning process is far from being unstructured. In fact it is highly organised. Children learn to write before they read and Montessori long encouraged the phonetic approach, as opposed to the whole word method, that became so disastrously popular elsewhere.

Home from home Context matters and this means designing schools, not to be institutions separate from the world but part of the real world, like a real home with an extended family. Montessori schools are designed to be orderly, clean and aesthetically pleasing but also allow freedom of movement and exposure to relevant, learning materials. They are often deliberately remodelled to resemble a home, with small furniture and the feel of a family home.

This has become an issue in education as schools, since the industrial revolution, have had to deal with absent working fathers, and increasingly, mothers. Montessori recognised this need with an emphasis on domestic activity. She did not want school to be cleaved off from the real world. It should, rather, be a home from home. With ideas similar to Rousseau and Dewey she was also keen on adolescents living in the country, running a farm or shop, and learning from making things and problem solving.


Stoll Lillard's claims that Montessori’s methods are confirmed by research in psychology and education on eight points:

1. movement can enhance thinking and learning;

2. learning and well-being are improved when we have a sense of control;

3. we learn better when we are interested;

4. extrinsic rewards such as test scores, negatively impact motivation;


collaboration is conducive to learning;

6. learning is deeper and richer when situated in meaningful contexts;

7. adult interaction helps with learning and

8. order in the environment is beneficial to children.

It has not been easy to determine through research whether Montessori methods are inferior or superior, as the schools have been selected by parents. Further difficulties arise from the lack of clear classroom and pedagogic structures that can be compared with other mainstream forms of schooling.

Criticism Dewey thought the method too restrictive and this has been echoed by others who see strict adherence to the Montessori materials a limit to creativity. They have been accused to being too attached to a method devised by one person on the basis of limited experience and research. Interestingly, others have seen Montessori schools as too unstructured. As one would expect with a movement with a controlled method, disputes also arise within the movement about the rights and wrongs of marking homework and so on.

Conclusion Montessori certainly influenced Piaget with her belief in careful, structured child development but her main legacy endures through Montessori schools, with around 20,000 schools around the world (700 in UK). Many see virtue in its softer, more child-centred concept of education and school. They want their children to be free from the strictures of institutional schooling and let them develop at their own pace in a caring and personalised environment. In practice, modern schools have inadvertently absorbed many of these lessons into mainstream schooling.

Gagne (1916 - 2002) Universal recipe for learning (9 steps) 2

Robert M. Gagne is best known for his nine steps for instructional design. He took an interest in the information processing view of learning and memory in The Conditions of Learning (1965), which outlined his learning theory. An article Learning Hierarchies in 1968 was followed by Domains of Learning in 1972. In these texts he developed his five categories of learning and a universal method for instruction defined in his nine instructional steps.

Five categories of learning

Gagne's theory has five categories of learning:

1. Intellectual Skills: Demonstrated by classifying things and problem solving.

2. Cognitive strategies: Demonstrated by their use and appropriate application.

3. Verbal information: Demonstrated by stating the information accurately.

4. Motor skills: Demonstrated by physical performance.

5. Attitudes: Demonstrated by preferring options. This was an attempt to move beyond

and widen Bloom’s tripartite distinction: Cognitive (knowledge), Psychomotor (skills) and Affective (attitude), with a taxonomy that focuses on real world activities, rather than abstractions.

Nine instructional steps But he is better known for his single method of instruction that can be applied to all five of his categories of learning. This instructional process was to be the recipe for good instructional design. You were expected to move through them, step by step.

1. Gaining attention: Get the learner into an expectant state.

2. Stating the objective: Get the learner to understand what they will be able to do as a

result of the instruction.

3. Stimulating recall of prior learning: Get the learner to appreciate that they posses

existing relevant knowledge.

4. Presenting the stimulus: Expose the learner to the content.

5. Providing learning guidance: Get the learner to understand the content.

6. Eliciting performance: Get the learner to demonstrate what they have learned.

7. Providing feedback: Inform the learner about their performance.

8. Assessing performance: Reinforce the learning.

9. Enhancing retention and transfer to other contexts: Get the learner to indulge in varied

practice and to generalise the new capability

Criticism "Gaining attention" is often reduced to clichéd ice breakers or overlong animation in e- Learning and rarely a truly engaging interactive event. In "Stating the objective" the learner is

often presented with a dull list of objectives (at the end of this course you will

against the attention and arousal, necessary for learning. There is a strong argument for emotional engagement at the start of a learning experience and not a dull list of objectives. Stimulating recall of prior learning is fine but not if the content is truly new to the learner who has no real past experience to draw on and “Presenting the stimulus” betrays behaviourist tendencies. However, "Providing learning guidance", "Eliciting performance", "Providing feedback" and "Assessing performance" are all sound strategies, as is "Enhancing retention and transfer to other contexts". In practice, much of this is reduced to exposition.

). This works

Learning and instructional designers often use Gagne's nine steps and there is much to commend if it is seen as a checklist. However, it can be argued that his instructional ladder leads to predictable and over-structured learning experiences, a straightjacket that strips away any sense of build and wonder. It is also inappropriate for all learning strategies, as he claimed. Scenario-based learning, many types of simulation, games pedagogies and sophisticated adaptive learning are just a few techniques that do not fit readily into this step- by-step recipe.

e-Learning Gagne has influenced much of what has appeared as self-paced e-Learning over the last 30 years. This has served designers well for simple self-paced e-Learning, but the step-by-step approach is now seen as inappropriate for alternative informal learning, especially informal learning and more advanced pedagogies. Some see this approach as producing formulaic, often uninspiring and over-long courses.

Conclusion Gagne was one an early learning theorists who provided some simple and practical advice on instructional design, which in some way accounts for his success. Although his instructional model is not applicable to all types of learning, and can be seen as a restriction, he brought a certain method to design which produced lots of solid learning experiences and content.

Selected posts by D. Clark's Plan B Blog:

1 Montessori, M. The Montessori Method. Montessori, M. Education and Peace. Montessori, M. From Childhood to Adolescence. Montessori, M. The Absorbent Mind. Montessori, M. The Secret of Childhood. Kramer, Rita (1976), Maria Montessori: a biography, University of Chicago Press. Stoll Lillard A. (2005) Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, Oxford University Press.

2 Gagne, R. M. (1965). The Conditions of Learning, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Gagne, R. M. (1970). Basic studies of learning hierarchies in school subjects. Berkeley, Calif: University of California. Gagne, R. M., Richey, R., ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology., International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction., & United States. (2000). The legacy of Robert M. Gagne. Syracuse, N.Y: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, Syracuse University.

Can You Graduate from MIT by Using iTunes U?

Enrica Salvatori Dipartimento di Storia, Universita' di Pisa

In recent years, even until just a few days ago, the phrase "you cannot graduate from MIT by using iTunes U" has been my favorite way out against the skepticism, blindness and senseless my colleagues had towards e-Learning, particularly in regards to the possibility of creating a podcast of their lessons. To counter their terror of an empty classroom due to the availability of their audio or video lectures, I ensured face-to-face lessons were irreplaceable. No variety of records could actually be equivalent to what their performances offered and for this very reason the podcasting of degree courses -which MIT had recently released on a massive scale -would not be enough to pull students out of the classrooms.

Today, after years of experimentation in the field of e-Learning and podcasting 1 , and after years of arguments on these problems, I must say I changed my mind and came to a completely different conclusion. Particularly, I now think that fearing the empty classroom is something related only to the growing inadequacy of a large part of the Italian teaching staff in front of the digital mutation and then that "you can graduate from MIT by using iTunes U". In this short paper I wish to reason on this statement to explain, from my point of view, opportunities, problems and consequences of on-line publication of educational files in a conspicuous and systematic way in an open platform, as MIT has executed 2 .

To be precise, let’s immediately clear the field from the bureaucratic issues. It’s obvious that graduating at any university in the world means passing several official steps:

application, enrollment, interim assessments, exams, workshops, dissertations, and so on 3 . These steps can be passed via web only in the universities that provide an on-line degree program. But the subject today is not a bureaucratic one, because we are around an educational issue. The question we are trying to answer is: can the files published on a on- line platform, such as iTunes U, be enough to provide a good qualification, such as every campus in the world usually provides? Needless to say, I'm not referring to the files usually published by the single university for its own students through a well built e-Learning

platform, but I envision materials available to a global audience via a popular and free platform that organize them with a structure by subject, course and date.

Some time ago a colleague of mine, even an enthusiastic teacher engaged in the e- Learning experimentation, told me the audio recording of a lesson was just the corpse of the lesson itself. In a sense he was right. Depending on the discipline and the teacher's attitude an audio or audio-video recording can severely diminish the educational potential of the face to face lesson; until it becomes a pale (i.e., cadaveric) copy of what originally was. If this is true, it is equally true that today - and going on the situation will certainly improve - there are different ways to resuscitate a corpse.

The experience of these recent years has taught me that we can withstand a grainy and blurry video, which proceeds in spurts and gaps, but not a sound of poor quality: we perceive it as a nuisance and we don’t stand it long. Consequently, the audio recording, which I personally prefer, works only in one case, when teachers stay in their place, have good diction and are also able to structure clearly their lessons. In this case, the audio is good, contents are well taught and the overall lesson is effective from the educational point of view. In several subject, especially in the Humanities, listening is often preferable to visualizing to learn: it improves concentration and is comfortable when sight and limbs are engaged in other activities (jogging, walking, driving, travelling) 4 . In this ideal situation any needed visual materials (texts, images) can still be added to audio lesson in a spread format as ePub or PDF.

Obviously this is a peculiar case, as opposed to a widespread trend. Many teachers will prefer to teach by pacing, gesturing and inserting their explanation with jokes that present and engaged students understand well, while a remote user could not catch or grasp. A simple audio recording can heavily penalize this kind of teacher.

Other teachers "have to" write while they explain formulas, geometric figures, equations, words. In these cases, they need a video recording and this is not enough. They need a cameraman, who follows their movements and highlights what has been written on the whiteboard. A similar service is needed by teachers who build a really interactive lesson, asking student with questions and proceeding on to their answers. In this case besides the cameraman is useful to have a certain number of classroom assistants with radio- microphones to properly record all the speeches.

Doing a good record in these cases is of course possible, but it is also equally clear that these choices impose high costs to the educational institution and have to be approached with the support of sponsors and for marketing. There are excellent examples of this kind of choices, Walter Lewin's lessons in physics at MIT 5 and the exciting arguments the philosopher Michael Sandel engages with his students at Harvard 6 . Frankly, looking at those examples, we do not observe the corpse of the lessons, we can instead enjoy the best that current technology offers to join a course physically given thousands of miles away from us and otherwise unreachable, i.e., to gain knowledge and skills in a way otherwise off limits.

Obviously, very few universities can sustain these costs and no one can afford to do this for all its courses. But if an educational institution wants (and it’s a matter of communication and marketing) published large part of its courses, there are other solutions, not yet optimal, I admit, but still viable not to assassinate a lesson with a bad recording. One is the handicraft but effective system developed at ICTP in Trieste 7 ; then there is Podcast Producer by Apple 8 we use in some classrooms in Pisa; there are companies that try to significantly improve Podcast Producer, in order to build a good semi-automatic registration system that combines speaker and computer screen and post-production for all a degree course 9 ; in the simplest cases there are free software that records what is being projected in the classroom while other software set the videofile for podcast publication. In short, though maybe still the market is lacking a completely reliable system for video-record a set of course well and at low costs, the ways to get round some drawbacks exist. There is also the option, apparently cumbersome, to provide users not only a audio-video file, but a combined and not precisely organize set of mixed files, produced during the course: video, images, texts, slides, pdf, etc. ITunesU platform now accepts PDF and ePub formats, but it is obviously possible, at this purpose, to use other sharing platforms such as Flickr, Slideshare, Googledocs, Scribd and others, providing students and external users a simple lists of links.

You may object since this is uncomfortable and I agree. But watching television to show a passive attitude towards broadcasting overly familiarizes us; in short we expect the dish we have been served is always set with cutlery, napkins and saltshaker. In education this is not always good, on the contrary it is never good. A little self-service is due: looking around for the material, assembling ourselves making links and integrations is an essential part of the learning process, that would not be effective if too passive.

In a sense, some new developments are heading in this direction. The long process of experimentation aimed to create complete learning modules, self-sufficient and in shareable formats has not produced significant outcomes and I doubt it will produce them in the future, because a tendency came out to use multiple formats simultaneously, depending on available materials and to organize them in a open, variable and even a bit messy shape. Now applications and platform allow to assemble a PC or tablet several various materials produced, reported, recommended in any university course. This way is used by all e- Learning platforms and now can maybe reach a wider audience with app for tablet and smartphone ad the new App iTunes U 10 . As a matter of fact it allows teachers to freely organize their own course materials and to put together tests, texts, images, audio and video files, links in virtual place as well as be in communications with students. Students can play video or audio lectures, read books, view presentations, see the list of assignments and check them off as they're completed. When teacher sends a message or create a new assignment, students receive a push notification with the new information. He's obviously to the teacher and to the University policy the decision of what materials and assignments give for free or create restricted parts. iTunes U is unfortunately a proprietary App, that involves the use of a particular hardware and therefore it can not be proposed as a global solution, but despite this, the iTunes U App seems a step in clear trend: that is give to the general public not only the corpse of a course but all the vital works that make interesting and useful an university lesson.

At this great opportunity we must then add another, which I think is the real novelty of a platform such as iTunes U. I am referring to the fact that the assembly work, the due to integrate and collate issues I counseled as good learning activities for a single course, this activity, in my opinion, can and should be made by enlarging the number of courses taken and attended in the same subject area.

Let me explain with an example. Do you want to improve your knowledge of Medieval History 11 ? You can of course follow the courses I've published on-line in recent years, for BA and MA degrees, you can see the slides I put on iTunes U and Slideshare, you can access the historical sources I have commented on Googledocs, you can understand the structure of the course seeing the official website of the degree course, but you can do more 12 . You can decide, to improve your qualification or because other materials are specifically recommended by the teacher, to follow a podcast on history of Sephardic Jews at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York 13 or learn more about medicine in the Islamic Middle

Ages through the University of Warwick 14 or Oxford 15 and to enrich your vocabulary on medieval costumes through the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising 16 and understand the relationships between history and fiction taking a course at the University or London 17 . I could of course make other examples, maybe just starting from a course at MIT, as the title of my paper would, but I hope that my claim appears clear, whatever subject is taught.

Today it is not necessary to follow a single teacher’s course, but it’s possible -and a passionate and eager to learn person should- to compare different methods of teaching, draw on multiple sources, expand one’s own learning environment and simultaneously enlarge dramatically one’s knowledge and point of view on science.

During the Middle Ages students were following the best teacher who was paid just because he satisfied their thirst for knowledge. If he had to move they followed him because they would not lose the high quality of education he guaranteed. Today we can follow from home and almost for free who teaches best, and not one but many. We can skim all useless for our purposes, deepen the useful and well done, try to do, although not enrolled, tasks and readings, normally published in the syllabus, contact the teacher for advice, in short we can build our own learning path.

I'm not talking of an utopia. There is who are doing so. Many students not from my University have written over the years, thanking me for my lessons on line, through which they improved their performance and achieved a better grade in their university. The course this year we put on-line about how to develop applications on iOS has been downloaded by 400.000 people (May 2012), while the classroom physically received not more than 40 students. I constantly uses iTunes U or other platforms as Youtube or Slideshare to keep myself up to date and to fill obvious gaps in my knowledge. I can not even see what this new phenomenon, the free access to this huge educational material, what does it mean for people who live in poor areas of our planet and still want to get ahead, gain skills and prepare themselves to achieve a degree or a corresponding qualification.

Sure it takes an really strong will and peculiar inner discipline to do it, certainly it would be better to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts and attended at MIT. But for those who can not do it and who want to enhance their knowledge and skills, the material that has been accumulated in these years (and is accumulating as we speak) not only in the MIT iTunesU page or in MIT YouTube channel but on all iTunes U platform and in the Net let me say "yes,

you can graduate at MIT using you computer or tablet and you web connection”, and this is

one of the few great wonderful achievements we can ascribe at the era we live into.

1 I am engaged in the e-Learning activities and I organize iTunes U page and project of the University of Pisa. I have been publishing on line my audio-lessons since 2006 and I have been conducting, since the same year, an indipendent podcast about History (http://

2 MIT OpenCourseWare,

3 MIT OpenCourseWare alerts on line customers the service does not substitute the traditional learning at MIT, does not grant degrees or certificates; does not provide access to a MIT faculty

4 In addition, the audio file is more manageable than the video, more easily to modify and correct.

7 It’s the EyA ("Enhance your Audience") system that allows to archive and share traditional scientific lectures and talks carried out using, for example, chalkboards in classrooms and/or using modern presentations (PPT, PDF, etc).,

11 The choice is obviously partial, but this is the subject I know best.

Atmosphere Design for Mobile Interaction

Antonella Varesano Università degli Studi di Udine (Italy) Barbara Rita Barricelli, Stefano Valtolina Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy)


This research proposes the blend between interaction design principles (form-behavior- content) and our new atmosphere design approach (emotions-creativity-inferences) to be applied to the design of novel interactive systems, especially for mobile devices.

Interaction Design (ID) is the discipline that deals with these new design aspects in order to foster interactions simpler and designed for specific contexts. Interaction Atmosphere is made of some elements which steel need to be explored but some of them are strongly related to emotions, creativity and inferences. This work is addressed to find out a “lateral” thinking in ID using new elements called Atmosphere Design (AD). The research wants to explore the role of emotions, creativity 1 and inferences related to atmosphere interaction in visual interfaces through the potential of a blending approach between interaction design (functional aspect) and atmosphere design (emotional aspect) that introduces in the user- oriented design process some techniques coming from different disciplines. The main goals of atmosphere design are: to stimulate the creative process, to arise inferential aspects about previous experience, and to develop aesthetic awareness of the atmosphere concept as balance of aspects highlighted in the studies of Verplank 2 and Cooper 3 . The objective of empirical research is to verify if these best practices produce better results in visual interfaces design. Besides, we investigate about new perspectives in usability evaluation proposing an extension of de Souza’s work in Computer Semiotics and Semiotic Engineering 4 .

The Blend

The blended approach to interaction design is based on different theories and methods, which enables the communication among the various stakeholders to better define the atmosphere of virtual spaces under design in order to foster satisfactory user experiences. Due to his nature this research is multidisciplinary and joins knowledge emerging in hard sciences (Human-Computer Interaction HCI, computer science, software engineering, ergonomics, cybernetics and neuroscience) and humanities (semiotics, philosophy, cognitive science, psychology and psycho-analysis), in order to raise awareness of the different expertise that can be found in different design teams. These teams have to collaborate during all the interaction design phases in order to develop what in architectural design is defined as atmosphere: a space should be able to convey specific feelings and moods, most of which

are related to the affordances it offers. In this way, the space better reflects the mental model of its visitors in supporting the achievement of specific goals. The classical paradigm in HCI, coming from the rationalist tradition, divides the user from the designer and formed the starting point in software engineering. Along the history of HCI three interaction paradigms were described: the

1 st sees the interaction as man-

machine coupling, the 2 nd as information communication and the 3 rd as phenomenologically situated 5 . The third paradigm was further developed by interaction designers in order to explore the dialogue between products, people and contexts (physical, cultural, historical) and to create a balance between function and form by looking at cultural, visceral and visual aesthetics. Verplank 2 says that a system able to conform to user expectations has to comply with a model of interaction design that is essentially based on

able to conform to user expectations has to comply with a model of interaction design that

three concepts: do, feel and know and that together represent the fundamentals of each interaction style. These design features are addressed to emphasize what Norman 6 claims:

“emotion plays a significant role in attracting the user and an attractive thing makes a person more relaxed and a relaxed person is better at problem solving than a tense one”. In this perspective the design process has to be addressed to define an interactive environment embedding an atmosphere able to triggered positive and confident emotions in the user during the interaction with the elements of the system and interpreted according to her/his culture, interests, and context of use. The blend is a theory, or “conceptual integration” is an operation that is applied to two input spaces, which results in a new, blended space which receives a partial structure from both input spaces but has an emergent structure of its own, not provided by the inputs. The blend is a theory of knowledge 7 . which allows inferences and creative process 8 . Moreover the process of finding new interaction strategies by inferring 9 , from a semiotic point of view, allows to recovered emotions by previous interaction experiences. New devices develop great complexity of behavior and some simple theory on what people know may be useful. Interaction is communication and communication uses signs 4 , therefore semiotic aspects of meaning are one of the most principal points of departure. The contribution of Arieti 10 and the underlie psychoanalysis studies made clear that “every concept has an emotional equivalent” so in creating the general atmosphere of interaction emotional aspects can be used to improve the interaction.

The evaluation

The success of an interactive system strictly depends on its usability 11,12 . Usability is defined by the ISO 9241-11 standard 13 as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use”. The literature offers many models and standards that give guidelines to be used by designers to build usable interfaces. Moreover, in literature several sets of attributes of usability that can be used to evaluate the interactive systems are proposed (e.g., Shneiderman 14 ; Nielsen 15 ; Preece et al. 16 ; Shackel 17 ). Among them, Nielsen proposes a set of ten heuristics related to the efficiency in use, the learnability, the safety strategies to prevent errors and the users’ satisfaction. Besides, Shneiderman and Preece propose different parameters, i.e., speed of performance or throughput instead of efficiency in use. The

problem is that these standards and models suggest similar usability attributes using a different terminology with the result of increasing confusion in the activities of designers and developers alike. Moreover, current interactive systems have to support powerful functionalities, but also a simple, clear interface, they have to be ease of use but also ease of learning and, finally they have to be flexible but also provide good error handling. Especially if mobile interaction is considered, the usability parameters have to be revised because many issues arise involving both the interaction with the device itself and the navigation issues caused by the limited size of the display. This results in a well-known problem related to usability evaluation methods based on the cognitive engineering strategies 18,19,20 . Several authors claim that conventional usability evaluation methods like heuristic evaluation 21 and even exploratory methods like the cognitive walkthrough 22 seems to be not appropriate anymore to analyze Web 2.0 sites, social networking sites and mobile applications. For example, Silva and Dix 18 found that YouTube failed when tested using heuristic evaluation although it is one of the most popular Web environments. Therefore, in some situations “usability evaluations if wrongfully applied, can quash potentially valuable ideas early in the design process, incorrectly promote poor ideas, misdirect developers into solving minor vs. major problems or ignore (or incorrectly suggest) how a design would be adopted and use in everyday practice” 23 . The innovative ideas at the base of some interactive environments, especially in novel collaborative contexts, must not be discouraged by some negative results of usability evaluations, but they must rely on the enthusiasm of users demonstrated during testing.

Under this perspective, we developed a model that relies and extends de Souza’s (4) approach to Computer Semiotics and Semiotic Engineering. Computer Semiotics studies the way in which signs are created, how they represent different aspects of a phenomenon, and how they can be used to store and transmit information in order to design and develop successful interactive systems. Using the semiotic usability evaluation methods, all the messages and the signals by which the interactive systems are composed and that reflect the designer’s point of view, are analyzed to evaluate the interpretation and semiosis process performed by the end users. The way in which the users interpret what is perceived is in fact deeply affected by their profile (e.g., culture, language, abilities, disabilities) and backgrounds (e.g., educational level). The two semiotics evaluation methods we apply are the Semiotic Inspection Method (SIM) and the Communicability Evaluation Method (CEM).

An efficacy communication is a good comparison parameter for evaluating how the

conceptual model defined by designers fits the mental model of the users. SIM method

explores the emission of the communication, trying to reconstruct the messages sent by the

designer to the targeted users. CEM method explores the reception of the communication,

trying to identify through users’ observation the empirical evidence of the effects that the

designers’ messages have on the users’ interaction. We revised the way in which SIM’s and

CEM’s results are triangulated and analyzed linking the two methods in a more strict way.

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23 Greenberg, S., Buxton, W. Usability evaluation considered harmful (some of the time). In CHI, pages 111–120, 2008.

Mobile Access To Knowledge

Marta Pucciarelli, Lorenzo Cantoni Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland


Since about five thousand years ago, knowledge has been mediated by different types of

technologies. At first, oral speeches started to be translated into written texts, so handwriting

became the first “technology of the word” 1 arousing its powerful effect on the learning

environment until now. The expression technology of the word means all the artifacts

developed by human beings aiming to “fix” the oral language on an external vehicle/support,

to produce, reproduce and change a message, to move and to access information 2 .

During this time, technologies of the word have evolved in press, telegraph, telephone,

just to mention some of the main

cinema, radio, television, computer and mobile devices

steps of a complex story. The advancement of these technologies, as well as the evolution of

the society, have deeply affected also the way people learn. According to Mike Sharples 3 :

During the computer era of the past fifty years, education has been re- conceptualised around the construction of knowledge through information processing, modelling and interaction. For the era of mobile technology, we

may come to conceive of education as conversation in context, enabled by continual interaction through and with personal and mobile technology.”

Indeed, in the context in which we currently live, that of the information/knowledge

society, new channels allow people access to knowledge, and the relationships between

education, technology and society are more interwoven than ever 4 . Handheld devices have

become mediating tools for learning in a mobile society where also the nature of knowledge

and learning are changing. First of all, being able to find relevant information (and properly

evaluate its quality) is becoming the defining characteristic of learning in general, and

particularly of mobile learning 5 . Second, the role of teaching, and of teachers, in an on-line

environment is becoming at the same time less apparent and more pervasive. Actually,

bottom-up information and user-generated contributions to knowledge have become

essential to produce on-line knowledge, such as encyclopedia, and hic et nunc information, such as critical comments, Q&A, etc. Mobile communication, indeed, is enhanced the role of communication and context in the process of learning. According to Dewey “communication is the central process of education by means of we negotiate differences, understand each other’s experiences, and establish shared meaning” 6,7,3 .

Mobile Learning Is (should be) Collaborative, Personalized, Situated and Authentic

If we look for instance at the field of tourism, it is easy to demonstrate how the social interaction of users, by commenting or rating a specific destination, may influence the visitors’ knowledge and opinions on that place 8 . This reveals how learning strongly depends on the learning environment and the social interaction between learners and teachers. Indeed, according to Lave and Wegner, learning should also be considered as a social process whereby knowledge is co-constructed by a process of increased participation 9 . Among the most famous examples of user social interaction in the field of tourism is the TripAdvisor social network, in which tourists can find information about hotels, flights, restaurants and recreational activities of a destination reviewed by travelers who have been there, and who have posted their comments, photos, videos and rating of the quality of the place. Mobile devices easily support this kind of application answering the travelers’ need of information just in time, just enough, and just for them 10,4 . The example above demonstrates how learning can be effective in a collaborative environment as well as the immediacy of mobile devices to support collaborative learning experiences. Indeed, their portability facilitates the access to knowledge and knowledge sharing, prompting people to search for answers and to provide small pieces of information (such as a comment, a rate, or a picture). Furthermore, mobile devices offer the possibility to support a learning which is situated, personalized, and authentic. According to Traxler 4 , learning is personalized because it is based on the individuality of learners in term of personal history, context and needs, and on the opportunity to access the needed knowledge without space and time constraints. It is situated, because it takes place in the same context in which it is applied, supporting context-specific and immediate learning 9 . Finally mobile learning is authentic when it involves real-world problems/issues, and is based on specific tasks, such as data-capture, location-awareness, and collaborative working, that require

learner’s engagement in the exploration and inquiry, as well as the opportunity for social interactions.

Mobile Learning is Mobility

The literature is rich of mobile learning definitions, providing researchers with main characteristics like “personal, spontaneous, disruptive, opportunistic, informal, pervasive, situated, private, context-aware, bite-sized and portable” 5 . Besides that, we consider mobile learning from a learner-centred approach 11 , focused on the mobility of learners and of their learning experience, according to O’Melley’s definition of mobile learning as “any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies” 12 . We can observe how mobile technology are fostering a new trend of learning, based not only on the acquisition of information but also on the production of user-generated content. Wikipedia is the most famous example of on-line, free and collaborative platform, allowing learners to share their knowledge through the creation of articles or the modification of existing ones. Moreover, this phenomenon related to the use of mobile technology, has evolved in the so-called citizen-journalism, where members of the public using telephones, SMS/MMS, and camera-phones capture information, and post it straight onto shared platforms such as Flickr, Youtube, Twitter, and others more specific depending on their goals

(5) .

Ushahidi, for example, is an open source platform for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping, aiming to “democratize information, increase transparency and lower the barriers for individuals to share their stories” 13 . Its main innovative aspect is that it requires only a basic mobile phone with short message services (SMS) capacity to collect users’ contributions. For this reason Ushahidi has been used mainly in developing countries, “to monitor elections, track violence and crime, provide logistical support in natural disasters, and oversee interventions” 14 . For sure, crowd-sourced information cannot replace checking of facts and official sources, but allow people on the ground to capture events as they are happening, and disseminate stories, photos and videos instantly, even without requiring internet connection or high cost solutions 14 .

Mobile Technologies Support Formal and Informal Learning

Mobile devices offer the opportunity to support both formal learning and teaching, as well as informal and lifelong learning 15 . According to Cross, formal learning is a way of learning which is done purposely, with a scheduled timing, a fixed location, a strict control, a written contract between the learner and the institution, with a highly structured program based on certain content, which provide specific outcomes 16 . An example of formal mobile learning is the “M-Drill: Progressing effortlessly” educational App, developed by the cyberlab of HES-HO, aiming to improve students’ English language skills and progressions in sixty different levels. Users, once subscribed, have to defined their free time slots for the quizzes and then they will receive drill notifications. When students make a mistake, the system automatically detects the nature of the error and proposes others questions of the same type. In this perspective mobile learning is characterized as an extension of e-Learning 11 in which “conventional” activities of e-Learning can be also achieved through mobile phone applications. Within informal learning, instead, the learning experience is mostly incidental, and may happen anytime and anywhere in daily life. Learners have not signed any contract with institutions and the learning process is unstructured, uncontrolled, with unstated outcomes and based on fuzzy content 16 . The activities supporting learning could be personal experiences, relationships, play, manipulation, conversation, the web and all those activities that are basically free and spontaneous. An example of this category is the use of handheld devices (e.g.: Apple iPad) as a cultural artifact and mediator between visitors and guides of a cultural institution; in such a case in Switzerland, an iPad application prototype proved to partially stimulate reactions in visitors, and, most of all, to foster social discussion, debates, and negotiation of meanings 17 . As we can see from the examples above, mobile devices may be a convenient source of information and tool for communication in order to support formal and informal learning. Moreover, they emphasize the role of ownership, informality, spontaneity, mobility and context that will be less accessible to ‘conventional’ e-Learning, enhancing additional unique functionalities (as location-awareness or video-capturing) to promote educational experiences that would otherwise be difficult or impossible 5 .

M-Learning for Development

The above literature and examples on mobile learning shows how handheld devices are particularly suitable in collaborative, situated, personalized, authentic and formal and informal environments. Recent studies also have demonstrate that effectiveness of mobile learning especially in developing countries, where the use of ICTs is very limited and challenged by environment and infrastructural constrains 18,19,20 . In fact, in most African Countries mobile communications have been the main driver of ICT considering that “no other technology has been in the hands of so many people in so many countries in such a short time, and globally more people now have access to a mobile device than to justice or legal services” 14 . This is because mobile phones are cheap, portable, and a user friendly technological tool that offers people real-time interactive voice communication, SMS and access to information without requiring neither high physical infrastructure, nor an high level of literacy 21,14 . In the Republic of Cameroun for example, mobile subscriptions per 100 people rose from 12% in 2005 to 44% by 2010, with 85% of the population now covered by a signal 22 . Moreover, the price of monthly mobile basket in 2009 was quite affordable, i.e. less than 15% of the country Gross National Income (GNI) per capita 23 .

Mobile A2K: Culture and Safety in Africa

Finally, the project presented here involves the issues of mobile learning from a wider perspective. Mobile Access to Knowledge: Culture and Safety in Africa. Documenting and assessing the impact of cultural events and public art on urban safety (Mobile A2K) is a project coordinated by SUPSI University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, conceived and supported by lettera27 Foundation and co-funded by Swiss Network for International Studies. As the title implies, Mobile A2K aims to exploit mobile technologies to facilitate people’s access to knowledge about public art installations and urban safety in three violent African cities: Douala (Cameroun), Luanda (Angola) and Johannesburg (South Africa). Mobile A2K is mainly addressed to local citizens, national educational institutions, local governments, tourists and scholars. From a cultural, historical and touristic point of view it is difficult to find information about urban public art in African cities, and even more difficult to find specific information

related to the level of safety and security of those areas. The Ushahidi software will be used

to map several cultural hubs of the three mentioned cities. The goal is to relate cultural

knowledge to the level of safety (in terms of food, water, infrastructures, etc.) and security (in

term of criminality) of the cities’ urban neighborhoods where public art installations are

positioned. Finally the results will be mapped and compared in order to define if culture can

produce positive side effects on urban safety. Data about public installations will be provided

by the committer art galleries and institutions, while information about safety and security

will be collected through user-generated content and citizens’ SMS linked directly to the

Ushahidi platform that will localize them in a geographical position.

The visualization of information on a map could provide a learning experience to

citizens and tourists, as well as schools and cultural art institutions. Besides, the

democratization of information could enhance also communication between citizens and

government, and become a strategic way for the government to be update on citizens’ needs

in order to offer primary services to all 14 .

1 Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. Theatre Arts Books.

2 Cantoni, L. (2007). E-learning. Capire, progettare, comunicare (Vol. 18). FrancoAngeli.

3 Sharples, M. (2005). Learning as conversation: Transforming education in the mobile age. Proceedings of conference on seeing, understanding, learning in the mobile age (pp. 147–


4 Traxler, J. (2009a). Current State of Mobile Learning 1. Mobile learning, 9.

5 Traxler, J. (2009b). Learning in a mobile age. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL), 1(1), 1–12.

6 Cantoni, L. (2006). Educational Communication and The Case for ICTs. A two ways route. Studies in Communication Sciences, 2006 (Vols. 1-2, Vol. 6, pp. 9–22).

7 Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. The Macmillan Company.

8 Marchiori, E., & Cantoni, L. (2011). The Online Reputation Construct: Does it Matter for the Tourism Domain? A Literature Review on Destinations’ Online Reputation. Information Technology &# 38; Tourism, 13(3), 139–159.

9 Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press.

10 Inversini, A., Cantoni, L., & Buhalis, D. (2009). Destinations’ information competition and Web reputation. Information Technology #38; Tourism, 11(3), 221–234.

11 Sharples, M. (2006). Big issues in mobile learning.

12 O’Malley, C., Vavoula, G., Glew, J. P., Taylor, J., Sharples, M., & Lefrere, P. (2003). Guidelines for learning/teaching/tutoring in a mobile environment. Retrieved from http://

13 Ushahidi. (2008). Ushahidi - about us. Ushahidi. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from http://

14 UNDP, U. N. D. P. (2012). Mobile technology and empowerment: Enhancing human development through participation and innovation (pp. 1–58). New York, NY, USA: Bureau for Development Policy.

15 Futurelab, N., Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavoula, G., Sharples, M., & Series, N. F. (2004). Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning.

16 Cross, J. (2006). Informal learning: Rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance. Pfeiffer.

17 Sala, L., Vannini, S., & Rubegni, E. (n.d.). Mobile Learning in Cultural Institutions through the use of an Apple iPad application prototype. A case study at Monte Verità.

18 Donner, J. (2008). Research approaches to mobile use in the developing world: A review of the literature. The Information Society, 24(3), 140–159.

19 ITU. (2003). Mobile overtakes fixed: Implications for policy and regulation. International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved from Resources/Mobileovertakes_Paper.pdf

20 Kukulska-Hulme, A., Traxler, J., & Pettit, J. (2007). Designed and user-generated activity in the mobile age. Journal of Learning Design, 2(1), 52–65.

21 Donner, J. (2010). The use of mobile phones by microentrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda:

Changes to social and business networks. Information Technologies and International Development, 3(2), 3.

22 Dominguez-Torres, C., & Foster, V. (2011). Cameroon’s Infrastructure: A Continental Perspective (Country report). Africa infrastructure country diagnostic (p. 59). Washington, DC 20433 USA: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.

23 The World Bank. (2009). Cameroun Profile. Retrieved May 10, 2012, from http://

Designing an m-Learning Application

Permanand Mohan University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago


In this article, the challenges of using mobile phones for learning are highlighted. This is followed by a discussion of the opportunities made possible for learning using mobile phones. The article also explains the importance of using instructional design principles to guide the process of producing content for mobile applications.

Challenges of using Mobile Devices for Learning

There are several challenges with using a mobile phone for learning. Barker, Krull and Mallinson 1 identify problems such as the small screen size of the mobile device, the time consuming nature of inputting data, the device not being rugged enough for schools, the high cost of software and accessories, the necessity to charge the phone often, the fact that not all courses are suited for a mobile device, and it is difficult for teachers to control when learning takes place. Trifonova and Ronchetti 2 also mention the bandwidth limitations and the limited processing capabilities of a mobile device as well its small memory and navigational issues.

In recent years, smartphones are becoming more and more popular and many of the challenges associated with using a mobile phone for learning are quickly disappearing. Nevertheless, in under-developed areas of the world where cheaper “feature phones” are more common, these challenges will limit the richness of the mobile learning experiences that can be designed.

Opportunities of Mobile Learning

Despite the challenges, mobile phones provide relatively inexpensive opportunities for learning since mobile phones are so common today. Mobile devices also allow sound, text, pictures, and video files to be downloaded to and uploaded from the device. Finally, mobile

devices enable learners to learn anytime and anywhere. Mobile learning offers excellent opportunities to open up education to many who have long been excluded from it. To benefit from the opportunities afforded by mobile learning, it is important to design instructional scenarios that take into consideration the physical limitations of the mobile phones as well as the ways in which mobile phones are used in authentic environment.

In designing learning scenarios using technology, it is easy to lose focus and think that the technology, by itself, can deliver the desired learning outcomes. However, Koper 3 claims it is the pedagogical design used in conjunction with the features of the medium that will lead to successful learning. Thus, there is a need to consider instructional design principles when designing mobile learning scenarios.

Instructional Design Principles

An important instructional design issue is taking content and learning activities from a syllabus and designing suitable mobile learning experiences based on this content. Given the small screen size, it is recommended that only small chunks of content should be presented at a time to a learner. Too much information on the screen is difficult to read and will tend to frustrate learners. The content must also be represented in a form that is suitable for the type of learners and mobility that is expected. For example, if content is targeted for learners as they commute on a bus or when they go about their daily activities, the content must be short and well-focused. It should also be pointed out that content designed for typical e- Learning scenarios may not work in a mobile learning situation simply because it is not suitable for the anywhere, anytime type of learner targeted by mobile learning.

It is recommended that the interface of a mobile learning application should be built in such a way to convey the message using the smallest amount of text; proper navigation must also be built into the system to allow learners to move between screens and sections of a lesson 4 . In addition, the interface must be appropriate for individual learners (possibly using different types of phones) and the system should be able to customise the interface based on an individual learner’s characteristics 5 .

The mobile phone provides opportunities to interact with learners in ways not possible in traditional learning scenarios. For example, text messages can be sent to learners directing them to study material that is available elsewhere (e.g., in a book or the Internet). Learners can also send text messages to request help as they work on a problem. Mobile phones also

support the possibility of collaborative learning where two or more learners can collaborate

with each other during the learning process.


Mobile learning offers tremendous opportunities to reach learners in novel ways.

However, the content must be designed properly to compensate for the small screen size of

the devices as well as the habits of a learner who is often on the go. It is recommended that

learning materials should use multimedia strategies that are information-rich instead of

textual strategies 6 . As a result, the writing style of course developers has to change from

textual writing to incorporating a greater use of visuals, photographs, videos and audio.

1 Barker, A., Krull, G., and Mallinson, B. (2005). A Proposed Theoretical Model for M- Learning Adoption in Developing Countries. In Proceedings of mLearn 2005: Mobile technology: The future of learning in your hands, 25 -28 October, 2005, South Africa, Cape Town, London: WLE Centre

2 Trifonova, A., and Ronchetti, M. (2003). Where is Mobile Learning Going? World Conference on E-learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (E- Learn 2003), 7 – 11 November, 2003, Phoenix, Arizona, pp. 1794-1801.

3 Koper, R. (2001). Modelling Units of Study from a Pedagogical Perspective: The Pedagogical Meta-Model Behind EML. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from the World Wide Web: http://lnx-

4 Ally, M. (2004). Using learning theories to design instruction for mobile learning devices. 3 rd European Conference on Mobile Learning (MLearn 2004), 5 - 6 July, 2004, Rome, Italy, pp. 5-8.

5 Marin, D., and Mohan, P. (2009). Personalization in Mobile Learning. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organization, 3(1), pp. 25-43.

6 Elias, T. (2011). Universal instructional design principles for mobile learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12 (2), February 2011

m-Learning for Languages

Pankaj Nathani Nokia Research Center, Bangalore, India


The modern day mobile phones, commonly known as smartphones, perform almost all the functions of a high end desktop computer, have an easy to use interface (with cutting edge technologies like touch, voice and gesture input) and improved access of being usable anywhere, anytime. Today, almost everyone carries a mobile phone and the concept of m- Learning, modernly described as "learning on the move", makes the mobile phone an effective educational tool. With higher penetration of mobile phones, the opportunities to access learning resources have increased multifold.

The application stores for mobile phones have a good number of educational applications these days. For example, one such application in Nokia store is Brain Champion 1 . The Brain champion application is based on small exercises that the learners can take, mainly in the areas of mental computation, visual memory, calculation and logic. The learners can opt for various difficulty levels -junior, master and genius, and can also take up daily exercises in all the aforementioned areas so that they can track their performance over a period of time.

that they can track their performance over a period of time. Figure 1: Screenshots of Brain
that they can track their performance over a period of time. Figure 1: Screenshots of Brain
that they can track their performance over a period of time. Figure 1: Screenshots of Brain

Figure 1: Screenshots of Brain champion application available in Nokia store 1 .

Another good example of an educational application available today is Touch'n'Learn 2 . This application can be used on touch screen mobile phones and specially designed for physically challenged children who have problems in using pen and paper or any other pedagogical material. The application really makes it easy for such children (or even children in general) to learn on a touch screen which has big and uncomplicated user interface.

touch screen which has big and uncomplicated user interface. Figure 2: Screenshots of Touch’n’Learn application

Figure 2: Screenshots of Touch’n’Learn application available in Nokia developer projects 2 .

The above examples of applications available today suggest how "mobile" and "modern technology" aspects of a phone like -engaging repetitive usage by a good interface and ease of access, allowing learners to track their performance and more importantly making learning fun by incorporating it in an informal format- can be useful for learners.

This paper would briefly discuss how language learning can be improved with m- Learning, with some example concepts for Indian languages. The conventional way of language learning is classroom bound where a teacher teaches the language by grammar rules and literature. However, through m-Learning -by mobile participation in short exercises and tasks, learners are not able to only learn a language from scratch but also to keep their linguistic skills upto the mark, while not endangering the abasement of their valuable acquaintance with the language and skillset. That being said, mobile learning can be very well used inside a class room as well, a good example of this is demonstrated in the Learn4Life blog 3 .

Language learning through m-Learning

In a country like India, which has 22 official languages 4 –with hundreds of active dialects, a person who lives in a non-native state is most likely not to be literate in the local language. Huge number of people migrates to a different state due to business/work, family, etc. Migrated people find difficulties in communicating with the local folk in their day to day life, and crave to learn the local language of the new place to make their life much simpler!

m-Learning would be the perfect channel for such people to learn and practice the new local language, with their daily busy routines.

Concepts and interactions for languages learning Apps

Some of the crucial factors to account for while designing and developing language learning applications are,

The high probability of English illiteracy or semi-literacy among the learners –In countries of growth economies, the percentage of such learners is significantly high. For instance, a language input transliteration tool wouldn't work well if the target audience isn't well versed in English.

Degree of functional awareness, among learners, about their own mobile phones – while designing educational applications, it's important to assume only a basic level of awareness among learners about the features of their phones, since many mobile phone users are not aware about all the features of their phones. Also it helps to know the interaction of the learners with the service providers –how comfortable are they with basic processes of tracking their expenses, activation/deactivation of services or using recharge vouchers, etc.

Language learning can be employed through various concepts and the learning solutions/ applications can use various interactions. Some of them are discussed below but the possibilities of fully exploiting the features of a mobile phone like GPS location, accelerometers, camera, etc. to create better learning experiences are indeed endless!

Touch based applications

One may feel that learning a language on a mobile device wouldn't still be able to teach you to write the language as well as a classroom teacher. But on the contrary, learning "language writing" can be fairly efficient using the modern day mobile devices. Today most of the mobile phones come with a touch screen input. For example, an application could allow tracing a character or a word on the screen and teaching the learner writing correct techniques.

Figure 3: Application teaching to write in Hindi. Touch interactions can be used heavily in

Figure 3: Application teaching to write in Hindi.

Touch interactions can be used heavily in educational games as well.

Speech based applications

Another important interaction possible on a mobile phone is voice. Since languages are learnt to be spoken and also heard and made sense of –voice can be a powerful interface for learners. Learners have an advantage to learn the right pronunciations of a language, while using speech based m-Learning solutions.

m-Learning solutions based on speech can be using sophisticated technologies like speech recognition to interpret user input or a simple interactive voice response system (IVRS). In such an application, the narrator plays out a question, which would have a correct answer. The user presses the corresponding key or speaks out the answer, which can be matched with the correct response. Thus, this activity is based on listening and responding. A good example of such an implementation is the "English Seekho" 5 (translates to "Learn English"), an m-Learning initiative by service provider –Tata Indicom in India, which uses IVR application to guide the learner through audio clips that teach English. The clips can be navigated by the learner on the basis of the audio cues of the application.

Voice based applications through IVR, can prove to be quite successful especially if the target audience has a huge number of people who primarily use the predominant feature of

the mobile phone, i.e., voice calling. Also, by using speech based solutions in general the learner can avoid navigating through the application –which may not be customary for him.

Voice based applications can also be simpler by combining it with other interactions like touch -for example, an application that starts by merely showing the learner a chart of the alphabets of a language and speaks out the alphabets when the learner taps on them. After the learner is comfortable with the alphabets he can move on to conjuncts or words and continue learning likewise.

Engaging the user with language learning applications

For a language learning application, it is important for the learner to use it regularly and more often, participate in the activities or exercises that the application provides to keep his linguistic talents sharp. So, the more engaging the applications are for the learner, the better purpose it would serve. Engaging the learner solely depends on the type of content and the learning experience that an application delivers.

Conventional applications

One form of popular language learning applications, available in the application stores today, is language dictionary. Dictionary applications function pretty much like a physical dictionary –the user searches by inputting a word or a phrase and can find out its meaning, word form, usage in sentences, etc. As useful as dictionary applications might seem to be, they are less engaging for the learners. For example, the above described dictionary application can be made more intuitive to use by using some advanced mobile phone features -like for example, the camera. Instead of letting the user type in the word -the application could provide the learner with an option to click a picture of the word/phrase- and use optical character recognition (OCR) to recognize the word or the phrase. The application could then show the learner more information about the word or phrase. Again, this can still be made more engaging by adding features like –allowing the learner to do an internet search for the word, translating the word to a known language, etc.

Flashcard based language learning applications are popular too –in such applications the learner is usually shown a word as a question and the reverse side of the card contains the answer in the form of picture of the word overleaf. The words used for flashcards are pretty

much of a basic level -usually name of fruits or daily consumables. Flashcard based applications are quite effective since they involve some level of gamification in a Q&A format, and the learners would prefer taking short activities of flashcards on a daily basis, then attending everyday classes or reading a book to learn the same level of language words.

Gamified applications

Speaking of gamification, language learning applications can be significantly gamified to create new learning experiences for the learner. On the other hand, language learning aspects can be added to existing games converting them into m-Learning solutions. For example, the famous snake game on mobile phones can be converted into a word learning game by making a slight modification as shown in the graphic below. Instead of food, the snake is allowed to eat alphabets and complete the given word.

is allowed to eat alphabets and complete the given word. Figure 4: Snake game for learning

Figure 4: Snake game for learning Hindi words.

Another good example of modifying a well-known game into a language learning solution can be of a jigsaw puzzle. As shown in the graphic below, a jigsaw puzzle of an alphabet of a language can be created; the objective of the game being to reform the alphabet as shown in the original form.

Figure 5: Puzzle game for learning Hindi alphabets Using the similar concept of adding learning

Figure 5: Puzzle game for learning Hindi alphabets

Using the similar concept of adding learning to popular games, we see a lot of educational games in the application stores –most of them being word/alphabet games. However, there is still more scope for more sophisticated language learning games or gamified applications –more importantly, there is still scope for games that would utilize more features of the mobile phone.

Creating location and context aware applications

Mobile phones have become (very) personal belongings of people, who carry it with them almost all the time. This fact makes it possible to create location aware m-Learning applications, how to take advantage of the location information of the learner is up to the designer of the application. A simple example of a location based educational application could be for tourists who travel across different countries and states. Tourists may feel a need to learn basic level of local language for the place they are visiting. The application would automatically get their location (area, city, state and country) from the GPS receiver chip embedded in the mobile phone or from the network information and provide basic level knowledge of the new language. Thus, the application could be intelligent to provide learners with relevant language exercises or tips –without the tourists needing to update their location or language in the application all the time. Besides this, the application could also pull relevant hyper-local content for the tourist learners like local news, events, places of interest, etc based on their locations.

Just like location information, more information about the learner can be obtained from the various other sensors embedded in the modern day smartphones and by monitoring the

learner's general use of phone features. Many of the smartphones come with an

accelerometer and/or a gyroscope –which basically helps in detecting the movement and

orientation of the mobile phone, respectively. The data obtained from these sensors can be

used to enhance the usage of the application. For example, an application like Brain

champion (from Introduction) which offers the learners a daily exercise –could compute

when is the best time in the day to offer exercises to the learner. These computations can be

done on the basis of the sensor data and other data available from a mobile phone like call

and message logs, etc.


With the increasing use of mobile phones and other hand-handled devices, this form of

informal learning has a great potential for significantly changing language teaching and

learning practices. The possibilities of using creative m-Learning applications for language

learning are limitless– in this paper we have just attempted to sketch out a few.

3 What happens when you give a class of 8 year old children an iPod touch each? http://

5 English Seekho – an m-Learning initiative of Tata Indicom in India http://

Teaching Physics with the iPad

Carlo Fonda ICTP Science Dissemination Unit, Trieste, Italy

This article examines a few issues and perspectives associated with the use of iPads 1 from Apple to teach physics and mathematics at high-school level, as well as a support for lectures and laboratory activities for undergraduate students.

The iPad

The Apple iPad™ is a family of tablet 2 devices designed

Apple iPad™ is a family of tablet 2 devices designed and marketed by Apple. The iPad

and marketed by Apple. The iPad are available in multiple models with different storage capacity (up to 64GB) and three different generations: the original iPad (april 2010), the iPad 2 (march 2011, characterized mainly by the addition of two video/photo cameras that enabled video communications and added augmented reality capabilities) and the new iPad (march 2012, with a higher-resolution Retina display and 4G connectivity). All the models are based on the iOS Operating System (also by Apple), the same used in the many iPod touch and iPhone models; for this reason, they are also referred altogether as iOS devices or iDevices. While is still under debate if tablets are “full” computers, or just big smartphones with a larger display and improved capabilities (a third possibility sometimes considered is that they represent a new revolutionary category of post-PC devices), it's commonly accepted that they and their distinctive multitouch interface 3 are the latest incarnation of the pervasive personal information device envisioned many decades ago, but never fully realized before.

of the pervasive personal information device envisioned many decades ago, but never fully realized before. 91

While their precise definition is still argued, tablets are undoubtedly becoming widespread as multimedia players and text readers, with added capabilities as web-browsers, e-mail clients and the possibility of installing and running an incredible number of applications (Apps) for a wide range of purposes, from games to professional software. All these aspects, and especially the availability of Apps (at the end of November 2011, Apple advertised in holiday newsletter of on-line Apple Store there are more than 140,000 iPad Apps available on the App Store), concur into making tablets a very promising class of devices for education, useful not just for primary and middle school but also at higher levels, up to high school and university (and beyond). Of course, the iPad isn't the only player in this valuable market: nowadays many other companies are producing and selling various models of tablet devices with Operating Systems other that Apple's iOS, like Android tablets (software by Google, hardware by multiple vendors) and Microsoft Windows 7 slates. A comprehensive list is available in this web page: wiki/Comparison_of_tablet_computers. But it's worth to note that the iPad currently has the majority of the market share (more than 60% in 2012, and NPD predicts 4 that it will remain over 50% until at least 2017), therefore it's common practice to refer only to the iPad family when discussing of tablets and their applications. This notwithstanding, most if not all of the general concepts expressed here and many of the suggestions for educational use of iPads are valid also for other tablets.

educational use of iPads are valid also for other tablets. Learning on the move Maybe the

Learning on the move

Maybe the most immediate and off-the-shelf purpose for a tablet device in the hands of a

student is to enable him/her to watch (or just listen) to a video lecture (or to read its transcript). When looking for possible sources of

educational video material, YouTube seems to be the obvious, easy answer to all our needs, but unfortunately its huge archive of freely available videos comes with the typical problem of an uncurated repository, to which anyone is allowed to upload (almost) any material: the lack of quality control and

of an uncurated repository, to which anyone is allowed to upload (almost) any material: the lack

validation of contents (the best videos 5 are often lost in a huge pile of irrelevant material). Still, video recordings of lectures are a fundamental part of many e-Learning and blended-learning programs, allowing students to follow one or more courses at their pace, without time and other constrains, when at home or on the move (i.e., commuting from/to school). An added value of accessing a multimedia archive of lessons with a tablet is that this possibility, in addition to the normal face-to-face lectures, can help mitigate some language problems for non- mother-tongue students (they can replay a difficult sentence many times) and can also improve the chances of understanding for students with learning difficulties (they can follow the same lesson multiple times until the topic is clear). Apple's concept of iTunes U Courses 6 extends such features adding annotations, sharing, evaluation and progress tracking, so that the final product (optimized for iPad) can provide an experience similar to what is achievable with a Learning Management System 7 like Moodle (or similar others, commonly used nowadays by universities all around the world), but without the hassle of installing and maintaining a complex and expensive computer infrastructure at the institution (contents can be hosted for free on Apple's servers).

and expensive computer infrastructure at the institution (contents can be hosted for free on Apple's servers).
and expensive computer infrastructure at the institution (contents can be hosted for free on Apple's servers).
and expensive computer infrastructure at the institution (contents can be hosted for free on Apple's servers).

The following table summarizes the most relevant characteristics of different types of

educational material (textual, audio, video, interactive) that can be used when teaching

physics, with a few examples and on-line sources.





Audio podcast

Plenty of material on various scientific topics: high quality, entertaining, easy to "consume" (it's like listening to music), doesn't need a tablet or PC (a cheap mp3 player is enough).

Good for “personal consumption”, not so much for use in classrooms (audio- only can be boring). Some podcasts are moving (or planning to move) to video format.

A few examples of excellent podcasts:

“The Naked Scientists”, ”This Week in Science”, ”Science Friday”, ”RadioLab”; Nature, Science and BBC also have podcasts.

Video podcast

Sometimes, an image tells more than a thousand words.

Video podcasts are less common than audio-only ones.

See (category ”Science”). Very good videos are produced by NOVA (

iTunes U videos

Videos are organized in collections and easily searchable, sources are highly reputed and the quality is guaranteed.

Mainly targeted to universities, since 2012 also open to high schools. It's a “walled garden” fully controlled by Apple.

Physics lectures: MIT OpenCourseWare (Walter Lewin!), ICTP, Stanford, Oxford, Imperial College of London, Yale, …

iTunes U Courses

Added features:

It requires the specific (free) “iTunes U” App, only available for the Apple iPad and iPhone (or iTunes software, free for Mac and Win PCs).

iTunes U Courses were introduced at the beginning of 2012, there isn't much material available yet for physics, but it's growing.

annotations, progress tracking, interactions with other students, assignments. Much better educational approach than plain video collections.


There are videos about everything (and more). Most are amateurish, but some are professionally produced.

Totally unregulated archive, no guarantee of scientific quality. Constant teacher's guidance is therefore needed.

“YouTube EDU” is a portal collecting the best of YouTube's educational videos (primary/secondary education, university)


High quality videos and reach media for the academic and research scientists.

The focus is scientific research, more than education. Not many videos on physics.

Founded by two researchers; SciVee's motto is: “Making science visible”.





Web sources

Web archives of video/rich media recordings of lectures, seminars and courses given at universities and research institutions.

Not always well optimized for mobile and tablet devices; sometimes video decoding isn't working on all platforms (i.e., Flash).

Many rich media archives are present also on the iTunes U (or podcast) platform. Plenty of material, from high-school to post-graduate level.

(ICTP:, MIT OpenCourseWare:, and many others)

Content (links) aggregators


Aggregators provides links to selected videos from various web sources, usually after a process of review and scrutiny.

After some time, links may become broken or content obsolete, and the selection criteria aren’t always clearly explained.


selection process

done by a third party (and not by the same

institution that makes the content) can provide better quality



the material.

iPad Apps (Khan Academy:

Native Apps provide a richer, intuitive user interface. Khan Academy App can download video for off-line view (not possible with the Science360 App).

Such iPad Apps are alternate (optimized) solutions to view the very same contents available on the web and accessible with a normal web browser.

Khan Academy videos cover K-12 math and science. Science360 (offered by NSF of USA) gathers videos of science, engineering and technology.



The digital version of the old, good printed books, in a format that's much easier to carry around, access, annotate and share.

Good for reference material, but the lack of interactivity makes it less captivating.

There are a few file formats: .epub is

native for iPad, .mobi



used by Kindle


Reader App, .pdf is also very common.


Very promising new format created by Apple, it supports text, images, audio/ video and interactive elements (“widgets”).

Quite new, it has been introduced only in 2012 (not much material available). Only supported by the iPad.

iBooks Author, a very powerful (but still user-friendly) ebooks authoring software is available as a free download from Apple (for Mac only).


There isn’t enough space here to list even a small part of all the websites in which

universities and other educational and research institutions publish their repositories of

documents, rich media and educational material, in all the languages of the world.

Specialized search engines, like ScienceHack (, and web indexes, like

OpenCulture ( are good places where to start looking

for such content in the field of physics. On the other side, general-purpose services like Google Search or Yahoo are of little use, because they cannot guarantee a reasonable scientific quality of their results (ranked mostly by popularity and/or general interest). It is also important to note that a new generation of interactive ebooks made possible by powerful authoring tools like iBooks Author 8 can change the way students approach physics courses.

Social networking for education

While there are many research studies 9 in which physical and mathematical theories and concepts are applied to analyze the behavior and characteristics of Social Networks (SN), very little was done to study the potential usefulness of SN to improve the learning experience in physics and mathematics (or in science in general). There is a huge variety of

SN, with different characteristics and number of registered users 10 . To mention just a few among the well-known ones: Facebook,

Google+, MySpace, Badoo and Hi5 (all general-purpose SN), Twitter and Tumblr, (microblogging), Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest (photo sharing and tagging), FourSquare (geolocation), Anobii (books), LinkedIn (business), LastFM (music) are largely popular among adults and students of all ages, to communicate and share

information, interests, emotions, activities and hobbies. Notably, very little was available for the field of education, and only very recently a big

company like Microsoft has identified this unoccupied niche and launched 11 a new SN called “Social” (, that aims to facilitate learning among the young (still being also a general-purpose SN, with the idea to compete with Facebook and Google+). On a smaller scale, the only other exception to this situation is Scitable (see: http://, a free science library and personal learning tool (also providing social networking functions and services), managed by Nature Publishing Group and specialized in genetics and cell biology; unfortunately there is no equivalent for physics or mathematics at the moment.

in genetics and cell biology; unfortunately there is no equivalent for physics or mathematics at the
in genetics and cell biology; unfortunately there is no equivalent for physics or mathematics at the

There is an App for it (and for physics too!)

As already seen in the table of the previous section, iPad Apps are an interesting alternative to web browsers for accessing scientific rich media contents (streaming audio and/

or video from institutional servers, images, …), often with the useful added option of caching of multimedia files locally on the device. But Apps can do much more than this, in fact they are the mobile (tablet or smartphone) equivalent of all the software (i.e., applications) commonly used on Macintosh, Windows or Linux Personal Computers. And iPad Apps, to counterbalance the limitations of this hardware

platform (small screens, far-from-powerful CPUs and GPUs, lack of input/output interfaces, limited storage space, to mention only a few), offer some very interesting features: a natural and intuitive User Interface (UI) that make use of the multitouch capabilities of the device (enabling gestures 12 with more than one finger like pinch, rotation, swipe), highly engineered code that packs advanced features in a small footprint (the size of the App) with highly efficient use of the processing capabilities, easy portability for field usage (due to the small physical dimensions of the tablet), quick switch-