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Mobile learning in practice

Piloting a mobile learning teachers’  toolkit


in further education colleges
Carol Savill-Smith  LSN
Jill Attewell  LSN
Geoff Stead  Tribal CTAD
Mobile learning in practice
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’  toolkit
in further education colleges
Carol Savill-Smith  LSN
Jill Attewell  LSN
Geoff Stead  Tribal CTAD
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that exists to make England better skilled and more competitive

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank all the college tutors and coordinators
who took part in this project, Lilian Soon for her assistance, and the
development and support team at Tribal CTAD.
Contents

Executive summary   v
Introduction   1
Section 1 Mobile learning   2
2 Developing a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit   6
3 The pilot    13
4 Research approach    17
5 The tutors    19
6 Using the SMS authoring tool    23
7 Using the MyLearning games    28
8 Using the mediaBoard    32
9 Other uses of the devices by the tutors    35
10 Students using their own mobile devices for SMS and MMS    36
11 The impact of mobile learning on teaching    38
12 The impact of mobile learning on students’ learning    41
13 Integrating the mobile learning toolkit into the curriculum    43
14 Tutors’ views of the value of mobile learning    45
15 Tutors’ views of the cost-effectiveness    47
of using handheld computers for learning
16 Mobile learning – changing attitudes to    49
learning, teaching and mobile technology
17 Tutors’ feedback on technical support    51
18 Findings and lessons learned    52
19 Conclusions    60
20 Note for tutors who may be interested in    60
using the mobile learning toolkit
References    61
Further reading    62
Appendix A Examples of the SMS quizzes created    63
B Examples of learning games created    73
C Examples of mediaBoards created    85

See overleaf for a more detailed table of contents


Executive summary   v
Introduction   v
Key findings    vi
Other findings    viii
Conclusions    viii
Introduction   1

Section 1 Mobile learning   2 8 Using the mediaBoard    32


Section 1.1What is mobile learning?   2 8.1 Analysis of data    32
1.2 The m-learning project   3 8.2 Time spent creating mediaBoards    32
1.3 Building on the findings of the   5 and ease of use
m-learning project 8.3 Summary of examples of use    33
1.4 The aim of the mobile learning   5 8.4 Success factors for mediaBoard activities    34
teachers’ toolkit project
9 Other uses of the devices by the tutors    35
2 Developing a mobile learning   6 9.1 As an experiment using one device    35
teachers’ toolkit instead of several
2.1 Framework   6 9.2 For camera-related learning activities    35
2.2 SMS quizzes   6
10 Students using their own mobile devices    36
2.3 The MyLearning games for PocketPC   8
for SMS and MMS
2.4 The mediaBoard    11
10.1 The students’ use of their own    36
3 The pilot    13 mobile phones to take part
3.1 The colleges and tutors    13 10.2 Reimbursing students for taking part using    37
3.2 Research questions    13 their own mobile devices
3.3 Training for tutors    14
11 The impact of mobile learning on teaching    38
3.4 Mobile devices used    14
3.5 Service providers and SIM cards    15 12 The impact of mobile learning on    41
3.6 Providing equipment for students    15 students’ learning
3.7 Reimbursing students for using    16
13 Integrating the mobile learning toolkit    43
their own mobile devices
into the curriculum
3.8 Supporting the tutors    16
14 Tutors’ views of the value of    45
4 Research approach    17
mobile learning
5 The tutors    19
15 Tutors’ views of the cost-effectiveness    47
5.1 Subjects taught    19
of using handheld computers for learning
5.2 Gender    19
5.3 Use of digital devices    19 16 Mobile learning – changing attitudes to    49
5.4 Tutors’ previous mobile learning experience    22 learning, teaching and mobile technology
5.5 The preparation of the learning materials    22 16.1 Changing the mindset of students    49
5.6 Tutor collaboration    22 16.2 Changing the mindset of tutors    50
5.7 Tutors’ wish to continue mobile learning    22
17 Tutors’ feedback on technical support    51
6 Using the SMS authoring tool    23
18 Findings and lessons learned    52
6.1 Analysis of data    23
18.1 The findings    52
6.2 Time spent creating SMS quizzes    23
18.2 Lessons learned    57
and ease of use
6.3 Summary of examples of use    24 19 Conclusions    60
6.4 Success factors for SMS quizzes    25
20 Note for tutors who may be interested in    60
6.5 Monitoring students’ progress    26
using the mobile learning toolkit
7 Using the MyLearning games    28
7.1 Analysis of data    28
7.2 Time spent creating games and ease of use    28
7.3 Summary of examples of use    29
7.4 Success factors for learning games    30

References    61
Further reading    62
Appendix A Examples of the SMS quizzes created    63
B Examples of learning games created    73
Pairs games    73
Snap games    79
Quiz games    82
C Examples of mediaBoards created    85
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Executive summary 

Introduction
Following completion of the m-learning project in 2004, the Learning and Skills
Development Agency (LSDA) and Tribal CTAD, with support from the
Learning and Skills Council (LSC), embarked on a new project, which
built on the mobile learning materials and systems previously developed,
to create a ‘mobile learning toolkit’ for teachers and tutors. The toolkit
development responded to feedback from tutors and mentors who took
part in the m-learning project. This feedback indicated that they would
like to be able to author or adapt the mobile learning materials provided
to cater for the specific needs of their students in their particular context.
The mobile learning teachers’ toolkit which was developed included
three tools, plus training, user documentation and support. The tools were:
n an SMS quiz authoring tool, which allowed tutors to prepare
multiple-choice quizzes on a PC that their students could respond to
using their own mobile phones
n a PocketPC learning games authoring tool that enabled tutors to
create small learning games using a PC, which were then downloaded
to PDAs running the PocketPC operating system for use by the students
n the mediaBoard, a system in which tutors upload an image to a web page,
in effect like pinning a notice on to a noticeboard, and mark areas of interest
on the image. Students can then send messages (text, picture and audio) to
the image ‘board’ or to specific areas of the image and tutors can send
SMS messages from the system to students. The mediaBoard is mostly
for group activities. The students can also access and add to the mediaBoard
online either from home or in the classroom.
The toolkit was piloted with 19 tutors from five further education colleges
in England and Wales, who had different ability levels in the use of
desktop computers, mobile phones and palmtop computers – some
had no previous experience of using palmtop computers. The pilot aimed
to answer the following research questions from the tutors’ perspective.
n How did the use of the mobile learning toolkit impact on teaching?

n How did the use of the mobile learning toolkit impact on learning,
and the students’ interest in learning?
n How did tutors integrate the use of the mobile learning toolkit
into the curriculum?
Information about the tutors’ experiences was collected, together with
data to inform the future development of the toolkit.
This report includes examples of the learning materials created for use
with groups of students in different curriculum areas in order to share
ideas and good practice. It also includes tips for tutors using SMS quizzes,
learning games and the mediaBoard.
In total, 36 SMS quizzes were developed, which were played 328 times;
31 learning games were created, which were played 288 times; and
28 mediaBoards were created and used by 57 students (NB: for the
SMS quizzes and learning games the number of times played is not the
number of students, because some students took part in several quizzes).
Mobile learning in practice

vi Key findings
Teaching
The tutors considered that mobile learning impacted on their teaching
in the following ways, ie it could:
n add another dimension or resource to teaching and learning

n broaden learning in the classroom

n introduce learning in a subtle way

n be a novel way to consolidate and assess knowledge

n review previous topics (SMS quiz)

n be an asset for revision

n be good for question-and-answer sessions (quiz aspect)

n help by providing instant feedback

n act as a break from the teaching activities

n act as a treat (or reward) for the students.

Furthermore, the interactivity of mobile learning can encourage student


involvement and engagement. It can also be fun to use. However,
in planning mobile learning activities, tutors need to be aware that:
n some activities need a lot of preparation time

n the games are over very quickly

n it can take time to set up activities, particularly the first time,


and explain to students how to use them
n reception for sending responses to SMS quizzes can be an issue

n on occasions it can be difficult to keep students focused on the task


as they generally enjoy using the technology
n some PDAs require daily charging of the batteries to ensure that
students’ work and programs are not lost.

Students’ learning and interest in learning


The tutors considered that mobile learning impacted on their students’
learning and interest in learning in the following ways, ie it could:
n allow students to do homework anywhere without embarrassment

n provide immediate feedback for SMS quizzes, which enables


students to become more autonomous in their learning and to
monitor their own progress
n be used to break up normal worksheet activities

n be useful for revision practising and act as a memory jogger


(SMS quizzes and reminders)
n be used for a plenary session, to confirm that learning has taken place

n add a further dimension to the students’ learning experience.

Tutors also noted that the students:


n enjoy the interactivity, which is a good ‘hook’ to establish their
initial engagement
n enjoy using the tools and the devices
n help one another to use the PDAs, thus reinforcing their learning.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Mobile learning and the curriculum vii


Regarding the integration of mobile learning into the curriculum:
n Most tutors considered that mobile learning could be integrated with ease
into their existing curricula.
n Some tutors noted that preparation time was a factor limiting their
use of the toolkit.
n SMS quizzes could be used for extended learning activities, homework,
question-and-answer sessions and quick formative assessments to check
that learning had taken place.
n Games were created to help with revision, or provide more clarity
in understanding a topic.
n The integration could be affected by the timing of the curriculum,
eg it is useful for exam practice.
n Tutors should have alternative ways of presenting lesson material
in case of technical problems.

The value of mobile learning


Tutors commented on the value of mobile learning as follows.
n It is important to bring new technology into the classroom.

n Mobile learning could be utilised as part of a learning approach which


uses different types of activities (or a blended learning approach).
n Mobile learning supports the learning process rather than being
integral to it.
n Mobile learning needs to be used appropriately, according to the
groups of students involved.
n Mobile learning can be a useful add-on tool for students with
special needs. However, for SMS and MMS this might be dependent
on the students’ specific disabilities or difficulties involved.
n Good IT support is needed.

n Mobile learning can be used as a ‘hook’ to re-engage disaffected youth.

n It is necessary to have enough devices for classroom use.

Cost-effectiveness
Tutors were not given detailed information about the costs involved
in the project. However, some volunteered comments relating to
possible cost effectiveness:
n The costs of sending messages were not considered to be an issue
when few SMS/MMS were sent, or where messages were considered
cheap to send in order to facilitate interaction with the learning activities.
n Costs were considered an issue when they might prohibit participation,
eg the cost of buying equipment, although it was expected that prices
would probably fall in the near future.
n Cost was also perceived in the initial preparation time required to set up
the learning activities.
Mobile learning in practice

viii Other findings


The tutors considered the main prerequisite for successful SMS quizzes to
be the development of relevant, concise, unambiguous, easily understood
and appropriate questions which are at the right level for the students
taking part. It was also felt to be important that the task is contextualised
and interesting, with feedback that is encouraging and helpful.
The main success factors for learning games were:
n ensuring that the games are appropriate and relevant in terms of
the level of learning and the subject studied
n providing automatic feedback which is useful.

In some cases the games need to be a challenge, in others simple,


but it is important to ensure that they do not become trivial.
For the mediaBoard, technical and operational issues (see Section 18)
outside of the project’s control dominated the findings and therefore
the success factors suggested by tutors were mainly concerned with
ensuring that the systems work together. It was also considered important
that the tasks set are relevant and related to the curriculum.

Conclusions
This project offered tutors in five further education colleges the opportunity
to create mobile learning materials for their students which catered
for their specific needs in their particular context. A quarter of the tutors
had not used a palmtop computer previously. A wide variety of learning
materials were created with most tutors and students demonstrating
great enthusiasm for mobile learning.
Mobile learning was found to have an impact on teaching and learning
because it adds another dimension and additional resources to the
teaching and learning process. It has an impact on teaching because it is
a novel way to consolidate and assess knowledge. The personal nature
of mobile learning and the interactivity can encourage learner involvement
and engagement. Mobile learning has a positive impact because
students can study anywhere with immediate feedback and become
more autonomous learners.
The mobile learning toolkit, the learning materials and activities designed
with it were easily integrated into lessons and can be used for other
purposes, such as extended learning activities, formative assessments
to check that learning has taken place, question-and-answer sessions
and homework.
As a result of taking part in this project, most tutors (18 out of 19)
stated that they were keen to continue using the mobile learning
teachers’ toolkit with their students in the future.
One of the tutors who took part commented:
The use of the mobile toolkit brought about a change of mindset in how
the students could get involved. Mobile devices were, instead of being a
distraction, now being brought in by the students to the learning environment.
A useful device that could engage the student in learning.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Introduction 

The Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) and Tribal CTAD
were two of the partners involved in the m-learning project. This was
a three-year pan-European research and development study, which
explored the use of handheld mobile technologies to provide literacy
and numeracy learning experiences for young adults (aged 16–24)
who were not in full-time education, and to promote the development
and achievement of lifelong learning objectives.
Following the completion of the m-learning project in 2004 (see Section 1.2),
LSDA and Tribal CTAD, with support from the Learning and Skills Council
(LSC), embarked on a new project, which built on the mobile learning
materials and systems previously developed, to create a mobile learning
toolkit for teachers and tutors. The toolkit development responded to
feedback from tutors and mentors who took part in the m-learning project.
They indicated that they would like to be able to author or adapt the
mobile learning materials provided to cater for the specific needs of
the students in their particular context.
The development of the toolkit is described in Section 2. This section
describes the tools developed from the point of view of both the authoring
tutors and the students, and also includes some technical details for readers
who may be interested in the underpinning technologies.
This publication aims to:
n report the tutors’ experiences of using the toolkit, including how they
considered it impacted on their teaching and on their students’ learning
and interest in learning, as well as how they integrated the use of
mobile learning into the curriculum
n provide examples of the materials created by the tutors so that others
interested in mobile learning can see what has been developed in
various curriculum areas for diverse groups of students.

  www.m-learning.org
Mobile learning in practice

 Section 1
Mobile learning

1.1 What is mobile learning?


There does not appear to be a generally accepted definition among the
educational community to describe the term ‘mobile learning’. Obvious
interpretations might be either learning using a mobile device and/or
learning while mobile (eg while travelling or outside the classroom).
The fact that a device is easily portable means that learning can take place
in locations, and possibly at times, more convenient to the user. Therefore,
convenience and flexibility are commonly felt to be characteristics of
mobile learning. There is, however, some disagreement about which
devices should be included in the description ‘mobile device’. Partners
in the m-learning project agreed their definition of a mobile device
should include only electronic handheld devices, ie mobile phones, PDAs
(personal digital assistants, or palmtop computers) and mobile games
machines – but not laptop computers, on the grounds that these only
differ from desktop computers in that they are more easily portable.
In defining mobile learning, some authors appear to have placed
the emphasis on either the technologies involved, or the educational
or philosophical aims of learning. Here are some examples of the
variety of definitions from the literature (NB: there is not an accepted
convention for how ‘mobile learning’ is abbreviated).
n MLearning is the acquisition of any knowledge and skill through
using mobile technology, anywhere, anytime, that results in an
alteration in behaviour. (Geddes 2004)
n Mobile learning is any educational provision where the sole or
dominant technologies are handheld or palmtop devices. (Traxler 2005)
n mLearning is the intersection of mobile computing and e-learning:
accessible resources wherever you are, strong search capabilities,
rich interaction, powerful support for effective learning, and
performance-based assessment. E-learning is independent of
location in time or space. (Quinn 2000)
n Mobile learning is 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 the learning opportunities
offered by mobile technologies. (O’Malley et al. 2003)
n m-Learning is a form of existing d-Learning (distance learning)
and e-Learning (electronic learning). (Georgiev et al. 2004)
They consider that m-Learning must include the ability to learn
everywhere at every time without permanent physical connection to
cable networks. Furthermore, the devices must be able to connect
to other computer devices, present educational information, and realise
bilateral information exchange between the students and the teacher.

  This is also the definition given in Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org,


accessed 4 August 2006), the free internet encyclopedia written collaboratively
by its readers, where anyone can edit the contents of almost any page.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

n Mlearning is learning that arises in the course of person-to-person 


mobile communication. (Nyiri 2002)
Nyiri argues that mobile communication is enhanced everyday
communication, and situation-dependent knowledge (the knowledge
at which m-learning aims) transcends disciplines. He considers that
its organising principles arise from practical tasks, its contents are
multisensorial and its elements are linked to each other not just by texts,
but also by diagrams, pictures and maps.
Another set of authors (Naismith et al. 2005) have given examples of
how they consider that mobile technologies can be used to support
six theory-based categories of activity (which could also be referred to
as learning): behaviourist, constructivist, situated, collaborative, informal
and lifelong, as well as learning and teaching support.
Laouris and Eteokleous (2005) consider that mobile learning needs
to be defined in both a systematic and systemic way – systematically
by considering each term separately (ie mobile and learning) and also
in concert (ie mobile learning), and systemically by considering the whole
environment in which mobile learning takes place.
What is clear, however, is that there are common themes as people
seek to define mobile learning: it could take place anywhere and at
any time, and so could encompass both formal and informal learning,
where the knowledge is situated within a context. Kukulska-Hulme (2005)
considers that mobile learning, which she sees as partly about learning
and partly about the breakthroughs of mobile computing and the
global marketing of mobile devices, is rapidly becoming a credible
and cost-effective component of online and distance learning.

1.2 The m-learning project


The m-learning project used portable technologies to provide literacy and
numeracy learning experiences for young adults (aged 16–24) who were
not in full-time education, and to promote the development and achievement
of lifelong learning objectives.
It was a €4.5m project funded by the European Commission’s Information
Society Technologies (IST) fifth framework initiative with matched funding
from the project partners and, in the UK, the Learning and Skills Council.
There were five project partners: two university-based research units
(Ultralab at Anglia Polytechnic University in the UK and Centro di Ricerca
in Matematica Pura ed Applicata (CRMPA) at the University of Salerno
in Italy), two commercial companies (Tribal CTAD in the UK and Lecando
in Sweden) and the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA)
in the UK. The project finished in September 2004.
This is what the partners wanted to find out.
n Can the enthusiasm of many young adults for mobile phones and other
portable communication and entertainment devices be harnessed to
encourage those not currently engaged in education or training to take part
in learning experiences?
n Can m-learning result in improved literacy or numeracy skills, or changes
in attitude or behaviour, including greater enthusiasm for learning and/or
in progression to further learning?
Mobile learning in practice

 n What kind of pedagogical support, or scaffolding, do m-learners need?


How can this be provided?
n How do young adults react to and perceive m-learning?

In the final phase of the project, the learning materials and systems
which had been developed by the partners were trialled with 249 learners
in the UK, Italy and Sweden. (They were called research assistants
in order to emphasise their role as helping the project with its research
and to avoid the use of the word learning, which for some may have had
negative connotations as a result of past experiences.)
Some key messages from the m-learning project include the following.
n The learners were mostly enthusiastic about mobile learning and
62% reported that they felt more keen to take part in future learning
after trying mobile learning. Of these, 80% expressed a future preference
for learning with mobile devices.
n Just under a third (29%) were assessed by their mentors as having
developed a more positive attitude towards reading after taking part
in the research.
n 82% of respondents felt the mobile learning games could help them
to improve their reading or spelling, and 78% felt the games could
help them improve their maths.
n 88% of the learners who used the collaborative learning tools
enjoyed using the mediaBoard and felt it could help people learn.
The data also suggested that mobile learning could make a
positive contribution in the following areas, as it:
n helps learners to improve their literacy and numeracy skills and
to recognise their existing abilities
n can be used to encourage both independent and collaborative
learning experiences
n helps learners to identify areas where they need assistance and support

n helps to combat resistance to the use of ICT and can help bridge the gap
between mobile phone literacy and ICT literacy
n helps remove some of the formality from the learning experience and
engages reluctant learners
n helps learners remain more focused for longer periods

n helps to raise self-esteem

n helps to raise self-confidence.

Full information about the project’s findings can be found via the LSN 
and m-learning  websites and in Attewell (2005).

  www.LSNeducation.org.uk
  www.m-learning.org
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

1.3 Building on the findings of the m-learning project 


The m-learning project focused on the experience of the young adults
involved, and the assessments of their attitude and ability by their mentors,
tutors or other trusted adults involved. The mobile learning teachers’ toolkit
project primarily concentrated on the experience of the tutors who were
designing the learning materials to be used by their learners.
The m-learning project reported on a number of lessons learned.
These can be found in Attewell (2005), and some relate to the use of
mobile technologies. However, two in particular informed the project.
n An iterative approach to development is best, and developing
learning materials specifically for mobile learning is better than reusing
materials developed for delivery to a PC. By offering the toolkit to tutors
to design their own learning materials for use on mobile devices,
we were encouraging innovation rather than just re-purposing existing
materials (although it is recognised that some tutors who had limited time
did use existing materials with mobile technologies in order to observe
the impact on their learners who used them).
n Training for the mentors and facilitators involved is important, including
the recognition that organisations need to make the time for training.
Also that fast response to mentor (and learner) problems is crucial to
avoid disillusionment and stall momentum. Proactive support was
also considered important to identify issues before they become
serious problems.
Training was considered important (this is discussed more fully in
Section 3.3) and support for the tutors was recognised as important
and was consistently offered.

1.4 The aim of the mobile learning teachers’ toolkit project


The main aim of the project was:
To develop a toolkit to enable providers to develop mobile learning
materials for their particular students and context, to evaluate the toolkit
and to develop advice and case studies to share good practice.
Mobile learning in practice

 Section 2
Developing a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit

2.1 Framework
The importance of iterative development was highlighted in the original
m-learning project, ie trialling different technologies and approaches
with students, collecting and collating feedback, using that to shape
new ideas, implementing those ideas, and going back to trialling again.
This approach is especially useful in ‘development and research’ projects
when the exact end goals are not known, as it empowers all the parties
involved to discover them together. This worked well, and one of its
many benefits was that towards the end of the project, the partners
started evolving some fairly stable approaches to both using the
technology and the accompanying pedagogy.
This stability, both in the structure of the learning and in the technology
platforms it was based on, enabled a layer of abstraction to be created
between the content and the technology used to display it. Having these
two separate is one of the basic building blocks of reusable, extendable
or scalable learning resources. In the original m-learning project the
development team used this separation to help themselves – making
it simpler and more efficient to create a greater number of materials.
In this project we used the same concept to extend these features
(authoring) to a wider audience: tutors themselves.
As will be appreciated, and as already highlighted by some authors noted
in Section 1.1 when seeking to define mobile learning, it is impossible to
separate the technologies from the learning entirely – especially when
the term ‘m-learning’ embraces so many different media and devices.
For this reason, we will now describe the development of three separate
tools in the toolkit: the SMS authoring tool, the MyLearning PocketPC
learning games authoring tool and the mediaBoard.

2.2 SMS quizzes


SMS quizzes are the easiest entry into
m-learning. Students can use their own
mobile phones and the experience costs
no more than a local text message (SMS).
SMS quizzes have been found to be
particularly useful as an awareness raising,
promotional or discussion tool.
What the students see is a set of questions,
often printed on a poster, or a colourful ‘flyer’
(Figure 2.1), although any media will work.
Typically there are between five and 10
questions in a set. Sometimes, the flyer
has reference information on the other side.
Students put their answers into a text
message and send them to a number Figure 2.1
printed on the poster. Within seconds SMS quizzes – the students’ view
they get a reply, marking their work.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Figure 2.2 
SMS quizzes –
the tutor’s view

What the tutors see, should they wish to, is a password-protected website
(Figure 2.2) that they can use to create new quizzes, edit existing ones,
and look at summaries of the students’ use of the quizzes.
Tutors are asked to pick a unique ‘keyword’ for their quiz and tell the
website what feedback to send for the various different answer options.
The rest of the technology set-up is taken care of automatically.
Tutors can also use special codes to create dynamic answers, for example:
You got  ### out of 5. Answers *** were correct
may send a reply of:
You got 3 out of 5. Answers 1, 2 and 5 were correct
Tutors can also send a series of up to five daily SMS reminders to students,
if they want to.
To find out more, view the SMS quiz page on the m-learning portal.

Technical corner
The front end of the website is built with Flash and php. There is
a MySQL backend that tracks all activity: the authoring of the
quizzes and the SMS sending and receiving.
The SMS sending and receiving service is hosted externally
by a commercial supplier. Our server uses SOAP/XML to
communicate with the external server. This took a while
to configure, but has been running very robustly ever since.
There are cheaper ways of doing this though we found the
inconsistency of delivery speed very inappropriate, which is
why we ended up using a commercial service.

  http://portal.m-learning.org/sms_quiz.php
Mobile learning in practice

 2.3 The MyLearning games for PocketPC


This type of mobile learning is often the first one that springs to mind.
Students use small, handheld computers (PDAs). If tutors are providing
PDAs to their students, as hundreds of tutors and teachers across the
UK already are, they will need some appropriate tasks and learning materials
to give to them. The MyLearning authoring kit provides tools to make these.
The materials developed run on a small, handheld device, a PDA
or PocketPC. PocketPC is a generic name covering several families of
devices, any one of which could have been substituted for the XDAII model
which was used during the project.
The original materials created for the m-learning project, as well as
later additions, have been widely used in other trials across the country.
Over 1000 students have used them, and there are two consistent items
of feedback:
n We would like more materials, please, contextualised to our needs.

n It can be quite complicated to manage the devices and upload materials


(especially if you are trying to make your own).
The MyLearning authoring tool addresses both of these problems.
However, tutors who have already used PDAs for learning quickly start
to ask the following questions.
n How can I see what my student has done (tracking)?

n Can my students also create games themselves?

n How can I redistribute what I have made?

n Can I have a shortcut in the start menu?

n How can I navigate between multiple different activities?

These issues are also addressed by the tool. We know from other trials
that tutors have also solved some of these issues with good training
and other creative ideas.
The real aim of the development of MyLearning was to embed many of
the lessons learned about mobile learning materials during earlier trials
into the fabric of the software, so that tutors would automatically get
features like:
n short, sharp focused pieces of learning

n multimodal interactions (read it/hear it/see it)

n making use of audio where possible

n use of bright colours and imagery

n making use of the ‘touch screen’ interactivity.


Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Figure 2.3 
Learning games –
the author’s view

What the authoring tutor sees


MyLearning Author is a PC-based, wizard-driven tool that lets users
create their own mini-course (Figure 2.3) by combining a series of
different activities together.
There are about five different activity types currently supported, and
because of the open architecture of the tool, it is fairly straightforward
to add new ones. This open architecture added considerably to the
development time, but has already proved a very successful feature,
and has been used to incorporate other learning materials built for many
other projects into the same packages of materials. Authors can add, edit,
restructure and review courses. When they are satisfied with them,
they click the ‘build’ button to package the materials up for the PDA.
There are several different ways that these can be packaged.
A complete package can be built that includes everything needed to
install it on a PDA. This is the default setting. If the user needs to send
lots of small course updates to their students this can be done using a
much smaller package, with content only, to update the other materials
already held. Finally, the materials can be kept in a PC-friendly format,
to display them without a mobile device.
At the start of the project these different packages were not included,
but due to the enthusiastic engagement of the tutors and their feedback,
this functionality was recognised as a significant requirement and added.

What the student sees


MyLearning Player is installed on the student’s PDA. An icon on the
start menu offers an optional login page and then presents the students
with their own menu of materials. Whatever packs of content are
uploaded to that device will appear on the menu and the students
can work through them at their own pace.
If active, the ‘log’ button will show the student’s trail through the
resources. In some circumstances this can be a useful record of
activity and progress.
Mobile learning in practice

10

Figure 2.4
Examples of some learning games which have been created

Some sample screens are pictured in Figure 2.4. They represent


a few of the activity types currently supported.
To find out more, view the PocketPC authoring page on the
m-learning portal.

Technical corner
There are two distinct parts of the MyLearning games:
the MyLearning Author (on the PC) and the MyLearning Player
(on the PDA).
MyLearning Author is Microsoft Windows-based, developed in
Delphi. It uses an open, extensible template system to generate
learning materials. All data is stored in external, XML and data files.
Oversize images are automatically resized to fit the smaller screen.
To preview the materials, we use a small Flash player that is
based on the PocketPC player mentioned below but compiled
in a ScreenWeaver shell.
To build the PDA-installations we use CabWiz, automatically
triggered by the MyLearning Author. This creates full installations
for the three different PocketPC processor types, so it will therefore
install on almost any PocketPC.
MyLearning Player has a multilayer architecture. The outer layer
is built in C, and provides the communication between the player
and the operating system. The next layer is provided by the
internal browser. We wrap this, so we can use the free-to-download
Flash plug-in to display the visual parts. The third layer is what
you see. This menu layer (level 3) provides the login, bookmarking,
tracking, dynamic menus and the top bar and navigation. The
final layer is the content itself. This is also Flash-based, but is
loaded dynamically based on the tutor’s choice of page type,
and is easily extensible by adding new Flash players (and
xhtml templates to match in the Author).

  http://portal.m-learning.org/ppc.php
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

2.4 The mediaBoard 11


The mediaBoard was
originally conceived as a
direct result of student and
tutor feedback. During many
of the early trials in the original
m-learning project, students
wanted to use their mobile
devices for more than just
individual learning. They
wanted to communicate,
collaborate and create.
They also wanted to join
together in a shared activity,
regardless of which device
they happened to have
in their pocket. Providing
Figure 2.5
these things became the mediaBoards – the author’s view
founding philosophy of
the mediaBoard, which is a flexible, web-based tool that allows
students to build up online web pages by sending text messages,
pictures and audio from their phones.
At the same time as this was being developed, another very pioneering
project called Savannah was being run by Nesta Futurelab. Here,
students became virtual lions, and roamed a savannah (a real school field)
marking their territory, forming alliances and hunting together. While
very well received, the intensity of effort required to set up and
host the event has meant that there have been very few repeats.
mediaBoard attempts to deliver some of the same spatial awareness
and activity-style learning without needing specific geographical data.
Instead, when students send messages to their mediaBoard, they ‘tag’ it,
telling the board where they want that message to go.
Authors can set up their own online mediaBoards (Figures 2.5 and 2.6)
and use these for a great variety of mobile and interactive learning
tasks and projects, such as:
n working as a team to give and receive directions and instructions or
negotiate and agree how to solve a problem
n following directions or answering questions to complete a task

n making enquiries, conducting interviews or surveys, and


recording speech or other audio
n using photographs and audio

n adding and editing text to create a multimedia website

n learning about and using the internet and mobile technologies

n collecting multimedia evidence, like an e-portfolio.

  www.nestafuturelab.org/showcase/savannah/savannah.htm
Mobile learning in practice

12 Each mediaBoard that an


author sets up is a bit like
an internet message board 
or perhaps a blog. The main
difference, however, is that the
mediaBoard is a visual image
and the messages, instead of
being organised in a linear way
or in discussion threads, are
collected around different parts
of the image, like locations
on a map. These images
are called templates, and can
Figure 2.6
be something quite concrete, Example of a mediaBoard
like a map or a picture of a
body. They can also be very abstract, like a brainstorm cloud or Venn diagrams.
One college in the trial used a mediaBoard as a noticeboard, with
each student owning a zone. The template they used was a brick wall,
with each student’s name as a zone, written on the wall graffiti style.
Users can attach audio, text and images to these zones using many different
devices and technologies. They can upload them from their computer
via the web, by e-mail, or by multimedia message (MMS) from a handheld
computer or a mobile phone, or even by a simple text message (SMS).
To find out more, view the mediaBoard page on the m-learning portal.10

Technical corner
The front end web pages have been streamlined to display
smoothly both on a mobile device and on a full-size PC. The
back end of the website is built using Java and all data is held in
a MySQL database.
To receive MMS messages, we use the phone provider’s own
internet gateway to collect the MMS message directly from
the web, via e-mail. An advantage of this method is that we are
able to collect any MMS worldwide. A disadvantage is that the
providers often add advertisements or promotions to these e-mails,
thus we need to have an up-to-date filtering algorithm to extract
the message data dynamically.
mediaBoard supports pictures, audio and text. It does not currently
support video because the format sent from phones is not yet widely
playable from PCs, but when this is possible, it will be supported.
To receive and send SMS, we use the same commercial provider
as we do for the SMS quiz, above.

  An internet forum is a facility on the world wide web for holding discussions
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum, accessed 15 August 2006).
  A blog is short for a weblog, or a web page which has short and frequent
updates to it, eg it could be about links and commentary about other
websites, news or ideas, a place to write stories or show photos etc.
10  http://portal.m-learning.org/mboard.php
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 3 13
The pilot

3.1 The colleges and tutors


LSDA approached a number of colleges to take part in the
research project. These included colleges which had taken part
in mobile learning previously, either in the m-learning project or
other mobile learning initiatives, and colleges which were new to
mobile learning.
Five colleges were recruited to the project, including three in the north
of England, one in the west of England and one in Wales. Both urban and
rural colleges were involved. In each college a coordinator recruited up to
five tutors to be involved (although in one college this was increased).
The coordinator acted as the main point of contact for the project team,
assisted when local technical problems arose, and, in most cases,
also took part in the project by using the toolkit with their students.
Most of the toolkit development work took place during 2005, and the
main piloting and research phase occurred from January to April 2006.
At the start, 26 tutors agreed to take part. However, by the end of the
project, only 19 tutors had actively used the toolkit. The reasons the tutors
withdrew from the project were:
n an impending college inspection curtailed their involvement (2)

n a shortage of time to participate because of college teaching demands (3)

n an accident necessitating hospitalisation (1).

One tutor used the mobile device provided, but not for anything
connected with the project.
Thus the final research group consisted of 19 tutors, all of whom
returned at least partial research data (see below). The subjects taught
represented a wide range of curricular areas (a list can be found in
Section 5.1), and students of different ability levels took part. It was hoped
that tutors working in different colleges, but in similar curriculum areas,
would consider sharing their resources and work collaboratively with
their students.

3.2 Research questions


During the project, LSDA and Tribal CTAD explored the tutors’ reactions
to the toolkit and, in particular, to their perceptions of:
n how use of the toolkit impacted on their teaching

n how use of the toolkit impacted on their students’ learning and


interest in learning
n how use of the toolkit was integrated into the curriculum for their students.

Therefore, the main focus was on the experiences of the tutors involved,
rather than that of their students (although any data received from
students was incorporated). While addressing the specific questions
above, it was necessary to collect information relating to the use of
the toolkit in order to provide a context for the findings.
Mobile learning in practice

14 3.3 Training for tutors


As noted in Section 1.3, one of the findings from the m-learning project was
that staff training is very important (Attewell 2005). The training provided
consisted of a one-day workshop for coordinators unknown to the project
team, followed by one or two days’ training for tutors, depending on their
requirements. Training events were organised at convenient locations and at
times chosen to fit around teaching commitments, taking into account the
difficulties full-time staff have in attending training on two consecutive days,
and the fact that part-time staff are only available on certain days.
Four staff were unable to attend the training workshops, and the
coordinators undertook to cascade the training to these individuals.
The training included the following topics:
n use of the PDAs

n use of the tools in the toolkit

n the research activities, including providing feedback via questionnaires


and the project’s extranet
n practicalities relating to the PDA, its use, how to get help, etc.

The tutors were provided with a ring binder containing explanatory guides
to each of the tools (also available online on the extranet), and to the PDAs,
as well as background information about the project.

3.4 Mobile devices used


In order to author quizzes, games and mediaBoards for their students,
the tutors only needed a PC. However, in order to test fully the creation
of the MyLearning games, and support students using these games
on PDAs, the tutors were each given a PDA.
The mobile devices given to the tutors were XDAIIs, a hybrid
personal digital assistant (PDA)/mobile phone. These were originally
purchased from O2 for use in the m-learning project, and use
the PocketPC operating system, which looks and feels similar to
a Microsoft Windows program. The PDA can connect to the internet,
make telephone calls with a tri-band GPRS facility, send e-mails, use
Bluetooth and infrared to exchange data, take still and video pictures,
send and receive text messages (SMS) and multimedia messages
(MMS), record sound and be used as an MP3 player. For data entry
there is a choice of handwriting recognition modes and a virtual keyboard.
Although it was not possible to offer the colleges involved any money
for participating in the project, it was agreed that those tutors who took
part in the project, and returned the research data required, could keep
the devices at the end of the project. In one college, these devices were
not allowed to be retained by the tutors but became college property.
The colleges which took part were also entitled to a free licence to
allow them to continue using the toolkit software until the end of
the academic year (July 2006), after which they would be entitled
to a discounted service if they wished it to continue.
When the tutors were ready to use the MyLearning games with
students, they were able to borrow sets of PDAs from the project team
and, in some cases, from their colleges.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

3.5 Service providers and SIM cards 15


To allow tutors to test SMS quizzes and mediaBoards without incurring
costs from using their own mobile phones, the project team provided
SIM cards with the XDAIIs and an appropriate amount of prepaid credit.
The coordinators decided on the best network operator to use in their
area in order to avoid any problems with network coverage or signal.
This was particularly important for the tutors based in rural areas, where
reception from some operators was difficult. Four network providers
were identified: O2 (used by four tutors), Orange (used by three tutors),
T-Mobile (used by seven tutors) and Vodafone (used by five tutors).
This approach had the advantage of enabling the quizzes and mediaBoards
to be tested simultaneously with different operators, although it meant
that all but four devices needed to be unlocked from O2 (the original
service provider for the m-learning project).
The prepaid (or pay-as-you-go) approach was necessary due to the
short research period and avoided money being wasted in paying for
a contract beyond the period in which the devices were used. It also
enabled LSDA to monitor expenditure on each device and avoid any
expense incurred due to excessive personal use. However, this approach
resulted in a considerable amount of work for the project team to get
the devices unlocked, with the correct settings activated. This was
not as straightforward as it first appeared, and the time involved was
considerably underestimated.
Unfortunately, there were also unexpected problems in obtaining
a satisfactory level of service from some of the network providers,
who appear to have a policy of prioritising business users and
contract users over prepaid (or pay-as-you-go) customers.
This is discussed further in Section 18.2.

3.6 Providing equipment for students


For the SMS quizzes and the mediaBoard it was expected that the
students taking part would use their own mobile phones. However,
the MyLearning games could not be downloaded on to mobile phones
and so required the use of PDAs such as the XDAIIs. LSDA made available
a set of 10 devices which could be borrowed by the tutors for use by
students. These devices were pre-loaded with the software required,
although the tutors needed to load the games they designed on to
each device. These devices were not supplied with SIM cards as a
network connection was not needed for the learning games. Some
colleges also had their own sets of PDAs which could be borrowed.
Mobile learning in practice

16 3.7 Reimbursing students for using their own mobile devices


It was expected that the students taking part in SMS quiz and mediaBoard
activities would use their own mobile phones. The project team did not
want to discourage or financially disadvantage students willing to
participate in the project. Therefore, various ways of reimbursing the
students for taking part were proposed. Suggestions included vouchers
for high street stores, mobile phone vouchers, book tokens and small
cash payments. Other possibilities were considered, eg a box of
chocolates for the entire class, or a trip to a McDonalds restaurant,
which would be for the benefit of the whole group. It was decided that
each tutor should discuss this with his or her students and decide the
most acceptable solution for each group, with LSDA reimbursing
the expenditure incurred. Any students without their own mobile phone
would not be prohibited from taking part, as they could use the tutor’s
XDAII, which could send/receive SMS, MMS and e-mail.

3.8 Supporting the tutors


As noted above, one of the findings of the m-learning project was that
it is important to support the people involved in mobile learning projects
in order to ensure that any problems are dealt with quickly. The approach
taken is described below.
n LSDA provided first-line support for any technical problems or for
anyone who was unsure about any aspect of the project. Two members
of staff dealt with these enquiries, and were available by telephone,
e-mail and mobile phone.
n Help was available via the project’s extranet,11 where tutors could
place messages asking for assistance, upload files for others to
view or share problems they were having.
n Regular text messages were sent to each tutor asking if they
had any problems and requesting them to make contact if they did.
n A consultant visited some colleges in order to resolve a problem
with sending MMS messages which was difficult to address remotely.

11  An extranet is a password-protected website, which uses internet technology


to share documents securely and to facilitate collaboration, discussion and support.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 4 17
Research approach

The small-scale nature of the research and the wide geographical


distribution of the tutors meant that questionnaires were a practical way
of collecting data. Pre- and post-use questionnaires were used, containing
a mixture of open and closed questions to allow both ease of completion
and the opportunity to add personal thoughts and experiences as relevant.
These questionnaires were supplemented by additional information
collected from the tutors’ use of the extranet, where messages could
be left for the project partners and other tutors to take part in discussions.
At the end of the project, the tutors were asked to describe and
supply copies of their most successful SMS quizzes, mediaBoards
and learning games as examples of good practice for this publication.
The pre-use questionnaire addressed the following areas:
Information about the tutors:
n their aims for taking part

n their perceptions of their use of desktop computers, mobile phones and PDAs

n if they had any strong views on e-learning

n if they had previously used a mobile device for learning.

What the tutors planned to do with the toolkit:


n if they planned to use the SMS quiz engine, learning games and
mediaBoard with their students and, if so, how many students
they planned to involve and at what level in which curriculum area.
Curriculum preparation:
n the way they were planning for students to use their own mobile phones
in class, including how they planned to handle reimbursement of calls
n if they were planning to borrow PDAs from LSDA.

The return rate of the pre-use questionnaire was 100%


(tutors needed to complete this in order to take part in the project).
The post-use questionnaire asked the tutors to reflect again on
the above areas, but also sought their views about:
n where they prepared their learning materials

n if they collaborated with other tutors in the development of materials

n how they considered that mobile learning impacted on their teaching,


their students’ learning and students’ interest in learning, and how they
integrated mobile learning into the curriculum
n their overall view of mobile learning, and if they thought it was
a cost-effective way of learning
n issues associated with students using their own mobile devices.
Mobile learning in practice

18 To assist the development of the toolkit, the questionnaire also asked:


n if they upgraded the learning games software during the project,
and any issues which arose
n for comments on each aspect of the toolkit, including its ease of use
and suggestions for improvements, the extranet and technical or service
aspects such as use of the SIM cards and contact with network providers.
In relation to each aspect of the toolkit, the tutors were asked to:
n provide copies of their most successful quiz, learning game or
mediaBoard (where these had been used) and describe how it
worked in the classroom and how its use fitted into the curriculum
n give background information about the students involved and
indicate whether the quiz, game or mediaBoard helped their learning
or interest in learning
n identify the three most important factors of success for each
toolkit aspect.
The post-use questionnaire was naturally longer and more comprehensive
than its predecessor. To make this appear less daunting, it was decided to
divide it into several sections: a generic one and one for each set of tools.
Although this approach encouraged a number of tutors to feed back
the questionnaires and supporting information in a piecemeal way
(which in some cases required much prompting in order to receive
the data), a 100% questionnaire return rate was achieved, except
for the learning games questionnaire, which was 92%. However, a
number of tutors did not supply examples of the quizzes and games
they created for inclusion in this report.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 5 19
The tutors

The tutors were asked for background information about themselves which
would help to provide a context for describing their experiences later in the
project. They were asked about their teaching responsibilities, their use of
digital devices (desktop computers, mobile phones and palmtop computers),
if they had taken part in a mobile learning project previously, where they
prepared the learning materials, if they had collaborated with others in their
colleges on the project, and if they wanted to undertake further mobile learning
after the project had finished. The responses received are shown below.

5.1 Subjects taught


The tutors who took part taught in the following curriculum areas
(some taught other subjects as well, but listed the teaching areas
below as their main subject):
Childcare (two tutors)
Literacy (two tutors)
Numeracy (two tutors)
Literacy and numeracy (two tutors)
e-learning and learning technology (two tutors)
English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) (two tutors)
English as a foreign language (EFL) (one tutor)
Computing (one tutor)
Media production (one tutor)
Business studies (one tutor)
Special needs (one tutor)
Hospitality (one tutor)
Key skills (one tutor).

5.2 Gender
The tutors who volunteered to take part were predominantly female
(14 females, or 73%, and five males, or 26%).

5.3 Use of digital devices


The tutors were asked to describe their use of desktop computers,
mobile phones and palmtop computers before undertaking the training
in the use of the devices and the toolkit and then again at the end of
the project to find out their level of familiarity and if this had changed over the
length of the project. They were offered six alternative answers for their skill
with each type of technology – I am an expert user; I am a regular and
confident user; I am an enthusiastic, but not fully confident user; I am
an irregular and not very confident user; I have little experience of using;
and I have no experience of using. Figures 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 below display
the findings in relation to each of type of equipment used, where the
tutors’ perceptions of use pre- and post-project can easily be seen
(NB: one tutor created a new category on his questionnaire of ‘between
an expert and regular and confident user’ which has also been included).
Mobile learning in practice

20 Tutors’ 6
perception
of use 5

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Tutor number
Figure 5.1
Tutors’ use of desktop computers before and after the project

Tutors’ 6
perception
of use 5

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Tutor number
Figure 5.2
Tutors’ use of mobile phones before and after the project

Tutors’ 6
perception
of use 5

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Tutor number
Figure 5.3
Tutors use of palmtop computers before and after the project

Tutors’ perceptions of their use


1  No experience of using n  Pre-use
2  Little experience of using n  Post-use
3  Irregular and not very confident user
4  Enthusiastic but not fully confident user
5  Regular and confident user
5.5  Between expert and regular and confident user
6  Expert user
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Comments on each item of equipment 21


Desktop computers
n Most tutors ranked their use of desktop computers higher than
their use of mobile phones or palmtop computers. Five tutors (26%)
considered themselves to be expert users, and seven (37%)
regular and confident users.
n After the project had finished, six tutors (32%) reported an increase
in their confidence with desktop computers (five from enthusiastic
but not fully confident users to regular and confident users, and one
from between expert and regular and confident user to expert user).
Mobile phones
n Most tutors considered themselves to be regular and confident users
of mobile phones (68%).
n After the project had finished, three tutors reported an increase in their
confidence with mobile phones (one from little experience of using
to enthusiastic but not fully confident user, one from enthusiastic but
not fully confident user to regular and confident user and one from
regular and confident user to expert user). One tutor also reported a
decrease in her use, from regular and confident user to not fully confident
user, but this was unexplained.
Palmtop computers
n Most tutors considered themselves to be enthusiastic but not
fully confident users of palmtop computers (37%).
n Prior to commencing the project, five tutors (26%) reported that they
had no experience in using palmtop computers. After the research
three of these tutors considered that they had become enthusiastic
but not fully confident users, and one had become an irregular and not
very confident user (the information relating to the fifth tutor, who still
considered she had no experience of using a palmtop computer after the
research had finished, is unexplained and could be considered a mistake).
n A further four tutors reported an increase in their confidence with
palmtop computers (one from little experience to a regular and
confident user, one from little experience to an enthusiastic but not
fully confident user, one from an enthusiastic but not fully confident
user to a regular and confident user, and one from a between expert
and regular and confident user to an expert user).
Mobile learning in practice

22 5.4 Tutors’ previous mobile learning experience


Four tutors stated that they had participated in mobile learning previously.
13 had not, and two did not answer the question.

5.5 The preparation of the learning materials


The tutors were asked where they prepared the learning materials.
It was found that eight (42%) prepared them at college, nine (47%)
at college and home, and two (10%) at home. The fact that many tutors
either prepared materials at home or both at home and work is important,
and was influenced by the fact that numerous tutors experienced problems
with having the software required to take part in the project loaded on to
their college networks or stand-alone computers within a reasonable
timescale (Section 18.2.6 discusses this further). Therefore, it cannot be
assumed that tutors will simply use the resources available to them at
college and during college hours (and thus the systems designed must
be easily available and usable on different computer systems).

5.6 Tutor collaboration


The tutors were asked if they collaborated with other tutors in
their college while using the toolkit, and 16 (84%) said they had.
There was no intra-college sharing of resources via the extranet,
as tutors generally did not make their learning games, etc, available
until the end of the project. As a number of tutors had commented
on the relatively short duration of the project, it seems likely that had
the project been longer this might have taken place.

5.7 Tutors’ wish to continue mobile learning


The tutors were asked if, as a result of taking part in this project, they
planned to use the toolkit in the future. It was found that 18 tutors (95%)
would like to continue using the toolkit, and the other one suggested
that s/he might.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 6 23
Using the SMS authoring tool

6.1 Analysis of data


The tutors were asked in advance to indicate how many quizzes they
planned to create (and the numbers of students they wanted to involve
and the courses they were studying). It was found that 11 tutors planned
to use the quiz engine (three did not, and five did not know if they
would), each creating between one and six quizzes, with the mode
(or most common answer) being five quizzes. A total of 44 quizzes
was estimated by the tutors.
By the end of the project, 16 tutors had created between one and six
quizzes each. The mode was two. The tutors stated that they had created
a total of 36 quizzes, which were played 328 times by their students –
it is important to note that this is the number of times which the quizzes
were played, and not the total number of students who took part,
because some students played several quizzes (NB: two tutors said
six to 12 students were involved, and so the average of nine students
was used to calculate this figure).

6.2 Time spent creating SMS quizzes and ease of use


The tutors were asked how long they had spent creating SMS quizzes.
The minimum time spent was one hour, and the maximum 10 hours,
with the mode being three. A total of 58.5 hours was spent creating
quizzes, which in reality was slightly higher, as one tutor did not quantify
his answer but replied ‘a lot’.
The tutors were asked to rate how easy they found the SMS quiz engine
to use. Of the 15 tutors who answered this question, five (33%) found it
very easy, three (20%) found it easy, six (40%) found it fine, and one (7%)
found it difficult. This tends to suggest that the SMS quiz engine was found
easy or relatively easy to use by most of the tutors who used it.
Mobile learning in practice

24 6.3 Summary of examples of use


Appendix A gives some examples of how the tutors used the SMS quizzes
with their students. Table 6.1 summarises these, ie it shows the name of
the quiz created, the course it was created for, the level of the students,
how it was used and how its use fitted into the curriculum.

Quiz name Course of study Level of study Method of working † Curriculum fit
Accounting 2 AS Accounting and Level 3 + 2 Independently Revision
Certificate in Administration
Camera ND Media Production Level 3 Independently Half-term homework
LTDWOOD2 Numeracy national test course Level 1 Independently Revision
M-learning †† Various Various Pairs  —
M TEXT †† M-learning E3–L1 Independently, Revision
pairs and groups
M TXT †† Various Entry level – level 2  —  —
Parasite SMS Quiz 1 ND Animal Management Level 3 Independently Testing learning during
teaching session
PembILT Learning technology Level 3 Independently As an example of technology
Pemshardware – pemhw Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel) Level 3 (FE) Pairs Quiz based on the
hardware and software unit
Personal Protective Preparation for work Entry level Independently Reinforced teaching about
Equipment health and safety
Sentences Literacy national test Entry level 1–3 Independently Homework
Table 6.1
SMS quiz examples, at a glance
 †  Independently, in pairs or in groups
 ††  One quiz was created by three tutors and used with different groups of students

Tutors were also asked to make comments about how the SMS
quiz games helped their students’ learning and interest in learning,
and to reflect on how they prepared the students to take part.
The following is a summary of the main points (from Appendix A)
noted by the tutors.
n The quizzes were stimulating, promoted student interest and
had a novelty value.
n Students could undertake the quizzes a number of times and
receive feedback without being in the classroom.
n The students seemed to enjoy answering the questions and
using their mobile phones to do it.
n Multiple-choice questions encourage participation, and help the
assessment and evaluation of learning, but should not be overused.
n The accompanying quiz review sheets were useful, and allowed
the students to revisit previous topics. It also meant that students
could still take part if they did not have a mobile phone, did not want
to use it, or could not use it.
n It cannot be assumed that all adult learners know how to send and
receive text messages.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

6.4 Success factors for SMS quizzes 25


The tutors were asked to note three factors they considered important
for SMS quiz success. Fifteen tutors answered this question, and their
answers have been grouped together under four headings (pedagogical
issues, operational and technical issues, cost comments and other
comments), as these were found to address common themes from
the answers received to this question. Where tutors ranked this as their
first success factor, this has been marked SF1, the second factor is SF2 and
the third factor SF3. All factors appear in Table 6.2 sorted by SF number.

Pedagogical issues Concise, unambiguous and relevant questions (SF1, noted three times)
Contextualised content (SF1)
Interesting subject/task (SF1, SF3)
Clear instructions to students (SF1, SF2)
Right level for students (SF1, SF2)
Clear and appropriate questions (SF2, noted twice)
Quality of questions (SF3)
Relevant feedback (SF3)
Give encouraging feedback (SF3)
Helpful responses (SF3)
Good revision tool (SF3)
Include an element of fun (SF3)
Operational/technical issues Students understand how to reply (SF1)
Reception (SF1)
Access to a mobile phone (SF1)
Accessibility (SF1)
It works (SF1)
Easy to author/use (SF2, SF3)
Attractiveness (SF2)
Try quiz before students/check it works in room beforehand (SF2, SF3)
Understanding what to do (SF2)
Answers correct in the system (SF2)
Skill with device and mobile phones (SF3)
Support students to overcome problems/queries (SF3)
Interesting formats (SF3)
Cost issues Cost (SF1)
Students’ credit (SF2)
Other comments Makes learning interesting, captures imagination (SF1)
Fun (SF1)
Reinforces important principles (SF2)
Good ‘hook’ (SF2)
Prizes (SF2)
Fun for students (SF3)
Table 6.2
Tutors’ rating of the three most important factors of success for SMS quizzes
SF  Success factor

It can be seen from Table 6.2 that there are a number of common
important factors, the main one being the importance of the questions
that are used (which also need to be relevant, concise, unambiguous,
easily understood, appropriate and at the right level for the students
taking part). It is also important that the task is contextualised
and interesting, and that the feedback is encouraging and helpful.
Mobile learning in practice

26 As the questions are devised by the tutors and may be used without
the students being located in the same space, this would seem crucial.
The tutors also placed importance on operational and technical issues
such as the system needing to be attractive and easy to use and also
needing to work both as regards network reception and on a local basis.
Other comments included that students regarded its use as fun and
interesting, and it could capture their imagination.

6.5 Monitoring students’ progress


As noted in Section 2.2, the tutors had the ability to see a report of the
text messages sent regarding each quiz online – see, for example, Table 6.3.

From Keyword Right answer Answer Score Date


Telephone number ST A, B, C, D, E 11111 5 14/10/2005 12:27
Telephone number ST A, B, D, E 11511 4 14/10/2005 12:27
Telephone number ST A, B, C 11123 3 14/10/2005 12:27
Telephone number ST A, B, C, D, E 11111 5 14/10/2005 12:27
Telephone number ST A, B, C 11123 3 14/10/2005 12:27
Telephone number EXAMPLE B 33333 1 14/10/2005 12:57
Table 6.3
Sample of quiz reports

Thus the tutor could see the answers to the learning materials received
from each mobile phone number. Seven tutors stated that they made
use of this feature. Those who did commented:
I found this excellent as I could monitor the learners’ progress and
evaluate which learners were using the service.
This was great!
I looked at the report for the first quiz but didn’t print it out.
This is an interesting feature.
[I] need more practice.
Tutors did not use it because:
I was with the students as they got feedback.
There was not much point as most had used my mobile device.
I found the reporting tool a little confusing.
However:
Although [I] did not use [it], I feel that this is an important functionality
as [we] could use [it] for NVQ evidence as long as candidates were
monitored  [to ensure] that it was their work.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Tips for tutors about using an SMS quiz engine 27


The following tips for tutors have been drawn from the tutors’
answers given in Table 6.2, and the tutors’ comments noted
in Appendix A.
n The questions which are devised are the single most important
success factor.
n The students need to have access to a mobile phone (or PDA),
understand how to use it, and be willing to use it, for text messaging.
n The production of accompanying quiz review sheets is
useful for students who do not take part in quizzes, and for
their revision purposes.
n Tutors should ensure that the quiz works, and that the answers
in the system are correct, before using the quizzes with students.
n The quizzes should include an element of fun.

n Network reception of the mobile phone providers needs to


be considered, together with the place where it is to be used –
students do not have to be in the classroom.
n Students need to have credit on their phones.
Mobile learning in practice

28 Section 7
Using the MyLearning games

7.1 Analysis of data


The tutors were asked in advance to indicate how many games they planned to create,
the numbers of students they wanted to involve and the courses they were studying.
It was found that 15 tutors planned to use the games (one did not, and three did not
know if they would), each creating between one and 10 games, with the mode (or
most common answer) being two games. A total of 54 games were estimated by the
tutors (one tutor did not quantify his answer but said he would create several games).
By the end of the project, 12 tutors had created between one and four games
each. The mode was two. A total of 31 games was created, which the tutors
stated were played 288 times (124 for the pairs games, 92 for the snap games
and 72 for the quiz games).

7.2 Time spent creating games and ease of use


The tutors were asked how long they had spent creating games. The minimum time
spent was one hour and the maximum 10 hours, with the mode being two to three
hours. A total of 42 hours was spent creating games, which, like SMS quizzes, was
in reality slightly higher, as one tutor did not quantify his answer but replied ‘a lot’.
The tutors were asked to rate how easy they found the learning games,
by type of game.
n ‘Pairs’ games – of the 10 tutors who answered this question, one (10%)
found it very easy, four (40%) found it easy, five (50%) found it fine.
n ‘Snap’ games – of the six tutors who answered this question, two (33%)
found it easy and four (67%) found it fine.
n ‘Quiz’ games – of the five tutors who answered this question, one (20%)
found it very easy, one (20%) found it easy, and three (60%) found it fine.
So although fewer tutors used the learning games than the SMS quiz engine,
it was not considered difficult to use. This is important, because the
technical and conceptual processes required to build MyLearning games
is considerably greater than SMS quizzes.
Shortly after the research period started, a new version of the MyLearning games
was made available for tutors to use. This had increased functionality, such as
containing activity wizards to help the tutors design the games. This was made
available on the extranet to download, and subsequently on a memory stick to
all coordinators. Ten tutors took advantage of the new software (many of whom
had not yet started to develop games at that point), while the others continued
to use the original version. One college experienced particular problems related
to installing a new version, summarised by a tutor as follows:
In college, the only staff who are able to install software on to computers are the
technicians. The new software delayed the process of the development as it took
time to get the technicians to the computers to upgrade the software on all of the
machines needed. In the future I need to involve the IT technicians in the beginning
of the project so they understand the importance and need of all the software.
The importance of providing adequate technical support to tutors
is discussed further in Section 18.2.5.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

7.3 Summary of examples of use 29


Table 7.1 summarises the examples of the learning games contained
in Appendix B. This indicates the name of the game created,
the course it was created for, the level of the students, how it
was used and how its use fitted into the curriculum.

Game name Course of study Level of study Method of working † Curriculum fit
Different Organisations Business Retail Introductory Independently Well – covering this in unit
Pairs games

and Administration
Hardware Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel) 3 Pairs Yes – they were doing hardware,
software and web development
Job Skills Preparation for work Entry Pairs Reinforcement
PPE1 Preparation for work Entry Pairs Reinforcing work done on
health and safety
Special Needs Childcare NVQ 3 Independently Used while waiting for others
to finish a task set
Superstitions (Game 1) †† EFL Elementary Independently Brilliant (British culture)
Superstitions (Game 2) †† ESOL Level 1 Pairs Summary of work
previously covered
Guess Who? ESOL Level 1 Pairs Learning about British culture
Snap games

and European countries


(having previously looked at
traditions, sayings and flags)
Know Your Flags ESOL Level 1 Pairs Learning about British culture
and European countries
(having previously looked at
traditions and sayings)
Software Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel) 3 Pairs Yes – they were doing hardware,
software and web development
Camera Operations ND Media Production 3 Independently Used as a question-and-answer
Quiz games

session
Editing ND Media Production 3 Independently Used as a question-and-answer
session
Web Development Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel) 3 Pairs Yes – they were doing hardware,
software and web development
Table 7.1
Learning game examples, at a glance
 †  Independently, pairs or groups
 ††  Game played with two groups of students

Tutors were also asked to make comments about how the learning games
helped their students’ learning and interest in learning, and to reflect on
how they prepared the students to take part. The following is a summary
of the main points noted by the tutors from Appendix B.
n Students can become competitive when playing the games.

n It captures students’ interest, and can be challenging.

n Using images helps students to remember information.

n The concept of the games can be difficult to understand at first.

n Good for reinforcement/recapitulation and differentiation.


Mobile learning in practice

30 7.4 Success factors for learning games


The tutors were asked to note the three factors they considered important
for learning games, ie the pairs game, the snap game and the quiz game.
Because many tutors gave similar answers for each game, these have
been shown together.
Ten tutors answered this question in relation to the ‘pairs’ game,
six answered about the snap game, and five answered about the
quiz games. Their answers have been grouped together under
three headings (pedagogical issues, operational and technical issues
and other comments), as these were found to address common themes
from the answers received to this question (Table 7.2).

Pedagogical issues Operational/technical issues Other comments


Appropriate level to learning (SF1) Pairs need to match (SF1) Fun (SF1, SF2, SF2)
Pairs games

Meaningfulness of the game – relevance to course (SF1) Need good images (SF2) Visual (SF2)
Games need to be relevant (SF2) Good clear images (SF2)
Relevance (SF3) Good ‘hook’ (SF2)
Keep it simple (SF1) Shorten time to view cards (SF3)
Needs to be a challenge (SF1) Having time to download to various PDAs (SF3)
Level of difficulty/level of difficulty not so easy as to be trivial (SF1, SF2)
Appropriate (SF1)
Appropriate subject (SF1, SF2)
Accessibility (SF1)
Interest (SF2)
Needs to be used briefly, as part of a lesson (SF3)
Occupying task until others have finished (SF3)
Understandable (SF3)
Clear words (SF3)
Good revision tool (SF3)
Needs to be a challenge (SF1) Photos need to be the right size (SF1) Fun (SF1)
Snap games

Meaningfulness of the game – relevance to course (SF1) Good ‘hook’ (SF2) Visual (SF2)
Relevant (SF1) Have more cards than less (SF3)
Needs to be made to students’ level (SF1) Stop running all the other programs first (SF3)
Don’t be too specific as limits use (SF2) Have time to download to various PDAs (SF3)
Level of difficulty – not so easy as to be trivial (SF2) Easy to use (SF3)
Best as an introduction or plenary (SF2) Easy to create (SF3)
Made to fit into existing lessons (SF2)
Good revision (SF3)
Feedback needs to be relevant and useful (SF1) Clarity of instructions (SF1) Fun (SF1)
Quiz games

Is it relevant? (SF1) Being able to read the quiz (SF2)


Meaningfulness of game – relevance to course (SF1) Is the quiz straightforward? (SF2)
Level of difficulty – not so easy as to be trivial (SF2) Explain clearly how to send it (SF3)
Good ‘hook’ (SF2) Have time to download to various PDAs (SF3)
Activity appropriate to students (SF3)
Is the quiz visually interesting? (SF3)
Good revision (SF3)
Table 7.2
Tutors’ rating of the three most important factors of success of learning games
SF  Success factor
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

It can be seen from the above that there are a number of common 31
important factors, the main one being to ensure that the use of the
games is appropriate and relevant, in terms of the level of learning and
the subject studied. In some cases it needs to be a challenge, in others
simple, but it is important to watch out that it does not become trivial.
The feedback given automatically to the students also needs to be useful.
Learning games can also be used as an introduction to a subject, used in
a plenary session, or used as an occupying task or a revision tool.
The tutors also placed importance on operational and technical issues
which have been noted in the tips section below.

Tips for tutors using the learning games


The following tips for tutors have been drawn from the tutors’
answers given in Table 7.2, and the tutors’ comments noted
in Appendix B.
n The relevance and appropriateness of the games designed
are the most important success factors.
n The level of the game is important. Sometimes it needs to be
challenging, and at other times simple (but do not make it trivial).
n It is better to design games with more cards than fewer
(this is especially true of games like ‘snap’, which uses two piles
of cards – so the smaller the piles, the quicker the game is over).
n Tutors need to use good, clear images, of the right size
(the latter point refers to the original version of MyLearning
where its size was important, but is not in the new release),
and the use of images can help students to remember information.
n Students can become competitive when playing the games.

n Tutors need to allow sufficient time to download the games


to the PDAs.
n When using the devices, stop running all the other programs first.

n The concept of the games can be difficult to understand at first.

n Tutors need to have sufficient numbers of devices for


students to use, in order to overcome accessibility issues.
n Their use is good for reinforcement/recapitulation and differentiation.
Mobile learning in practice

32 Section 8
Using the mediaBoard

8.1 Analysis of data


The tutors were asked in advance to indicate how many mediaBoards
they planned to create, the numbers of students they wanted to involve
and the courses they were studying. It was found that 11 tutors planned
to use the mediaBoard (five did not, and three did not know if
they would), each creating between one and four boards, with
the mode (or most common answer) being one board. Tutors
estimated that they would create 20 mediaBoards.
At the end of the project, six tutors had created between one and four
boards each. The mode was one. A total of 28 boards were fully or partially
created, which the tutors stated were accessed by 57 students.

8.2 Time spent creating mediaBoards and ease of use


The tutors were asked how long they had spent creating mediaBoards.
The minimum time spent was one hour and the maximum 10 hours,
with the mode being two. A total of 25 hours was spent creating boards,
which, like SMS quizzes and learning games, was in reality slightly higher,
as one tutor did not quantify his answer but replied ‘a lot’.
The tutors were asked to rate how easy they found the mediaBoard
to use. Of the six tutors who answered this question, one found it
very difficult (17%), four (67%) found it difficult, and one tutor created
a new category of answer – ‘very easy to author, difficult to use’ (17%).
This suggests that there were problems with the tutors being able
to use the mediaBoard, and it is known by the project team that many
of these problems related to the difficulty in sending MMS messages.
This is a recurring feature throughout this project, and the importance
of having reliable network support is discussed further in Section 18.2.2.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

33

8.3 Summary of examples of use


Table 8.1 summarises the examples of the mediaBoards contained
in Appendix C. This indicates the name of the mediaBoard created,
the course it was created for, the level of the students, how it was
used and how its use fitted into the curriculum.

mediaBoard name Course of study Level of study Method of working † Curriculum fit
C24 NVQ Childcare 2 Pairs It was part of an underpinning
knowledge lesson for a
unit relating to communication
Haverfordwest EFL Elementary Pairs Very well – it was
an orientation exercise
ILT Learning technology Level 3 Independently As part of the curriculum
LTD Learning Centre Not applicable as mediaBoard created as example for staff only
Original Creations Young enterprise Level 1 Independently It allowed them to communicate
and groups about their business
Selby1 ND Media Production 3 Groups Added to Single Camera 3 project
Table 8.1
mediaBoard examples, at a glance
†  Independently, pairs or groups

Tutors were also asked to make comments about how the learning games
helped their students’ learning and interest in learning, and to reflect on
how they prepared the students to take part. The following is a summary of
the main points noted by the tutors from Appendix C. It will also be seen
that many tutors experienced problems with sending MMS messages,
and these comments have not been included here.
n It was a fun and practical way to present learning.

n The students enjoyed getting out of the classroom and using ILT.

n The students can find the concept of the mediaBoard initially


difficult to understand.
Mobile learning in practice

34 8.4 Success factors for mediaBoard activities


The tutors were asked to note three factors they considered important
for mediaBoard success (Table 8.2). Five tutors answered this question,
and their answers have been grouped together under two headings
(operational and technical issues, and other comments), as these
were found to address common themes from the answers received
to this question.

Operational/technical issues Phone networks must work (SF1)


It works (SF1)
Size of picture (SF1)
Clear instructions and questions (SF2)
Ease of use (SF2)
Confident use of MMS (SF2)
Try it out first with other people (SF3)
‘Free’ for students (SF3)
Other comments Visible results (SF1)
Fun (SF1)
Meaning/purpose fully understood by students (SF2)
Visual (SF2)
Relevant (SF3, twice)
Task is curriculum related (SF3)
Table 8.2
Tutors’ rating of the three most important factors of success for mediaBoard use
SF  Success factor

Although it is a small sample, it can be seen from the tutors’ answers


above that they have largely concentrated on noting operational and
technical issues which influence success, eg ensuring that the network
reception is good and that MMS can be used easily. The comment
relating to size of picture was from one tutor who sent a picture far too
large for the mediaBoard and this caused the system to halt (there is an
automated feature which re-sizes images, but this was not covered in
the training session). Some pedagogical issues have been raised,
such as ensuring that the task is relevant and curriculum-related,
but it is interesting to note that these have been given less weight
than for the SMS quizzes and learning games (although perhaps
not surprising given the difficulties experienced with MMS).

Tips for tutors about using the mediaBoard


The following tips for tutors have been drawn from their answers
given in Table 8.1, and the tutors’ comments noted in Appendix C.
n Students enjoy getting out of the classroom and using ILT.

n Tutors need to check that the phone networks and mediaBoard


work before use.
n Users must be confident in the use of MMS.

n The size of pictures sent is important, as they may need to be


reduced (an automatic feature of the mediaBoard).
n The students can initially find the concept of the mediaBoard
difficult to understand.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 9 35
Other uses of the devices by the tutors

The tutors were asked to use as many aspects of the toolkit (but a
minimum of one) with their students as possible. Three tutors used
the PDAs specifically for other things not associated with the toolkit,
which became clear as the project unfolded, and a separate questionnaire
was included to capture these data. The following are the findings.

9.1 As an experiment using one device instead of several


Normally this tutor would use cameras and recorders, ie multiple devices,
in her teaching. Her aim for this session was to use one device instead
of several. She used the PDA to record noises, sounds and students’
dialogue, but also to take pictures and videos and make ‘mock’ telephone
calls. This activity was undertaken with about 40 students, who were
studying an ESOL course at pre-entry to E2 level. The tutor commented,
‘the students loved using the PDA, especially making mock calls’.

9.2 For camera-related learning activities


A tutor used the camera function, where the aim was to encourage
the students to use new technology and take photographs. This activity
was undertaken by 12 students studying a National Diploma course in
Media Production at level 3, where they worked in groups. The tutor
commented, ‘They all seemed to like using the XDA and therefore
worked harder’.
Another tutor devised an activity using the PDA as a camera, where
her aim was for her students to see how health and safety is applied
in the workplace, and to understand different health and safety issues
and good practice. The activity involved two groups of 10 students,
studying Business Retail and Administration at Introductory level.
One group walked about the college looking for good examples of
health and safety issues and the other bad examples. Two large maps
of the college were drawn and the pictures taken on the PDA were then
stuck on, and it was displayed on the classroom wall.
Four other tutors made comments about use of the camera facility
in the main questionnaire, ie choosing not to complete the separate
questionnaire. These comments were:
I took photographs of students’ work in their place of work.
These were then used in their portfolios of evidence. (Two tutors)
I used it  [the PDA] for taking photos for evidence for portfolios.
[The] digital camera function would prove very useful, particularly in
my HNC teaching.
From the above, it would appear that the camera and voice recording
capabilities of the PDA can be useful to tutors teaching in different
subject areas.
Mobile learning in practice

36 Section 10
Students using their own mobile devices
for SMS and MMS

10.1 The students’ use of their own mobile phones to take part
Nine tutors stated that their learners used their own mobile devices
when taking part in the project. Of those who did, three offered
further comments (NB: the first comment is in relation to the tutor’s
use of the mediaBoard):
This was sometimes difficult due to the different types of phones and
features. Because I had to give students instructions on how they should
type the text in to get to the right areas, I found that it took a while or
we were not able to send the information because I didn’t understand
how their phones worked. Neither did some of the more mature students!
I used SMS quizzes as all students had and regularly used mobile phones.
This ensured inclusive practice.
The majority of students did not have any credit on their phones,
which limited their ability to participate.
And two tutors whose students did not use their own
mobile phones commented:
They said they didn’t have enough credit.
I don’t agree with having to make learners use own devices.
Many of my students barely have enough credit/money.
Regarding the last point above, it was never the intention of the project
partners that the students would be required to meet the costs of
their participation in the project when sending SMS or MMS messages.
Section 3.7 details some of the different ways of reimbursing the students
which were discussed with the tutors before the project took place, and
Section 10.2 below notes the feedback from the tutors after the project
had finished. However, the above does underline the importance of the
students having prior credit on their mobile phones in order to take part.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

37

10.2 Reimbursing students for taking part using their own


mobile devices
Further to 10.1 above, only three tutors found that they needed to
reimburse their students (these tutors were then reimbursed by LSDA).
The tutors commented as follows:
£1 Boots vouchers given to those who took part.
We reimbursed all learners who used their mobile phone credit
for the SMS quizzes.
I bought them a McFlurry  [an ice cream sold by McDonalds].
Some tutors noted that their students did not require reimbursement:
Because they spent very little they were happy to stand the cost.
(Two tutors)
Costs of texting were considered negligible by students!
Thus, the reimbursement of students taking part in this project was
not found to be a big factor influencing their participation.
In one case, where the tutors designed activities for students from
a local school who were visiting the college on an open day relating to
choices of possible future career paths, they were not allowed to bring
their mobiles with them. Although we are not aware of the reasoning
behind this decision, it was unfortunate, because this meant they
could not take part using their own devices. It would, therefore,
seem important for tutors to check that there are no restrictions
on mobile phone use when planning for mobile learning activities.
Mobile learning in practice

38 Section 11
The impact of mobile learning on teaching

The teachers were asked how the use of mobile learning impacted on
their teaching. It can be seen below that, while some tutors gave answers
directly related to their teaching and their students’ learning, others
concentrated more upon the use of the technology.
The tutors who answered in relation to their teaching (and students’
learning), and with different groups of students, responded:
It added another dimension/ It was a novel way to consolidate
resource to my teaching. and assess knowledge. However,
It was useful in consolidating it took a long time to set up and
language structures and explain to learners how to use.
vocabulary particularly.
Due to it being new and different
It allowed me to investigate the it took some thought on how to fit it
viability of using mobile learning into the lessons. Some felt artificial
to teach students with SEN because I had to shoe horn it into
[special educational needs]. a lesson where it would have been
better used at another time.
I found the quiz aspect of
the PDA especially good for Added an extra dimension.
question-and-answer sessions. Took the students away from
It was also a new piece of the computer screen.
technology to use as a treat
with the students. The SMS quizzes were great as
a review on previous topics. One
The idea of being able to get learner loved the fact that she could
instant feedback was great – no get instant feedback at home.
need to mark it – it was automatic. The majority of my learners were
aged 35+ and therefore most
Students enjoyed interactivity – were still getting to grips with
good hook – helps establish text messages. One learner said
initial engagement with learners. that she couldn’t text at all and
The use of the mobile toolkit most of the learners preferred to
brought about a change of mindset write their answers down and hand
in how the students could get the sheet back to me. In the end
involved. Mobile devices were, all of them had a go on the text.
instead of being a distraction, now Mary, the lady who said she
being brought in by the students couldn’t text, did send me a
to the learning environment. message at the end of the course
A useful device that could saying thank you, which was from
engage the student in learning. my encouragement of using text.
Enabled the introduction of I did use the XDA units for the
bilingual learning in a subtle way. learning games as a break from
the teaching activities, which the
Increases engagement when it works. learners enjoyed. I find that the
It helped to broaden the learning units/games support the learning
in the class room, but it needed process in a fun way. I also used the
a lot of prep [preparation] time camera to create learning materials
and reception for sending quizzes using photos of everyday objects
was an issue. for fractions, for example.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Some tutors related it directly to their use (or not) of the technology 39
and that of their students:
Students really enjoyed playing Because of the technical problems
with the phones and on occasions there was very little time to
it was difficult to keep them try them out and then they
focused on the task/learning! didn’t always work with students.
I spent so much time preparing the This was very frustrating. But when
games and it was over so quickly! they worked they were good fun.
(Noted by two tutors)
I think the industry day would have
been more successful had we had My discussions with students
more points [electrical sockets] on the access course would lead
in the cabin that we were given. me to the conclusion that with
The learners that we had enjoyed this group and their level of skills,
working with the devices and the use of SMS would be the
I think that they could be an asset most suitable. It is the technology
to the learners for revision. However they are the most comfortable with,
they are expensive and the and were excited about the
practicality of them taking the possibilities. Many students
devices home and then returning taking this module would not
them undamaged would be slim. had have a great deal of experience
The devices are quite delicate of the use of technology (hence
and also the daily charging can the reason to take the module)
cause a problem to ensure that and linking it to technology that
the memory is not lost – you know they have become aware of
what forgetful teenagers are like! would be extremely beneficial.
(Noted by two tutors) (The group involved in the discussions
were in their late 20s early 30s,
It made it easier instead of and were wishing to take up learning
using cameras and tape recorders, after leaving school at 16/18
but it was difficult to have only without many qualifications.
one, and some classes found it All of the students were female.)
too small to read.

Thus it can be seen that most tutors did not answer this question
in a general way but related their answers to their specific use of
the toolkit. It can be summarised as follows.
Mobile learning impacted on the tutors’ teaching because it can:
n add another dimension or resource to teaching and learning

n broaden learning in the classroom

n introduce learning in a subtle way (eg bilingual subjects)

n be a novel way to consolidate and assess knowledge

n review previous topics (SMS quiz)

n be an asset for revision

n be good for question-and-answer sessions (quiz aspect)

n help by providing instant feedback

n act as a break from the teaching activities

n act as a treat (or reward) for the students.


Mobile learning in practice

40 Also, its interactivity encourages student involvement and


engagement, and it can be fun to use.
Tutors need to be aware that:
n some activities need a lot of preparation time

n the games are over very quickly

n it can take time to set up activities, particularly for the first time,
and explain to students how to use them
n reception for sending responses to SMS quizzes can be an issue

n on occasions it can be difficult to keep students focused on


the task as they generally enjoy using the technology
n some PDAs require daily charging of the batteries to ensure that
students’ work and programs are not lost.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 12 41
The impact of mobile learning on
students’ learning

The tutors were asked how the use of mobile learning impacted
on their students’ learning. It can be seen below that some tutors
gave answers directly related to their students’ learning, others
concentrated on the associated issue of their students’ interest in
learning, and others more on the mastery of the technology.
The tutors who answered in relation to their students’ learning responded:
It helped them cement structures The learners enjoyed using the
worked on in class. It motivated them XDA/PDA units in the classroom.
to do activities set as homework. They are good to use as a 10-minute
Using SMS quizzes meant they break session from worksheets.
could do their homework anywhere, The SMS review sheets were
even in the canteen at work, very useful and the learners learnt
without embarrassment from a lot from them as they reviewed
their peers. Receiving immediate previous sessions. The learner
feedback from the SMS quizzes who did use the text messages
enabled them to become more did find the instant feedback very
autonomous in their learning and useful and it allowed her to try again
able to monitor their own progress. if she got an answer wrong.
Learning was now taking place and They enjoyed the new learning
linking to the student’s activities environment but completed the
outside the classroom and in tasks very quickly. It’s ideal as a
quite a direct way to the students plenary, to confirm that learning
themselves. The mobile quiz has taken place.
reminder, for example, brought the
student’s mind back to that week’s It added a further dimension to the
activities when they may have had learning experience of the students.
completely different things going on They saw it as a novelty and it
in their mind! Is this harassment would have been better if I had
or learning? – I like to think that it is introduced it at the beginning of
a useful memory-jogging technique! the course – as part of learning,
I believe that the use of SMS rather than because it is a project.
at revision-type questions, and
technique reminders would be
beneficial  [for a new course module
running from September 2006].

Some tutors commented on the enjoyment of the students when using


the mobile devices and the tools:
Students seemed to really enjoy using the PDA and treated it with
a lot of respect. Most students really enjoyed the quizzes and using
the camera function. Therefore I feel that they gained from this and
were keen to do well on the quizzes.
The students enjoyed using the tools.
Students enjoyed interactivity – good hook – helps establish
initial engagement with learners.
Mobile learning in practice

42 They enjoyed using the XDA to record audio.


The students enjoyed using the XDAs and I think in time would like
to try their own ideas. I also used them as part of the resources section
for my 7407 course for teacher training and my colleagues’ feedback
was very positive.
They loved it! (Two tutors)
And other tutors commented on the tools themselves:
They were enthusiastic to be trying something different.
Helped each other to operate the XDA so reinforcing their learning.
The students found it interesting and learned a lot about how it works.
However, they felt that it was a bit expensive for everyday use.
Too limited a trial to say. Increased engagement generally
would result in better results.
However, three tutors did say that they did not consider that
the use of the toolkit helped their students:
The students quite enjoyed the PDA but I felt it didn’t help
learning but was more a tool for practising.
It had very little impact due to the time we had available for the project.
Once the bugs had been ironed out the project was virtually over.
It had little impact on their actual learning.
The second point is noteworthy, about taking part in a research and
development project where the tools are developed on an iterative basis.
It does have a bearing on timescales for participation.
Thus from the answers given above, it can be seen that most tutors
did not answer this question in a general way but related their answers
to their specific use of the toolkit. It can be summarised as follows.
Mobile learning impacted on the students’ learning because it can:
n allow students to do homework anywhere without
suffering embarrassment due to the reactions of their peers
n provide immediate feedback (SMS quizzes) which enables
students to become more autonomous in their learning and
monitor their own progress
n be used to break up normal worksheet activities

n be useful for revision, practising and acting as a memory jogger


(SMS quizzes and reminders)
n be used for a plenary session, to confirm that learning has taken place

n add a further dimension to the students’ learning experience.

Mobile learning can also impact on the students’ learning,


directly relating to their use of the tools, in the following ways.
n The students enjoy the interactivity, which is a good ‘hook’
to establish their initial engagement.
n The students enjoy using the tools and the devices.

n The students help each other to use the PDAs,


thus reinforcing their learning.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 13 43
Integrating the mobile learning toolkit
into the curriculum

The tutors were asked about the ease with which the mobile learning
toolkit was integrated into the curriculum. It can be seen below
that some tutors gave answers directly related to its integration
into the curriculum, while another noted that the timing of the
research had an effect on this, and others noted technical issues.
The tutors who answered in relation to curriculum integration responded:
No problems with integrating the I found it quite easy to integrate
use of the toolkit into the curriculum, the use of the mobile learning
with specific examples. toolkit into the curriculum except
for the time factor involved in
No difficulties in integrating this creating the activities.
at all – fits easily into any lesson plan.
As I teach media production, the
Fine – integrated with ease. camera function of the PDA fitted in
Easily, because you could tailor naturally. Using the quiz aspect to
the games to the class subjects. find out how much the students
had learnt was a more novel way
It was easy to integrate the quizzes of question(s) and answer(s).
into the curriculum, as I used the
XDA games as a break from The aim was to produce an
traditional learning methods and e-learning module to develop
the SMS quizzes as homework ICT skills for mature students
and extended learning activities. wishing to progress on to university.
This is, in the majority of cases,
This was one of the easier things a culture change for the students.
we had to do. I can see no reason It is therefore beneficial for them
why these activities can not be used to experience various forms of
easily with Health, Social Care and learning, and the SMS  [activities]
Childcare students. would be fully integrated into
Apart from the prep [preparation] the module.
time and reception signal, it was It was only introduced into the
easy to use the toolkit. curriculum when the games were
The amount of time it took to create created to help with revision or
the m-learning activities meant help students understand a topic
that it was difficult to create lots – more clearly.
but thinking of tests was not too bad. SMS – useful for quick formative
assessments and testing that
learning had taken place.
Due to [previous] m-learning project,
[the] integration of  [the] toolkit was
not an issue.
Mobile learning in practice

44 One tutor noted that the timing of the research impacted on


how it could be used:
Found it difficult because I would have been able to use it well
in December and January for exam practice.
Other tutors mentioned technical problems along with how they
integrated the toolkit:
Due to IT problems it was reasonably difficult to get going with
using the toolkit. Once the correct software was installed, I managed
to integrate the m-learning materials well into my structured scheme
of work and lesson plan. The resources blended well together and
encouraged a more multi-dimensional lesson.
Fine, the trouble is they often crash or lose the signal and you therefore
need alternative (traditional) materials up your sleeve!
I felt pressured to use the PDA, especially the quizzes. However,
in terms of recording students and taking pictures, etc, it saved me
bringing other equipment, eg cameras and recorders.
Thus it can be seen that:
n most tutors considered that mobile learning could be integrated
with ease into their existing curricula
n some tutors noted that preparation time was a factor limiting
their use of the toolkit
n SMS quizzes could be used for extended learning activities,
homework, question-and-answer sessions and quick
formative assessments to check that learning had taken place
n games were created to help with revision, or for more clarity
in understanding a topic
n the integration could be affected by the timing of the curriculum,
eg it would be useful for exam practice
n tutors should have alternative ways of presenting lesson material
in case of technical problems.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 14 45
Tutors’ views of the value of mobile learning

The tutors were asked to summarise their view of the value of


mobile learning. This was meant as a ‘catch-all’ question, to try to
ensure that the study had captured the tutors’ views, which may not
necessarily be related to teaching and learning.
Some tutors noted that mobile learning could become part of a
combination of learning approaches in the classroom:
I think it’s important to be aware of new resources as they are made available.
I don’t think one can ever argue that one resource is superior to another
but rather that learning is maximized when a variety of resources are used.
I believe that it is vital that a blended approach to learning is taken with
the group that the module is being developed for.
Mobile learning certainly has a place, at the very least as a way of varying
the learning experience. Mobile devices could figure centrally in lessons,
but the initial set-up of quizzes, etc, would require initial support resources.
It was good as a change of activity, but wouldn’t want to hold
a full course on the XDA.
Another tutor felt that its use supports the learning process, rather than
being integral to it:
I feel that the learning games support the learning process but they
are not integral for the learning process. The way the activities are set up
they are more for play than learning, especially the pairs game, as it is
more by chance and deduction rather than a learning process. I feel that
the mediaBoards could be [of] value for a change to traditional learning,
but I haven’t had chance to explore different options in the curriculum
to see the value.
Another felt that it must be used appropriately for the groups
of students involved:
I feel that mobile learning has a place in the teaching of students. It provides
variety and fun but still gets the information across. I have used the mobile
devices with young and mature students at levels 2, 3 and trainee teachers
without any difficulty and as long as they are used appropriately they are fine.
Others highlighted the importance of using new technology as
it becomes available, and using a technology which students like:
I think that any new technology in teaching is important and must be
experimented with. As I feel that for the most part the learners seemed
to enjoy using the technology and think that m-learning is very valuable.
It is important to bring new technology to the classroom and
the students find it valuable.
It’s fantastic in FE  [further education] because all students relate to the
technology and see it as fun. Too much time was spent preparing tasks
(this was unavoidable).
Positive response from the learners of using m-learning.
However, the gains need to be weighed up against the time
needed to set up and explain how to use [it] to learners.
Mobile learning in practice

46 One tutor noted the best time it could be employed:


During revision time it would be a very good option –
students often worked at different times of the day than lecturers.
Other tutors noted the importance of having enough PDAs
(both in classes and departments):
I think to use as a tool when you can fit it well into the curriculum
it will work. Also if there is one in each department so students are
coming across these on a few occasions it will work because it will
lose its novelty value and become a tool.
I am still not sure about this. I don’t think it is fair for students to pay for
the costs of the calls and not having enough PDAs is also a disadvantage.
One tutor indicated how it could be used by, or attract,
different groups of students:
Mobile learning would be valuable to the teaching and learning of students
with SEN  [special needs] as an add-on to give variety. For some
students with moderate general learning disabilities/difficulties,
the technical aspects of using SMS and MMS were too complicated.
Good as hook to engage disaffected youth targeted by m-learning project.
And others about technical issues:
Mobile learning has great potential but the kit/applications are still a bit too flaky.
They have a huge potential but, as yet, there are numerous problems. Firstly
cost, as the devices need to be shared not in a group. Secondly, technology
can frequently let you down and there need to be good levels of IT support
and utilities in place, [without] which [can] significantly reduce the success
of a session as learners could easily become bored. (Two tutors)
And finally one tutor made comments about her use of the PDA:
It is a useful tool for the teacher to have. However, I didn’t find value
in the exercises/quizzes. It was excellent to record students’  [progress],
take pictures/videos, [and] use as a phone in exercises.
Thus the key points for tutors in summing up the value of
mobile learning are as follows.
n It is important to bring new technology into the classroom.

n Mobile learning could be used as part of a learning approach which uses


different types of activities (or a blended learning approach).
n Mobile learning supports the learning process rather than being integral to it.

n Mobile learning needs to be used appropriately, according to the


groups of students involved.
n Mobile learning can be a useful add-on tool for students with
special needs. However, for SMS and MMS this might be dependent
on the students’ specific disabilities or difficulties involved.
n Good IT support is needed, especially as the devices and applications
could be considered to be ‘flaky’.
n It is necessary to have enough devices for classroom use.

n Mobile learning can be used as a ‘hook’ to re-engage disaffected youth.


n The camera functionality available in many PDAs and mobile phones
is a powerful tool for teaching and learning.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 15 47
Tutors’ views of the cost-effectiveness
of using handheld computers for learning

Although the tutors in this project received little information about


the financial arrangements, they were asked for any observations
they might have regarding the cost-effectiveness of using handheld
computers for learning.
Some tutors answered this question by comparing different ways of
using learning materials by cost (either positively or negatively):
The handheld computers are cost-effective as you can do games
with the learners but without the time and cost of card and paper,
although the fun of card games is the social interaction which the
learners miss out on if they do the games on the machines.
The messages are only cheap to send so it doesn’t cost the
college/learner a lot of money to interact with the activities.
At present I believe it is not cost-effective – however, as the functionality
of mobile phone technology catches up and all small mobile phones
have the capabilities of the XDAs used in the project then I think there
would be a case. If all students have the capabilities within their pocket,
then we should be creative and use it to assist in the learning process.
Already Podcasts 12 are being offered in the area of education,
we should be looking at the exciting media opportunities that
are available and capture them for the development of skills.
Some tutors considered that the cost (eg of sending text messages)
was not an issue:
We didn’t have a problem with the students using their own credits to text.
This may have been because students shared phones, used LSDA’s XDA
and didn’t send many texts due to the technical problems we had.
I think it is cost-effective. Wouldn’t it be great if all students/tutors
could have a PDA!
Other tutors did consider cost was an issue:
I don’t think that students would use the SMS quiz, as it costs.
The games would probably be better on PCs, although students
love playing games on mobiles – but getting the games from my PC
to their phones may be a problem.
With the use of VLEs [virtual learning environments] students would
be able to do similar activities without incurring the cost of SMS or MMS.
It depends who is bearing the cost of the calls if SMS, MMS
are being used.

12  Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio


programs or music videos, over the internet, for playback on mobile devices and
personal computers. The term podcast can mean both the content and the method
of delivery. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcasting, accessed 15 August 2006.
Mobile learning in practice

48 Yes if you just have one per department rather than individual.
It would be difficult to get top-ups as you would end up having
to pay for these as a tutor. As a substitute for cameras/recorders,
it would be cost-effective, but if an institution already has these
I don’t see how it would be cost-effective.
Concerns re cost. However, this may become less of an issue
as services become cheaper.
Difficult to comment. The initial outlay of the equipment may be
expensive and I wonder how often the equipment would become
outdated and need updating?
In regard to prep [preparation] time, sadly no, it’s not cost-effective,
as so much time is needed to set them up. This may reduce as
it becomes familiar.
I think that for what they do they are expensive. You could buy
a basic laptop and digital camera which would be able to do
nearly all the same functions.
Not sure of costs involved here, so can’t really comment on that.
As technology advances though, prices tend to fall, so likely to be
more cost-effective.
Two tutors linked their answer to one noted previously in Section 14
about technical issues (‘they have huge potential…’) and also that they
would like to plan to use mobile learning in the future but ‘only if funding
were available as more devices are costly and we would need the
IT department to support us’. However, these tutors also stated that it
is cost-effective because it ‘can reduce paper! However if the technology
lets you down then you have to resort to [a] paper base.’
Thus in summing up the tutors’ perception of the cost-effectiveness
of mobile learning, the following points can be made.
n Once mobile phone technology catches up with other handheld
technology, it needs to be creatively used in the learning process
to achieve cost effectiveness.
n Costs were not considered an issue when few SMS/MMS were sent,
or where messages were considered cheap to send in order to facilitate
interaction with the learning activities.
n Cost was considered an issue when it might discourage participation
(eg in SMS quizzes), and it was observed that the learners could be
involved in similar activities via virtual learning environments while
in college without incurring extra costs.
n The price of the PDAs were of concern to some tutors. However,
it was recognised that such costs would probably fall in the near future.
n Cost was also perceived in terms of the preparation time required
to set up the learning activities.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 16 49
Mobile learning – changing attitudes to
learning, teaching and mobile technology

One of the tutors made the following comment when asked


how mobile learning impacted on his teaching:
The use of the mobile toolkit brought about a change of mindset in
how the students could get involved. Mobile devices were, instead
of being a distraction, now being brought in by the students to the
learning environment. A useful device that could engage the student
in learning. Enabled the introduction of bilingual learning in a subtle way.
This comment suggests that experience of mobile learning
can change attitudes.

16.1 Changing the mindset of students


The key word in the above definition appears to be ‘mindset’. This
can be defined as ‘a person’s way of thinking and their opinions’.13
Therefore, this tutor appears to imply that mobile learning can encourage
a change in students’ ways of thinking about their own learning and
encourage them to become more positively involved in the classroom.
It also afforded the opportunity to introduce a different form of learning
(bilingual learning) in an understated manner, which might be a beneficial
approach for some students.
In their everyday lives, many young people feel comfortable with
their use of mobile phones (as evidenced by their commonplace use,
eg in streets, on public transport and other public places, etc), and
for them it is as an important device for communicating with others.
While it is appreciated that not every college student is a young avid
mobile phone user (and by the same token not all older students
find mobile phones difficult to use) such use is often seen as personal,
informative, fun, and nothing to do with learning. A number of tutors
in this study noted that the use of mobile devices for learning was a
‘good hook’ to capture the imagination of certain groups of students,
as a step towards changing their attitudes to learning. Furthermore,
there were many occasions of tutors reporting that the students
responded favourably to using either their own mobile devices or
ones borrowed from the project partners, some of which have been
included in this report, although this study did not set out to collect
direct student feedback.

13  The Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary, at http://dictionary.cambridge.org


Mobile learning in practice

50 16.2 Changing the mindset of tutors


The tutor makes the point that many people consider mobile technologies
to be a distraction in the learning environment. No doubt this is because
when students send messages, receive calls or play with their phones
they become distracted and pay attention to the device instead of what
is happening in the lesson. When this happens, the break in continuity of
lessons is seen as detrimental to the learning process. Thus the tutor here
appears to suggest that in order for mobile technologies to be seen as a
useful tool rather than a distraction in the classroom, there also needs to
be a change in the tutors’ attitudes (or mindset).
The experience of this project suggests that practical experience of using
mobile devices in real teaching and learning situations can bring about
such a change. Not all tutors in this study were competent users of
digital technologies, and although they all volunteered to take part,
some clearly questioned the value which mobile devices would bring to
the learning environment. However, by the end of the project, 18 out of 19
tutors wished to continue using mobile learning with their students and
thereby demonstrated a positive attitude towards mobile learning.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Section 17 51
Tutors’ feedback on technical support

The aim of the helpline function was to ensure that any problems were
addressed and resolved before having a possible negative impact upon
the experiences and enthusiasm of tutors and learners. Support was
available by telephone, e-mail and mobile phone. Help was also available
via the project’s extranet. Here tutors could place messages asking
for assistance, upload files for others to view or share problems.
In addition to the help offered by LSDA and Tribal CTAD, a consultant
worked with three colleges to assist with any device-related problems
where it was difficult to resolve these remotely. Five tutors also contacted
network providers for direct assistance. Such help was almost entirely
required in relation to the difficulties experienced with sending and receiving
MMS messages and the settings required for this to happen.
In the final questionnaire the tutors were asked for comments
on the support provided. The following comments were received:
Good/excellent assistance by LSDA staff.
Always extremely helpful, instantly.
I received a response very quickly.
I contacted LSDA / [Tribal] CTAD and got prompt responses.
The service was very efficient by both LSDA and  [Tribal] CTAD.
They were very efficient in dealing with any queries and support required.
Excellent. Very helpful, tried very hard to resolve any issue promptly.
Staff always available and helpful. Good response time, thanks. (Two tutors)
Other tutors commented specifically on the extranet:
Excellent backup via messageboard with prompt responses.
Discuss[ion] board is good but getting time to post a message was
a problem. Participants responded quickly.
And other tutors who noted the role of the coordinator in their college:
The assistance given was fine, but some problems took a while to
sort out, which was frustrating. I did rely on  [name of coordinator]
to iron out the problems and give me the up-to-date information.
[Name of coordinator] passed on any advice she was given
in relation to the toolkit. This was very helpful.
One tutor had more complicated problems which took some time
to sort out:
The assistance given was fine, but some problems took a while
to sort out, which was frustrating.
From the above, it would seem that the tutors were largely happy with
the help service offered by LSDA and Tribal CTAD, although one tutor
noted a lack of technical assistance at one of the training events.
Mobile learning in practice

52 Section 18
Findings and lessons learned

The overall response from tutors was very positive. They were able to
use the toolkit to produce learning materials which were relevant
to the specific needs of their students in their particular context.
A wide range of games, activities and quizzes was created for students
of different ability levels (from elementary or entry levels, to NVQ levels
1, 2 and 3 and AS and National Diploma level) in a variety of curriculum areas
(Accounting and Certificate in Administration, Animal Management,
Applied ICT course, Childcare, Business, Retail and Administration courses,
English as a Foreign Language and English for Speakers of Other Languages,
Learning Technology, Literacy, Media Production, Numeracy, Preparation
for Work and Young Enterprise), Samples of these games can be found
in the appendices.
These resources were created by tutors whose experience and
competence with handheld ICT devices was very varied, ie a quarter
had never used a palmtop computer previously while others were
regular users of such devices.

18.1 The findings


The findings of this study have been organised into two categories –
the findings relating to the main research questions and other findings
relating to tutors’ skills, their use of the toolkit, and the context in which
the research took place.

18.1.1 The research questions


Question 1 How did mobile learning impact on the tutors’ teaching?
Section 11 of this report has noted the tutors’ responses to this question.
In summary, tutors found that mobile learning can:
n add another dimension or resource to teaching and learning

n broaden learning in the classroom

n introduce learning in a subtle way

n be a novel way to consolidate and assess knowledge

n be used to review previous topics (SMS quiz)

n be an asset for revision

n be good for question-and-answer sessions (quiz aspect)

n help by providing instant feedback

n act as a break from the teaching activities

n act as a treat (or reward) for the students.

The interactivity of mobile learning can encourage student involvement


and engagement. It can also be fun to use. However, in planning
mobile learning activities, tutors need to be aware of the following.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

n Some activities need a lot of preparation time. 53


n The games are over very quickly.

n It can take time to set up activities, particularly for the first time,
and explain to students how to use them.
n Reception for sending responses to SMS quizzes can be an issue.

n On occasions it can be difficult to keep students focused on the task


as they generally enjoy using the technology.
n Some PDAs require daily charging of the batteries to ensure
that students’ work and programs are not lost.
Question 2 How did mobile learning impact on the students’ learning
and interest in learning?
Section 12 of this report has noted the tutors’ responses to
this question. In summary, tutors found that mobile learning:
n allows students to do homework anywhere without embarrassment

n provides immediate feedback which enable students to become


more autonomous in their learning and monitor their own progress
n can be used to break up normal worksheet activities

n can be useful for revision, practising and acting as a memory jogger


(SMS quizzes and reminders)
n can be used for a plenary session, to confirm that learning has taken place

n adds a further dimension to the students’ learning experience.

In answering this question, tutors also commented as follows.


n The students enjoy the interactivity, which is a good ‘hook’
to establish their initial engagement.
n The students enjoy using the tools and the devices.

n The students help one another to use the PDAs, thus reinforcing their learning.

However, two tutors stated that they considered that the use of
the toolkit did not help their students’ learning.
Question 3 How did the tutors integrate the use of the mobile learning toolkit
into the curriculum?
Section 13 of this report has noted the tutors’ responses to this question.
These can be summarised as follows.
n Most tutors considered that mobile learning could be integrated with ease
into their existing curricula.
n Some tutors noted that preparation time was a factor limiting
their use of the toolkit.
n SMS quizzes could be used for extended learning activities, homework,
question-and-answer sessions and quick formative assessments
to check that learning had taken place.
n Games were created to help with revision, or more clarity in
understanding a topic.
n The integration could be affected by the timing of the curriculum,
eg useful for exam practice.
n Tutors should have alternative ways of presenting lesson materials
in case of technical problems.
Mobile learning in practice

54 18.1.2 Tutors’ perceptions of the value of mobile learning


Section 14 of this report has noted the tutors’ perceptions of
the value of mobile learning. These can be summarised as follows.
n It is important to bring new technology into the classroom.

n Mobile learning could be used as part of a learning approach which uses


different types of activities (or a blended learning approach).
n Mobile learning supports the learning process rather than
being integral to it.
n Mobile learning needs to be used appropriately, according to
the groups of students involved.
n Mobile learning can be used as a ‘hook’ to re-engage disaffected youth.

n Mobile learning can be a useful add-on tool for students with


special needs. However, for SMS and MMS this might be dependent
on the students’ specific disabilities or difficulties involved.

18.1.3 Tutors’ perceptions of the cost-effectiveness of mobile learning


Section 15 of this report has noted the tutors’ perceptions of
the cost-effectiveness of mobile learning (which were limited as the
tutors were not directly involved with the financial aspects of the project).
These can be summarised as follows.
n Good IT support is needed, and this has cost implications.

n It is necessary to buy enough devices for classroom use.

n Costs were not considered an issue when few SMS/MMS were sent,
or where messages were considered cheap to send in order to
facilitate interaction with the learning activities.
n Cost was considered to be an issue which might prohibit participation,
although it was expected that this would be lower in the near future.
n Cost was also perceived in terms of the preparation time required
to set up the learning activities.

18.1.4 Tutors’ perceptions of the mobile learning toolkit


SMS quiz authoring tool
The SMS quiz engine was found to be easy or very easy to use
by more than half the tutors, who in total created 36 quizzes and
stated that they were used by 328 players (players are not the
number of students because some students played several quizzes).
The tutors reported that the quizzes were stimulating, promoted student
interest, and had a novelty value. Also that students could undertake them
a number of times. The format of multiple-choice questions encourages
participation, which helps assessment and evaluation of learning, although
they should not be overused. However, it cannot be assumed that all
adult learners know how to send and receive text messages.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

The tutors were asked to rate the three most important factors 55
contributing to the success of SMS quizzes. The main factor was found
to be the questions used. These need to be relevant, concise, unambiguous,
easily understood and appropriate, as well as pitched at the right level
for the students. Also, contextualised and interesting tasks are necessary,
and feedback must be encouraging and helpful. The tutors commented
on operational and technical issues, for example, stressing that the
system needs to be attractive, easy to use and working (in terms of
both network reception and resolution of any local technical problems).
They also felt that the quizzes should be fun and interesting for
the students in order to capture their imagination.
Learning games
Authoring learning games was found to be ‘very easy’, ‘easy’, or ‘fine’
by tutors, who in total created 31 games which were played 288 times
(124 for the pairs game, 92 for the snap games and 72 for the quiz games).
The tutors reported that:
n the students can become competitive when playing the games
n playing the games captures their interest and can be challenging

n the use of images helps students to remember information

n the games are good to use for reinforcement, recapitulation


and differentiation
n some students can find the concept of the games initially
difficult to understand.
The tutors considered the most important success factors to be
ensuring that the use of the games is appropriate and relevant to the
subject studied and the level of learning, and that the automatic feedback
is useful. In some cases the games need to be a challenge, in others
simple, but it is important to ensure that they do not become trivial.
mediaBoard
The mediaBoard was only used to a limited extent, by six tutors
and 57 students, and 28 boards were created.
The tutors reported that it was a fun and practical way to present
learning, and that students appreciate getting out of the classroom
and using ILT. However, some students can find the concept of
the mediaBoard initially difficult to understand.
The difficulties experienced with the mediaBoard were largely due
to problems with the MMS service (see Sections 8.4 and 18.2.4)
and these influenced the tutors’ experiences. It is also important that
MMS is fully functional on the mobile devices being used, and problems
with MMS had a bearing on the tutors’ suggested success factors for
mediaBoards. These largely concentrated on operational and technical
issues relating to MMS and network reception. Where tutors suggested
other success factors, these related to the importance of ensuring that
the tasks set are relevant and curriculum-related.
Mobile learning in practice

56 18.1.5 Tutors’ ICT skills


There was a wide variation in tutors’ self-reported ICT skills. Although
many considered they were expert, or at least regular and confident
users of desktop computers, two tutors had little experience of using
mobile phones and five had no, or little, experience of using PDAs.
There was a change in some tutors’ use of, and confidence with,
PDAs during the project. Those tutors who stated that they had
no experience of using PDAs generally became enthusiastic (although
not fully confident) users, and also some tutors who considered
themselves to be enthusiastic but not fully confident users of
desktop computers became regular and confident users.

18.1.6 Tutors’ collaboration in using the toolkit


It has been noted that some of the games created by the tutors were
used by more than one tutor and with more than one student group.
16 tutors (84%) said they had collaborated, or at least discussed, their
ideas with others at their colleges. From the messages left on the extranet
and the questionnaires, it appeared that there was no sharing of resources
across colleges, but this is to be expected, as many tutors did not make
their learning games available until the end of the project. As a number of
tutors commented on the relatively short duration of the project, it seems
likely that had the project been longer this might have taken place.
One college asked for contacts at an overseas institution so that
their mobile learning students could communicate with one another
and share ideas. Contacts were facilitated with colleges and universities
in Australia and South Africa.

18.1.7 Tutors’ wish to continue using the toolkit


Eighteen tutors (95% of 19 responses) expressed an interest in continuing
to use the toolkit at the end of the project. This shows a marked level of
enthusiasm among the tutors who took part in this study for its future use.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

18.2 Lessons learned 57


This section reflects on some of the experiences of, and decisions
taken by, the project team during the project, which may inform others
considering undertaking future mobile learning projects.

18.2.1 Unlocking the mobile devices


As noted in Section 3.5, the PDAs used (XDAIIs) needed to be unlocked
from the previous service provider (O2) prior to use. This was found
not to be very easy without significant technical expertise. Advice was
sought from the network operators, who were generally found to be
unhelpful (Vodafone were able to provide some information, but
Orange and T-Mobile did not support the XDAIIs and so were unable
to do so). An XDA developers’ forum for users of PDAs was found,
including a message thread about how to unlock SIM cards using an
‘all in one SIM unlock tool’.14 These details, together with other advice,
were successfully used to unlock the XDAIIs from O2.

18.2.2 The system settings provided by network operators


Each network operator requires different settings to be entered into
the PDAs to ensure that these work with their communications systems.
The settings to be inputted proved difficult to obtain from the network
providers. This was because most calls to network operators are taken
in the first instance by call centre personnel who are not necessarily
familiar with a wide range of devices, and are only able to answer
fairly simple, routine questions. It is difficult to contact technicians
directly, and some technicians are reluctant to help when the devices
are not routinely supported by their organisations, even when settings
for similar (eg Qtech) devices are.
Time delays were also experienced with the activation of the systems
to allow the PDAs to connect with networks.
On some occasions, tutors did not re-charge their devices and
the settings were lost when they ran out of charge, necessitating
re-contacting the network providers to restore them.15

14  http://forum.xda-developers.com/viewtopic.php?t=24779
15  The newest PDA/PocketPC devices (that run Microsoft Windows Mobile 5)
do not suffer from this problem.
Mobile learning in practice

58 18.2.3 The use of top-up cards with prepaid SIM cards


The use of top-up cards with prepaid SIM cards was chosen, rather than
mobile phone service contracts, in order to control costs, and because
the research period was shorter than the standard contract terms.
Once the top-up cards had been linked to the SIM cards (often a
lengthy process, requiring numerous general and security questions),
credit could be automatically added using the swipe mechanism in
the appropriate shop (although with one popular operator, Vodafone,
there were problems in acquiring the top-up cards).
An unforeseen problem occurred when using a credit card to top up
mobile phone credit. During payment the credit card used was rejected
for some reason. At the time this did not appear to be a significant problem,
and the top-up credit was later purchased elsewhere. However,
it transpired that anti-fraud arrangements ensure that when a credit to a
top-up card is cancelled the link between the top-up card and SIM card
is also cancelled. Subsequently, when none of the PDAs would work,
it took calls to many people in the different organisations to find out
that this was nothing to do with the settings or technical problems,
but simply that credit could not be placed on the devices because they
were linked to an invalid top-up card. Once this was realised, and new
top-up cards acquired, re-linked and credited, the problem was solved.

18.2.4 The instability of MMS using prepaid SIM cards


Many MMS messages were sent during the project which never arrived –
despite the PDAs being correctly configured, and assurances that the
networks were working. When the network providers were contacted,
they could often not advise on why this was happening. However,
our researchers reported several instances of helpdesk operators
suggesting that we could not expect to send and receive MMS messages
successfully using prepaid SIM cards, as this was usually a service only
required by contract customers. While none of the service providers’
promotional material obtained by the project team mentioned a difference
in MMS service level for pay-as-you-go customers our experience suggests
that in practice these customers may receive an inferior service.
The importance of reliable network support for mobile learning
which involves the use of MMS cannot be overstated.

18.2.5 The provision of tutor (technical) support


Support for the tutors taking part was available by telephone, e-mail
and mobile phone, and through the project’s extranet. Almost all the
support required was technical and found to be very time-consuming,
in order to offer the best service possible. As well as the problems noted
above, tutors also required help with the operation of the devices, and
file and battery management issues. It was also sometimes difficult
to respond to tutors’ requests, especially when the tutors themselves
did not have ready access to a landline telephone, did not (or could not)
use the mobile device, did not have easy access to a computer (for e-mail),
had a heavy teaching commitment, or worked part-time and so were
not easily contactable. Any institution planning to introduce, or trial,
mobile learning needs to ensure they make adequate provision for
technical support, driven by the needs of the users.
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

18.2.6 College ICT facilities and technical gatekeepers 59


For this project a number software applications needed to be installed
on the PCs for use by the tutors, ie the MyLearning games software,
ActiveSync and Flash. These installations were technically quick and simple.
However many problems arose.
Usually, college IT departments did not allow tutors to install this software
themselves, and there were stringent security procedures, settings
and firewalls which needed to be negotiated. The tutors usually needed
to wait for technicians to carry out this task, and sometimes, they would
only do this on one PC at a time, one package at a time. In some colleges,
tutors were still waiting for this software to be installed three weeks after
the project’s commencement. Later, when a new version of the learning
games software was released, similar problems arose. This reduced the
amount of time available to use the toolkit during the project.
Some tutors circumvented these difficulties by sharing computers at work
while waiting for extra assistance, designing the learning games at home,
or using laptops which were not firewall-protected. For future projects
the early involvement of IT departments is recommended to reduce the
likelihood of similar problems occurring.
Questionnaires were sent by e-mail for the tutors to return by e-mail.
However, the fastest returns were made by tutors completing the
questionnaires using a pen and sending them by post. The tutors
explained that this was easier, as many of them – especially those who
work part-time – do not have their own computer workstations but share
resources with other tutors (the ratio of 1:10 is not uncommon).
Three of the five colleges involved could not open the first questionnaire
circulated, as their colleges were running older versions of Microsoft Word.
This problem was quickly resolved, but it demonstrated that colleges
do not necessarily upgrade office software as frequently as businesses,
and it cannot be assumed that the latest versions will be available.
Finally, when planning mobile learning activities, it is recommended
that tutors and teachers check beforehand that there are no restrictions
on the use of mobile phones which would need to be addressed.
In this study, some tutors had planned to use mobile learning activities
with visiting school children but the children were not allowed to bring
their mobile phones with them. Thus, mobile learning initiatives can easily
be derailed by local restrictions and the attitudes of institutional management.
Such problems may be avoided by early communication with managers,
setting institutional policies to explain that mobile devices can be used
in a positive way to support and encourage learning.
Mobile learning in practice

60 Section 19
Conclusions

This project offered tutors in five further education colleges the


opportunity to create mobile learning materials for their students which
catered for their specific needs in their particular context. A quarter of
the tutors had not used a palmtop computer previously. A wide variety
of learning materials was created and most tutors and students
demonstrated great enthusiasm for mobile learning.
Mobile learning was found to have an impact on teaching and learning
because it adds another dimension and additional resources to
the teaching and learning process. It has an impact on teaching
because it is a novel way to consolidate and assess knowledge.
The personal nature of mobile learning, and the interactivity, can
encourage learner involvement and engagement. Mobile learning
has a positive impact because students can study anywhere with
immediate feedback, and become more autonomous learners.
The mobile learning toolkit and the learning materials and activities
designed with it, were easily integrated into lessons, and can be
used for other purposes, such as extended learning activities,
formative assessments to check that learning has taken place,
question-and-answer sessions and homework.
Almost all of the tutors who took part (18 out of 19) stated that
they were keen to continue using the mobile learning teachers’ toolkit
with their students in the future.

Section 20
Note for tutors who may be interested in
using the mobile learning toolkit

Should readers of this report be interested in using the


mobile learning toolkit, they can contact Tribal CTAD on
+44 (0) 1223 470480 or e-mail info@ctad.co.uk
Further details can also be found at
www.ctad.co.uk/products/m-learning/m-learning.html
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

References 61

Attewell J (2005). Mobile technologies and learning:


a technology update and m-learning project summary.
London: Learning and Skills Development Agency.
Geddes SJ (2004). Mobile learning in the 21st century:
benefit for learners. At http://knowledgetree.flexiblelearning.net.au/
edition06/download/geddes.pdf, accessed 11 July 2006.
Georgiev T, Georgieva E, Smrikarov A (2004). M-Learning: a new
stage of e-learning. Paper presented to the International Conference
on Computer Systems and Technologies (CompSysTech 2004).
At http://ecet.ecs.ru.acad.bg/cst04/docs/siv/428.pdf,
accessed 11 July 2006.
Kukulska-Hulme A (2005). Introduction. In Kukulska-Hulme A, Traxler J.
Mobile learning: a handbook for educators and trainers. London: Routledge.
Laouri Y, Eteokleous N (2005). We need an educationally relevant
definition of mobile learning. At www.mlearn.org.za/cd/papers/
laouris%20&%20eteokleous.pdf, accessed 11 July 2006.
Naismith L, Lonsdale P, Vavoula G, Sharples M (2005). Literature review
in mobile technologies and learning. Futurelab Report Number 11.
At www.futurelab.org.uk/download/pdfs/research/lit_reviews/
futurelab_review_11.pdf, accessed 11 July 2006.
Nyiri K (2002). Towards a philosophy of m-learning. Paper presented
at the IEEE International Workshop on Wireless and Mobile Technologies
in Education (WMTE 2002), 29–30 August 2002, Teleborg Campus,
Växjö University, Växjö, Sweden. At www.hunfi.hu/nyiri/
m-learning_vaxjo.htm, accessed 11 July 2006.
O’Malley C, Vavoula G, Glew JP, Taylor J, Sharples M, Lefrere P (2003).
MOBIlearn WP4: guidelines for learning/teaching/tutoring in a mobile
environment. At www.mobilearn.org/download/results/guidelines.pdf,
accessed 11 July 2006.
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In LiNE Zine, Fall. At www.linezine.com/2.1/features/cqmmwiyp.htm,
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International Association for Development of the Information Society Press.
Mobile learning in practice

62 Further reading

Mobile technologies and learning: a technology update and m-learning


project summary by Jill Attewell (2005). London: Learning and Skills
Development Agency. Available at www.LSNeducation.org.uk/user/
order.aspx?code=041923&src=XOWEB
Mobile learning anytime everywhere. A book of papers from the
MLEARN 2004 conference edited by Jill Attewell and Carol Savill-Smith
(2005). London: Learning and Skills Development Agency. Available at
www.LSNeducation.org.uk/user/order.aspx?code=052232&src=
XOWEB&cookie_test=true
The use of computer and video games for learning – a review
of the literature by Alice Mitchell and Carol Savill-Smith (2004).
London: Learning and Skills Development Agency. Available at
www.LSNeducation.org.uk/user/order.aspx?code=041529&src=XOWEB
Learning with mobile devices, research and development. A book of
papers from the MLEARN 2003 conference edited by Jill Attewell and
Carol Savill-Smith (2004). London: Learning and Skills Development Agency.
Available at www.LSNeducation.org.uk/user/order.aspx?code=
041440&src=XOWEB
The use of palmtop computers for learning – a review of the literature
by Carol Savill-Smith and Phillip Kent (2003). London: Learning and Skills
Development Agency. Available at www.LSNeducation.org.uk/user/
order.aspx?code=031477&src=XOWEB
MLEARN 2003, learning with mobile devices – book of abstracts
edited by Jill Attewell, Giorgio Da Bormida, Mike Sharples and Carol
Savill-Smith (2003). London: Learning and Skills Development Agency.
Available at www.LSNeducation.org.uk/user/order.aspx?code=
031421&src=XOWEB

The MLEARN international conference series


The MLEARN international conference series is now a well-established
annual event, which brings together mobile learning researchers,
developers and practitioners from around the world. The m-learning
project partners, including the Learning and Skills Development Agency
(LSDA) and Tribal CTAD, contributed to the first MLEARN conference,
which was held at the University of Birmingham, UK, in 2002. LSDA
hosted and co-chaired MLEARN 2003 in London, UK, and published
books of abstracts and conference papers. LSDA then collaborated with
the MOBIlearn project team to organise and co-chair MLEARN 2004 in
Rome, Italy, and published the book of conference papers. LSDA and LSN
have continued as members of the organising committee for the MLEARN
conferences including MLEARN 2005 in Cape Town, South Africa
(PDF versions of the full papers presented at this conference can be
found at www.mlearn.org.za/papers-full.html) and MLEARN 2006
in Banff, Canada. MLEARN 2007 will be held in Melbourne, Australia,
during 16–19 October 2007. For more information about the
2007 conference please see www.mlearn2007.org
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Appendix A 63
Examples of the SMS quizzes created

The following examples of SMS quizzes, summarised in Section 6.3,


provide details of the course and level of study, the learners’ method
of working, the number who took part and how the quiz fitted into the
existing curriculum. Also included are the tutors’ reflections on how
the quiz helped students’ learning, and interest in learning, and their
reflections on how they prepared students to use the quiz.
The following is a key to some of the terms used in these examples:
n Correct answer string
This is the combination of student answers that is correct
(the correct answers are highlighted).
n Automated answers
This is the feedback sent to the student and depends on how many
answers are correct. It is also possible for the system to insert
some sections of the answer automatically and send them to
the student (eg ‘you scored ###/5 and got *** right’ may return
‘you scored 3/5 and got A, C and D right’).
Mobile learning in practice

64 Quiz name (keyword) Course of study


Accounting 2 AS Accounting and Certificate in Administration
Level of study
Quiz questions Level 3 + 2
Method of working
Question A The accounting equation states that: Independently
Answer 1 capital – assets = liabilities How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
2 assets + capital = liabilities Revision
3 fixed assets + current liabilities = capital Number of students taking part
4 current assets – current liabilities = capital 20
Correct answer string
B Capital introduced would be recorded as: 2  1  2  2  2
1 capital – assets = liabilities
2 assets + capital = liabilities
3 fixed assets + current liabilities = capital
4 current assets – current liabilities = capital
C Which of the following is not a current asset?
1 Stock
2 Debtors
3 Wages owing
4 Prepaid rent
D Which of the following is not part of the ledger? Automated answers
1 Cash book Number of
2 Sales ledger correct answers
3 Purchase ledger 0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
4 Balance sheet n n You have got #/5 –
revision required
E A sale of goods on credit to A Murray of
£600 is recorded in the account of L Murphy. n You have got #/5 –
This is known as an error of: you have basic knowledge
1 principle n You have got #/5 – good effort
2 commission n You have got #/5 – well done
3 original entry
n You have got #/5 – excellent
4 compensation

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped It was revision and they had to work it out although it
the students’ learning was multiple choice – I don’t think you should overuse this,
as multiple choice is unrealistic in their exams
How the use of the quiz helped  —
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on I would have preferred this if you were not reliant
 A how s/he prepared the students on the students’ mobiles. The only way you could do
to take part, B how s/he organised that is if they used the PDA, although you wouldn’t know
the use of mobile devices and what each person had achieved
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Quiz name (keyword) Course of study 65


Camera ND Media Production
Level of study
Quiz questions Level 3
Method of working
Question A When would you use a wide iris? Independently
Answer 1 In bright light How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
2 In dark conditions It was half-term homework
3 On a normal day Number of students taking part
4 When you feel like it 12
Correct answer string
B You should always start off with 2  3  1  3  2
the camera shutter speed at:
1 1/500 sec
2 1/25 sec
3 1/50 sec
4 1/250 sec
C Fast shutters are effective for:
1 fast action
2 all the time
3 slow action
4 low-light conditions
D A pan in television terms means:
1 something to cook chips in
2 moving the camera up and down Automated answers
3 moving the camera from side to side
Number of
4 keeping the camera still correct answers
E A tilt in television terms means: 0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
1 a funky dance move n Oops – all wrong!
2 moving the camera up and down n n n n You scored #/5 and got * right
3 moving the camera from side to side
n Well done – all correct
4 keeping the camera still

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped It did help
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped The students seemed to enjoy answering the questions
the students’ interest in learning and using their mobile phones to do it
Reflections by the tutor on I was quite aware of the cost implications, although
 A how s/he prepared the students the students were less so! It perhaps would have been
to take part, B how s/he organised more effective to get them to undertake the quiz on
the use of mobile devices and the XDA’s SIM cards. Although it was an effective task
 C whether this was appropriate for them to undertake in half-term
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

66 Quiz name (keyword) Course of study


Numbers – LTDWOOD2 Numeracy national test course
Level of study
Quiz questions Level 1
Method of working
Question A Work out 25% of £40 Independently
Answer 1 £5 How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
2 £10 The SMS quizzes fitted very well into the
3 £15 curriculum as I used them as mini revision sessions.
For each quiz I gave the students five questions on
4 £20 topics that they had covered in previous sessions
B There is a sale with 15% off all items. and I asked them in similar styles to the national test
questions with multiple-choice answers
A dress was £60 – what is its new price?
Number of students taking part
1 £9 8
2 £15 Correct answer string
3 £51 2  3  4  3  1
4 £55
C A swimming pool holds 500 litres of water.
The pool is ¾ full – how much water is in the pool?
1 125 litres
2 250 litres
3 300 litres
4 375 litres
Automated answers
D A box measures 10m wide, 6m high and
3m deep – what is the volume of the box? Number of
1 60m³ correct answers
0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
2 180m²
3 180m³ n n You got * right. Unlucky –
4 60m² have another go!
n n You got * right. Good effort –
E The test results over a course are have another go!
12, 10, 6, 4, 18, 10 – what is the mean?
n You got * right. Well done –
1 10 have another go!
2 12
3 14 n Congratulations –
you got all your answers right!
4 4.16

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped The SMS quiz review sheets were extremely useful to the students’ learning
the students’ learning as they were able to revisit previous topics. They liked the fact that there were
only five questions and multiple choice so it encouraged them to have a go.
Not all of them did the quiz on the SMS, most of them kept answering the
questions on paper and giving it back to me the next week
How the use of the quiz helped Some students enjoyed the SMS part but most of the students either didn’t know
the students’ interest in learning how to text or were reluctant to use SMS. In the end all of them had a go on
the SMS quiz but they said they preferred to answer the questions on paper
Reflections by the tutor on I showed the learners with my own mobile how they answer the questions and text
 A how s/he prepared the students their answers. The learners used their own mobile phones to answer the quizzes.
to take part, B how s/he organised I think [if] I was to do it again I might ask them to try it first on the XDA unit,
the use of mobile devices and free of charge for a trial run, so they know how to do it on their own phone,
 C whether this was appropriate as some of the learners got confused at first as to how to send the messages.
and any changes they would make Due to the learners’ age most of them were unfamiliar with texting.
if this was to be repeated With a group with younger learners they wouldn’t have had a problem as they are
used to sending messages and answering questions via quizzes using their phone
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Quiz names (keywords) Course of study 67


M-learning M-learning n Various 
M TEXT M TEXT n M-learning  M TXT n Various
M TXT Level of study
M-learning n Various 
M TEXT n E3–L1  M TXT n Entry level – level 2
Quiz questions Method of working
Question A What do you think m-learning stands for? M-learning n Pairs 
M TEXT n Independently, pairs and groups 
Answer 1 Magic learning M TXT n —
2 Mobile learning How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
3 Memory learning M-learning n — 
4 Modern learning M TEXT n Revision  M TXT n —
Number of students taking part
B What does PDA stand for? M-learning n 6–12 
1 Personal digital assistant M TEXT n 40  M TXT n 20
2 Personal digital aid Correct answer string
3 Pull-down accessibility 2  1  4  4  3
4 Please don’t ask
C M-learning…
1 targets 16–24 year olds Automated answers
2 targets people not in education or training
3 helps with training and employment Number of
correct answers
4 all of the above 0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
D The PDAs can be useful for students… n Doh! You scored # out of 5
1 who want a flexible study plan n You got # right. Were you
2 who would benefit from 1:1 having a little sleep?
3 who need the intensive support to re-engage
n Wakey, wakey! You got # right
4 all of the above
n Good – chat to the m-tutors
E Learning takes place… some more. You got # right
1 at college n Nice one! # out of 5
2 at the job centre
3 it is flexible n Well done – you know what it is
all about! You got # out of 5
4 at the library

Tutor’s feedback M-learning M TEXT M TXT


How the use of the quiz helped It was helpful – Good revision It played a part in actual learning –
the students’ learning particularly EFL tool. Good ‘hook’ great for evaluation of learning
How the use of the quiz helped They liked the new Good in engaging Great for engaging students
the students’ interest in learning learning environment initial interest
Reflections by the tutor on We start our m-learning Students used  A Explained to them how
 A how s/he prepared the students presentation with devices loaned the quiz was going to work
to take part, B how s/he organised six phones and by m-learning and to bring their own mobiles.
the use of mobile devices and six question sheets. project (own  B Asked the students if they were
 C whether this was appropriate We throw people college project) happy to use their own mobiles,
and any changes they would make straight in at the if not I brought some of the
if this was to be repeated deep-end and as long project spares.
as the phones work!  C If I was unable to have spare
PDAs and the students refused to
Note use their own, it would have created
This quiz was created once, but a real problem
used by three different tutors with
three different groups. Therefore,
there are also three sets of feedback
Mobile learning in practice

68 Quiz name (keyword) Course of study


Parasite SMS Quiz 1 ND Animal Management
Level of study
Quiz questions Level 3
Method of working
Question AWhat is an ectoparasite? Independently
Answer 1A disease that affects parasites How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
2A treatment for killing parasites Testing learning during teaching session
3A parasite that lives on Number of students taking part
the outside of the body 11
4 A person responsible for Correct answer string
3  2  3  4  1
recording parasite occurrence
B Fleas and lice are… Automated answers
1 members of the teleost group
2 insects Number of
3 arachnids correct answers
0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
4 related to woodlice
n You got #/5. It is probably time
C Lice have eggs that… to check your notes and try
1 roll off the host as soon as they are laid again later! #/5. Amser edrych
2 are spherical and laid in clumps ar y nodiadau a ceisio eto!
3 remain tightly glued to the base of the hair n You only got * correct. Check
4 are easily removed by light grooming through your notes and try
again later. Atebion *
D Tapeworms have… yn gywir. Edrychwch ar
1 a well-developed digestive system y nodiadau cyn ceisio eto
2 a body with no clear segmentation n You only got * correct. Check
3 complex dances to attract mates through your notes and try
4 segments that are shed daily again later. Atebion *
containing thousands of eggs yn gywir. Edrychwch ar
y nodiadau cyn ceisio eto
E Which of the following is a common tapeworm n You got #/5 correct. Answers *
of dogs and cats? were correct. #/5 yn iawn.
1 Dipylidium caninum Oedd atebion * yn iawn
2 Architeuthis pseudoargus n You got * correct! Check the
3 Alca torda wrong answer in your notes.
4 Toxocara canis  * yn iawn! Edrychwch yn
y nodiadau am yr ateb arall
n All answers correct, well done!
Atebion I gyd yn iawn, da iawn!
Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped Allowed them to undertake learning activities and retry them,
the students’ learning getting feedback when not in the classroom
How the use of the quiz helped Certainly, as a different type of activity, it stimulated their interest
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A Questions were issued on a sheet of A4, with a range of potential answers
 A how s/he prepared the students during the window of opportunity for testing during the latter part of the lesson.
to take part, B how s/he organised  B Students were primed to bring in mobiles prior to the lesson
the use of mobile devices and so that they could take part.
 C whether this was appropriate  C This worked well. Subsequently, the main teaching room was equipped with
and any changes they would make a smartboard – this is a further device that could be brought in alongside next time
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Quiz name (keyword) Course of study 69


PembILT Learning technology
Level of study
Quiz questions Level 3
Method of working
Question A What does ILT stand for? Independently
Answer 1 Information and learning technology How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
2 Information learning technology As an example of technology
3 Instructional learning technology Number of students taking part
4 Informational learning technology 30
Correct answer string
B Blended learning is: 1  3  2  4  2
1 a mix of different classroom approaches
2 distance learning
3 a mix of classroom and distance-learning approaches
4 based on using technology
C Constructivism is:
1 based on behaviourist theories of learning
2 grounded in situated cognition
3 the same as constructionism
4 grounded in the work of Wittgenstein
Automated answers
D Virtual learning environments:
1 are the same as the college intranet Number of
correct answers
2 must use discussion boards 0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
3 enable learners to work together when apart
4 are websites n Are you on this module?
n Not trying
E Which one of the following is not
an example of ILT? n Need to do more
1 Overhead projector n Just about passed
2 Whiteboard marker n Good
3 Mind-mapping software
n Well done
4 Microsoft Word

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped I couldn’t say
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped The session was more engaging
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on Used it to check initial understanding and then again
 A how s/he prepared the students to check that they had learned something
to take part, B how s/he organised
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

70 Quiz name (keyword) Course of study


Pemshardware – pemhw Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel)
Level of study
Quiz question Level 3 (FE)
Method of working
Replace the blanks with the number Pairs
associated with the following words: How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
Answer 1 hard drive I created a quiz based on the unit –
2 sound card hardware + software
3 motherboard Number of students taking part
12
4 AGP
Correct answer string
5 graphics card 1  2  5  4  3
A computer is made up from many
components, each one being responsible
for different tasks. The     
is responsible for saving work while Automated answers
the      ensures that you can
listen to your music. Number of
correct answers
To display your work on the screen 0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
you need a      that is usually n  # out of 5. See Arwyn or Sue –
plugged into the      port on you need help!
the      .
n  # out of 5. Terrible –
Good luck! are you on the right course?
n  # out of 5. Poor – you need to
For example: find out more about hardware
Text ‘pemhw 23451’ n  # out of 5. Not too bad –
if you think the answers are: you might want to do it again
sound card
n  # out of 5. Not bad – you
motherboard should do well in Units 4 and 6
AGP
graphics card n  # out of 5. 100% – you
should do well in Units 4 and 6
hard drive

Tutor’s comments
How the use of the quiz helped The students managed to get 4 or 5 out of 5 the first time,
the students’ learning then they all got 5 out of 5 if they got 4 before
How the use of the quiz helped They were excited by the thought of using the PDA to text,
the students’ interest in learning but not so much in the content of the SMS quiz
Reflections by the tutor on I assumed that the students would know exactly how
 A how s/he prepared the students to enter the SMS message, considering that many
to take part, B how s/he organised television programmes use SMS to enter competitions.
the use of mobile devices and But many of them had problems
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Quiz name (keyword) Course of study 71


Personal Protective Equipment Preparation for work
Level of study
Quiz questions Entry level
Method of working
Question A If you are a bricklayer, which piece of protective Independently
clothing or equipment would you use? How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
It reinforced the teaching about health and safety
Number of students taking part
20
Correct answer string
Answer 1  2  3  4 4  2  1  4  2
B If you are catering, which piece of protective
clothing or equipment would you use?

1  2  3  4
C If you are a fast-food operator, which
piece of protective clothing or equipment
would you use?

1  2  3  4
D If you are working on a building site, which
piece of protective clothing or equipment Automated answers
would you use? Number of
correct answers
0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
n Oh dear!
1  2  3  4
n n You wouldn’t be very safe
E If you are welding, which piece of protective n Not too bad, but you need to
clothing or equipment would you use? find out the correct PPE
n Good. You should be safe
most of the time
n Very good
1  2  3  4

Tutor’s comments
How the use of the quiz helped It would have helped if students had a lot of difficulty
the students’ learning and then found out the answers
How the use of the quiz helped The students enjoyed using their phones,
the students’ interest in learning which made them more interested in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A I asked them if they would like to use mobile phones
 A how s/he prepared the students in the classroom and explained how the quiz worked.
to take part, B how s/he organised  B The students that had credit used their phones
the use of mobile devices and and the rest used my PocketPCs.
 C whether this was appropriate  C To use it again I would need to ensure that
and any changes they would make I had enough mobile devices for students to use,
if this was to be repeated either individually or in pairs
Mobile learning in practice

72 Quiz name (keyword) Course of study


Sentences Literacy national test
Level of study
Quiz questions Entry level 1–3
Method of working
Question A Which sentence does not make sense? Independently
Answer 1 Mr Bell had a temperature How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
2 Today his temperature high Homework
3 The thermometer read 102 Number of students taking part
4 The patient felt hot 6
Correct answer string
B Which sentence does not make sense? 2  4  1  3  4
1 Good hygiene in the kitchen is essential
2 Always wash your hands before preparing food
3 Hygiene is important
4 Washing hands regularly
C Which sentence does not make sense?
1 The service users should choice
2 Alternative foods should be offered
3 Dietary requirements should always be considered
4 Too much sugar should be avoided in diabetic diets
D Which sentence does not make sense?
1 Accidents should be reported immediately Automated answers
2 They should be recorded in the accident book
Number of
3 This at office in Chapeltown correct answers
4 You must always sign the accident book 0 1 2 3 4 5 Feedback
E Which sentence does not make sense? n n n You got # correct.
1 Confidentiality must be kept Try again tomorrow
2 You cannot discuss the clients n You got # correct.
with your friends See if you can beat your score
3 Problems should be discussed n You got # correct. Very good
with your line manager
n You got # correct. Top student
4 Care plans is confidential

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped They did not learn from doing the quizzes, however I used it
the students’ learning as a way of assessing the learning
How the use of the quiz helped Yes, they really enjoyed the novelty of using the texts
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on Introduced at the end of a session for homework.
 A how s/he prepared the students Not enough time to individually demonstrate.
to take part, B how s/he organised Learners confirmed their understanding, however
the use of mobile devices and [I] didn’t receive any texts this week. Had to then spend
 C whether this was appropriate a lot of time explaining again how to do it
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Appendix B 73
Examples of learning games created

Pairs games

Game name Course of study


Different Organisations Business, Retail and Administration
Level of study
Introductory
Method of working
Independently
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Well – covering this in unit
Number of students taking part
10

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped  —
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped I think it helped with interest – this group has
the students’ interest in learning a short attention span at the best of times,
new things enhance their interest
Reflections by the tutor on They had already done a task with the PDA.
 A how s/he prepared the students So they had a go with the PDA individually
to take part, B how s/he organised whilst doing another task
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

74 Game name Course of study


Hardware Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel)
Level of study
3
Method of working
Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Yes – they were doing hardware,
software and web development
Number of students taking part
12

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped The students learned new terms
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped The students were competitive and found it challenging
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  —
 A how s/he prepared the students
to take part, B how s/he organised
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Game name Course of study 75


Job Skills Preparation for work
Level of study
Entry
Method of working
Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Reinforcement
Number of students taking part
10

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped  —
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped  —
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  —
 A how s/he prepared the students
to take part, B how s/he organised
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

76 Game name Course of study


PPE1 Preparation for work
Level of study
Entry
Method of working
Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Reinforcing work done on
health and safety
Number of students taking part
10

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped Reinforcement
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped Raised interest by allowing another form of learning
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A We talked about how to play pairs with cards
 A how s/he prepared the students and then related it to the mobile game.
to take part, B how s/he organised  B My device was passed around the class.
the use of mobile devices and  C I would have liked a device for each student
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Game name Course of study 77


Special Needs Childcare
Level of study
NVQ 3
Method of working
Independently
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Used while waiting for others
to finish a task set
Number of students taking part
4

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped The images in the game helped them to remember
the students’ learning the information
How the use of the quiz helped They enjoyed using the equipment and playing the game
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A Showed them the XDA and demonstrated how
 A how s/he prepared the students the game worked.
to take part, B how s/he organised  B Used the mobile device with one student at a time
the use of mobile devices and while the group was completing a different activity.
 C whether this was appropriate  C This was appropriate for this group at level 2, but
and any changes they would make it may not be as useful to use more than occasionally
if this was to be repeated with a level 3 group. It worked well for differentiation
Mobile learning in practice

78 Game name Course of study


Superstitions EFL
ESOL
This game was used twice Level of study
with two groups of students. EFL n Elementary 
ESOL n Level 1
Method of working
EFL n Independently 
ESOL n Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
EFL n Brilliant (British culture) 
ESOL n Summary of work previously covered
Number of students taking part
EFL n 14 
ESOL n 20

Tutors’ comments EFL ESOL


How the use of the quiz helped Yes, it confirmed Yes, recapped previous learning
the students’ learning understanding and spelling
How the use of the quiz helped Yes, they like learning in this way, New innovative engagement
the students’ interest in learning although it is also a distraction worked well, but achieved very quickly
Reflections by the tutor on  A They had used the PDAs before.  A Just explained game.
 A how s/he prepared the students  B They shared the phones.  B Gave them a device.
to take part, B how s/he organised  C Ideally there would have been  C Very appropriate
the use of mobile devices and enough phones for one each
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Snap games 79

Game name Course of study


Guess Who? ESOL
Level of study
Level 1
Method of working
Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Learning about British culture and
European countries (having previously
looked at traditions, sayings and flags)
Number of students taking part
20

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped This was a fun recapping activity on their
the students’ learning learning of previous weeks
How the use of the quiz helped
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A Explained with a demo.
 A how s/he prepared the students  B Had PDAs for them to use.
to take part, B how s/he organised  C Yes, appropriate
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

80 Game name Course of study


Know Your Flags ESOL
Level of study
Level 1
Method of working
Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Learning about British culture and
European countries (having previously
looked at traditions and sayings)
Number of students taking part
20

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped This was a fun recapping activity on their
the students’ learning learning of previous weeks
How the use of the quiz helped
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A Explained with a demo.
 A how s/he prepared the students  B Had PDAs for them to use.
to take part, B how s/he organised  C Yes, appropriate
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Game name Course of study 81


Software Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel)
Level of study
3
Method of working
Pairs
How the game fitted into the existing curriculum
Yes – they were doing hardware,
software and web development
Number of students taking part
12

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped The students learned new terms
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped The students were competitive and found it challenging
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on The students found the concept difficult at first
 A how s/he prepared the students but then found it interesting
to take part, B how s/he organised
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

82 Quiz games

Game name Course of study


Camera Operations ND Media Production
Level of study
3
Method of working
Independently
How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
Used as a question-and-answer
session
Number of students taking part
12

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped It was used in question-and-answer sessions
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped I feel the XDA made this question-and-answer session
the students’ interest in learning more attractive to the students
Reflections by the tutor on I initially tried this by passing the XDA around the class.
 A how s/he prepared the students All the students took to this and there was a bit of
to take part, B how s/he organised a competition about who was going to use it next
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

83

Game name Course of study


Editing ND Media Production
Level of study
3
Method of working
Independently
How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
Used as a question-and-answer
session
Number of students taking part
12

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped It was used in question-and-answer sessions
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped I feel the XDA made this question-and-answer session
the students’ interest in learning more attractive to the students
Reflections by the tutor on  —
 A how s/he prepared the students
to take part, B how s/he organised
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

84 Game name Course of study


Web Development Applied ICT year 1 (Edexcel)
Level of study
3
Method of working
Pairs
How the quiz fitted into the existing curriculum
Yes – they were doing hardware,
software and web development
Number of students taking part
12

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the quiz helped The students learned new terms
the students’ learning
How the use of the quiz helped The students were competitive and found it challenging
the students’ interest in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  —
 A how s/he prepared the students
to take part, B how s/he organised
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

Appendix C 85
Examples of mediaBoards created

As discussed elsewhere in this publication, the project experienced


many difficulties with multimedia messaging (MMS), especially when
combined with pay-as-you-go payments. Unfortunately, the difficulties
prevented most tutors from fully testing the mediaBoard and
meant that very little evidence of its effectiveness in supporting
teaching and learning could be collected. However, tutors did have
some interesting ideas about how the mediaBoard could be used
with learners studying very different subjects, and these may be
useful for other tutors.

mediaBoard name (keyword) Course of study


C24 NVQ Childcare
Level of study
2
Method of working
Pairs
How the mediaBoard fitted into the existing curriculum
It was part of an underpinning
knowledge lesson for a unit
relating to communication
Number of students taking part
8
Number and names of hotspots created
3 n ‘nverb’, ‘verb’ and ‘writ’

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the mediaBoard This was a fun way to look at verbal and
helped the students’ learning non-verbal communication
How the use of the mediaBoard They enjoyed using the technology so enjoyed the learning
helped the students’ interest
in learning
Reflections by the tutor on We were looking at verbal and non-verbal communication
 A how s/he prepared the students with children. The learners were asked if they would
to take part, B how s/he organised take part in the activity. It was decided that one group
the use of mobile devices and could use the tutor’s XDA and the other groups their
 C whether this was appropriate own phones. The students found it fun to take the pictures
and any changes they would make but we struggled to use their own phones to send the
if this was to be repeated messages. I was not familiar with them so we found it
difficult to attach the MMS messages to send. In the end
we re-took the images and sent them via the XDA
Mobile learning in practice

86 mediaBoard name (keyword) Course of study


Haverfordwest EFL (English as a foreign language)
Level of study
Elementary
Method of working
Pairs
How the mediaBoard fitted into the existing curriculum
Very well – it was
an orientation exercise
Number of students taking part
14
Number and names of hotspots created
11 n ‘Barber’, ‘College’, ‘Dentist’, ‘Doctors’,
‘Fire Station’, ‘Garage’ ‘Police Station’,
‘Taj Mahal’, ‘Tesco’, ‘Vets’
Tutors’ comments
How the use of the mediaBoard Yes, it was a useful practical exercise
helped the students’ learning
How the use of the mediaBoard Yes, they love getting out of the classroom and
helped the students’ interest using information and learning technology
in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A Used the PDAs previously in other lessons (games/quizzes).
 A how s/he prepared the students  B Students had to use their own (mobiles).
to take part, B how s/he organised  C College PDAs would have been better. We had great difficulty
the use of mobile devices and sending MMS – they never appeared on the mediaBoard
 C whether this was appropriate at all! [MMS is routed via network providers, and was
and any changes they would make not always reliable – Section 18.2.4 discusses this point]
if this was to be repeated

mediaBoard name (keyword) Course of study


ILT Learning technology
Level of study
Level 3
Method of working
Independently
How the mediaBoard fitted into the existing curriculum
As part of the curriculum
Number of students taking part
10
Number and names of hotspots created
4 n ‘eassess’, ‘emanage’, ‘eteach’ and ‘etutor’

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the mediaBoard No
helped the students’ learning
How the use of the mediaBoard No, but that is because it didn’t work
helped the students’ interest [MMS is routed via network providers, and was not
in learning always reliable – Section 18.2.4 discusses this point]
Reflections by the tutor on Use of the mediaBoard was difficult to explain.
 A how s/he prepared the students A printout of the board with precise details
to take part, B how s/he organised of how to send messages to each zone
the use of mobile devices and alongside each zone [would have helped]
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
Piloting a mobile learning teachers’ toolkit in further education colleges

mediaBoard name (keyword) Course of study 87


LTD Learning Centre Not applicable as mediaBoard created
as example for staff only
Level of study
As above
Method of working
As above
How the mediaBoard fitted into the existing curriculum
As above
Number of students taking part
As above
Number and names of hotspots created
4 n ‘books’, ‘Desk’, ‘enquirydesk’ and ‘iltroom’

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the mediaBoard  —
helped the students’ learning
How the use of the mediaBoard  —
helped the students’ interest
in learning
Reflections by the tutor on It was created to show other people in the college
 A how s/he prepared the students how useful it would be for induction, but I did not
to take part, B how s/he organised try it with students
the use of mobile devices and
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated

mediaBoard name (keyword) Course of study


Original Creations Young enterprise
Level of study
Level 1
Method of working
Independently and groups
How the mediaBoard fitted into the existing curriculum
It allowed them to communicate
about their business
Number of students taking part
13
Number and names of hotspots created
4 n ‘Competition’, ‘jewellery’, ‘paper’ and ‘photos’

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the mediaBoard It would have helped if it had worked
helped the students’ learning
How the use of the mediaBoard I think that it would have increased the students’ learning
helped the students’ interest if they had found it satisfactory
in learning
Reflections by the tutor on  A We talked about the use of the internet and mobile phones
 A how s/he prepared the students in their business (they were keen to take pictures
to take part, B how s/he organised with their phones and send them to the mediaBoard).
the use of mobile devices and  B The students chose to use their own mobiles.
 C whether this was appropriate  C This would have been good as they could have sent pictures
and any changes they would make that they had taken to share with the rest of the group
if this was to be repeated
Mobile learning in practice

88 mediaBoard name (keyword) Course of study


Selby 1 ND Media Production
Level of study
3
Method of working
Groups
How the mediaBoard fitted into the existing curriculum
Added to Single Camera 3 project
Number of students taking part
12
Number and names of hotspots created
8 n ‘academy’, ‘artanddesign’, ‘bungaloo’, ‘carpark’,
‘entrance’, ‘eo3’, ‘newbuilding’ and ‘oldmblock’

Tutors’ comments
How the use of the mediaBoard  —
helped the students’ learning
How the use of the mediaBoard As it didn’t work, it didn’t really add anything
helped the students’ interest
in learning
Further comments This tutor stated, ‘I created a mediaBoard and tested
it and it worked. My students’ pictures did not appear,
and I did not have enough time to chase it up’
Reflections by the tutor on I borrowed an XDA (so I had two with SIM cards). I had
 A how s/he prepared the students real problems and the images did not get to the website
to take part, B how s/he organised [MMS is routed via network providers, and was not
the use of mobile devices and always reliable – Section 18.2.4 discusses this point]
 C whether this was appropriate
and any changes they would make
if this was to be repeated
UK college tutors taking part in the mobile learning
teachers’ toolkit project authored their own mobile learning
materials (SMS quizzes, PDA learning games and mediaBoard
activities) to cater for the specific needs of their students
in their particular learning context. This publication reports
on the impact of these mobile learning activities on
teaching, learning and students’ interest in learning and
on how tutors integrated mobile learning into the curriculum.
The challenges of setting up the project and some lessons
learned are also discussed. Examples of the learning materials
created and tips for using these tools with students are
included to inform teachers who may be considering
mobile learning for their students