Many thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to today’s event exploring the functionality and applications of two pieces of technology that are being rolled out in York this year; Mobile Learn and Lecture/Personal capture.
Mobile Learn (App for SmartPhones / Tablets providing easy access to VLE – click for overview from a previous post)
Jon Bateman from HYMS gave a short presentation on their rationale for piloting the app last year and experiences to date. The rationale centred around extending the reach of VLE resources and removing barriers to engagement for staff and students. This was seen as particularly important for students on placement who cannot always get access to the VLE through a desktop PC, (while acknowledging the widespread usage of the app amongst campus based students) and busy clinicians who were able to maintain interaction through discussion boards on iPads. Jon Highlighted the main strengths of the app (discussion boards, blogs and journals, access to file based resources and formative testing) while highlighting some of the pitfalls and considerations for developing VLE sites with mobile delivery in mind.
We also looked briefly at other ways that teachers might exploit the proliferation of mobile devices, in particular inititaives within the Dept of Eduction using free services such as Polleverywhere.com which allows instructors to easily create survey questions (both open and multiple choice) which students can respond to through SMS texts or through a unique URL. I had set this up the night before in a couple of minutes and I was impressed with how simple and effective this proved to be in the live demo too, though one comment was made regarding the tension between using students own devices for learning while not allowing them to become distracted by having them in the room.
The main discussion that followed picked up on this, centred on the tension between making use of the devices that students own already or providing them to all students to ensure equity, raising a number of interesting issues;
- Institutionally provided kit: Who will maintain and support it? Will it date quickly? Will students be expected to carry “Learning technology” in addition to “Personal Technology”? What happens in instances where students already own something equivalent? Initiatives in the US and the UK were highlighted where all students were provided with devices to ensure equity but a year later it was found that many of these went unused at great expense and no tangible benefit, as students chose to stick with the devices they already owned and used for other areas of their lives.
- Exploiting the proliferation of student owned devices: while this seems reasonable when mobile access is an alternative that students may opt into, it does raise issues when engagement through a mobile device is expected or even compulsory element of the course. Can we demand that students own devices? Can we expect students to bear the cost of connectivity, texts etc?
Overall the conclusion of the presentations and discussions was summarised by Paul Waites from Biology who commented that its “just too soon to tell” how this will be used or exactly what the impact will be. The app is available, students are starting to use it in greater numbers and staff are becoming aware of it. The pedagogic opportunities and implications and impact on the student experience remains to be seen but we will watch with interest and would be keen to support any research and / or evaluation in this area (on that final note, good luck to Xiaoyin from Education in her PhD into the use of mobile technologies to support language learning).
Mobile Learn overview – Simon Davis’s slides
Mobile Learn @ HYMS – Jon Bateman’s slides
Lecture / Personal Capture (automated recording, producing and publishing lectures and “at desk” delivery – click for overview from a previous post)
Wayne Britcliffe provided a comprehensive overview of Replay, the newly rolled out lecture capture service. Much of the detail can be found on the Replay homepage, including the options for where and how the recordings can be made available, the rooms that have been equipped for lecture capture and how staff can request that their lectures are recorded and made available automatically.
This was followed by a short demonstration and overview of the associated personal capture system which allows recordings made at your desk to be produced and published with the same ease as scheduled lectures. Some of the main benefits, applications and considerations were discussed while while the presentation was recorded and published using the personal capture system (see link below).
Unfortunately time was limited for discussion though it was felt like the Mobile Learn app, the main strength of this system is its simplicity and that we will have to wait and see what the implications and applications will be. However initial student reaction seems to be very positive, a sentiment supported by HYMS who have been regularly capturing all 1st and 2nd year lectures for a few years now.
Lecture / personal capture slides – Wayne Britcliffe / Simon Davis
Link to Personal capture recording made in the session (apologies for the poor sound and video quality – this is not typical of what can be expected)
Thanks again to everyone who attended and registered interest, please do post your reflections and additional information here using the comments function and as ever, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team to discuss getting started with either Mobile Learn or Replay.