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This describes a project undertaken by Jacqueline Batchelor and the Grade 11 Life Science learners at Cornwall Hill College. She has kindly given us permission to publish the project.

 

PROJECT BACKGROUND:

Learners at Cornwall Hill College are exposed to the latest technology and teaching practices with access to laboratory equipment and additional resources. These learners felt the need to share their learning experiences with those that do not have the same exposure. They decided to create learning objects that is easily accessible and transferable from phone to phone and downloadable from the internet that reflect their own learning. This was aimed at learners taking Life Sciences with no or limited access to formal technology, limited connectivity and resources.

 

 

  OBJECTIVES

Learners were tasked to capture and translate their own learning experience of anatomy dissections into learning objects with the use of available ICT tools and applications.

These learning objects were to contain and reflect the knowledge they  deemed necessary to reach the curricular outcomes as stipulated in the Assessment Standards of the Grade 11 Life Sciences syllabus.

 

 

 

 

Learning Tasks and Activities

Observe class dissections demonstrations between the period of February to May 2008.

Collect baseline material and compile notes for future reference.

Picked a topic of interest and tasked to do their own dissection in their own time working in pairs to create educational learning resources.

 

 

 

 

Learning activities

Source own material.

Plan, coordinate and execute dissections and capture data.

Use ICT to create open educational resources that could be played various ICT tools.

License their work using creative commons.

 

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Material collected during their explorations had to be whittled down to the essence as they had to be short and entertaining at the same time. 

The were grouped to be able to support each with complementary skills.

Their extended families served as additional resources as most of the dissections occurred in their own back gardens.

The ICT natives were nominated and available for consultations to the ICT novices.

They had to decide the depth of their coverage and the number of artifacts produced.

If the artifact was not self explanatory they had to produce complementary enlightening materials.

They had to license their work after exploring the creative commons website.

 

 

 

 

Relevance of ICT Tools for the creation of the learning objects

ICT tools allowed the learners to work in formal and informal environments.

In class they had access to their own Phones and cameras and at home they used their own PC’s .

The ASUS EEEPC’s were booked out and they could work in their pairs in class.

They also had access to laptops with wireless access to enable them to Bluetooth their projects to their respective phones.

In Media Resource centre they worked on WYSE Thinclients with access to internet.

Some learners only used their phones, forgoing desktop PC's.

 

 

 

Hardware

WYSE Thinclients

HP laptops

ASUS EEEPC  with 2GB data card

Cell phones

Video cameras

Microphones

 

Applications

Microsoft Photostory 3– to compile their stories

Microsoft Powerpoint

Microsoft Paint

Microsoft Moviemaker – to edit their movies

Microsoft Word

SUPER – to convert the materials into format for different handheld devices

Flash – animate materials

 

Learner as change agent

Learners are very proud of their work and carry it on their phones to share immediately

A German exchange student copied all resources and took it with her on her return at end of June to share back home

Learning objects was shared at clinics to inform the nurses whom in turn spontaneously used it to educate their patients in the waiting room.

Those learning artifacts small enough is being uploaded to the Thutong portal to be made available to all.

 

“Dissections for all” is a concept that was conceived and executed by the learners themselves.  They owned this project from the start and got completely carried away by the potential and scope. They learnt about anatomy, humanity and humility and the limitations of their own skills.  Their will to create something worthwhile challenged their IT skills as the goalpost moved constantly as someone came up with a new idea to enhance the artifact.

They are conscious of the impact their humble efforts can have to improve the quality and availability of learning resources.

 

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Mobi  (http://www.mymobi.co.za) has now been around for nearly a year. It is aimed at helping high school students with maths and gives students access to tutorials in the form of streamed video. This can be accessed from either their mobile phone or their PC. Some students have reported it difficult to log onto the mobile version of the application so I am including two examples of the videos that are available.  You can try and load them onto your mobile phone and view it from there. Your phone will have to be Java enabled. Thanks to Mobi and Maskew Miller Longman (Pty) Ltd  that have supplied the clips.

Mobi maths provides the learner with access to tutorials. These tutorials are comprehensive and in easy to understand language. There is an Afrikaans and English version. Below is a screenshot of the demo. For a review http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=315567&area=/the_teacher/teacher_features/

 

 

Here is two examples of the videos on Mobi

If you have problems viewing them , try downloading the VLC media player from http://vlc-media-player.en.softonic.com/

 

 Buiteoppervlakte_Voorbeelde_1.flv

 MSG_G12_U59_PQ_5.flv

 

If they need even more help it is available from Dr Maths on MXit. The Dr Maths addition to MXit has been developed by Laurie Butgereit of the Meraka Institute; the Centre for Social and Industrial Research’s information technology and communication arm. Learners must have an account on MXit to access the service. They would add “Mr Maths” or “Dr Wiskunde” to their contacts through 079 992 3960 and , hey presto... they are online for some maths help. MXit as nearly any teenager will tell you, is a instant messaging service that allows you to send and receive text messages to other MXit users anywhere in the world. 

The obvious drawbacks of this is of course that you can’t draw pictures and explaining geography is a challenge but with so many of the learners on MXit already it is help when and where you need it in a medium that you are an expert user in... 

The tutors on Dr Maths are students from the University of Pretoria’s Engineering, Built Environments and Information Technology Department who are required to complete 40 hours of community service as part of their degree. These tutors are on duty from 14:00 to 20:00 from Sunday to Thursday.

 


 

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Android is an open source free operating system for mobile phones. It is being developed by the “Open Handset Alliance” a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies. You can have a look at the video here.If you have heard someone mention a “G-Phone” they were most probably referring to a phone using this operating system rather than a specific type of phone. At present Google has launched the Android Development Challenge, which provides $10 million in rewards for great mobile applications built on the Android platform. The 50 most promising entries received by April 14  will each receive a $25 000 award to fund further development and will then ultimately be eligible for one of the ten $275 000  and ten $100 000 awards.The suggested areas of focus are·         Social networking·         Media consumption, management, editing or sharing·         Productivity and collaboration such as email, IM, calendar ect.·         Gaming·         News and information·         Rethinking traditional user interface·         Use of mash-up functionality ad·         Use of location-based services·         Humanitarian benefits·         Applications in service of global economic development·         Whatever....I am very sorry that the BIG ideas group at GOOGLE didn’t think to include education. It however doesn’t exclude it... so the hope is there that the development will include something specific for education. What are the implications for mobile learning? An open free operating system with the potential to provide a bit more of a common programming base will definitely make it easier to create and distribute applications that would run on personal mobile devices, thus enabling more access. The Software Developing Kit can be downloaded here. 

 

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Welcome to the Mobile Learning Space Blog. But before I go further I have to come clean… I am complete Mobile Phone fan. It’s my best friend and my constant companion, it amuses me when I am bored, gives me access to the world and lets them get hold of me… Its lightweight and gives me light to find my keys in the dark! I am sure we all have a relationship with our mobile phones, you either love it or hate it but, well I for one feel lost without it.

At the IST conference last year in Mozambique( http://www.ist-africa.org/Conference2008) I was enthralled with little figurines that a local artist by the name of David made. One of the reasons I loved this so much was that these students were sitting under a tree with their slates and the technologist in me screamed that replacing the slates with laptops or even mobile phones would open so many doors. I wanted a few more of these and asked him how I could reach him.

 Out came the mobile phone and he gave me his number and explained to me that if I phone from South Africa I would have to replace the dialing 0 with the dialing code of Mozambique. David might not know that he is on the wrong side of the digital divide and that he is considered excluded from the virtual knowledge community BUT he is not technologically unskilled. He might not have those skills that the developed world equates to a digital citizen but he is connected and available. David belongs to the largest networked knowledge society in Africa…. He is a mobile phone user! The realities of Africa are very different to those in developed countries and have given rise to a phenomenal uptake of this technology. Those realities cannot be ignored when we look to the future of technology in education, government and heath. Access through networked computers is a very long (and expensive) way off  for a vast number of people living in developing countries. Maybe we are developing along another tangent to the rest of the world. Where they are going mobile and saying they are now freeing themselves from desktops we might leapfrog right over the network and stationary computer stage right into the mobile era.

Through out Africa there have been innovative ways of adapting to the global mobile system. Jonathan Donner(http://jonathandonner.com) shares these examples.

Mobile handsets sometimes do double duty, being used by multiple family members, friends and sometimes entire villages. They often have their own simcard and share only the handset. Many local entrepreneurs make a living by selling individual calls on the handset, thus extending connectivity to those that cannot afford their own.  The Grameen Village Phone (http://www.grameenfoundation.org/what_we_do/technology_programs/village_phone/) has extended from Bangladesh to Uganda and Rwanda and echoes in the South African franchises of phone shops.  A beautiful example of this is the “Umbrella Ladies” in West Africa that simply set up “shop” at the side of the road and resells individual calls! An impromptu phone booth!

Have you heard of beeping, flashing or “please call me” ?? There is a huge amount of calls made with the full intention of hanging up. This is called “beeping” of “flashing” and translates to an elaborate set of coded messages. A beep (ie letting it ring once resulting in a “missed call message”) means “call me back”. This makes perfect sense if you take the high cost of prepaid airtime, a commodity dealt with, with care. A crafty “beeper” can have active social interactions and never pay for a call… that is assuming he gets people to call back. These “missed call” don’t always mean phone back… it could mean a variety of things depending on the circumstances… it could translate to “I am thinking of you”, I arrived safe”, “ I am here” to “remember our date”  These little free contacts carry not only emotionally laden messages but are used in business practice in Rwanda where customers “beep” restaurants  to see if food is ready and businesses “beeping” customers to alert them that their purchase or products are ready for pick-up. These contextualized messages are happening under the “pay-radar” and are in actual fact micro-negotiations.

Maybe a missed call from an educator can remind students of their homework! Although I was told by a grade 11 student that getting an sms from your science teacher on a Friday evening was NOT considered cool!!! Just goes to show… I thought it was.

 

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