Recently in Trends Category

Excerpt from FastCompany Article - see the FastCompany link below.

We have been focusing on the concept of mLearning--where "m" usually stands for "mobile" but also just as easily for "me." The near-ubiquity of handheld devices and their constantly lowering costs will enable the idea of "education that you can hold in your hand," so it becomes a widespread reality in so-called developed markets and resource-challenged parts of the globe alike. Thanks to findings from a frogMob--an open research tool that allows people to upload and contribute their own observations from around the globe--along with additional research and other insights contributed by our partners at the World Economic Forum, we have arrived at 10 key themes that are likely to drive the development of mLearning initiatives in innovative directions. Here they are.

1. Continuous learning

Up until now, most people relegated "education" to a finite time in their lives: entering school at around five years old and attending school institutions all the way to university. Education had an expiration date, then working life began. This model, which has its roots in the industrial era, is quickly becoming less relevant or applicable to the way we live our lives in the connected age.

Education is getting increasingly interspersed with our daily activities. On our phones, tablets, and PCs, we download and digest life or work-related articles with instructions on how to fix our appliances or how to use a new professional software program. Many people across age groups decide to take formal online courses in their spare time, including complex subjects such as artificial intelligence, computer science, and game theory--all real examples of free courses offered by Stanford University and taken by everyday people, including 11-year-old kids and retirees.

2. Educational leapfrogging

Continuous learning isn't just happening in the developed world. With low-priced computers, tablets, and cell phones in the hands of children in resource-challenged communities, many kids who are engaging in technological leapfrogging will have the opportunity to skip past outdated formal school systems, too. This is especially relevant in the case of children living in poverty, who may be denied an opportunity to improve their condition through education because they start working very early to help sustain their families or do not live near schools.

3. A new crop of older, lifelong learners (and educators)

A by-product of the continuous learning phenomenon is the fact that the grandparents of children growing up with a touchscreen in their hands--people in their 60s today--are being pulled into mLearning more than ever, motivated to adoption by the need to stay in touch with their grandkids.

The availability of tablets and other touch-enabled devices has radically reduced the perceived complexity of computers, helping older users to more easily communicate with their middle-aged children and grandkids via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.

4. Breaking gender boundaries, reducing physical burdens

In parts of the globe where, because of centuries of cultural practices, young women may still not be allowed to access a formal education, mLearning promises to be able to put girls and women of all ages in contact with high-quality education privately and on their own time. Along similar lines mLearning also helps bring educational material within the reach of people with extreme disabilities, who may not be physically able to get to a classroom or campus on a regular basis. In both of these cases, new freedoms can be exposed. As a result, these groups can take control of their educational and professional destinies.

5. A new literacy emerges: software literacy

MLearning could usher in a boom of interest in learning software programming languages, which could very well become a new lingua franca. This is already happening; Numerous startup web-based businesses today such as Codecademy teach people via interactive lessons how to understand and write software programs. Not even a year old, Codacademy has more than a million "students" and has raised about $3 million in venture-capital funds.

This scenario is particularly relevant in emerging economies, where gaining software development expertise can introduce new opportunities for economic growth, or give communities what they need to address unmet local needs.

6. Education's long tail

MLearning solutions are poised to tap into the vast amount of existing educational materials that could be made accessible via mobile channels. This is especially true with YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-sharing services already providing a critical mass of tips, tutorials, and full-fledged lessons that can be re-aggregated by theme and packaged as educational material. The recent TED-Ed initiative attests to the opportunity offered by the clever repurposing of existing quality lessons.

Others have leveraged the video-sharing social platforms to distribute educational materials created in an ad hoc way. It's a model made famous by Salman Khan, an MIT graduate who, with his eponymous academy, "flips" the traditional education model by having pupils absorb lessons at home, and practice and discuss what they've learned at school instead.

The range of mLearning materials does not need to be limited to higher education but can easily encompass valuable, practical know-how, from grandmothers showing how to prepare traditional recipes to companies demonstrating how to install solar panels on mud huts.

The nature and complexity of educational materials can also vary greatly and not necessarily require a video-capable smartphone: Humanitarian organizations like MAMA have put to good use simple text messages to help mothers in developing economies learn about pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for their infants.

These examples illustrate how the power of mLearning lies in its ability to offer solutions for numerous niche audiences.

7. Teachers and pupils trade roles

The same handheld-connected tools that enable children and adults to access existing educational solutions also provide the opportunity for them to capture and share knowledge in return. In other words, imagine kids who are raised with programming and video-production knowledge from very early ages creating educational materials for their peers, or even to teach adults, exposing them to very young people's points of view of the world. Imagine a 12-year-old boy explaining how effectively to communicate health information to him as a tutorial for nurses, physicians, and parents.

8. Synergies with mobile banking and mobile health initiatives

Developers of emerging mLearning ecosystems can learn a lot from their predecessors in mBanking and mHealth and such services as mobile money transfers or mobile health monitoring. Beyond adapting some ideas, including using text messaging to deliver short lessons, teacher feedback, and grades, mLearning, mHeatlh, and mFinance can also be synergistically combined. After all, better education can easily improve people's financial condition and in turn positively influence their health. These three factors can be combined in different orders without changing the result, which will always be more than then sum of the individual components. Applied on a micro or macro scale, this virtuous cycle has the potential to become a very effective way to improve personal, regional, and even national economies.

9. New opportunities for traditional educational institutions

The mLearning phenomenon will not necessarily compete with well-established schools but actually complement and extend their current offerings. An intriguing new model was offered when Harvard and MIT announced that they have teamed up to offer free online courses via a joint nonprofit organization, edX. Both universities will observe how students respond to the courses to better understand distance learning.

10. A revolution leading to customized education

The key for successfully channeling the mLearning revolution will not simply be about digitizing current educational systems. The real appeal will be allowing people to choose their own paths, leverage their talents, and follow their passions and callings. MLearning has much business potential, but the most exciting and rewarding aspect of these solutions is that students of any age or background might have the chance to pursue knowledge that is meaningful, relevant, and realistic to achieve in their own lives.

FastCompany Link

I saw my first television commercial featuring a QR code this past week. I don't know how useful it really was, though. In a 15 second commercial, the QR code was only displayed for a few seconds -- not enough time for me to grab my cell phone, start the scanner app, and get it scanned! I suppose I could have paused my HD DVR/Cable Box at that moment and then grabbed my phone and performed the scan, or if I had been viewing a recording of a program, I could have paused and scannned the code. Still though, it doesn't seem real effective or practical to be including QR codes in television advertisements.

I searched the Web for additional thoughts on this subject:

QR Codes in Television Advertising (Technorati)

Shin-B Music Video Featuring QR Codes (Quite interesting, and the codes work!)

Designer QR Code -- this one made TV history:


View the clip and you'll see exactly how quickly the QR Code appears and clears!

Interesting read today (June 2011, eCampus News): Louisianna State University is being recognized for its commitment to staff IT training and support. "Campus leaders have combined an online knowledge base with face-to-face assistance to help faculty integrate technology into their teaching and research" (June 2011, 8).

Brian Voss, LSU's vice chancellor for information technology, described that LSU has invested in the people necessary to train and provide one-on-one technology support to facilitate the transition to new technologies. They also created the online knowledge base which houses step-by-step instructions for those interested in self-paced, individual learning. Their Faculty Technology Center provides face-to-face assistance to faculty across campus interested in utilizing technology for their teaching and research. This Center provides training as well as opportunities for faculty to demonstrate to other faculty their use of technology.

Says, Brian Voss, "Invest in the people to support the technology used on campus; it is the best way to maximize the investments you make in the technology itself."

Even though the University of Minnesota, Morris hasn't been recognized for its efforts in faculty technology support, I can tell you that we have a very personal, supportive unit on the UMM campus that is committed to providing assistance and training to faculty, staff, and students -- the Instructional and Media Technologies department. This is my unit, and I am proud to say that we focus on the individual and provide customized service and support to all of our clients. We offer campus training to faculty, staff, and students. We also hold events that give faculty and staff the opportunity to share their knowledge with the campus through demonstrations and discussions. We provide online resources, including step-by-step guides, screencast tutorials, and recorded seminars. And, in this fast-paced, ever-changing digital world, we investigate emerging technologies and offer demonstrations and seminars to share our discoveries.

I ask you, is UMM eligible for the "eCampus of the Month" award? I say, "Yes!"

eCampus News Current Issue

Note: Brian Voss will assume his new position as Vice President of Information Technology and CIO at the University of Maryland in August 2011. Thank you to Neil Tickner, Senior Media Relations Associate, University of Maryland, for this notice.

What Year IS This?


Remember the early 90's and how we were discussing "the new literacy" and how we were going to change education by making technology an integral part of instruction? Don't you think it's interesting that after 25 years, we're still faced with students who need digital literacy skills and instructors who still aren't using technology in their teaching?

At a campus technology seminar last week, one faculty member posed the question, "What can be done to address the problem that we still have students who are coming to our institution without basic technology skills?"

Do we need to look at high school curricula and graduation requirements? Do we need to have a required entrance-level literacy skills course? or entrance exam?

I've Discovered QR Codes


I used the KAYWA QR-CODE website to generate QR Code for the Instructional Technology website:


Have you seen these in your world? They are appearing on publications, building signs, maps, and billboards.

What are QR Codes?
QR Codes (= Quick Response Codes)are 2D Barcodes (two dimensional Barcodes) developed by Denso and released in 1994 with the primary aim of being easily interpreted by scanner equipment in manufacturing, logistics and sales applications.

In comparison with other Barcodes, QR Codes combine several advantages:

* they can hold a very large capacity of numbers or letters in any language
* their printout size can be very small
* they offer high speed reading
* they can be read from any side (omnidirectional or 360° scan)

Japan, the first country with a highly developed 3G network and high usage of the mobile internet, was also the country where telecoms like NTTDoCoMo and KDDI achieved a breakthrough by bringing QR code readers to mobile phones. By installing QR code readers on consumer phones, if was suddenly possible for everyone to create and read QR codes and to connect easily to mobile sites.

Today QR Codes are so pervasive in Japan that it's almost impossible without seeing one. You can find them in advertisements, mobile campaigns, on maps, in magazines, on billboards etc. and nobody want to miss them anymore.

Teaching in One-Minute Snippets


A New Mexico college is successfully integrating micro-lectures into classroom instruction. Can students and faculty members benefit from 60-second chunks of knowledge?

In the November 10, 2010 issue of Campus Technology, Bridget McCrea reports that David Penrose's "micro-lectures" -- or "knowledge bursts" -- break the lecture content down to specific topics, but without the explanation. These 60-second lectures are delivered online, in the form of podcasts. Classroom time is spent on active-learning, knowledge-building, assignments.

Students access and view the lectures on their computers via the college's course management system and can also download the snippets to their mobile devices. Some of the lectures contain only an audio component, while others include both audio and video.

Said Penrose, "With micro-lectures, instead of trying to cram an entire textbook into 16 weeks, professors can link the content they're teaching more closely to specific learning objectives, thus creating a more focused learning experience."

Asynchronous Learning and Trends


Asynchronous learning, or teaching and learning that occurs when the interaction between the instructor and students is not constrained by time and place, can cause feelings of isolation, resulting in disappointment and low retention rates in online classes. Below are links to proven collaborative learning techniques you can use in the online classroom to promote social interaction and have a positive influence on learning, motivation, and problem-solving.

This information and many other useful tips and techniques for faculty can be found at Faculty Focus:

The EDUCAUSE "Top Teaching and Learning Challenges 2009" project identified five main issues/challenges for teaching and learning with technology. Number 4 is near and dear to my heart! How are other institutions encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with technology?

The University of Indianapolis hosts week-long summer and winter camps to help encourage technology adoption and innovation among faculty. Current faculty serve as "Camp Counselors," demonstrating how they have integrated various Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching. This year's Winter Camp, for example, introduced faculty to micro-blogs, social bookmarking, start pages, aggregators, wikis, blogs, collaborative tools, chat tools, social networking, and associated applications. The Web 2.0 topics were presented during morning sessions, and discussion continued with Camp Counselors dispersed across various tables during a shared lunch. Afternoon sessions were devoted to hand-on activities, with assistance provided by Camp Counselors.

Camp Survival Kits were also distributed, including resources such as the 7 Things You Should Know About . . . series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) and the ELI Discovery Tool, Applying Technology to Teaching and Learning.
Related articles from EDUCAUSE Review and EQ were also included, along with software quick-tip guides. A wiki was created to house camp materials, and a social networking site was used to promote use of the tool and to maintain longer-term contacts.

On the final day, camp attendees were invited to participate in a Camp Revue, showcasing various projects they had created during the week. The campus community was inviited to attend. The university also created a Web 2.0 community of practice that meets twice monthly to showcase and discuss current developments with the integration of Web 2.0 technologies into their teaching. The camps have enabled the university to not only introduce the tools to the faculty, but also to develop a sense of community and continued support long after the camp session has officially ended.

EDUCAUSE Review, May/June 2009, Pg 42-43

Recent Entries

E-Readers and E-Textbooks: Current Reality and Future Possibilites
An excellent online presentation was given August 26, 2009 by Jon T. Rickman (Northwest Missouri State University) and Roger…
Which CMS is Right For You?
CMS Usage at the U of M: Campus, Course Sections Associated with CMS Sites, Total Course Sections, Course Sections with…
Teach Without PowerPoint in the Classroom
José A. Bowen, a dean at Southern Methodist University, has challenged his colleagues to teach sans machines. Professors who strip…