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Is an App on WW1 better than an eBook and better than a book?

Dan Snow. “Clearly an App is better than a book for history.”

This is a fascinating insight into the way we learn and educate is changing with students exploring, creating and sharing from an App ‘smôrgasbord’ of rich, interactive content.

I picked up this thread in the WW1 Buffs Facebook pages

This conversation will keep me busy for several months. The debate on the guardian site is heated, personal and too often Luddite in tone. Why try to say that a book is better than an eBook is better than an App that is ‘book-like?’ I’ll be pitching in as I believe what he argues is right and applies immediately to Geography too. I‘ve studied online learning, history and geography – all to Masters level. I’m not an historian, geographer or an educator: I’m simply deeply curious and fascinated by the way we learn.

Key to Apps is immediacy, relevancy and motivation.

Put content into a student’s hands in a way they appreciate: at their fingertips, multi-sensory and connected. An App can take all that is a book, and add several books and angles; all that is TV or Radio and have the person sit up, create content of their own, form views, share opinions and therefore learn, develop and remember.

25 benefits of mobile learning

Fig.1. Mindmap on mobile learning

Is learning support by text messaging mobile learning?

Must it be a smart-phone. I would have called taking an Apple Classic into the garden on an extension cable and using it in a cardboard box to shield it from the sun as mobility of some kind – indeed development of the use of laptops in the last 15 years has been mobile and in 1997 I shot a training video for the RAC on a roadside device called ‘hardbody’ that was a navigational tool to locate the breakdown, a database of parts, a diagnostic for fault finding and fixing and a way for customers to pay.

The prospects for and possibilities of mobile computing have been known for a long time.

Getting them into the hands of students has taken longer as prices have fallen and broadband made readily available.

Was a cassette on a Sony Walkman mobile learning, or more recently is something from iTunes U on an MP3 player mobile e-learning? Yes, surely if its function is educational or it is resource tailored for a specific module.

 

Fig. 2. From Agnes Kuklska-Hulme’s inaugural lecture on mobile learning at the Open University.

  1. Convenience and flexibility – the university in your pocket. Ditch the folders, files and print outs.
  2. Relevance – situated
  3. Learner control – mine (personalised Apps, choice of phone and case …)
  4. Good use of ‘dead time’ – on the bus, train, passenger in car … in bed, in front of TV, on the loo or in the bath.
  5. Fits many different learning styles – short burst or lengthier intense periods
  6. Improves social learning (i.e. Communicating with peers and experts)
  7. Encourages reflection – easy to take notes (audio as dictaphone or text)
  8. Easy evidence collection – photos and audio (screen grabs from online research), tag finds.
  9. Supported decision making
  10. Speedier remediation – instant
  11. Improved learner confidence
  12. Easily digestible learning – where ‘chunked’ though this should be a choice where content has been suitably prepared for web usability.
  13. Heightened engagement – feeds alerts that can be responded to in a timely fashion. Makes synchronous and quasi-synchronous forum feedback possible.
  14. Better planning for face-to-face – organiser, contactable 24/7 (almost)
  15. Great for induction – keeping in touch, easy to ask questions, familiar, universal and everyday.
  16. Elimination of technological barriers – basic, intuitive, commonplace.
  17. Designed once then delivered across multiple platforms – responsive design (using HTML 5)
  18. Easily trackable via wifi – and GPS
  19. Cost-effective build
  20. A means to recoup money
  21. Technology advances with Apps
  22. Technology advances with interface, voice command and other tools.
  23. Everything in one place, including TV, radio, podcasts, photo gallery …
  24. Assistive technology – add a micro-projector, wifi-keyboard, sync to other devices such as tablet, laptop and desktop, augmented learning …
  25. Replacement technology – starting to replace money, already replacing cameras, MP3 players, address book, organiser, games console, remote control, torch, dictaphone … pen and paper, art pad …

(In part from Dr Chris Davies, Head of the e-learning research group, Oxford, Prof. John Traxler, Prof. Of Mobile Learning (2011 )

http://www.epicbrasil.com/assets/files/Mobile_learning_NHS_Research_Report.pdf

(last accessed 10 Dec 2012)

Accessibility and inclusivity

‘Excluding people who are already at a disadvantage by providing small, hard–to–use, inflexible interfaces to devices and apps that create more problems than they solve’. (Jellinek and Abraham 2012:06)

This applies to older people too, indeed anyone on a spectrum that we might draw between full functionality and diminishing senses. Personally, with four immediate relatives in their 80s it is remarkable to find how quickly they respond to the text size options of a Kindle, even having text read out loud, the backlit screen of the iPad and in particular galleries of thousands of photographs which are their memories too (in the later case invaluable to someone who has suffered a couple of severe strokes).

Reasons to think about accessibility:

social
ethical
legal

My observation here is that Many programmes are now deliberately ’app like’ to meet expectations and because they are used in smartphones and tablets not just desk and lap tops. Where there is such a demand for app-like activities or for them to migrate seemlessly to smartphones and tablets (touch screen versions) we need stats on how many poeple would be so engaged – though smartphone growth is signficant, as a learning platform tablets are still a minority tool.

The users who can miss out are the blind or partially sightedor deaf. Blind people need audio to describe what others can see and guide them through functions while deaf people and thise with hearing impairments need captions where there is a lot of audio.

It is worth pointing out that there is ‘no such thing as full accessibility for everyone’. Jellinek and Abrahams (2012:07) But on the other hand, ‘we mustn’t exclude disabled people from activities that the rest of us take for granted’. Jellinek and Abrahams (2012:07)

There is less homogeneity in a learner population than we may like to think

REFERENCE

Jellinek, D and Abrahams, P (2012) Moving together: mobile apps for inlcusion and accessibility. (Accessed 25/082012) http://www.onevoiceict.org/news/moving-together-mobile-apps-inclusion-and-assistance

iDesk Diagram Tool

20120617-081727.jpg

I often dig around for new tools to help visualise ideas. This is iDesk (which is being rebranded ‘Graffio’) possibly as Apple take charge of the IP of ‘i-anything’.

Does this variety of interests put me in a spin? Les than would imagine because there is frequent overlpa, particularly between learning theory and practice, coaching and producing. I am not a subject matter expert. but rather someone who can pick up the gist of a topic quickly and defer to experts.

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