Image of journal article

Image of journal article

I’m excited to announce that I have a new article published with my good friend Michael K. Barbour. This is some work that Michael did while he was still in Michigan, and I was invited to do some writing with him to ground the data in existing literature about mobile technologies.

Here’s the abstract:

The iPad is a tool that could change the way in which teachers prepare and deliver instruction in the K-12 environment. But, while proponents tout its capabilities, school administrators run the risk of purchasing yet another tool without understanding its potential impacts on the teacher, students, and classroom environment. This study used iPads to implement a four-month professional development program aimed at helping teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. The iPads were deployed to classroom teachers in the science department at a suburban high school. Professional development was tailored to the teachers’ interests, and was followed by individual interviews by the project leader. Results of the study showed that while teachers are open to new technologies, their focus is more on teaching considerations than on professional development. The study also indicated that teachers have difficulty considering incorporating a single device into a classroom of multiple students. It is recommended that this study be replicated, without the technical problems, on a larger scale and in subject areas beyond the sciences.

If you would like a copy of the article and can’t seem to get access, just let me know.

Following up on my work with mobile learning and mobile computing devices, I’m proud to announce that I will have a new book chapter coming out soon. Here’s the title and abstract info.

Using Mobile Devices to Support Formal, Informal & Semi-formal Learning
Uses and Implications for Teaching & Learning


Mobile devices are ubiquitous. They are often invisible to accomplish our everyday tasks and learning goals. This chapter explains how individuals learn using mobile devices during their daily lives—within K-12 schools, higher education, and outside of educational institutions altogether—with specific attention to STEAM disciplines. First, brief definitions of mobile devices and mobile learning are presented, then types of learning, i.e. formal, informal, and semi-formal, are discussed. Next, seven categories describe how mobile devices have been used for teaching and learning with examples as appropriate from STEAM disciplines: (a) increasing access to student information and campus resources, (b) increasing interaction with learning contents, (c) creating representations of knowledge, (d) augmenting face-to-face instruction, (e) supporting performance and decision-making, (f) enabling personalized learning, and (g) deploying instruction. Finally, five implications for employing mobile devices for teaching and learning are discussed.

Our chapter is part of a book titled, Full steam ahead: Emerging technologies for STEAM edited by Xun Ge, Mike Spector & Dirk Ifenthaler. If you would like to have a preprint copy of the chapter, just let me know.  It’s still in production right now.

TechTrends cover imageI’m excited to share about a new manuscript that was just accepted for publication.  “Teaching and learning with mobile computing devices: Case study in K-12 classrooms” was accepted by TechTrends today.  But what is special about this publication is that it was a collaboration among a doctoral course where we planned, conducted, analyzed, and wrote up the research.  In addition it was presented at AECT as a featured research presentation.  So, for many of my co-authors on this manuscript, this is their first academic publication.  Congratulations to the co-authors: Suha Tamim, Dorian Brown, Joe Sweeney, Fatima Ferguson, and Lakavious Jones!  I’ve share the abstract below:

While ownership of mobile computing devices, such as cellphones, smartphones, and tablet computers, has been rapid, the adoption of these devices in K-12 classrooms has been measured. Some schools and individual teachers have integrated mobile devices to support teaching and learning. The purpose of this qualitative research was to describe the early uses of mobile computing devices in these K-12 classrooms. With data from nine purposively selected teachers, participant descriptions were developed and five themes emerged that included (a) ownership and control impacted use of mobile computing devices; (b) administrators champion teachers’ uses of mobile computing devices especially for student accountability; (c) teachers use devices to enhance their curricula and as motivation for their students; (d) teachers receive and seek out relevant professional development; and (e) technical issues were common, but support was available. Implications of these themes are also considered.

If you would like to have a copy of the manuscript prior to publication, just let me know by email, and I will send one to you.

I’m proud to announce that I will have a new book chapter coming out soon.  The most exciting part of this chapter was getting to work with my colleague Yu-Chang Hsu at Boise State University.  Yu-Chang and I were part of a panel discussion at AECT a couple of years ago, and our research interests overlapped.  We collaborated on this book chapter over the fall semester, and it took some real interesting turns as we tried to parse out and define personal learning environments, personal learning networks, and professional learning networks.  Here’s the title and abstract info.

Making Personal and Professional Learning Mobile: Blending Mobile Devices, Social Media, Social Networks, and Mobile Apps To Support PLEs, PLNs, & ProLNs


Mobile technologies have become an integrated, or inseparable, part of individuals’ daily lives for work, play, and learning. While social networking has been important and in practice in our society even before human civilization and certainly prior to the advent of computers, nowadays, the opportunities and venues of building a network are unprecedented. Currently, the opportunities and tools to build a network to support personal and professional learning are enabled by mobile technologies (e.g., mobile apps, devices, and services), web-based applications (e.g., Diigo and RSS readers), and social-networking applications and services (e.g., Facebook, Google+, and Twitter). The purpose of this chapter is to describe and propose how individuals use personal learning environments (PLEs), personal learning networks (PLNs), and professional learning networks (ProLNs) with mobile technologies and social networking tools to meet their daily learning needs. In our chapter, we consider categories of learning relevant to personal learning and professional learning, then we define and examine PLEs, PLNs, and ProLNs, suggesting how mobile devices and social software can be used within these. The specific strategies learners use within PLEs, PLNs, and ProLNs are then presented followed by cases that depict and exemplify these strategies within the categories of learning. Finally, implications for using mobile devices to support personal and professional learning are discussed.

Our chapter is part of a book titled, Mobile Devices: Technologies, Role in Social Media and Uses in Education and Students’ Perspectives. If you would like to have a preprint copy of the chapter, just let me know.  It’s still in production right now.

Image Creative Commons License Phil Campbell via Compfight

internet and higher education journal cover

internet and higher education journal coverI just wanted to let you know that a former student of mine, Dr. Joanne Gikas, and I have a new article in press right now.  This is part of her dissertation research that focused on how teaching and learning occurred with mobile devices in higher education classrooms.  “Mobile Computing Devices in Higher Education: Student Perspectives on Learning with Cellphones, Smartphones & Social Media” is concerned with the student learning portion of the research, and the data were collected through focus groups with students at three different universities across the country.

We’re really pleased that this research is being published so quickly through The Internet and Higher Education journal.  It was submitted just a couple of months ago and is now in press and available through the journal’s Science Direct “in press” articles section.  That’s pretty amazing!  Here’s the abstract below and let me know if you are unable to access the article through your databases:

The purpose of this research was to explore teaching and learning when mobile computing devices, such as cellphones and smartphones, were implemented in higher education. This paper presents a portion of the findings on students’ perceptions of learning with mobile computing devices and the roles social media played. This qualitative research study focused on students from three universities across the US. The students’ teachers had been integrating mobile computing devices, such as cellphones and smartphones, into their courses for at least two semesters. Data were collected through student focus group interviews. Two specific themes emerged from the interview data: (a) advantages of mobile computing devices for student learning and (b) frustrations from learning with mobile computing devices. Mobile computing devices and the use of social media created opportunities for interaction, provided opportunities for collaboration, as well as allowed students to engage in content creation and communication using social media and Web 2.0 tools with the assistance of constant connectivity.

And if you have comments about the article or the questions about the data, please leave a comment. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Together with Michael Barbour, we have a new book chapter that is coming out soon on mobile teaching and learning.  It was just accepted as final, so I’m glad to have this one complete.  This is part of a handbook on mobile learning edited by Zane Berge and Lin Muilenburg to be published by Routledge.  Our chapter is titled “Mobile Teaching and Learning in the Classroom and Online: Case Studies in K-12,” and I’ve included the abstract below.

In this chapter, we describe two projects to integrate mobile teaching and learning into K-12 schooling. First, we consider the rationale for increased use of mobile devices with today’s students, and we describe a professional development program to deploy iPads to classroom teachers. Next, we discuss the growth of K-12 online learning, and we describe a project for students enrolled in an online Advanced Placement course was delivered through a mobile learning content management system. Lastly, we discuss some of the lessons learned from these pilot projects and some of the promise and challenges of mobile teaching and learning.

This is connected to my on-going research, consulting, and teacher professional development on using mobile devices for teaching and learning.  Originally, we had included K-12 and higher education examples in this chapter, but the editors felt we should focus on one.  So, we pared this down to just K-12 and the work Michael has done with K-12 teachers and students, both in the classroom and online.  I hope to do a revision to this chapter in the near future as my mMIND project begins to collect data we hope to see some changes in math pedagogy and technology integration.

I hope you find this interesting and maybe a little helpful.  This chapter is much more practical and less research-y in nature.  Please let me know if you use it and if you find it helpful.

As I’m gearing up for our STEM teacher professional development grant to start up this summer, I’ve begun to collect and curate a number of resources that I will be sharing with the 7th, 8th, and 9th grade teachers.  One, I’d like to share with you today is called “Minds of Modern Mathematics” and was produced by IBM. From the description, you can see the amount of information they’ve included:

Inspired by the 1960’s-era World’s Fair exhibit, IBM today announced an iPad app, Minds of Modern Mathematics, available for free at the App Store. The app is a vintage-meets-digital interactive recreation of a massive 50-foot-long timeline from IBM’s World’s Fair exhibit — detailing hundreds of artifacts, milestones and giants of math from 1000 AD to 1960.

Image from ibmphoto24 at

You can download the app for free inside the Apple App Store, and IBM produced a very nice video of the app so you can see how interesting the chronology and information is.  I’ve embedded the YouTube Video below.


Today, I am excited to visit Union University with my friend and colleague Dr. Anna Clifford. We will be exploring using mobile computing devices for teaching and learning. I have put together a PBWorks page on my professional development wiki that aggregates a number of resources and links, so definitely check it out. Here’s the QR code, too, to that PBWorks page.

I was having a little fun with this workshop, so the title for this one is “It’s a phone! It’s a computer! No, it’s mobile learning!”  I have also embedded the slide deck that I will be using below, too.  So, I hope it’s helpful.

[slideshare id=12332942&doc=its-a-phone-for-ss-120410004430-phpapp02]

AECT’s Teacher Education Division (TED) and the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) are co-hosting a webinar on Education in the Age of Mobility. Dr. Shari Metcalf, Dr. Amy Kamarainen, and Dr. Yu-Chang Hsu will present on using mobile apps within educational settings.

Wednesday, April 18th from 5:00-6:00 PM EST.


Here’s abstracts of the presenters:

Shari Metcalf and Amy Kamarainen, of Harvard Graduate School of Education, will share how the findings from the EcoMUVE curriculum research has contributed to the design of EcoMOBILE (Ecosystems Mobile Outdoor Blended Immersive Learning Environment) with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, Qualcomm, Inc., and the National Science Foundation. In EcoMobile, students use a smartphone with Qualcomm technology, an augmented reality interface (using Fresh AiR <>) and environmental probes (NSpires with Vernier probes) to collect evidence to solve an environmental mystery.

Yu-Chang Hsu, of Boise State University, will share his research on mobile app design and the use of App Inventor for educators. App Inventor, a web-based tool, consists of Component Designer, facilitating the design of the app’s interface and integration of nonvisible components (e.g., sound, GPS) and Block Editor, allowing users to control apps’ behavior and reaction to user input through visual block-based programming without writing codes in text format.

Cover of our ebook.

Over the next 10 days or so, my graduate course in elearning development will be working through a unit on rapid instructional design. Capitalizing on the advances in mobile learning, they will be using an ebook and Twitter. This piggybacks on a unit I conducted with one of my online graduate teacher education courses this past summer.

Learning from past experiences

Unfortunately, my experiments with ebooks this past fall did not go well. I spent a considerable amount of time writing an ebook for our unit on virtual schooling and mobile learning with plans to publish to ePub through Sigil. Unfortunately, it failed miserably. None of the students were able to download and load the book onto their devices — on any of the devices.  I’m not sure what the problem was completely.  However, I had students who used iPhones, iPod Touches, Nooks, Androids, and none of them worked. Even on the desktops computers Adobe Digital Editions gave an error.

After a lot of frustrations, I eventually created a small 5.5 inch by 8.5 inch PDF from Microsoft Word.  I was considerably disappointed. I had put way too much faith in the technologies to simply “just work.” All of this was prior to the announcement of iBooks Author by Apple, too.

And now …

Learning from my prior frustration, I tried to accomplish many of the things I teach my students as instructional designers during a front-end analysis.  I asked the students about the types of devices they owned and had access to.  I created some prototypes and had colleagues test these. (I know. How appropriate for a unit discussing rapid prototyping?)

I found that to cover my bases (and just in case), I needed to create 4 versions of the ebook: an iBooks Author version, an ePub version, a mobi version, and a PDF. I originally created 5 versions (an additional PDF out of iBooks Author) that I found to be unnecessary, since it did not render the special interactions separately. The iBooks Author version was exported out to .ibooks format and only works for iPad. The ePub version works for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch  versions with iBooks; and it also works for Android. The mobi version works for Kindle and the Kindle app. The PDF works for everybody and is for just in case.

How they were created

  1. The .ibooks version for iPad was created in iBooks Author and exported as the iBooks format (.ibooks).
  2. The ePub file was created in Apple Pages and exported out as an ePub (.epub) format. The table of contents (TOC) and the chapter breaks are not as robustly formatted as I would have liked.
  3. The mobi file was created in Apple Pages and exported out as an ePub (.epub) format. Then the ePub file was converted to a .Mobi file, which is a variant on the Kindle file format, by Calibre. The table of contents (TOC) and the chapter breaks are not as robustly formatted as I would have liked.
  4. The PDF was created in Apple Pages and exported out as a PDF file. The iBooks Author described above will also export out as PDF and retains the strong page formatting; however, it does not separate any of the interactive graphics, such as image galleries, so there was very little reason to use its PDF.

My thoughts

As you can read from the descriptions, some files work with some devices. Other formats work with other devices.  I’m pretty sure that only one of my students has an iPad and will be able to access the .ibooks version.  I am not satisfied with the ePub format either. With some additional time, I would do some post processing on the ePub format by taking it through Word, HTML, Sigil, and then probably Calibre to clean up the chapter breaks and table of contents, which I consider to be a little bit of a mess right now.

1. iBooks isn’t enough

I have found iBooks Author to be easy to use. Though I believe the criticism for Apple and iBooks Author is warranted, I believe it is actually misaligned and misdirected. I believe that iBooks Author was an “easy way out” for Apple. Following their long line of controlling experience by controlling hardware and software, Apple has created a product that I believe misses broad scale applicability of masses, which is what I believed iPod, iPhone, and iPod Touch to be.

I am inclined to agree with Wes Fryer  that Apple needed to have included ePub as an option to export out of iBooks Author.  (I also learned that Pages could use an option to export out as HTML, too.) iBooks Author right now only works with iPad and iBooks. I need more options, and my students do, too.

2. Medium impacted the message

The file formats impacted my instructional strategies and media. Because I knew that I was going to have to create 4 versions of this instruction, I purposely did not include some of the “fancier” interactions that iBooks Author had to offer, such as the knowledge check review questions and the Keynote slideshows. These would not work in the ePud, mobi, and PDF versions, so I did not want to create an inequitable version of the ebook. (I have a feel this will become a bigger issue soon. I haven’t heard conversations about equitable versions of interactive texts for vision impaired individuals yet.)

So, you might ask why didn’t I create just one format file, the PDF version. Well, I knowingly wanted to see what was possible with iBooks Author, ePub, and ebooks in general. As a researcher, teacher, and recommender of applications and strategies, I feel like I need to be able to intelligently speak to the capabilities of mobile learning and ebook development.  When I work with students, faculty members, teachers, and school districts, I need to be able to first-hand discuss where the challenges with mobile teaching and learning and ebooks are. PDF is approximate 20 years old. It doesn’t, however, allow us to take advantage of highlighting, notes, bookmarking, and dictionaries from inside the mobile devices.

I also now have a really good sense of what the workflow for ebook development to meet our students’ needs could be.

3. Bloat-ware?

I also feel that iBooks Author creates somewhat of “bloat-ware,” where they do not have to be concerned about file management.  I was utterly surprised by the file sizes of the two iBooks I downloaded created by Pearson. These file sizes were huge and required a long time to download on campus. At home, I can only imagine how long. My small ebook for class is about 7.4 Mb, and includes few interactions and no videos.

We can do better

I absolutely believe we can do better creating ebooks that are usable, functional, engaging, and responsibly small. (Notice, I didn’t say feasible. That’s a different conversation altogether.) The variety of devices individuals and students own demands we respect where our students coming from. Admittedly, I’m on the front end on creating ebooks for my students. But it’s going to increase. There is evidence from Amazon directly that they have sold more ebooks than paperbacks. Other programs for textbooks are providing momentum, too. Dr. David Wiley and the folks in Utah are committed for open education textbooks across the state.

What are your thoughts about ebooks. Is ease in production and committing to a single device a strategy that’s long term?

Or do we just wait for someone to create the conversion utility for iBooks to ePub?