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]

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I started a series of posts on strategies I have been using for mobile learning (#mlearning) and teaching in one of my graduate instructional technology courses.  In the first post, I described the use of and how I had used it with my students as both a messaging service for reminders, as well as a method to send “activities” to students where I wanted them to think and capture ideas during the course of their day.

Google Voice

Image representing Google Voice as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

Another technology and strategy that I used in my course was Google Voice.  Google Voice is a free telephone service and also includes voice recording and messaging. Google reports that it will continue be free through 2012.

I used Mr. Lobdell’s VoCall Youtube video as a model integrating Google Voice for mobile learning.  You can see his video commercial below.  (I use this video as a great example in many of my workshops with mobile learning and teaching.)


Because my course’s topic was mobile learning, I asked to students to call into my Google Voice number and define “mobile learning” in their own words for me.  Because we had been working on this topic over the course of the entire unit, I wanted to capture their ideas and explanations about mobile learning, and I believed Google Voice was a great — and extremely easy — way to accomplish this.  In the examples below, you can see Google Voice’s transcriptions of the students’ audio files.

(I find that iPadio does a much better job at the transcription than Google Voice, but I find Google Voice very easy to use without a passcode for students to enter. Don’t get me wrong. I really, really like the utility of iPadio, and it is a great, easy option for capturing podcasts and vodcasts.  See this post for using iPadio.)

One of the features in Google Voice that I find extremely useful is the option to embed the Google Voice recording.  Under the more menu at the bottom of each Google Voice recording, you can choose to Embed (or download if you wish) the audio file.

I used the embed code I received here in Google Voice to repost the audio files into our course management system’s discussion board, so other students could listen to the definitions of their classmates. Google Voice provides a nice, little audio player for students to click on and listen.

While I don’t think I used this technique was used to its fullest potential, I like the notion here of the sharing and allowing students to hear other students’ ideas.  This was the first time I had done this, and next time I think I will do a much better job of coordinating this and leveraging it for learning.  Because this entire unit was new, I was trying not to make activities as complex as possible.  So, I took on the burden of posting the audio files.  Next time I may ask students to use iPadio and embed the files themselves into the discussion board.

And You?

Have you been using Google Voice either for your professional productivity or in your classes?  I would definitely like to hear how you’re using it with students if you have those examples.  I would really like to share these in my classes and with other teachers and faculty members when they ask for examples.

4 Strategies for Mobile Learning & Teaching Series

  1. Part 1:
  2. Part 2: Google Voice
  3. Part 3: Posterous (coming up)
  4. Part 4: eBook (coming up)

Over the next few posts, I’m planning to share strategies that I recently used for mobile learning (mlearning) and teaching in one of my courses.  I hope you find these strategies helpful, and please let me know if you have any questions.  In full disclosure, I didn’t come up with some of these ideas.  Instead, colleagues, particularly on Twitter, we super helpful in inspiring me or providing some tips on how to get going with a tool or strategy.


In my online course for teachers and library media specialists on integrating the Internet into teaching and learning, we dedicate a unit to mobile learning.  In order for this unit to be as authentic as possible, I try to make the unit as mobile as possible.  Last year, I used MOBL21, what I consider to be a mobile course management system, and I experimented with deploying a complete unit of instruction through mobile learning.

This year, I planned a four-part approach to the unit, and I hope my experiences would help you as well.  While this was used with a graduate course for teacher educators, these strategies are certainly broad and simple enough to work with secondary K-12 students and undergraduate students.

Image representing remind101 as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Following Jason Rhode’s recommendation through Twitter, I decided to use as a method to broadcast information and information to my students.  Inside, my students registered through their cellphones (or email) by sending a text to phone number (or an email) with a specific code for our course.  I was then able to send out SMS text messages to the students from inside Remind101.  In the image below, you can see that 15 folks signed up to receive messages, 14 through their phones and 1 through email.  It is also possible for students (and parents) to sign up with multiple methods of subscribing, such as mobile and email.

For example, I quickly reminded students about our upcoming webinar that was happening (when I became a little freaked out that only 4 folks had logged in so far).  And I also asked students to take photos on two days during our unit and respond by audio on another day during our unit, but I’m going to save those details for a later blog post.

I was also able to schedule upcoming messages to be sent on specific days and times with specific reminders and activities.  This was a great way for me when planning out my unit.  I had activities that I wanted the students to experience and I had images or evidences that I wanted them to capture during the unit.  So, I was able to go ahead and schedule these over time during the unit.  You can see the posts I sent in the image above in the lower right side of the screen shot. To be respectful of students and their data plans, I tried to stick with 1 message per day in this unit.  However, if I were going to do this through a course or school year, I would probably create a survey early on with Google Forms and ask students about their data plans, so I could send more messages as needed.

One of the protections that I like in and in Class Parrot, a similar service, is that your phone number is kept private from your students (and parents) and their phone numbers (and emails) are kept private from you. The BetaClassroom has some examples and ideas for how she is using it in her classroom as well.

Changes I’d Like to See

There are definitely a couple of changes I’d like to see in, like those mentioned by ProfHacker. First, Remind101 is currently a “push” technology.  It’s purpose is to remind folks of things.  So, it’s not a two-way communication medium.  I would like to see this change so that students (and parents) may be able to respond to a question or comment on an idea through Remind101.  This may even be a way for students to answer a question for a knowledge check.  Certainly, this may not be needed all of the time, so it might be possible for some posts to be “push” while others may be two-way conversations with participants – possibly just with a checkbox.  There could definitely be some moderation by the teachers/professor/facilitator on some posts.

Second, currently, I can only send messages through’s interface.  This works well for the scheduling of posts, but I would also like to have off-the-cuff or on-the-fly messages be sent out through my not-so-smart phone.  I would definitely like to be able to send out messages in case of emergencies, quick updates, etc. is new and beta.  I think over the next year it will definitely “beef up” as they build out the features and listen to the users.  Are you using or another service for group text messaging?  What are you using and how are you using it?

4 Strategies for Mobile Learning & Teaching Series

  1. Part 1:
  2. Part 2: Google Voice
  3. Part 3: Posterous (coming up)
  4. Part 4: eBook (coming up)

Wish I could attend this webinar.  Hope you’ll attend and let me know what you learn:

Free eSeminar: Publishing to Mobile Devices at the University of Oregon

Thursday, November 10

10–11 a.m. PST; 1–2 p.m. EST

More and more companies seek highly skilled users and creators of electronic media, including mobile devices and apps. Learn how Ed Madison, graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon, uses the Adobe® Digital Publishing Suite to teach students — in majors ranging from design and photography to journalism and public relations — how to publish to tablets and other mobile devices.

Register now!



via Free eSeminar: Publishing to Mobile Devices.

Scanning QR codes at Union University

Image by Michael M Grant via Flickr

As part of my IDT 8600 course this semester, my students and I will conducting research into how teachers are using mobile computing devices in their classrooms.  To do this, we need your help!  We need to collect a list of great teachers who are doing great things with mobile teaching and learning.

If you’re one of these great teachers or you know one of these teachers, please complete the brief form below (or share this link with them so he or she can complete this short form).  We are looking for teachers at all levels — preschool, elementary, middle, and high school.

Scanning QR codes at Union University

Image by Michael M Grant via Flickr

My good friend, colleague, and doctoral student, Joanne Gikas, will be defending her dissertation next Wednesday.  The purpose of her study was to explore the changes to teaching and learning when faculty members implemented mobile computing devices in their classes.  She considered both faculty members’ perspectives and students’ perspectives in her qualitative research.  Here is a brief summary of her study:

The research questions focused on what impacts an instructor’s decision to implement mobile computing devices in teaching and how teaching and learning change when mobile computing devices are integrated into the learning environment. Three themes emerged from the data: (1) teaching with mobile computing devices, (2) learning with mobile computing devices and (3) training and support for higher education instructors and students. Teaching with mobile computing devices impacted instructional strategies and planning. Mobile computing devices impacted student learning by offering advantages, such as accessing information quickly, opportunities for collaboration and providing students a variety of ways to learn. Mobile computing devices also impacted the training and support model for instructors and students. Instructors were responsible for student training and institutions offered a mixed model of support for the instructor.  Mobile learning offers instructors and students more educational potential than simply accessing resources. Faculty members described evidence of institutional support and motivations to change their curricula, while exhibiting an interest in experimentation. Students applied what they were learning in courses through the mobile computing devices, and the devices contributed to their identities and learning.  While mobile computing in higher education is often perceived as pervasive, evidence from this study suggests we are still in the early adoption stage.

Scanning QR codes at Union University

Image by Michael M Grant via Flickr

In the past year, I’ve really become fascinated with QR codes, that’s quick response codes.  These little crazy square thingies are popping up everywhere—even on t-shirts!  Did you know they’ve been used in Japan for about 15 years. Who knew?

I’ve gathered up some resources here that I use in professional development workshops with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty.  So, give a bunch of these a go.  If you know of others, be sure to leave them in the comments so everyone can get them.

Quick Videos to Explain QR Codes



QR Code Generators

  • | QR codes are automatically generated with URL shortener
  • | QR codes are automatically generated with URL shortener
  • | Registered users get larger sizes & URL bundles
  • | Size options and download & embed options
  • | Lots of options for things to encode

Desktop QR Code Readers

Integration Ideas


Signs to Use with Professional Development


Related articles from around the web:

If you work with distance learning or mobile learning, whether in K-12 or higher education, then I highly encourage you to consider submitting a proposal to the Midsouth Distance Learning Conference.  Last year, a group of us from the University of Memphis attended the Arkansas Distance Learning Association conference.  We found it a really useful conference for networking, sharing, and learning. This year, however, we learned that Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana are combining to create the Midsouth Distance Learning Conference in Little Rock, AR.  Here’s a brief snippet from the website:

The distance learning associations from Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee have reached an agreement to forgo their annual conferences every two years and host a tri-state conference.  This year we will be holding our first tri-state conference in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Hilton Little Rock, 925 South University Avenue.  The conference dates are October 5-7, 2011.

This would be a great opportunity to present and learn. I suspect there will be a good number of us from UofM attending. Want to go? The deadline for proposal submissions is August 1. Be sure to contact me and we’ll figure out how to add you to a presentation about the work you’re doing.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Image via Wikipedia

Over the next few days, I will be attending the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital‘s Cure4Kids Global Summit.  (That’s a mouthful!)  A description from the website says:

The aim of this three-day conference is to improve health and science education in classrooms and communities around the world. It will bring together leading educators, innovators, and pioneers in a multidisciplinary forum to promote improvements and innovations in health and science education. This exceptional event will connect people from diverse communities and professional backgrounds and offer unique opportunities for networking and building collaborations.

The lead organizer for the conference, Dr. Yuri Quintana, asked me a few months ago to participate in the conference.  I wasn’t really sure what I could contribute to a conference on healthcare.  However, I was informed that this conference has a focus on elearning and multimedia, as well as teacher education and community outreach.  Those things I know about.

In particular, I will be presenting on a few different topics over the course of the conference. First, I’ll be presenting on some research that I have been lucky to be part of that is being led by Dr. Jong-pil Cheon, a good friend (and former student) of mine.  I’ll be discussing two of his studies on cognitive load theory. Second, I’ll be presenting a workshop on mobile teaching and learning strategies. Lastly, Dr. Quintana asked if I would participate in a panel session on futures thinking with me focusing on mobile learning and computing.

Here’s an abstract on two of the presentations:

Interface Design and Cognitive Load: What Matters and How It’s Measured
Highly interactive and sophisticated user interfaces have become the norm on the Web. Using technologies, such as Adobe Flash, AJAX/Javascript, and promises of HTML 5, bring a level of interest and panache to e-learning content. However, the value of these technologies and the tools used to cre- ate them are suspect with little research. Cognitive load theorists consider the limitations of working memory, partitioning it into three types: intrinsic, germane, and extraneous loads. Much research in cognitive load theory has focused on reducing extraneous loads to users. In two recent studies, we considered the elements of interface design and cognitive load. One study considered types of in- terfaces while the second considered ways to measure cognitive load with e-learning. Findings from these studies will be presented with implications for interface design.

Beyond Apps: Strategies for Making Teaching and Learning Mobile
Much of the electronic press and hype dedicated to m-learning initiatives focuses on implementations with a single platform or device. However, one of the significant promises of mobile learning is the ability for teachers and students to use their own mobile computing devices. In this hands-on session, we’ll take a look at strategies for teaching and learning that are appropriate for a variety of mobile computing devices and platforms. This session is BYOM: Bring Your Own Mobile!