Now that the ECOO conference is over and I begin to reflect back at all the things that I’ve learned, one thing that sticks out is the fact that Mobile Learning was not even on the radar at this large Canadian educational conference. There was no real Mobile Learning presence at either Leading Learning 2007 nor at ECOO 2007. I think that it is about time this conversation begins within these gatherings. I’ve decided to start working on a Mobile Learning presentation for Leading Learning 2008.
One session that I attended today that I found very interesting was presented by Nathan Toft and Jane Smith at A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School, in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada on their class podcast – PortableRadio.ca. These two are elementary teachers teach students in the junior level and podcast with their students. However, not only are they using podcasting to teach curriculum expectations but they do it from portables! Yes, you’ve read correctly – podcasting from portables! Nathan and Jane have turned their teaching spaces into a broadcast centre for their students! Their presentation reaffirmed to me that educational technology can be incorporated into classrooms in meaningful ways. I look forward to keeping in touch with Nathan and Jane as they continue to share their successes with me and other educators across the globe. Check out their podcast – their work is quite inspirational!
Now what does this have to do with mobile learning? Actually, quite a bit. While handheld devices serve as the medium to create and consume content, podcasts can serve as form of content presentation. Students can use podcasting to both create and interact with content and the digital devices can serve as the medium to make this content “portable”. Nathan and Jane alluded to this in their presentation, making reference to the fact that anyone who subscribes to their podcast can listen to it on their mp3 player.
The ideas that podcasting and portable devices work hand-in-hand is definitely not new but I think we need to explore this in much more depth within education. Colleges and universities (almost all of which are American!) are already using podcasting as a way to make lectures mobile for students but I have yet to see, in any significant way, podcasts from students at this level. Therefore, the content on iTunesU is still very one dimential as most, of not all, the content is teacher created. In K-12, we see a much more balanced use with both teachers and students publishing educational podcasts yet not at the same level of commitment as in Colleges and Universities.
Will podcasting continue to evolve and become a largely accepted delivery method in education and in the mobile world? Will it be incorporated on a wider scale in educational systems in North America and around the world?