• Week 4-Integrating handheld and mobile devices
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Learning Outcomes

  • How can be handheld and mobile technologies be used to enhance inquiry based learning? 
  • Considerations regarding access to handheld and mobile devices
  • Challenges of adapting innovative curricula in classroom
  • NGSS, what is it and how will it affect the way we think about inquiry in classroom






Jimvideo 1 (some minor changes/deletion)N  
UTS/Rosemary & Simonno changeN  
Anand (Zydeco)

no change



Discussion prompts

  1. Lets think about the mobile aspect of smart phones and tablets. What are the advantages (for learning) of a device that students take with them from class to class and place to place?
  2. Now lets think about the personal aspect of smart phones and tablets.  What are the benefits of students’ having their own personal device that nobody else uses and can be customized and maintained by the student?


  1. Imagine your classroom with all students bringing their own smart phones or being provided with personal tablet computers. What kinds of activities could you design that would engage them and promote learning
  2. Assuming, again, that your students all had access to personal handheld devices, why do you think it is so challenging to design effective applications for inquiry curriculum?
  3. How has the MOOC influenced your thinking about inquiry and technology?


Inquiry activity: Lesson design (Step 1)

I suggest that we introduce the course project in Week 4. Learners can see the template and can start filling it in.

description and goal of the project. Looking for the template in our docs....





EcoMOBILE: Link to video

Zydeco: Link to more information

Roschelle, J., & Pea, R. D. (2002). A walk on the WILD side: How wireless handhelds may change computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The International Journal of Cognition and Technology, 1(1), 145-168.Link to PDF

Video 1 script


JIM SLOTTA: Hi, everyone.
Welcome to week four.
Handheld and Mobile Devices for Inquiry.
I hope you're having a great summer, and I
hope you're enjoying the course so far.
We are certainly enjoying putting it together for you.  (delete)
Today we're going to talk about the mobile computer, or handheld computer,
which basically is another term for smartphones and tablets
that we have seen emerging.
And the first question I wanted to get to basically
was why we would consider this to be such an important theme that we
would make it one of the six themes for this course?
It might not seem as central as things like collaboration or assessment
as central to the topic of inquiry.
In thinking about the various themes, we chose
to include this one-- for me I think-- because there's
a moment in time, in terms of where our society is going on,
these phones-- I mean, iPhones have been with us since maybe 2007 or 2008,
and the iPad really put in an appearance in 2010.
So really, in the last five or six years we've
seen computers go from being laptops, which in their own right
have only been with us for 10 years before that, but laptops to phones
and now watches.
So things are changing quickly, and I think it is worth taking a pause
and reflect about who's actually in the classroom when we are teaching it.
I mentioned here in the slide the classroom's
no longer just a room full of kids.
It's a room full of smartphone enabled kids.
These are wirelessly connected, socially networked power users.
They are online, they are texting each other,
they are expecting to use their phones in every aspect of their lives.
The teacher as well is a phone user.
And so for me this becomes an important moment
to talk about how these devices would, could,
and should play a role in the inquiry that we design as teachers.
If we're going to be in the game of designing inquiry,
it seems like a smart thing to put smartphones into the equation.
So students' phones are becoming intrinsic to their lives.
We often get that feeling when we separate a student from their phone
that we're actually cutting off an appendage, and that is how they feel.
The question is, how will these phones become
intrinsic to their classroom lives?
How do we enable them to better interact with peers,
both locally in their own classroom and remotely with those at a distance?
How do we help them find resources, access data?
Creating and sharing, exchanging, remixing content
would be a powerful new application for these devices.
So the question we want to address is how
we would bring these devices into inquiry [? activities ?] that use them.
What kind of resources are available, and what kind of techniques
are being used right now?
So first, I want to recognize that with the advent of these technologies,
it's not just that computers became smaller.
We've actually seen the introduction of new modes of interaction.
New ways of interacting with the computer.
The mouse was a revolutionary improvement on the keyboard,
and when we first saw the iPhone in I think it was 2008,
we were suddenly introduced to this idea of physically swiping or tilting
or flinging.
And all of these new gestural modes were introduced
to our way of thinking about application design.
Another one is augmented reality.
The idea that we can hold our phone up to a part of our environment
and see additional information about that environment.
Networked games and applications.
We often see kids playing a game on their tablet
and then we realize that in fact there's two or three of their friends
are on the same game and they're all enjoying the same experience together
but in different settings.
So there are many of these new kind of interaction modes for these devices,
and they're all being used widely in application development
that students and teachers are becoming familiar with them.
Another application of phones that we've seen in society
has to do with rapid publishing and blogging.
This happens when we post videos that we capture
of political events or social events, and we're
posting to Twitter to Pinterest.
The mobile phone has revolutionized the ability of people
to share and exchange information in a very short time cycles.
So these new interactions that we now can have with our devices
have opened up a set of new affordances for learning.
Affordances basically means a new way of potentially doing something,
or a new dimension for design.
First, that we could have location aware applications that know where I am.
They can plot me on a map, they can give me
information accordingly, that I can have physical
and embodied learning with my device.
Also, social and networked applications.
The device could actually know who is around me.
Whose near me?
What is my social context?
Publishing and creating becomes a whole new world
when it's launched immediately from our mobile and posted to a social website.
And many, many of these applications have been advanced
and are potentially exciting for the design of inquiry.
Alongside of these changing opportunities
for learning we're seeing a changing culture in our schools,
in our classroom, in our society.
I mentioned BYOD is rapidly becoming a means of achieving
that long sought concept of one-to-one computing
where every kid has their own computer.
As well as for other important reasons that I
mentioned where we let them really have a computer that they're personally
connected to.
We see students using their phones in schools for all kinds of purposes.
Some of them appropriate, some of them inappropriate,
and I think part of the message of this theme this week
is that by developing appropriate ones we
reframe what the meaning is of these devices in school.
Teachers as well have their own devices-- phones, tablets,
and we're starting to see interesting applications for the teacher supported
technologies in the classroom.
The whole concept that we're trying to consider here
is how to put these new applications and affordances to use for learning.
How to help engage and motivate kids.
Show them that essentially their most trusted, important, personal device
is actually something that would be seen as valued in a school setting as well,
and that would play a significant role in their learning.
One other interesting and potentially important
application of mobile computing is this idea of learning across contexts.
That we could have some activity that happens in classroom and then
is continued in the homework or on the schoolyard
or out in the kids' everyday lives.
That we can connect field trip experiences by virtue of kids
taking their phones and getting augmentation of those experiences.
Taking photos, finding out more information while they're out there,
bring that back with them to the classroom,
and it offers a sense of continuity between these learning contexts.
As well as between school and home, we could
imagine connecting school and museum informal learning
and potentially connecting two different classrooms.
I might be able to have video face time conversation with students
in another room or with the different classes in my school
where I essentially bring with me elements of one inquiry
activity from one class to another.
So the phone becomes essentially an object
that carries continuity between contexts and over time for the student.
So I want to talk about how to integrate these phones
and tablets into our inquiry designs, and it's like collaboration.
Just because we recognize that it could be an important thing to do
and we recognize that there are resources
that could allow us to use these devices,
it does not mean that the problem is now solved.
There is still hard work to be done in thinking about designs
and making lesson plans.
Three types of applications that I've thought
of for putting these mobiles into a curriculum
are first, the idea of voting or polling or even commenting,
and we see many applications for this.
I'll refer to a few shortly, but these clickers or audience response systems.
The phones and personal devices offer a new way to do that.
The second one is that there are plenty of applications that are now
emerging for all kinds of disciplines that
run on mobile and handheld apps that are special purpose
and that could lend themselves to learning.
And the third one has to do with using the features
of the device-- the camera, gyroscope, and compass, and accelerometers,
as well as potential external probes that you
hook into them-- for collecting, observing, and uploading content.
So these three are all very powerful kinds of applications.
I'm going to review them now one at a time.
The first approach to integrating mobile devices I
call here social web applications.
These are web apps that you put the device on the internet
and you go to typically a URL.
It opens a web page specifically designed to appear on a mobile phone
and that students are then connected into some grouping,
usually by entering a pin of some kind.
And these are used widely by teachers right now for many, many applications,
but a couple of examples of the software that we're seeing are Poll Everywhere,
Socrative is another good one, and Cahoot
is one I've been hearing quite a lot about.
So you've probably heard already about clickers
and about getting kids real time polls on the front of the room.
Of course, that again doesn't solve the problem.
What do you ask them in the poll?
What makes for a good poll, and how do you
use the poll information as a means of getting into deeper learning?
So integrating these poll softwares into inquiry lesson designs
is a crucial aspect to making them work effectively for you.
Another approach I mentioned were these what I call special purpose
applications, and these are just a wide, wide range
of apps that depend on your discipline.
There are applications for science, for math, many for art and creativity.
You can sketch, you can layer, you can do virtual oil painting.
For music-- music creation, music remixing--
for astronomy, and for learning games of all kinds for elementary age kids.
So you've all probably run into various of these custom applications.
And again, while there is the strength there
that they were carefully designed sets of materials and activities
for kids, when you use them as just a standalone app-- you tell kids
go here and download this and use it-- it loses some of its potential potency
for learning in the context of your curriculum.
So again, the most challenging and important aspect
of using these kinds of off-the-shelf apps
would be to integrate them into a broader lesson design.
Let's say you take one period using a phone app or half a period.
How do I situate that in a multi-day lesson
so that it becomes a real opportunity for them
to reflect and build on the experience of using their app
or of using whatever they created in the app?
And then the final one that I'll mention is this idea
of student contributed content.
The advent of these mobile devices have really introduced
a new dimension of content, where now users and citizens
are uploading videos and pictures.
This happened on the laptops before 2008,
but it really took off when mobiles came.
And likewise, with classroom applications
we're seeing new opportunities for getting students
to upload and essentially curate classroom collections using Pinterest,
for example.
Many students in my course and teachers that I've met
have created Pinterest boards around a certain topic
and asked students to go find websites or take photos and upload
those and create a really interesting mosaic that becomes then
an object the teacher can refer to and the students can
go refer to to drive further discussions and further inquiry.
Even microblogging, like Twitter, and getting kids
to have a Twitter room for their classroom.
But meanwhile, there are apps like mapping.
So I can have a student turn on map applications on the iPhone
and track [? course ?] around the school or track their course from school
to home and use that as a reflective product that
could be integrated into inquiry.
Music and music creation, and remixing, and playing, and filtering
is another strong set of opportunities for students
to use their device as a means of production
of content and uploading of content.
These are really exciting new ways of supporting genuine student
centered inquiry mobile devices.
So those are the three types or approaches that I've thought of.
And actually, just as I'm recording this lecture
I thought of a fourth one, which is really interesting.
That of augmented reality.
Augmented reality might seem like the kind of thing
you're expecting to need special-- the Oculus Rift glasses
or some expensive technology system.
But it's becoming much more accessible than that.
There are a few systems that I list here.
They are Aurasma-- especially those two that teachers can use.
And I know my students in my class have used where you can actually
sprinkle content around your room, embed it
with video or with other supplemental information,
and then students take their phone.
And once they get something into focus that has recognized by the system,
then up pops the complementary information.
So getting kids to push augmentation into their environment,
or even taking a book and pushing content
on to different pages that are supplemental to the resources,
is an excellent potential application for mobile devices.
So that's my introduction of the different ways
that I see mobile and handheld computers, phones,
and tablets being used for inquiry.
It does not solve the challenge of doing so.
That remains an aspect of design, much like the other elements
that we're talking about in this course.
Hopefully some of you are pushing handheld and mobile features
into your lesson designs.
And if you're critiquing the designs, if you're not
in the design strand but you're helping give input,
maybe you can help a lesson think about new applications for phones or tablets. (delete)

The reasons for doing it I've mentioned in the first few slides,
but basically these activities help students
feel a personal identity to the content and structure of learning.
It situates it on a device with which they're very familiar
and they're very comfortable.
I think it could potentially inspire further inquiry on their own part.
Let's say autonomous inquiry where they go home and they say, well,
I did this in school.
Even my kids come home when they see something that they've done in school
and they have their tablet.
They launch it on the tablet and they either
want to show us or do more of it.
It supports the classroom community, so it offers these flexible ways
for everyone to participate and giving many opportunities for the teacher
to weave polls in, and give even anonymous voice to students.
Not every student wants to have their opinion named,
and so there's opportunity here for that--
supporting the diversity of perspectives but protecting kids' anonymity.
And finally, that it's another tool for the teacher.
It's another form of input and creative product, creative production,
of content that students can use and that teachers
can work into their curriculum.
Also, along related lines that that offers
new opportunities for formative assessment
and being able to capture and look at what your students are producing.
You saw this with Sean's video in I think
it was week two, where he used the Nearpod
application to get a sense of student ideas about electric circuits.
So that's enough for me, I guess, on this topic of mobile and handhelds.
You're going to see two more videos.
One briefly from the school leaders at UTS,
and then you'll see a case study of a teacher named [? Anon ?] who
used a special purpose application to help his kids when they went to the zoo
to collect observations of the zoo animals,
both in terms of their form and function and habitat.
And then, to bring those observations back into class
where he was able to use them to support their further study
of evolutionary biology.
So it's an interesting case.
I hope you enjoy it. 
Enjoy the rest of the week, and I look forward
to seeing you in the discussions and the design space.
Thanks. (delete)

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