Mobile, Open Learning: What are Blackboard users doing?

Durham Conference Blog post Part 2

Doors of the Calman Learning Centre
Calman Learning Centre (conference venue)

As I said in the last post, a great deal of the annual Durham Blackboard Conference is taken up, not unreasonably, by presentations from users. These are particularly useful since they give you an idea of what other people are doing across the sector. While I couldn’t attend them all, I’ll try and pick out a few interesting themes from those I did attend, and provide links to any presentations from those I couldn’t.

I also said in my last post that I would write up the debate about minimum standards for provision on a VLE. I’m sorry to keep you waiting, but  on reflection I’ll save that for the next post, since this one is already overlong, and I think it’s a topic that merits its own post.

The University in your pocket: Opening access to learning and support. Julie Usher Northampton University

While all the presentations were interesting, if I had to pick a “best in show”, I’d say Julie Usher’s effort slightly shaded it. She did a lot to lessen my scepticism about Blackboard’s mobile offerings, while giving a fairly balanced assessment about how to cope with the accessibility challenges of mobile learning.  Before I go on, here are her slides.

It seems that a common objection to mobile provision, is that not everyone has a mobile device, or at least, not all devices are capable of delivering the content in an acceptable format. Julie and her colleagues wondered how true this was, and carried out a survey, which revealed that over 80% of the students surveyed owned a laptop and a mobile phone, and almost 80% of them either owned, or planned to own a laptop. Of course, those figures only cover one university, which is in a relatively affluent part of the country, but they do suggest that it might be possible to overcome the difficulties presented by not owning a device. Northampton’s solution was to buy devices, and lend them to those students who didn’t own one. While one or two students were apparently a little surprised at having to give the devices back, they haven’t lost any yet!

None of this though addresses the question of how to support those students who are find using mobile devices physically difficult. Several strategies were deployed to alleviate this, including making sure that wireless access was available everywhere on campus, making the mobile app available for as many platforms as possible, providing mobile wi-fi units which staff can borrow for field trips, and trying to ensure that staff provide information in multiple formats.

We were also given an overview of what students were looking at. The most popular category was  “Course Information”, although I’m not sure whether this constituted administrative information, or things like lecture notes and handouts. Interestingly the least popular category was “photos”. You can see the full information on slide 6 of Julie’s presentation on the link above.

We were then given an overview of some of the challenges of putting the mobile app together. The biggest problem, unsurprisingly, was putting the data together in one place. The Northampton mobile app gives students access to all sorts of data, including the library catalogue, Blackboard, accommodation information, course information and so on. As is not uncommon, all this is owned by different departments, so they had to go through a long process of pushing at different doors to get the data together, and readable by the mobile application.

It proved worth it in the end though. The application was downloaded a thousand times in the first week, 3,000 times in the first month, and they’re now up to 6,575 downloads. It’s also a big hit with students. In fact, one student claimed to be so excited by it that they were “actually having a physical reaction”. Thankfully, Julie did not provide any more details!

Of course there are still challenges. Not everyone is as skilled, or as interested in mobile use as we sometimes assume, and not every platform is accommodating. (Apparently Blackberries are particularly difficult to support.). But, if you want to go down this road, the best advice is to be very clear about your needs (and which of those needs you can reasonably expect to be able to meet), get together a good project team with a wide range of experience, find a good provider, and above all don’t let things slip.


I should mention that while we’re not as far down the road as Northampton, we have been developing our own mobile version of Blackboard which you can see at

Beyond Good and Evil  Dr Nick Pearce: Durham University

Given our current involvement in the Higher Education Academy’s Open Education Resources project I thought this would provide quite an interesting background. Nick started by comparing the new “open” with the old “open” making the point that academic work traditionally aspired to be open. (There’s no point doing research if no-one reads it.) but that it is sometimes useful, or even essential, to use closed content in teaching material.

He went on to look at two cases, comparing the old printed reading packs that graduates of a certain age (such as me) will remember, with the mashup feature that has just been released in Blackboard 9 . While librarians put a lot of effort into securing copyright for the packs, they had relatively little capacity for content, and also had a limited reach in that they were confined to a single institution, or even course.. If you create lecture slides on PowerPoint you do have the option to make them available to a much wider public through services like SlideShare.  If you do that, you have to watch that you don’t transfer the ownership to the sharing service (Yes, you do need to read all those terms and conditions!), and also that you haven’t inadvertently shared something you don’t have permission to share.

The point is that “closed” and “open” do not equate to “evil” and “good” respectively. Sometimes it is worth keeping ownership of your work, and sometimes it is worth paying for “closed” resources. As is usual in education, the reality is contested and messy. Just because a resource is “open” (and exactly what that means is debatable) it isn’t necessarily better.

“These pages are now open for comment”  – Guy Pursey, Reading University

Reading university are making use of Blackboard’s E-portfolio tool, which is rather unusual in the sector.  When Guy asked how many people were using e-portfolios, I estimated that about half the people in the room raised their hands. When he asked how many were using Blackboard’s e-portfolio tool, the number went down to two! We don’t use it here, first because we believe that there are better tools available. We have provided access to Mahara, and we also think that there is potential to develop a WordPress theme that would support e-Portfolios  Secondly, there is the perennial e-portfolio issue of what do you do with it after a student has left.

Reading however seem to be taking a slightly different tack. The Law School use e-Portfolios for assessment, so they have developed two “widgets” (software apps). One to create Blackboard e-portfolios that have assessment pages built in, and one to provide tutors with the facility to comment on any part of the e-portfolio. (apparently, in the default version, this isn’t available). They are planning to develop a third widget which will allow students to export their portfolio in an open and standards compliant format. I suspect this will prove tricky as while some progress has been made with e-portfolio standards, I don’t think there’s enough e-portfolio use across the sector yet, to make them fully robust. Still, it appears to be a project worth keeping an eye on!


Get a high from LTI – Simon Booth (University of Stirling), Susi Peacock (Queen Margaret University) and Stephen Vickers (Edinburgh University)

The next session I attended was not so much a presentation as an interactive session, giving us a chance to play with the outputs of the CeLTIc project. This is concerned with Learning Technology Interoperability, in other words, getting other tools, like Elgg, Rogō and WebPA to work inside Blackboard. As very few of these are used at Lincoln (well, none, actually) there isn’t a great deal to draw out of this session for us, for the moment. Perhaps the most interesting feature was that the LTI tool itself actually creates an account in the remote service, which removes a significant barrier to broadening the use of technologies beyond Blackboard.  This is a project that seems to be well worth keeping an eye on, as I think this may well be the way that VLE development will go.

Open Education videos – Nick Pearce, and Elaine Tan, Durham University

A lot of people are now using open educational resources in the classroom. Nick and Elaine are looking into whether students who are now being asked to pay considerably more for their education are likely to resent the delivery of content which they can largely access for free. Possibly, but their findings so far, suggest that it is not so much the technology that is important to students, but the context in which it is presented. Students consume technology extensively anyway, as Julie Usher’s survey referred to above indicated. In this case, students were quite happy to send them videos that they (the students) had found, with a view to discussing contrasting viewpoints in lectures and seminars.

That’s surely the point. It’s not so much what technology you use, (Nick and Elaine illustrated their talk with this rather quaint image from 1899  – I’m linking, since it doesn’t appear to be licensed for reproduction). For me, the idea of feeding the content of books directly into students brains by some technological device is slightly absurd. Our eyes and (occasionally in education) ears are mostly sound enough for this purpose. The point, as this presentation showed is to debate, and discuss, the knowledge so that we can own it. It’s not really enough to acquire it. That said, OERs are quite useful for the acquisition part!

Increasing the use of Screencasts  – Andrew Raistrick, University of Huddersfield

Screencasts are recordings of interactions that take place on a computer screen. They’re often used to illustrate how to perform a particular operation in a piece of software. For example, we’ve made some use of screencasts to illustrate how to copy Blackboard sites in preparation for a new academic year.

Mostly though screencasts are pretty simple. Andrew thought that by using more video editing techniques, such as zooming, transitioning and animations, he could promote student enhancement, supplant cognitive processes and reinforce the content. He was also quite fortunate in that Huddersfield’s chancellor Patrick Stewart is both a respected Shakespearean actor, and keen to get involved in the University’s activities. As such, he was happy to provide some voice material to introduce the videos, which, from those we saw, did give them a certain gravitas.

The real point of the study though was to see if this had any effect on student learning, and the findings suggested that it did, in so far as students seemed to have better understanding of the subject and were more willing to experiment with the software that they were using. They also found that teachers welcomed the conciseness that the videos offered, and the fact that students were getting comparable teaching.

Those benefits, Andrew admitted, did have to be measured against a much increased production effort, but he felt that it was worth doing so, as the enhanced screencasts had worked across multiple disciplines.

 Links to some of the presentations  I didn’t get to

Ralph Holland: iTunesU Digital Distribution

Melanie Barrand & Adam Tuncay: Getting the message out there

John Thompson & Judith Jurowska: Opening Doors to Academic Integrity

Sue Beckingham: The role of social media in higher education in an age of openness and publicness

Peter Rayment:  Why our Help documentation might as well be in Dutch

Suzi Peacock: Opening doors with LTI



I’ve been quite interested in the potential of e-books for some time, but not had any direct experience of using them. Well, happily for me, Santa left an iPod touch in my stocking this Christmas, and I was straight on to iTunes, to download the Stanza e-reader application. From there I went of to project Gutenberg and downloaded a few free copies of public domain books. Well, I am blown away by the ease of reading with this app.- I found myself picking up the iPod at all sorts of odd moments, and as I had to make a short (well, 1 hour) train journey for work on Friday, I was dipping into those PDFs I’d downloaded for reading later. (You know: the ones you never actually read.) Now, I’d probably  never have printed those documents out, let alone carried them with me on a business trip, so, for a short while I was convinced that there might be something in the idea of mobile learning after all. Well, I’m still quite convinced, but I found that we still have some way to go. Accessibility remains an issue, although I think the Stanza app tries hard in this respect, and the inventiveness of the developer community so far makes me reasonably convinced that we’ll see further improvements.

Well, if this is so wonderful I thought, I should perhaps buy a book with real money. So I went to the web site of a leading UK bookseller and looked at their e-book catalogue. There were plenty available. But first, I thought I’ll see if others have reported any technical problems. Indeed they had: – I found  this message on one of the Lexcycle (developers of Stanza) support forums in response to a complaint that the book they had bought wouldn’t open.

This particular error usually means that the book is encrypted with Adobe DRM, which Stanza Desktop does not yet support and the Stanza iPhone only supports the eReader DRM.

Well, fair enough. I’m not criticising Lexcycle for this. Stanza is after all a free app, and for all I know this may have been fixed by now. (The message was from September 2009)  But why are publishers/booksellers using DRM to stop customers doing as they please with their own property? I know they’ll say intellectual property isn’t quite the same as a physical artefact, but the digital world changes business models, as the music industry has found out.  I would have thought selling something that can’t be used as the purchaser wants is probably not the most effective way of ensuring a high volume of repeat sales. If they’re worried about breaches of Copyright law, then there are legal remedies they can pursue.  (Although before they do that, they might usefully look up the phrase “Open Source”).  While I’m on this topic, I was also astonished at the high prices that they charge for e-books. It’s not as if e-books have higher production costs, after all, so presumably this designed to stop e-books undermining print sales.  I think the most likely long-term outcome is that one of the more experienced digital players will come up with some sort of literary equivalent of  iTunes and the traditional booksellers will just lose the business.

Which is a shame, because once I’ve got off my high horse I can see a great deal of potential for this kind of easy document portability in HE, and I think books do need to be readily accessible.  I like Stanza partly because it sits on the iPod which means it’s potentially part of a suite of apps, rather than being a dedicated e-book device, but also because it offers features to bookmark and annotate your text. all we need are  linked Refworks, Blackboard, Moodle and WordPress apps, and we’re away! Paper is so 2009!

JISC innovation forum, Keele University (part 4)

More liveblogging. The  final Keynote  is from Jason Da Ponte, managing editor, BBC Mobile Platforms, who is talking to us about the BBC and its use of mobile technology.

BBc define mobile as any interaction between the BBC and its audience over a portable device and within a mobile situation

Mobile devices are:-

Personal, immediate and location aware.  Jason thought that there was a lot of untapped potential. He asked how many of us had more than one mobile and how many had used the BBC’s mobile provision.

The BBC are interested in streaming live television to mobiles – technology already available. Should be here in about 2010

But already things like mobile browser service – BBC have recently relaunched their mobile platform making their services more geo-aware. They have over 3 million users

Mobile Rich Media and Broadcasting. This is where they see their future. BBC iPlayer on iPhone and IPod Touch. They’re also doing 3G TV (Whatever that might be!) trials with network operators, and they are really looking forward to a mobile broadcasting future.

Messaging – Admitted that this was a bit rich after the scandals of the previous year, and they’re setting up a new compliance unit. They working on new programme formats, more than just voting, for example, offering alert services which they’re planning to try at the Olympics this year so people will know when events will be taking place

The final platform is the “Out of Home”. This includes the Big screens in cities like Hull and Manchester. They were talking about Bluetooth and wi-fi and QR codes to promote interactivity (although he called QR codes “semacodes” – apologies if this is something different)

Then he raised the matter of web 2.0. He sees this as a way of thinking about how you can build services that get taken up. They identified some fundamental principles between FlickR, You Tube and so on. These are basically –  Straightforward, Functional, Gregarious, Open, Evolving. Web 2.0 apps “invite you in” – which is not how we usually build technology.  How can we apply these principles to what we do in edudcation?

Also, what do we need to have in there? Participation seems important. We want to get people to participate. So is distinctive. If there’s something else that does a similar thing why should they use ours? (Plethora of Blackboard sites, anyone?) Does it do what it says it is going to do? and How personal is the experience.  And if you are part of the web, why do you need to bring things in. Why not just link out to what’s there. Jason thinks this it the most important barrier to innovation that the BBC has faced – people are reluctant to cross this boundaryFinally he’s referring us to this paper about co design

The UK education sector doesn’t score well in collaborating with its users in design. (There’s a theme that is emerging from all these sessions) Co-design is a trial and error style of working, a collaboration, a developmental process, and outcome based. Only the last one of these is particularly comfortable sitting in an institutional context though. (Blackboard, and VLEs generally ring a few bells here). But if there’s any message here it’s “Please Remember Your Users”). His contact details are: –  

One questioner invited Jason to speculate where we might be in 2020. He thought there might be some application specific devices. Apparently every taxi in New York now has a touch screen (although I’m not clear what for, something taxi related no doubt!) and he speculated about things like umbrellas which could deliver weather reports (Again, though, I couldn’t help thinking you’d probably notice if it was raining!) The point is your interaction with this technology would be fleeting. I suppose I could imagine a library shelf end that indicated where related material might be stored for example.

Final question was about whether the BBC had any plans to get involved in mobile learning.  Unfortunately the BBC is in the middle of revising its e-learning strategy and Jason wasn’t really able to answer this. But GCSE Bitesize is available on mobile

Mobile learning – ALT workshop

We started with a presentation from Cecile Tshcirhart, Chris O’Reilly, about the E – Packs developed by London Metropolitan University for Language Learners. These provide students with an interactive self-study mode. Unfortunately, the demonstration was marred by the fact that the technology wasn’t able to cope with demonstrating what they could do, which was a pity, as what we did see looked very interesting.One point that the presenters made that we might want to think about if we go down this road, was that they had planned for students working alone, so they had designed in interactivity, but didn’t allow for students communicating with each other. This turned out to be a mistake in hindsight as communicating with each other was precisely what their students wanted to do. Their reasons for adopting this technology ought to give us pause for thought as well.
There are 3 times more mobiles than PCs in existence and they have achieved 75-100% penetration among young people. Also of course, you don’t need wires and their appears to be a consensus among practitioners that the future is wireless. So, there’s no real reason why we should not be getting involved. Some of the other benefits of m-learning that they identified are that it is available, anywhere anytime, portability and space saving, connectivity (no wires, but you do need a network), it can be context sensitive (again, more below) and it’s cheap. Students provide their own technology for a start, and even where they don’t, a mobile device is usually cheaper than a fully-fledged PC. It is also consistent with socio-constructivist theories, supports problem solving and exploratory learning, contextualised independent and collaborative learning, can provide scaffolding and it offers a form of personalised learning which has been found to enhance learner motivation

It’s not a panacea of course. A big problem is the small size of the screen. It really mandates many more pages than a conventional RLO and also needs a fairly linear structure. Navigation is also a big issue. They tried to keep everything controlled by the phone’s navigation button. No arrows on screen for example because there isn’t space. Also the question of whether you’re doing the same kind of activity when you are mobile that you are doing when you are on a PC was raised. (Actually, I think that depends on the configuration of the device – I’m sitting on the train writing this on my PDA/Bluetooth keyboard combination which isn’t that different from a PC – but you can bet I wouldn’t be texting it!)

They then talked about some of the M-learning applications they had developed. These included mobile phone quizzes, collaborative learning involving camera phones and multimedia messaging, using iPods to access audiobooks and lectures, developing personalised guided tours using hand-held augmented reality guides (about which, much more later!) They also described how they were using what they called MILOs – Mobile interactive learning objects using graphics, animation, text, video and audio clips. The presenters attempted to demonstrate an interactive language for the mobile phone course that they had developed, but they struggled a bit here with the technology which didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

Nevertheless they were able to show us some screenshots from their mobile learning objects. One was what we would call a “hot spot” question in Blackboard. But the image has to be movable if it is a bigger than the screen which seemed a little clunky to me. Another feature was a grammar lecture, which was to all intents and purposes a mini-PowerPoint although with the addition of a 3-4 minute audio to the slides. Finally they have designed what they called a game, which students could play (It was a sort of a French “Who wants to be a millionaire?” and I couldn’t help thinking – “So, a multiple choice quiz, then?”)

When it came to evaluation the found that students were positive about m-learning, and about the e-packs, (and interestingly they did the evaluation through the mobiles, although they were only able to involve 8 students in the study.) it appeared that the students preferred the more academic type of object rather than the games. The French lecturer thought that they rather liked to have a little lecture rather than having to think, which they did need to do with the games. So, of course the idea is to offer both lectures and interactive objectives. (Another game they designed was a wordsearch with audio to help pronunciation) Students seemed quite happy to use their own mobiles. They found it handy to have them available when they were in down time (on the bus, for example) Students also saw them as time saving and allowed them to learn wherever they were, and that they always had access. Mobile learners do not need convincing, unlike online learners. But there is a need to keep up with the technologies.
They stressed again the importance of bearing in mind the screen size – London Met had developed their objects for the Nokia N95 which has screen dimensions of 320 x 40 pixels and it would need revisiting for other devices. In fact designing for the Phone is a bit of an issue. Apart from the software they had used (Flash lite, J2ME, C++) there is the question of what phones to design for. But technology is changing a great deal. Flash lite may disappear – some of the newer phones may have better browsers. They ended by warning us not to spend too much time developing stuff. It did cross my mind that this kind of technology was a bit restrictive in that very few lecturers would be able to use this kind of technology though. Or have the time. The London Met team had started by transferring existing on-line learning objects. Which was easier for them.
Carl Smith – Potential of M-learning – Latest developments
This turned out to be one of those presentations that revealed some quite eye-opening potential of the technology, (although that might be a side effect of living in Lincolnshire! For all I know these things are ten a penny in the civilized world.) and made the whole day worth the money. Carl, who is an e-learning developer at London Met started quite conventionally by reiterating the benefits that the earlier presenters had outlined. Students are familiar with them. It’s a preferred learning device. It allows communication and group work. It’s part of the blend for most students. He then gave us a fairly restrained view of what is being done at present, while pointing out some of the drawbacks. It is quite hard work to transfer material to the mobile medium but becoming easier. It’s only suitable for certain subjects. There are inevitable questions about accessibility. But there are fascinating developments. The implications of the iPhone style touch screen haven’t been fully explored. Adobe Air will replace flash lite as the development medium and will be interoperable with different phones – The software will be able to identify the device it is working on and adjust itself accordingly.

He also found that students liked the mobile for reinforcing what they learnt on the web, rather than as a first contact tool, and noted the phenomenon that mobile learning creates a learning bubble – you can’t have 15 windows open on a phone – forces concentration

But then he got onto the software that might be beneficial for mobiles. Sea Dragon gets rid of the idea that screen real estate is limited. Just look at this.  
The next step is what Carl referred to as mixed reality. This means that learners are augmenting their reality by participating in different media, and are reshaping it. Yes, I know “Oh, come on, now” is pretty much what I thought too. But, consider. With GPS we can automatically provide context to a mobile phone. It knows where it is. There are also things called QR codes – tags attached to real world objects – take a picture of the object with your camera phone and get multimedia info about it. Essentially you’re barcoding the real world by sticking one of these on it. But, here’s the thing. Because the phone knows where it is, and can use pattern recognition to recognize the subject of a picture is, taking a picture, can also automatically give you information about it. Or, to superimpose a reconstruction of a ruined building over your photo of the buildings (and you are standing in it!) We’re moving to the idea that everything in the real world will be clickable.

Which should give the Data protection Registrar something to think about.

All links will be made available

He also told us about Google Android – an Open Source mobile operating system that will run on many phones. Because it’s OS people can write their own applications and Google are running competitions for developers – here are their top 50 applications –  It’s also completely free has rich Graphical powers, can use touch sensitive screens, and we even got a short demo of it’s 3-D capabilities using quake (A computer game I believe.) There was also a demonstration of how you could touch maps to pan around the city and go straight to “street view” (i.e. photographs of what was shown on the map) And zoom in considerable detail

Returning to the second half of the video mentioned again the spatial arrangement of images on screen can be meaningful. The second half of the video was about photosynth technology, which when you think about is even more astonishing than the potential of the QR codes. They reconstructed Notre Dame Cathedral from a set of images in Flickr. But because we can take data from everyone, and link them together there is a huge volume of public metadata. They were able to take a detail of the cathedral from one window, in one photograph and reconstruct the entire building from that.

After that we came back down to earth with a group discussion about the extent to which mobile learning could be blended effectively in the teaching and learning environment. A couple of very useful suggestions were made. I like the idea of using it for induction. It is possible to text news students with userids so they can log into VLEs prior to arrival. Another suggestion was to have a glossary that can be interrogated by text message. This uses a simple rule based system “if this word is received then reply with this definition”. This was all offered by a company called EDUTXT who seemed to be very well thought of by delegates. London Met had just had their symposium and had used it for their evaluation of their teaching and learning conference.
One case reported of a student declaring a disability via this method, as he had not felt comfortable doing this in class. The data can be exported to Excel which one delegate claimed took it close to an audience response system. I doubt it actually, because you don’t get the instant response.
In the afternoon we had a presentation about an FE project called MoLeNET

This was a collaborative approach to promoting and supporting mobile learning – FE colleges had been funded to buy mobile devices to be used in any way they see fit. The Learning and Skills Network provided training, ideas on how to use the devices and are producing a full report on the project. It involved 32 colleges, some in partnerships with colleges, or to put it another way 1200 teachers, and 10,000 learners.

It wasn’t limited by subject area, and a wide range of equipment – smartphones, PDAs, MP3 players, handheld gaming devices, ASUS laptops had been bought although there had been some supply problems.

In practice it seemed that the devices had been used as a substitute teacher. EEPC laptops had been used to show videos of how to do a hairstyle for hairdressing students when teachers were unavailable. We also saw a video of students using ASUS laptops for portfolio building in an engineering workshop. Students very much liked them on the grounds that they were small and went into their bags very easily. Also they could type things up as they were doing those things

Keith Tellum from Joseph Priestley College (JPC) in Leeds remarked that MoLeNET seems to have provoked considerable interest in mobile learning across the whole college, and also noted that central IT staff tend to be very concerned about (i.e. resistant to) new technology (Actually, on reflection this was a recurrent theme throughout the day) About three quarters of mobile learners felt it had helped them to learn – further research was planned into the 25% although they already had evidence that some were worried about the loss of the social aspect in the class.

Examples and tools can be downloaded from above. All of which are freely available.

But we got to play with one, such tool. We all did a little quiz using our mobile phones. Which worked very well, although my neighbour didn’t get a response to his text.

He noted that M-learning had really taken off at JPC. They even market the college through texting and 40% of enquiries came through texting

He then started to tell us about a couple of other projects, the Learning for Living and Work Project for learners with disabilities, and the QIA digitisation project. Which was about using learners own devices a very attractive way of moving towards sustainability. He was explaining about how the college can be taken to learners, and conventional phoning in doesn’t really work, because it was hard to get through and how the texting system had improved things when the speakers exploded! (No, really – they did. )

We then got to play with some “old” PDAs which had some very interesting software albeit a bit FE oriented loaded on them from a company called Tribal Education. A lot of it was “matching” and “snap” type games but there were some nice drag and drop applications There was also some very good quality video running on them.

The day finished off with a traditional plenary session. Some of the issues discussed:

Nintendo Wii – disabled students using it to make an e-portfolio – possible to make a jigsaw out of photographs, and these can be put into portfolios

A new version of the Wii is to be released which will be “mind-controlled”. The panel were a bit hazy about this, but suggested that users would be able to control virtual avatars with their minds

I asked about using the QR codes will and was reassured that this will be very practical – we’ll be able to do this for ourselves quite easily. Carl promised to send me a link to a download for all the tools.

Question asked about evaluation. We didn’t really talk about how effective these tools, exciting as they were, might be in improving learning.

Quite a lot of debate about the methods of evaluation. One issue from one of the FE colleges was that TXT language might appear in assignments, but in reality there doesn’t appear to be much evidence that this Is happening.

MoLeNET are doing a research project that would generate much further data. They’re doing quite a lot of qualitative data collection at the moment. They expect to put quite a lot of this information on their web site, along with their research questions.

No HEIs had been involved in MoLeNET, although there was some possibility that Universities could act as a partner in a consortium.
And that was it. Except for filling in the evaluation form, which required a pen and paper. How very Twentieth Century!