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Joan Ganz Cooney Center Study on Mobile Learning

Last week the Joan Ganz Cooney Center released a new report on how mobile technologies can be used in education titled, Pockets of Potential. You can access the full-length version on their site.

The Cooney Mobile Learning Study outlines some of the key opportunities for mobile learning:
  • Encourage "anywhere, anytime" learning
  • Reach Underserved children
  • Improve 21st Century Social Interactions
  • Fit with Learning Environments
  • Enable a personalize Learning Experience
The Cooney study cites the need to create a Digital Teachers Corps to provide educators with the training and skills to integrate mlearning activities into the classroom. While I agree, I would also say that school administrators, both at the school and district level, need to provide the leadership, support and physical infrastructure required to make mlearning (mobile learning) a reality.

When I was working at Yahoo! on the Yahoo! Teachers project, I had the opportunity to spend the summer teaching educators around the country how to use web technologies in their classroom.

Time and time again I heard from teachers that their efforts to integrate technology into their classroom are stifled by district policy, draconian filtering policies and a lack of technological resources. Many times teachers get labeled, especially when it comes to technology, as unwilling to learn how to use new technologies.

While that may have been true a decade ago, almost every educator I met expressed concern that schools were working on an outdated model and that they recognized that the way kids learn has drastically changed.

They also expressed that there is a severe lack of professional development opportunities and support from district, state and federal administrators to provide leadership and change in their schools.

Since they work on the frontline, we also need to include teachers in this discussion. There is often a disconnect between theory cooked up by policy wonks and the reality of the classroom.

One of the other areas of concern, not just for mobile learning, is the lack of good, quality educational content. It's great if we outfit kids with an Apple iPhone or Palm Pre, but then what? When we talk about mobile learning we often focus just on the hardware and technology.

Quality educational content is often left out of the equation. The OpenCourseWare movement is helping fill this void in the higher education space, but the K-12 space suffers from a real lack of appropriate, relevant and quality content. In addition to the technology, we need to develop a repository of open content materials for our K-12 students, teachers and parents.

Finally, in addition to educating teachers, administrators and other members of the education ecosystem, it's vital that we also educate parents on the benefits of mobile learning. Many teachers are still trying to convince parents that the Internet is a relevant learning tool, that blogging has educational merits and that Wikipedia is a credible source of information.

Mobile Phones, Learning & Gen Y

For the most part, colleges and K-12 are just beginning realize the potential of mobile technology to improve the quality of student learning. In order to meet their students changing expectations and digital learning styles, instructors need to be provided with professional development opportunities to experiment with current and emerging web-based technologies.

Clearly, the spread of mobile technology into both the cognitive and social spheres requires educators to reexamine and redefine our teaching and learning methods. The future of learning has already arrived in the European Union, Africa and Southeast Asia, and if the United States doesn't act now we will be even further behind the rest of the world.

At the 2006 International Consumer Electronic Show, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel outlined the explosive growth of mobile technology. According to Semel, there are 900 million personal computers in the world. But this number pales in comparison to the 2 billion mobile phones currently being used in the world.

Even more astounding is how mobile devices are increasingly being used as the primary way in which people connect to the Internet. In fact, Semel notes that 50% of the Internet users outside the US will most likely never use a personal computer to connect to the Internet. Rather, they will access information, community, and create content on the Internet via a mobile device.

The use of mobile technologies is growing and represents the next great frontier for learning. Increasingly we will continue to see academic and corporate research invest, design and launch new mobile applications, many of which can be used in a learning context.

Learning 3.0 will be about harnessing the ubiquity of the mobile phone/handheld device and using it as an educational tool. A few quick facts on mobile technology, Gen Y and education:
  • A 2005 study conducted by the USA-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that, although 90% of teen online access occurs in the home, most students also have web access via mobile devices such as a mobile phone (39%), portable game (55%), or other web-enabled handheld device (13%). [link]
  • Palm estimates that mobile and handheld devices for public schools will be a 300 million dollar market. A few progressive school districts in the USA have already started using mobile devices in the classroom. [link]
  • Australia is emerging as a leader in mobile learning (mlearning). [link] [link]
  • The National College of Ireland, University of Scotland and other European universities have already started experimenting and integrating mobile technologies into their classes. [link] [link]
  • A study by the Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) found that students are using their mobile phones for just about everything--except making phone calls.
  • Some developing countries, like Kenya, are bypassing the use of desktop computers all together and using handheld WI-FI devices and open source software to reduce the cost of education in rural areas. [link] [link]
  • Mobile School is a Belgian non-profit organization who is using mobile technology to provide educational opportunities for homeless children. [link]
  • Mobile phones are in the early phases of being used for student testing and assessment. [link]
  • YouTube, the popular online video community, has an educational channel that allows educational institutions to upload video clips via their mobile phones, PDAs, or other wireless handheld devices.
  • SparkNotes are now available for download on both the iPod (text and audio format) or via SparkMobile, a SMS version for mobile phones.
  • iTunesU & iPhone Apps have allowed an unprecedented amount of educational content, learning games, video & applications in the hands of students & educators.

Closing Thoughts

The Cooney research is a landmark study that I hope will move both the education technology and mobile learning discussion forward. Perhaps the release of this study, an education technology friendly president and education secretary is creating a "perfect storm" for real change to take place in our education system.

As a nation, we can no longer afford to sit back and watch schools in the U.K., Australia and Africa move forward while we continue to model our schools on an outdated agrarian, 18th Century education model.

Benefits of this learning space for the students are threefold: potential for maximum participation (all can be posting simultaneously), increased interest (authentic use of technology, so little technical advice or support is needed), and student motivation was noticeable and achieved possibly because of the increased peer feedback and collaboration.

The convergence of mobile and social technologies, on-demand content delivery, and early adoption of portable media devices by students provides academia with an opportunity to leverage these tools into learning environments that seem authentic to the digital natives filling the 21st Century classroom.

The future is here. It's time we act.

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Obama Inauguration: CNN, Facebook, MTV & Disney Court Gen Y

Cnn.facebookCNN.com and the popular social networking site Facebook have teamed up to provide an interactive and web-based experience aimed at high school and college students.

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

"Facebook members will be able to click onto a special CNN.com Live page to see the inauguration and other activities. Integration between Facebook and CNN.com will allow them to stay on the page and still be linked to Facebook."

As part of the CNN.com and Facebook effort users will be able to update their FB status, and follow their friends' updates, while they watch the inauguration live online or on television.

Meanwhile, Disney has also announced that it will go to Washington D.C. for the Obama Presidential Inauguration, where it will cover a range of special events across its television channels and various digital platforms, including events specifically aimed at kids and families.

The Disney Channel will televise the Kids' Inaugural: We Are The Future, honoring military families, on Monday, January 19th.  Attended by Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and their families, the concert will be broadcast on Radio Disney, and will be streamed on Disney.com immediately following its completion.

Not to be left out, MTV will also broadcast from Washington D.C, New Orleans and Kenya, on behalf of MTV Africa, with coverage airing across the MTV networks (MTV, MTV 2, MTV Tres, MTVU and MTV.com).

It looks like the mainstream media is taking a page out of the Obama youth playbook and learning how to actively engage Gen Y media sensibilities and eyeballs through multiple screens.

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BBC Series "Skins" Now on DVD

Skins is a provocative, award-winning Brit-teen drama that follows the lives and loves of Tony (Nicholas Hoult, About A Boy), Anwar (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire, Golden Globe Best Picture winner) and their circle of friends as they navigate the pitfalls--online and off--of their teen years.

Boasting a ensemble cast of rising stars and showcasing a team of writers averaging the age of 22, this hit series provides candid insight into the chaotic world of the modern-day teenager.

The series, which airs on BBC AMERICA, has just released the complete first season (+ bonus content) of the award-winning Brit-teen drama on DVD. Check the BBC Skins widget on the left sidebar for more information.

BBC America has rolled out a brilliant campaign to spread the gospel of Skins. You can find Skins on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and iTunes. And they have a great site full of good stuff like play lists, glossary (for those of you not attuned to some more of the Brit-centric vocabulary), and character guide.

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Text-or-Treat: UNICEF Goes Mobile

Tot-kids-250x96Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a program that began 58 years ago and has helped connect UNICEF to literally millions of donors, fundraisers, celebrities and partners. This year, UNICEF is embracing both the social and mobile web to engage even more people in their annual campaign.

"For the first time ever, we’ve launched both a Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF MySpace page and Facebook Cause. If you use either of these sites, just add us as one of your friends. Then, when you’re writing on someone’s “wall,” or “poking” everyone you know, invite them to add us too, and help spread the word.

This year—for the first time—you can Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF with your mobile phone! Just text the word “TOT” to 864233 (UNICEF) to make a $5 donation* and help UNICEF save kids’ lives."

The Text-or-Treat initiative is a pretty clever program. When you visit the Text-or-Treat page, you can choose one of the virtual trick or treaters and help fill their UNICEF box by sending a text message. Cool!

I sent my text message to support Doogie. Which one will you support?

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Note: Due some TypePad wonkiness the original post has vaporized. I was able to recover a copy, and since this post was so popular, decided to republish it today.


Text Messaging Tips for Parents & Educators

CommonSense Media has put together a really good texting 101 video along with some other educational materials for parents. In addition to the video, they have complied a list of useful mobile and texting factoids that every parent should know.

  • Texting is the #2 use of cellphones -- after checking the time
  • Text messages connect kids instantly -- and privately
  • Text messages and images can be spread virally or uploaded
  • "Sexting" happens: kids send inappropriate images or sexual messages

Whether you're an educator or a parent, this report from CommonSense Media will provide you with valuable insights into why Gen Y love their mobile devices.

In addition, it will arm you with the knowledge you'll need to have a candid discussion with your teen regarding the responsibilities that come with (mobile) technology.

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Debating Gen Y: Bauerlein & Howe on the Millennial Generation

In this episode of Book TV on C-SPAN, Mark Bauerlein and Neil Howe talk about the Millennial Generation and how it ranks compared to other generations.

The two authors, who have opposing books on the subject, also talk about the influence of different technologies on the learning habits of those born between 1980 and 2000.  This event was hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.

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Give Girl Gamers Some Props, Yo!

Josh Shipp has an interesting blurb over on his blog about girl gamers. Seems that the video game manufacturers have realized--shock! awe!--that girls also like to play video games.

Unlike dudes, who tend to opt for games that are heavy on the blood, gore and/or action oriented activities, girl gamers prefersocial and collaborative games with less competition and more opportunity for personalization and nurturing.” I would also garner a guess that more girls actively participate in virtual worlds than boys.

So does this mean that girl gamers only like games that feature kittens, ponies and unicorns? Uh, no!

Like any generalization, it's important to remember that the results are only as good as the group that was surveyed. Regardless of gender, it's important to keep in mind that there are a wide variety of games and gamers who fall across the spectrum.

And if you look at the comment section on the Hey Josh post, you'll find plenty of girl gamers who aren't afraid to shoot em up with the best of the gamer guys.

All of this comes on the heels of a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that found that, when it comes to video games, "playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day."

Even more importantly, and defying stereotypes, the Pew Study found that  "game playing is also social, with most teens playing games with others at least some of the time."

So fire up that Wii and get your game on. Just remember to take a break.

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MIT Launches Project New Media Literacies

A few months ago at the Ypulse Youth Marketing Mashup East, I had the opportunity at the round table lunch to learn about the Project New Media Literacies (NML) developed by a team at MIT.

The NML is a research initiative based within MIT's Comparative Media Studies program and explores how educators can equip young people with "the social skills and cultural competencies required to become full participants in an emergent media landscape and raise public understanding about what it means to be literate in a globally interconnected, multicultural world."

One of the big challenges for MIT will be working with the Balkanized US education system to get these NML skills integrated into the curriculum. As a result of this fragmentation, the MIT team will have to work with each state on an individual basis to have the NML standards adopted by and/or integrated into the curriculum.

Despite these challenges, the NML standards are a good step in the right direction towards reforming the American school system to meet the needs of today's 21st Century learners.

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comScore Reports a Rise in U.S. Online Video Consumption

New data released today by comScore shows a 34% increase of online video consumption by U.S. Internet users versus year ago. A total of 12.7 billion online videos were viewed during November 2008.

Not surprisingly, Google/YouTube held the top spot with a 40% share of videos viewed online. Also in the top five most visited video sites were Fox Interactive (3.5%), Viacom (2.6%), Yahoo! (2.4%) and Microsoft (2.3%).

Other tidbits from the comScore report:

  • 77 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The average online video viewer watched 273 minutes of video.
  • 97 million viewers watched 5.1 billion videos on YouTube.com (52.3 videos per viewer).
  • 52.5 million viewers watched 371 million videos on MySpace.com (7.1 videos per viewer).
  • The duration of the average online video was 3.1 minutes.
  • The duration of the average online video viewed at Hulu was 11.9 minutes, higher than any other video property in the top ten.

Online video is growing by leaps and bound across all categories. If you look beyond the comScore report, you see huge numbers of people watching streaming video on the web and, increasingly, mobile devices like the iPhone or iPod.

And it's not just teens. Adults are also voracious consumers of online video.

A recent article, Younger Viewers New Media, provides an additional snapshot of the growth of online video content consumption (Thanks Anastasia!). Among the findings:

  • In October 2008, Cartoon Network reported over 6 million users visited Cartoon.com, spending an average of 34 minutes.
  • AdultSwim.com, users spent over 24.4 million minutes — about 25 minutes per person — watching videos and playing games.
  • MTV Reports shows are being streamed tens of millions of times each month.

As the web increasingly moves to the mobile space, it will be interesting to see if mobile video follows a similar growth trajectory to video streamed via the web. MTV reports that it's "on track to deliver about 100 million videos to mobile phones."

So are kids only watching online video? Or are they still watching "traditional" television. Pick a study, any study. It's easy to find research to back up just about any corporate, academic or political agenda.

If I had to guess, I'd say that kids consume video content both online and off. They will use whatever device--tv, iPod, computer, Hulu, network tv--is readily available to them. Remember, this is the "always-on" generation. When it comes to content, the "how" isn't nearly as important as the "when."

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