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Your Phone Doesn’t have to be Smart to Learn

Wed, June 01, 2011 9:14 AM | Ranelle Maltas (Administrator)
These days when you think of mobile, you think of mobile phones. Not every phone has to be a smartphone with a data plan to use in learning. If your learners do all have a smartphone, there are a ton of apps you can get or even build. They make for great just-in-time learning. But if not, as long as they have texting, you can still have them learn on the go.

My first and favorite example is Twitter. You may not think this is a great learning tool, but I have built a great Professional Learning Network (PLN) and we tweet regularly. I tend to follow other people in Higher Education, Instructional Technology, and Workplace Learning and Performance. I also follow a number of K-12 teachers as I know their students will soon be my students.

You may be thinking that this is great for me to learn, but how can I use it for others? Specify a hashtag (ask me at the next meeting and I’ll explain) and have learners follow it. You can post a daily tip or learning nugget. Have the learners do the same and they can learn from each other. Have them tweet a question and some one will respond.

If you don’t think this will work, I have a great example. Check out @UNL_CropWatch sometime. You may think farmers are not that techno-saavy, but they all have mobile phones and text to stay in touch with the family and home when out in the field (in my day, we used a CB Radio). If a farmer comes across an odd bug or problem with a plant, they take a photo and tweet it to @UNL_CropWatch. An expert (at UNL or perhaps another farmer) will see it and can respond. It used to be they took the bug or plant to the “not-so-local” extension office and it may be days before they get a response. Now, it’s almost instant. How’s that for learning on the job?

Next up, Short Messaging Service (SMS). http://www.swaggle.mobi is a simple group text messaging service for cellphones. Send one text message to Swaggle, and and they will send it to everyone in your group. When someone responds, that goes to everyone in the group, as well. Use it to send tips, tricks, learning nuggets, reminders, or ask a question. A few others include http://www.cellsea.com/media/smsindex.htm, http://www.buzz411.org/ or use Google SMS Channels at http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/. Some are free, some will cost you. Either way, be sure your users are aware of text messaging costs for this service.

As far as the apps available for smart phones, I’ll cover those next month when I talk about tablets (iPads, Xoom, Playbook, etc.) since there is so much cross-over.
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