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The cellphone: ultimate distraction or powerful learning tool?


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Keynote presentation at the Schools ICT Conference in Cape Town, 1-3 October 2008

Published in: Education, Technology

The cellphone: ultimate distraction or powerful learning tool?

  1. 1. 01.10.08 The cellphone: ultimate distraction or powerful learning tool? <ul><ul><li>Steve Vosloo </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>The growing disconnect </li></ul><ul><li>Cellphones: pros and cons </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>“ There is now an extraordinary contrast between the high levels of activity that characterise children's consumer cultures and the passivity that increasingly suffuses their schooling.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Buckingham, 2003)‏ </li></ul>
  4. 4. Classroom vs the world <ul><li>Formal & structured </li></ul><ul><li>Top-down </li></ul><ul><li>Passive </li></ul><ul><li>Disengaged </li></ul><ul><li>Un-networked & disconnected </li></ul><ul><li>CAMI & Powerpoint </li></ul><ul><li>MCQs & simple creations </li></ul><ul><li>30 mins/week </li></ul><ul><li>Informal & fluid </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom-up </li></ul><ul><li>Active </li></ul><ul><li>Engaged </li></ul><ul><li>Networked & plugged-in </li></ul><ul><li>MXit/Facebook, games, web </li></ul><ul><li>Communication, play & exploration </li></ul><ul><li>Up to 2 hours/day </li></ul>
  5. 5. Classroom vs the world
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ ICT in schools is predicated on the ‘top-down’ understanding that we know how children should be learning from technology rather than seeking to learn from their existing practices.” </li></ul><ul><li>( Their Space , 2007)‏ </li></ul>
  7. 8. Cellphone affordances <ul><li>Pervasive </li></ul><ul><li>Low-cost </li></ul><ul><li>Content delivery and creation medium </li></ul><ul><li>Klopfer (Jenkins 2008): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Portability - can take it to different sites and move around within a location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social interactivity - can exchange data and collaborate with other people face-to-face </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connectivity - a common network that creates a true shared environment </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Cellular South Africa <ul><li>Cellphones: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>72% own a cell phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nearly half SMS almost daily </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MXit: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>8 million subscribers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>250m messages/day </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Computers and Internet: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only 17% ever used the Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6% use it (almost) daily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>9% have Internet access at home </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Kaiser Family Foundation & SABC, 2007)‏ </li></ul>
  9. 10. Dr Math <ul><li>Dr Math is a maths tutoring service to school learners that uses MXit </li></ul><ul><li>2-8pm, Sunday-Thursday, with some 20 tutors. </li></ul><ul><li>3,200 learners have used service (from grade 3 up)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Tutoring mostly done in English, but some Afrikaans cases are occurring </li></ul><ul><li>Learners contact Dr Math from their homes, while on buses, taxis and on the sports field. Even from the bath! </li></ul><ul><li>LATEST: Text-adventure game (interactive fiction)‏ </li></ul>
  10. 11. dr.math: What grade are you in? what are you covering in math? Spark plug: 7 dr.math: grade 7? Spark plug: yes dr.math: are u doing &quot;pre algebra&quot; stuff like What is the value of X if x + 3 = 10? Spark plug: yes dr.math: ok, so what is the value of x if x + 3 = 10? Spark plug: 7 dr.math: ok. how about (15 x 2 ) + x = 35 Spark plug: 5 dr.math: (I am going to use * for multiply so not to confuse it with x, ok?)‏ Spark plug: ok dr.math: (2 * x) + 8 = 18 Spark plug: 5 dr.math: very good. can you explain to me how you figured that out? Spark plug: 18 - 8 is 10 so 2* what is 10 and the answer is 5 dr.math: Excellent.
  11. 12. M4Girls Project <ul><li>Improve maths in grade 10 rural girls (by Mindset)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>43 mini videos, 3 “mobisode” animations, 2 games </li></ul>
  12. 13. Alternate Reality Game <ul><li>ARG: an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions. (Wikipedia)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Think “Finders Keepers” but played collectively using web, email, SMS, voice, video, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative problem-solving </li></ul><ul><li>Skills: collective intelligence, judgement, transmedia navigation (Jenkins et al, 2006)‏ </li></ul>
  13. 14. Reading/writing cellphone <ul><li>Using the cellphone as a “book” delivery and authoring tool </li></ul><ul><li>Serialised m-novels: e.g. 28 chapters, 900 characters (Novel Idea)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Othello as an m-novel? </li></ul><ul><li>Communities engaging literacy practices of writing and reviewing </li></ul>
  14. 15. But ... <ul><li>1) Distraction </li></ul><ul><li>2) Antisocial? </li></ul><ul><li>3) Risk of violence/abuse </li></ul><ul><li>4) Effect on reading and writing? </li></ul><ul><li>5) Cost </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>What do these things have in common? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Printing press </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Film </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rock 'n roll </li></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Challenge <ul><li>Consider ways to exploit cellphone affordances to support teaching and learning, while limiting the distraction and risk factors </li></ul><ul><li>Only YOU can do this ... </li></ul>
  17. 18. Thank you <ul><li>Email </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Blog </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Games and learning group </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Slides </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>