Progress with mobile access

This screenshot is me logging into Yacapaca on my phone.

Don’t be fooled by the large image here: it’s just an ordinary smartphone (actually an LG Nexus 4); not even an iPhone.



We redesigned the login fields so they actually grow larger as the screen grows smaller. You can see that here it almost fills the screen to make entering your password easier.

and this is the Gradebook, also on the phone


I didn’t expect the Gradebook to be practical on a little phone screen, even though it’s technically possible, but actually it works quite well. The inner table scrolls intelligently (two-finger scroll) to keep the names and column titles visible. I was able to track students and update their targets without difficulty. This works even better on an iPad.

What’s next?

The main work on making quizzes work on iPhones and other mobile devices proceeds apace. We have got the ‘quiz runner’ working in wireframe (i.e. without design) now, and we are in the process of debugging it. I’m not prepared to commit to a launch date for it yet, but if you would like your school to be a beta test site, now’s the time to get in touch.

Insights from the mobile devices survey

I’m very pleased to have had as many as 140 responses to the survey. The answers to the multiple choice questions were fairly predictable:

ImageThe transition to mobile is well underway, with the usual spectrum of early- to late-adopters.

ImageiPads are where it’s at, but the strategy really has to embrace everything. At least no-one said “Google Glass” yet.

As always, the insights were to be found in the comments. Some teachers see no benefit whatever to mobile

…everything you can do on a iPad or Android device can be done on a PC.

whilst others are looking into an exciting future, even if they don’t yet know in detail how to manifest it

Less didactic teaching – more project based, providing resources, more group work, personalised learning, learners making choices about when they take assessments, learners choosing the materials that suit them best…

and of course many simply express uncertainty.

It seems most teachers at the start of the process are asking themselves the question “Can I (or how can I) run the existing system more efficiently with this new tool?”

Those further down the track are starting to discover that usage evolves under its own logic, if you let it

My sixth form students already use their own devices,initially  the biggest change I found that when asked a question they unsure on they turned to Google,  but they altered as they settled in  to the use in the classroom, attempting to answer first and then googling to see who was right, it was nice to see the development from reliance on the device to using it to support the knowledge they had.   (It wasn’t an easy path though!)

What I hope to see if we run the same survey next year is that a few have moved beyond the current framework, and instead are looking outside education for inspiration. Apps and services like Foursquare, Google Goggles and Ease into 5k use a mobile devices’ sensors and capabilities to deliver experiences that are simply not possible in any other way. None of these three are particularly intended as educational apps, but each has potential. More importantly, they inspire us to look beyond classroom and curriculum, and into a new way to develop the minds of our young charges.

Justin Bieber brings elearing into your classroom, even if you don’t have computers

Three years ago, I predicted that the iPhone, and phones like it, would soon become everyday educational tools. Where are we up to with that? Having spotted this on the Orange website, I’d say we are now only a year away.

If Justin Bieber is endorsing a phone, then it must be cheap enough to appeal to the teenage demographic. Where this gets interesting is that this phone has a nice big touch screen and runs the iPhone’s open-source cousin, Android.

From September, then, you can expect an increasing proportion of your students to be carrying these powerful, permanently-connected computers in their pockets.

How will you respond?

  • Will you feel threatened and try to suppress their use?
  • Or will you see a great way to get around the resource limitation of not enough computers in the school, and embrace the possibilities?