Blog Post

Diversifying Mobiles: Participatory Learnings

Time to talk about mobile phones and learning:

Presenting: Derek Lomas ( and,) Eric Klopter, Richard Scullin (, Jared Lamenzo (The WildLab), Colleen Macklin.

Richard Scullin: ( has background teaching 10+ years at private and public secondary schools and is founder of, to help teachers integrate mobiles with learning.

Problem: despite the profound, rapid adoption of mobile phones teachers have not leveraged these powerful. This is a missed opportunity. Why is this a problem? Is it fear on teachers part, parental part, digital divide, implementation, administrative barriers. Are their cultural barriers? Socio-economic issues? Or is it just a matter of time.

Solution: MobileEd helps teachers and local education agencies in K-12 and higher education to integrate mobile phones with curriculum. MobileEd's most recent mobile learning pilot lessons focus on mobiles for STEM.

"Our national debate must shift from whether to use these devices to support learning, to understanding how and when they might best be used." Carly Shuler, Joan Ganz Cooney Foundation, Sesame Street Workshop.

Research pilot: Sharing via mobiles: we know kids are already using mobile phones. Who do we leverage these communication strategies and devices? Content creation, collaboration within context of a community. Thinking about simply phone, not fancy iPhone.

Intrigued by cloud, enables simple phone to leverage power of cloud. Multiple INs, multiple OUTs, commenting, collaborating and connecting with social neworks. The mobile phone will be the Internet. Gave example of 6th grade students figuring out how students at their school got to school. Made things better, using fundamental schools. Goal was to change how students came to school (4 percent change).

Go out in field, find an image, a topic, a metaphor that resonates with something in the text of books being read, and capture that with phone. Exercise for students.

Understand, plane, implement. Leverage experience to build knowledge, network, community. Open Mobile Learning Consortium.

Jared Lamenzo: ( Brooklyn Botanical Garden, image of middle schoolers and high schoolers using iPhones to log wildlife sightings. First class was in class, gauged their knowledge about birds. Most had seen pigeons (!). Then went out into the field, 10 iPhones per class, and 20 students each class. Faciltator came along to talk about birds, environment. Look at habitat, (each classroom has its own log in). Only 4 habitats in New York, so students select one (forest, for example), then select shape and size, then they get a list. Then they try to compare and match, with bigger image and stats, how it chirps or calls, a range map, then they press submit and their data, what they saw, goes into database. Can also connect to Facebook, so they can share an interesting sighting with others. Administrators gave permission, even though couldn't access at school. Import into eBird, so connects local to global.

Colleen Macklin: PetLab. How do we take use of mobile technologies from socializing to geeking out. How do we get youth to take them apart and hack them? How can mobile be used as tools for social change and learning? Take Re:Activism, a game designed in New York City, sites of activism and was location-based. Text messages, not GPS at that point. Can now build your own version of game, can be used for activism. Open-source kit, people have used around the world.

Compare two projects: Settlers of Manhattan, locative, GPS based VERSUS Mannahatta THE GAME

Mannahatta the Game: (fails on some criteria, but not definitively. Not enough presentations talk about failure in a constructive way. Failing early = learning. Big ideas, including "DataPlay" and systems thinking, and STEM. How do you play information? Eric Zimmerman came up with this idea at a Games For Change gathering. Instead of being able to represent information and play it, actually game it. How do systems work, need to know. Mannhatta Project: based on concept ecology project that envisions Manhattan 400 years old. Leraning goals include collaboration, systems thinking, representation of the database (6 million connections). Started designing with youth, how would we design an application to make this information interesting. Ended up with an iPhone app. Game involves collecting species and linking them together. Badge system and an activity board so can see what other players are doing.

Settlers of Manhattan (like Settlers of Cattan). Started on paper, moved easily to prototype using the tool. If we play with groups of youth and one has the phone and the other, need to give the one without the phone something to do. So one had role of accountant.

What's the problem? massive dataset, new development environment, paper prototype !=digital prototype, technical issues (us + at&t in NYC)

Lessons learned: native prototyping tools +, abstract, select, filter, find outliters, experience.

Eric Klopfer: mobile games are useful when location matters, and also when location doesn't matter. Augmented reality (location-based games). Computer simulation on handheld computer triggered by real world location. Combines physical and virtual world contexts. Embeds learnrs in authentic situations. Socio-scientific issues: AR combines real and virtual, opportunity to engage in problems that combine real and fictiious elements. Also combine subjective and objective information (scientific data, public opinion). Get people to think about science and engineering.

TimeLab 21000: year is 2100, world needs your help! You are part of Timelab, an elite grou pof historical researchers. Your mission is to go back in time to the year 2010 and research climate change to make recommendations how to battle the global warming effects observed. Indoors and out, explore spaces outside, debate and deliberate inside.

Community Science Investigator, new iniative. GIS to collect info about community, do ARG then effect change in those communities.

Casual, mobile and multiplayer. Participatory simlulations, Palmagotchi (anywhere, anytime). Virtual pets with biology. Birds and flowers, like Darwin's Finches in the Galapogaos.

Derek Lomas: (representing Long-term project, 10 sets of field trials. Focus is on development mobile games for English curriculum in specific contexts. Research goals: design tools, design methods, methods for evaluation, educaitonal games targeting standard curricula. Game design goals: information learning outside of school, special focus on girls.

How are village games different from existing western video games? How can village game dynamics inform the design of new learning games? (Kam, 2009). Shout out to Matt!

Gamer Community: games are playing in a social context. Games facilitated new ties across gender, caste and village boundaries (Kumar, 2010). Relationship between design and social action? Possible methods for enhancing the social impact of gameplay.

Next step for us: scaling up. Controlled experiment with 800 rural children in 40 villages with 450 mobile phones donated by Nokia. Year-long study, targeting official 5th grade English Curriculum. Pre-test/post-test in-game assessment.

Collaborative workshop between MILLEE and Playpower: IIIT-Hyderabad Game Design Workshop: intensive two week workshop, teaching educational game design, building local capacity.

Sometimes it's hard to know what's been done before in this field. Usability testing commercial games: Hamsterz Life 2 for DS, Doogle Jump and Tagdoll Blast for iPhone.

Design Constraints: PACE Framework. And how do we measure learning and engagement. How do we really know if the kids think it's fun? Blending qualitative and quantitative research to find out how the youth liked it. Hoping to work with Sesame Workshop, support STEM educaiton through Mobile Community Viewings. Using SMS to connect networks of children.

Open questions: role of narrative aesthetics, open authorship, sustainability models, porting to multiple platforms, cross-subsidizations, video games for hoemwork, partnerships across academic, gov, nonprofit for profit. Expanding to Kenya and China. Pedagogical models: automaticity and contextual learning.

Lots of interest from audience, says #dml2010 Twitter stream during panel.



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