Project 400 – What is it?

What do students need to learn? What are they learning in school? What are we teaching? What is the best way to teach them? What is working and not working? Answering those questions is the objective of Project 400.

Project 400 is a research project to study:

100 English language classrooms in China to see how English is taught and how students learn.

100 of my former English students who now have jobs. What kind of jobs do they usually get.  How do they use their English in their jobs? What English did they learn in school that they use in their jobs? What English did they not learn in school that they need for their jobs? What English did they not learn in school that they need in their jobs?

100 bosses of my students who are now working as well as other managers, HR managers and business leaders. What kind of English do new employees need in their jobs? How important is English?

100 students in their dorms. How do they study? How much homework do they do? How do they feel about their studies.

At the conclusion of this research project, I will have a better understanding of students, teachers and English study.

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Engineering an experience!

Call the New York Hilton Hotel and get this information...
Can we engineer an English-learning experience so impressive and even so intensive that we need to remind students to breathe?

A teacher asked me to address the question about what the teacher should do in the classroom. If extensive comprehensible input is doing the heavy lifting of language learning, if the teacher does not need to teach, drill and test students on he/she pronouns of gender grammar, what should the teacher do in the classroom?

Over the years I have mixed together the things I have learned from dozens of TEFL books (many written by Jack Richards and David Nunan, both of whom I interviewed when they came to China) with things I have learned from late-night TV comedians like David Letterman, psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, best-selling business book author Joseph Pine, Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Much of this was driven by problems I was having in my teaching. During my teaching career I have received so many complaints about my teaching that it is almost embarrassing. One adult student told me that I was the “worst teacher” he had ever had. Although I have received much in the way of praise for being the “best teacher” many of my students have ever had, I treasure the complaints. I sincerely believe any accurate criticism is worth more than 100 praises and anything really good about my teaching skills came as a result of such complaints.

This set me on a quest to really understand the dynamics of learning, the psychology of managing student motivation and classroom management.

Now what I am doing in my classroom is engineering experiences. By this I mean to create some degree of mental and emotional experience mediated by English.

One simple example of this I have already described. You know how English coursebooks always have some dialog for students to imitate in order to book a hotel room? To create a better experience, many teachers ask students to sit back-to-back. I think this is very good and causes students to focus their listening more and even their speaking to be more understandable. It is a rather odd thing to do in the classroom and its uniqueness also wakes students up from the boring routine of sitting facing the teacher.

But can we do better than that?

How about booking a real room in a real hotel with a real phone call to a real American? And what hotel? I had once shown the movie, “Regarding Henry”, to my students. When it came time for us to have a lesson about how to book a hotel room, rather than do some boring unrealistic coursebook dialog, we called the Ritz Hotel which was featured in the movie. My students were actually calling a real hotel that they saw in a movie. (We also ate a box of “Ritz Crackers” which were also featured in the movie.)

The students were excited and nervous about the idea. All of them were not going to make the call. We’d choose a student. But I let the tension fill the room and hang there, permeating my students’ minds as every student thought it might be him or her doing the calling. As I played back recordings of students from other classes making these calls (which are completely different than any kind of coursebook sample) my students desperately clung to every word in anticipation and some degree of fear that in a couple minutes it might be them talking to a hotel clerk on the other side of the world. Eyes were widened. Hearts were pounding.

For my “volunteer” I always choose one of my most outgoing self-confident students, sometimes the class clown. His English may not be the best but he is least likely to have a heart attack and die in the classroom due to the excitement and stress. Sometimes I tell them that I will choose another student to make the call after him. This keeps them on edge.

All the other students breathe a sigh of relief that they “missed the bullet” this time, but now they are intensely interested in how this phone call is going to go. After all, they might be next. Again they cling to every word to listen to the negotiation of meaning between the clerk and the student. I record the call and play it back so we can talk about what happened. The mp3 is available so students can review it further if they want.

Contrast the intensity of such an experience with the relative boredom of repeating a coursebook phone call dialog. I’m sure that you have done more exciting things with your students and that you have many more ideas. Please share them with us.

I think we can quit apologizing to our students for the boring coursebook and “think outside the book” or make the book exciting. Some teachers dodge their responsibility of providing students with engaged learning saying they have to “follow the book”, that they and the students are destined to some kind of Dante-ish classroom experience, like it or not.

Don’t you think we can do better?

Notes:

Do not book a room unless you are going to use it. But you can call for information about rooms and facilities. Although it may be afternoon in my classroom and late night in New York, these hotels have 24-hour staff to manage inquiries. To develop skills in understanding different English accents we have called hotels in Switzerland, India and the Philippines. With today’s calling cards these long distance phone calls are quite cheap. I set the phone on speaker mode and put a microphone next to it so the class can hear. Calls to USA 800 numbers can also be made for free by using Skype.

Engineering an Experience! – Think outside the book…way outside!

What are we going to do with our time if we don’t teach grammar? Blow our students’ minds!

Have you ever seen a three-way orgy in an Ikea store? I have. You can too! Ikea 3-way

 

Scene from "Ikea Heights"
This crazy filmmaker thought it would be great fun to secretly film a melodrama in an Ikea store. With price tags hanging in front of their faces and customers walking behind, they act out living and dying in a fictitious neighborhood called “Ikea Heights”. What an out-of-the-box crazy idea.

 

If I have a small group, maybe 6-7 students, I will always take them to Ikea at some point during our training.

For us “experience engineers”, perhaps you are one, part of “engineering the experience” is not just to engineer a lesson but to engineer the overall training experience. Some lessons are in the classroom. Some lessons are out…way out! We want to not only have interesting and exciting lessons but also surprising experiences. We want our students to associate English learning to something thoroughly enjoyable, stimulating, amazing — not boring.

To this end we often not only “think outside of the box” but we “teach outside of the classroom”. There’s many things we can do along this line.

You know the boring lesson in English coursebooks where they read some dialog to order the food? Teachers who are “experience engineers” will do crazy things like having lunch together with their students at a buffet restaurant…with a twist. Instead of every student going to get their own food from the buffet counter, the teacher, or even one or two students, will act as “waiters” and take orders from the other students who act as “customers”. The “customers” sit at their tables while the “waiters” take the orders and serve the food. Students take turns waitering so everyone gets a chance. Perhaps the teacher or a student will visit the buffet the day before to make a “menu” that the others will use to order from but this is not necessary. (BTW, if asked, the manager will probably offer a discount for the group.) Wow, a lesson you can eat!

My student, a manager in an American company, trying out the Ikea experience

Ikea is a unique kind of store. They are “experience engineers”, too. They create these realistic rooms or even tiny apartments so you can feel the life of living in an Ikea home. Show your students the “Ikea Heights” film before you go. (Write me if you would like subtitles.) At the store you can act out your own mini-scenarios or role plays. (Orgy scene NOT recommended.)

There are a lot of interesting business strategies employed at Ikea. My English students who are managers love it when I point these things out. Ikea herds customers through a path like a rat maze. They station a cafeteria exactly halfway through the store so that customers will have no excuse to leave before they finish their shopping. They have a very cheap hot dog and ice cream available at the end of the shopping experience to provide a favorable “peak/end” experience.[1] There are lots of business concepts to unravel there.

There is a wealth of business talk to engage your students in discussing marketing, sales, promotion, staffing (few staff), ideas from things like Paco Underhill’s “Why We Buy?” and Joseph Pine’s “Experience Economy” and business questions like “This frying pan costs only $1. Now why would a big store like Ikea sell a frying pan below cost?”

That’s not to mention all the discussion of preferences and even games: “What do you like more? This sofa or that sofa? Why?” “Now John, choose a chair you like but don’t tell us. Jane, guess what chair John prefers and tell us why.”

How about simulations? “Jane, you go ahead to the bed department. You are going to be a salesperson. Think of what advantages different beds have and when we come you should try to interest us in buying one of those beds. Give us a good sales pitch!”

Let’s quit complaining about the dull English coursebooks. They’re hopeless. Let’s go outside and turn the world into our coursebook. Let’s quit apologizing to the students for the boring books and take the responsibility and the challenge of being like other teachers who are “experience engineers”, creating lessons that you can see, feel, hear and even taste, lessons that are interesting, engaging and even surprising! Can’t we make experiences so mind-blowing that our students will want to grab their phones and text their buddies about the crazy English lesson they are having, that they will have to tell their parents or spouse about the crazy things they did today?

Don’t you think we can do better? I think we can.

(You “experience engineers” out there, share with us your lessons and ideas!)

Notes and references:

[1] Nobel winner Kahneman’s Peak End Rule not only applies to some of the things Ikea does but to what our lessons should be like:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak-end_rule

http://tinyurl.com/4okbks5

>Replying to students’ Emails

>TOO MANY STUDENT MESSAGES

I get a lot of Emails from my students. As I mentioned before, I am seriously spamming my hundreds of students with thousands of messages. So I get quite a few Emails back from them, usually telling me what they are doing to improve their English in response to my tips and encouragement. I also get a lot of Emails of holiday greetings from them during the holiday season. Often they ask me what I’m going to do for the holiday. Sometimes I see my students making common errors in their messages and I would like to send them a little guidance about this problem.

Normally, I could not keep up with such a large amount of incoming messages. I can read them but to try to reply to them all can be a huge effort and I may be only able to manage the briefest of replies. It may seem a little disappointing to the students to not get an answer to their Email but what can one person do? They understand and don’t expect much.

But I want to do more.

I use Microsoft Outlook to manage my Email. It downloads all my incoming messages from my GMAIL.COM account and uploads and sends my outgoing messages.

THE SOLUTION

I use an Outlook function as a simple way to insert stock replies to my students messages. When my students tell me that they are reading a newspaper article everyday or are listening to podcasts from http://www.eslpod.com to improve their English, I have 10 different encouraging stock answers that I can choose from to reply to them. One of them is:

“THAT’S REALLY GOOD! KEEP IT UP! YOUR ENGLISH IMPROVES QUICKLY WHENEVER YOU TRY TO DO SOMETHING IN ENGLISH!”

If I want to point out a common grammar error I have a rather longer stock reply that explains the problem, the solution and several examples.

I can give really helpful and encouraging replies to students and it only takes me about 10 seconds. If you are a busy teacher and want to give more detailed replies to your students’ messages, here is how you can do it, too.

HOW TO

In Outlook go to TOOLS -> OPTIONS… -> MAIL FORMAT -> SIGNATURES…

There you will find a function for creating your signature in your Emails. But the great thing is that you can put any text in there that you want to be able to select and insert into your Emails. When you want to use it in an Email, first you “Reply” to the Email, choose INSERT -> SIGNATURE and then you will be presented with a drop-down menu of all your stock replies and answers that you can select from.

You may want to develop several versions of one reply so that not all students are getting exactly the same thing and you may want to update them from time to time. Of course, this is not a way to deal with all messages but I find it useful to deal with almost all of them.

It really does a lot to help the students feel closer to their teacher. It really helps the teacher to not let the messages go unanswered and to send out some encouragement and guidance.

>Spamming my students with "BOB"

>A teacher asked about spamming my students, “How much time do you estimate it takes to compose and send out a message?”

I use an Excel file and a Visual Basic program I wrote called “BOB”. On one Excel sheet I keep the student names, Email addresses and some other information. On the other sheet I keep the “content” for the messages like message subject and message body.

Most of my BOB messages were taken from Emails I have sent to other groups of students in times past. Indeed, some students may be receiving a message I sent them years ago but probably forgot. So in this case composing a message is very fast. But since all of the messages are short, even if I write a new one it is also very fast.

HOW BOB WORKS

Keep in mind, each of these messages is stored in the Excel file and is reused. So once you write it, it gets used many times. The BOB program reads the student name, Email address and what message the student is on. For example:

John; john_zhou@yahoo.com; 27

Then the program will check on the content sheet and find message #27 which has a subject line for message #27 and body for #27.

BOB then creates the Email, first with the subject line and the body which begins with “Dear John,” followed by my message. It ends with my signature name and my links like a regular message does.

Recently, I added a place for another line at the end of the message that I can customize. If it is a holiday time, I can send them holiday greetings. If I want to remind all of the students from one class about a homework assignment, I can do it there. If I found a new coffee shop to have my one-on-one class with a manager, I can mention it there.

It takes BOB about 3-4 seconds to make each message. After BOB is done making messages for all the students, it takes Outlook about 2 seconds to send each one out.

EXTENDING TEACHER PRESENCE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

Teachers have a wealth of knowledge on teaching that can benefit students. The beauty of this system is that it gets maximum use out of the teachers’ resource of ideas, tips and pointers. The BOB system starts all students on message #1 and then works the student, message by message, through all of the teachers ideas and tips. Every student will receive every tip from the teacher. They will miss nothing. They will receive it in measured spoonfuls every couple days.

If any teachers would like a copy of the BOB spamming program please let me know and I’ll send it to you. I’ll let you have about 60 of my messages that I send out. It works only with Excel and Outlook. (It may not work with Outlook Express.)

>Tablet computers in the classroom

>
A teacher referred to my experimentation with a tablet computer so I’d like to tell everyone about that. Five years ago I bought an ACER C110 Travelmate 11 inch notebook computer. You can twist the screen on this computer and lay it down on top of the keyboard and use it like a tablet computer. It was quite small and had an external DVD drive. I bought it here in Guangzhou and it cost 16,OOO Rmb. This was rather expensive but cheaper than the larger Toshiba computer that could do the same thing. When I bought this I was intrigued about the possiblities of using a tablet in the classroom and wanted to experiment.

I still have this computer and am writing you with it now. A corner of the computer broke off due to an accident. I was running across a busy Guangzhou street and the buckle on my computer bag, heavily laden with not only my computer but those immensily weighty Interchange Teacher Books, broke and my bag hit the street hard. The corner broke off my computer and now the WiFi no longer works. My computer looks terrible today and even my students beg me to get a new one but I’ve grown attached to it the way an old man gets attached to an old easy chair or a favorite pair of old slippers.

But I have to say that I am not satisfied with the computer as a tablet. It was not as easy to use as I hoped to move around the classroom and make notes on students. With the computer in one hand and the special pen in the other, I could not talk with students and then very quickly look up the student on my Excel sheet and make a notation.

What I wound up doing is making notations on slips of paper and at the end of class transferring these to my computer. One of the main things I note in this way is the IELTS speaking level of the students.

I sacrificed the DVD drive for this tablet computer. My next computer, which I’m shopping for now, will have a built in drive. I think this will be more useful for me than the tablet function.

I now have a Windows Mobile phone. This phone runs Excel and I’ve tried to keep my student list on this. I also can write on it like a tiny tablet computer but the whole process of finding the student’s name amongst 40 other names and making the notation is more cumbersome than jotting it on a slip of paper and then entering all the info in a couple minutes after class.

>Tapping the power of commercials

>The following is a post of mine to the TESL-L teacher list in May 2006:

A teacher asks, “What makes a commercial more or less useful for classroom use? If you had to choose between two commercials to use in your class, how would you make the choice?”

I think commercials are becoming increasingly sophisticated as advertisers rely more and more on the soft sell approach. No longer can the housewife hold a box of Tide and say, “Cleans clothes whiter!” Now in 60 minutes you often have a drama played out by movie stars where a setting is created, characters introduced, a story develops, tension is added and then the plot twist with some ironic or funny ending. They are actually a mini-movie and sometimes more enjoyable than the TV show or movie that we intended to watch.

SOUND OFF. STUDENTS “A” WATCH. STUDENTS “B” FACE THE BACK OF THE CLASSROOM.

In one Budweiser commercial called “Girlfriend” three girls are sitting at a sidewalk café when one nudges the other, points and says something that we don’t hear as the audio is off. As they look on they see the back of the convertible at the stop light with a handsome guy and a girl with long blond hair. Then he reaches over and begins stroking her hair. We can see one of the girls is very upset. The guy answers his mobile phone ring and is saying something.

CUT! OK, STUDENTS “A” FACE THE BACK OF THE CLASS STUDENTS “B” WATCH THE SCREEN. ROLL IT!

As the guy is talking on his phone the camera pans over to his passenger, an Afghan dog with beautiful long blonde fur and he pats it on the head.

OK, STUDENTS “A” AND “B” TALK TOGETHER AND SEE IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT THE STORY.

Watch this commercial here. As you watch it, think about the affect it will have on your students if they have seen half of the commercial and tried to talk with their partners about the other half.

I look for commercials with a plot twist that will at first perplex the students when they try to piece the story together and then surprise them when they see (and hear) it all together.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Directors put a lot of effort in creating a powerful sense of mystery, suspense, curiosity in their commercials. To simply show a commercial straight through crashes through all of that in 30-60 seconds. But you can stretch out the affect, a driving force of their tremendous desire to satisfy that curiosity.

Then this desire powers the students into the English. They search all of their English resources for a way to communicate with their partner to resolve this mystery. Students get fully engaged in these exercises. They even forget it is an English “lesson” yet they are using English.

After partners have tried to figure out the story of the commercial, I have one partner “B” tell the class what “A” told him. Then another partner “A” tells us what “B” told him. This offers the students a chance to tell a story and use reported speech. All students listen intently as they are very curious about the story as well.

To extend the exercise, while the students are telling what their partner told them, you can write it up for all to see. Write it the way they say it with bad grammar and all. Get suggestions on how to improve the grammar, vocabulary or even the story’s facts. Students’ curiosity is still powering their interest into the story writing activity and it won’t be lost over mentioning some grammar or vocabulary issues. The teacher can guide the students to better language but should not correct the actual events of the story at this point.

After this, the students are still not sure if they really have the full idea of the story. Then play the commercial again with the sound. Every eye will be focused intently with a smile growing on their faces.

In the glow of satisfied curiosity, the teacher can go back and finalize the story that was written, perhaps a few facts are missing or better vocabulary can be used or other language points covered.

Of all the exercises I have done with my students, this has always been the most popular and the most requested.

>The future just ain’t what it used to be

>A teacher describes his experience at using tele- & videoconferencing in teaching: “While teaching in France I was asked to teach on an online course. IMHO it was a disaster. People came and went from the virtual room and nobody seemed to know what was going on. It was a bit like one of those horrible dreams you have about having no control of a class. I think it MIGHT work IF you have the opportunity to meet the students in the real world before you go virtual – and have a limited number of well-motivated students.”

I think we have to keep in mind that this is a moving target, very dynamic, constantly changing and improving. People, including our students, are using VOIP and videoconferencing more and more. Managers and staff in offices are using this to communicate with each other and with colleagues around the world. Everyone will get used to the protocols of usage and behavior.

It’s not that it is a special tool for English teaching. It is becoming an increasingly common way of communication with all people around the world and something that we can use, too.

It is quickly reaching the point that it is not a cheap and convenient way to teach English but it is a more realistic way of teaching English because it is the way our students are actually using English. My students here in China report to me that of their spoken English communication, about 95% is on the phone and about 5% is face-to-face. Yet, just about ALL of our English teaching is face-to-face. So I think teaching by VOIP, videoconferencing and even by telephone, with all the associated difficulties, are not only authentic but necessary mediums for teaching.

Additionally, improvements are being made on audio and video quality. In ten years, many of us will be sitting down at a table looking at a life-like video image of our student(s) on the other side of the table. Except for the fact that it is two-dimensional instead of three, it will be the same as being there. I and many of you have seen demonstrations of this technology already.

It is no longer called “videoconferencing”. Rather, it has become “Telepresence”.

That is an interesting term to ponder, “Telepresence”. Teachers could work in tandem. The primary face-to-face teacher could hand off to a telepresent teacher for ten minutes to explain some aspect of English and then carry on. When a question comes up he doesn’t know how to answer he could bring up a colleague.

In a Friedmanistic style flattening of the world, teachers can be anywhere teaching students who are anywhere. These dynamics will change many things about our profession in unusual ways. British teachers living in the UK may find it more difficult to compete with British teachers living in China or India where the cost of living is vastly cheaper and a lower salary can be accepted. Indians have mastered call centers, even adopting American or other accents, and it wouldn’t take too much for them to teach American English or whatever flavor is desired to anyone anywhere.

The future just ain’t what it used to be.

>Thinking outside the book

>One thing that students and teachers really struggle with is boredom. Maybe I’m just easily bored but I have yet to find a book or teacher that really keeps the student’s interest from cover to cover, it doesn’t matter how good they are.

Sometimes I think that the way English teaching works is that we often trap ourselves into thinking “inside the book”. Publishers have little interest in helping teachers think otherwise and because we often lean on manufactured materials we always wind up with a book.

We are basically teaching the same way Socrates, Plato and Aristotle taught thousands of years ago except for the addition of the printed book invented by Gutenberg.

Of course, there are guys who have rebelled against the book. You can find a bunch of them at Dogme. They have a Yahoo group and their leader has published in The Guardian newspaper ELT pages.

But to me, they seem more readily identified for what they are against than what they are for. And from my experience, it really helps to have a course or plan for students as otherwise the training can seem a bit aimless to the students.

So how can we escape the book but still have a plan?

First, let’s brainstorm a list of all the new tools and technologies and other things that are available to us since the days of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Gutenberg. Without much order, here is my list:

Computers
Email
Telephone
Phone messages
PowerPoint
YouTube
PDA
Chat rooms
Blogs
Websites
Fax
MP3
MP4
Video
Email spam
Voice spam
Television
Shopping malls

Perhaps your list is longer. Now, just as a thought exercise to stretch us “outside the book”, what if you assigned yourself the task of using each of these to provide some part of a training course.

There was once a game called Majestic by Electronic Arts. They described it as “The suspense thriller that infiltrates your life through the Internet, telephone and fax, then leaves you guessing where the game ends and reality begins.” To play this game you had to check websites and periodically you’d receive frantic phone calls with clues or cryptic faxes.

I think something so pervasive would be an exciting way to teach and learn. What would a “Majestic” English course be like? The student would be receiving training from so many directions at so many times. Of course, not all of this is possible with every teacher and every student, but employing some of these technologies could really get us “out of the book”. Consider the possibilities that a ficticious Chinese student named Jerry Liang would experience:

– Jerry gets a daily Email that has a short lesson, story or MP3. This Email is pumped out to Jerry and all the other students by a program similar to those used by spammers.

– Jerry also receives a daily SMS phone messages that reminds him to study an assignment, do homework or join some activities that the teacher has organized.

– Every week, Jerry is directed to watch a certain TV program or movie which all the other students and teacher will be watching. Jerry doesn’t have to participate if he is busy that night but he does need to participate in at least two per week. Jerry tunes in the program and starts the chat program on his computer. While he is watching the program on his home TV, other students and the teacher are watching it and chatting with him about it, about the story, actors, what they like or don’t like, etc. (“Don’t go in that dark room!…don’t do it!…Ugh! I knew it!!!”)

– Jerry posts assignments on the blog.

– Jerry gets SMS phone messages with new vocabulary on set days. After first contact with the new vocabulary in a lesson he receives the vocabulary in a message on day 2, 5, 12, 19, 33, 63. He has a look at the words and reviews them.

– He has some specially recorded lessons made by his teacher or other teachers in MP3 format in his MP3/MP4 player or PDA which he listens to throughout the day.

– When Jerry visits the popular local mall he takes a walking tour via MP3. The teacher has made a short recording and guides the him through the mall, describing interesting things about the mall and shops and introducing more new vocabulary. (“Starbucks took its name from a coffee-loving character in the famous American novel called ‘Moby Dick’, a story about a man hunting a whale. Starbuck’s strategy is to become people’s ‘third place’, the main place people go outside of home and work.”)

– Sometimes Jerry receives a phone call from the teacher to practice his speaking, but more often than not, the teacher (randomly?) assigns Jerry and the other students speaking buddies, other students, who he calls to practice a particular speaking activity. Every week Jerry recieves an Email with a speaking lesson to practice and his speaking buddy’s phone number. Sometimes the buddy is in his class but most of the time the buddy is a student in one of the teacher’s other classes, perhaps a manager in a company. It’s interesting to have this way to talk to various professionals that he wouldn’t normally meet (and Jerry thinks it’s always interesting to talk to girls).

– Twice a month, Jerry is given a phone number to a company in an English speaking country that provides information about their services along with one or more questions that he needs to ask about. For example, he once had to call Trump International Hotel in New York to find out if they allow dogs in the room. (They do if the dog is under 10 pounds but the guest must pay a non-refundable $200.) This provides a real English challenge and practice for Jerry.

– Etc, etc, etc.

All of this is possible with current technology but will never be offered by a book publisher. It just remains for the teacher to sort out his content and figure out the different ways to deliver it.

A student, going through a course like that, would have an experience they’ve never had before. But as I said, maybe I dream up this stuff because I’m the kind of person who is easily bored.

>More ideas for mLearning projects

>These are some things that have already been done. I don’t post these here as suggestions of what you could do but to give you some ideas of how other teachers are using mLearning in the classroom. As technology improves and becomes more efficient we will be able to do more things similar to this:

“Students have to carry out scientific enquiry in the context of their discovering and exploring of an environment. Pairs of 11-12 year olds explored a woodland and were presented at certain times with different forms of digital augmentations.”

“Students can send SMS that appears on lecturers laptop during the class. They can anonymously ask questions without interrupting the class. The lecturer can choose to respond immediately or wait until a number of questions arise. SMS are available after class.”

“Players use GPStracked handheld computers to experience a virtual savannah that appears to be overlaid on a football pitch sized grassy field. Players act collaboratively to carry out a series of lion missions (such as marking their territory, hiding their cubs and hunting). Aim of the game is to encourage players to understand the behaviour of lions though personal experience.”

“Students in a economics course could acess course mateiral (slides, PDF) and contribute on the discusstion board.”

“Composition students were asked to compose and perform music on PDAs. PDAs are equipped with MIDI module and portable keyboard.”

“Evaluate to what extent and how a PDA can help students learning. PDAs are issued for the project time with the aim of collectiing application log data. Learn more about how students use PDAs.”

“The project aims to test ‘just-in-time’ access to knowledge on mobile terminals for medical students. Especially when they are practicing in medical institutions.”

“Medical practitioners on ward are equiped with PDAs to build a portfolio of evidence. A detailed evidence of clinical activities, prior learning comopetencies, course materials, certificates. Furthermore they get acess to learning resources, clinical guidelines and a learning diary.”

“Informatics students were required to develop and eavluate their own interactive learning experiences in collaboration with fellow students. PDAs with internet functionality were lent to them to consider as their own.”

“Course materials were distriubted in e-book format. Followed by an investigation how students use these learning materials.”

“A collaborative treasure hunt game that requires co-ordination between spatially seperated team-members. The teams have to visit locations in an urban area to collect symbols in order to complete tasks.”

“A collaborative problem solving application that attempts to support learners in constructing their own understanding of tshare their decisions with fellows.”

“A application for percussion composition, allows users to create, manipulate, edit and save original pieces of percussion music through an intuitive interface.”

“Children collect with scientific data on spot. Devices can collect data and communicate with sensors that are in the field while also providing instant feedback through on the spot data analysis.”

“This project supports the participants in expressing their thoughts through a digital narrative. While the overall process is similar to other digital film projects, the tools used are different. The learners shoot all of their footage and record their soundtrack on smartphones. In addition, the smartphones allow the participants to make their multimedia available to collaborators by sending the images and sound via the multimedia messaging service (MMS) to a blog.”