This is the presentation I gave at the LSIS eCPD Launch Conference on the 5th February 2009.
Video of the presentation.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
I also “appeared” in David and Lilian’s presentation which was also filmed.
Gloucestershire College is one of the largest Further Education colleges in the UK, offering a wide range of education and training programmes, including A Levels and GCSEs, vocational qualifications, work-based learning, basic skills courses, Higher Education, short courses for business, part-time day and evening courses and English for overseas students. Gloucestershire College’s Gloucester campus is a brand new state-of-the-art site based alongside the Gloucester Docks with a strong vocational focus. The College’s Cheltenham-based campus is a purpose-built facility at Princess Elizabeth Way.
The Glossy Project did much more than start Gloucestershire College down the road of mobile learning, it had an impact on the whole culture of the organisation in the use of not just mobile technologies, but also other learning technologies, audio, video, podcasting, wireless and use of the VLE to enhance and enrich the learning experience. We are now a college with the infrastructure to embed mobile learning across the curriculum.
We will run a hands on workshop, allowing delegates to experience mobile learning for themselves. Mobile technologies will be used by the participants within the workshop to examine how they can be used for learning and will also be used to feed back the outcomes from the workshop. In this workshop, small groups of participants will examine the potential of mobile technologies and mobile learning for their institutions.
The workshop will allow delegates to talk and discuss the concept of mobile learning with each other, so sceptics will be able to see that it is not just Gloucestershire College who are using mobile learning, but other institutions across the UK are also embedding and using mobile technologies to enhance and enrich learning.
The Glossy project undertook a large-scale development and implementation of mobile learning across Gloucestershire College utilising the mobile devices that learners already own. A comparative study was made by providing a range of mobile devices for learners in excluded groups at Gloucestershire College and learners with learning difficulties and disabilities at National Star College. The project put in place an infrastructure at Gloucestershire College that will allow learners using devices which they already own to access learning activities and content through a mobile learning portal in conjunction with the college VLE. The project will create a student wireless network that can be accessed by learners’ own devices to access college services, e-resources and the internet.
The aim of the project was to enable learners to access learning at a time and place to suit them in order to improve retention and achievement. The project provided mobile devices to learners in selected groups; including excluded learners and learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. The project provided hardware and software that will allow both staff and learners to develop, create and convert content for use on mobile devices. The project provided the infrastructure to allow the college and staff to communicate with learners’ mobile devices through the use of 802.11 wireless and Bluetooth technologies.
The £216,000 project had an impact on 14,000 learners during the lifetime of the project which ran from November 2007 to July 2008. It continues to have a benefit now the project has finished as the infrastructure enables mobile learning to continue.
The project has enabled the infrastructure to allow practitioners to enrich and enhance the learning experience for learners. Learners can access learning at a time and place to suit them, through the college VLE, through mobile devices and whether they be in college, at work, in the home, or elsewhere. Due to the timeframe of the project it is not possible to say with any definitive proof that the project has improved retention and achievement, as there are many other contributing factors across the college which have had a similar effect. Overall across the college there has been an improvement in retention and achievement and the Glossy project has contributed to that improvement.
The key benefits for learners were:
- An change in culture in relation to the use of mobile learning by the college, as a result more staff are interested in creating, developing and adapting learning scenarios and content for mobile learning or using mobile devices. This has made and will make learning for interesting and fun for learners.
- A student wireless network, which allows learners to connect to the internet in college with their mobile devices and so engage and interact with learning activities and content.
- An infrastructure which allows learners to access learning at a time, place, pace and mode to suit their needs.
- Opportunity to try equipment they viewed as the latest technology
- Able to take resources to different locations easily
- Able to record their own progress and identify when they had achieved
- Recognisable more independent working
- Increased familiarisation with ICT
- Expectation that ICT would be integrated into other learning
The key benefits for staff have been:
- Changing perceptions and working practices in staff about what is learning and how and where learning can take place.
- An infrastructure that allows staff to easily create, develop, and adapt learning scenarios and content for mobile learning or using mobile devices.
- Training and information on mobile learning and mobile devices.
- Challenged and stretched their experience of using ICT
- Able to take on a facilitative approach with learners
- Could engage with learners at external locations
- Support and networking through partner college
- Support and networking through Molenet community
The key benefits for Gloucestershire College were:
- A change in culture across the organisation in the use of mobile learning and mobile devices to enhance and enrich the learning experience.
- The installation of an infrastructure to support mobile learning which has had extra benefits as well.
- A (possible) improvement in retention and achievement.
- The key lesson when working with practitioners is that simply providing the technology is not enough.
Training and development is essential if practitioners are to change their practice and to start embedding mobile learning. Training needs to include:
- How to use the equipment: With the variety of equipment available it can be thought just using one type of mobile device would be an advantage. However no mobile device can do everything and that is part of the problem. The interfaces and processes which devices use differ from device to device.
- Uses of the equipment: It was apparent very early on that practitioners were often unaware of the potential and the capability of various mobile devices even when they owned them themselves. An example of this is how some fourteen year old learners “taught” the college’s ILT manager how to add photographic effects to the photographs taken by the PSP camera.
- File management: Moving files around requires effective file management skills and despite some practitioners having excellent skills in the use of learning technologies in the delivery of learning, they often lacked simple file management skills.
- Software training: Even when software is as simple as “drag and drop”, training and development in software used for the creation, development and delivery of mobile learning materials is required. When you move onto more complicated software such as iMovie, Final Cut, Garageband, Audacity, training is essential.
- Learning scenarios and design: Practitioners also needed guidance and advice on how to build mobile learning into their delivery, often they would not realise the potential of mobile learning to enhance and enrich the learning experience of their learners.
- Overcoming the myths: It’s surprising how often the phrase “this won’t work with my students” comes out when you mention using (any) learning technology. It is important when introducing new learning technologies and innovative learning scenarios that these myths are dispelled.
The project funding only covered capital equipment (and a restricted list of capital equipment at that) as a reslt the college needed to provide a project manager, a lead practitioner researcher, m-champions as well as IT, financial, administrative and management support.
As with any project there is what you would like to do, what you should do and what you can do. With the focus on capital and no funding for staff time, even with senior management support and a commitment from college teams, it was not going to be as simple as some would expect. Suggestions were made by the LSN on how to manage and staff your project, so the college took those and modified them to suit local needs and priorities.
The Glossy project allowed Gloucestershire College to implement and develop an infrastructure for mobile learning. This means that the college will continue with mobile learning next year, the year after and so on… Gloucestershire College has started along the road to embedding mobile learning into the blend of delivery mechanisms available to practitioners for teaching and learning. By focusing on the infrastructure behind what is required to support and deliver mobile learning, the college has ensured that through the Glossy project that it has a sustainable, scalable and robust infrastructure that will last many years and will be able to be upgraded as and when needed. Some of the equipment the college has purchased is expected to last up to ten years. Alongside the purchase of hardware, the promotion and marketing of mobile learning has taken place. In the next academic year, learners will be using mobile devices to support their learning, practitioners will be designing, developing and using mobile learning scenarios to enrich and enhance the learning process. At this moment in time mobile learning within Gloucestershire College is digging in, it will start to embed over the next academic year. It is expected within three years that every learner will be using mobile learning at some point in their course to support, enhance or enrich their overall learning experience.
Overall the project was a success and of benefit to the learners and staff in the college.
Lessons for others…
The ethos and philosophy behind our mobile learning project is already been embraced and used by other colleges in the second round of MoLeNET funding. They are using our ideas and approaches for their own mobile learning infrastructure projects. Others are already learning from us, we would like to let others learn from us as well.