Mobile Digiquest: Developing rich media reflective practitioners

Mills, Keren and Thomas, Rhodri (2008). Mobile Digiquest: Developing rich media reflective practitioners. In: Handheld Learning 2008, 13-15 Oct 2008, London, UK.



Mobile technologies, well-established as business tools, have now become more educationally-appropriate through integration of improved multimedia functionality. User-generated content and related activities have encouraged a transition from academic content creation to greater student collaboration across a range of platforms, which are increasingly mobile. With a greater awareness of 'citizen journalism' approaches, our students are becoming more familiar with using mobile technology in recounting their experiences.

Our own staff surveys have indicated that these techniques are not commonplace internally, and while the greater majority of staff use their camera phones, few feel confident in transferring their rich media elsewhere. Within a wider framework of institutional knowledge-sharing, the OU's Digilab and educational professional development have included opportunities to explore m-learning further.

Supported by device loans and emulation tools, the Digilab has provided a range of self-exploratory facilities which have been leveraged by increasing numbers of guided sessions and hands-on Digiquest activities. Other project work in the university has explored capturing local environments and language in residential schools, and a framework for remote fieldwork. Through offering sessions using commonly available technologies, including participants' camera phones, MMS and online mobile-blogging tools, our activities have demonstrated the ease with which rich media can enhance group work and reflection.

Building on case studies from other institutions and related research in the field we have constructed two main themes:

* Location-based approach, making use of existing physical trails around the campus, integrating with GPS/geocaching activity;
* Scenario-based approach, working within a teaching and learning context, capturing practice through use of participant role-play.

A number of considerations have arisen for further exploration. Technically, it is difficult to filter content and transcode/modify media sent by MMS so that all participants can access the same material.

In creating the activities it was essential to take a more guided peer-learning approach, pairing, where possible, a more adept participant with novice users. The activity worked better when blended with a purpose e.g. creating practice-based course activities. Participants were able to reflect and extend their experiences after the face-to-face session through the mobile-blog.

In this presentation we aim to outline the steps taken in providing these staff development opportunities and our future expectations of providing a return path for user-generated mobile rich media.

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