Friday, July 29, 2011

Reflection on Learning

I am officially going into my last week of class, and my last class for my masters program. I have learned a lot throughout all my courses, including EPSY 590 Mobile Technology. The following link is my personal reflection on what I have learned throughout this course.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mobile Tool of the Week: Augmented Reality

When I think of augmented reality, what comes to mind are the virtual worlds of individual created avatars; avatars that are very seldom actual representations of the people who created them. I was never personally interested to be a part of those worlds, but can understand the intrigue.

So, researching about augmented reality apps, I was surprised to come across several mobile apps that defied my initial naive assumption. I found an informative blog, describing several of the augmented reality apps for the iPhone. One of the apps that looked really interesting was the Travel Guide with AR: Augmented Geotravel.

It seems long gone are the days of paper atlases and thick Frommer's guides (they have an app too!). I believe my father will have a hard time accepting this reality, and with a family trip in the works for 2013, maybe I will be able to demonstrate the unique advantages of mobile technology.

Within education, this app (along with augmented reality in general) could find many uses. Study abroad students could use the app to plan independent excursions with the ability to learn as they go. Even individual classes/schools could use such apps to explore their own city and produce their own virtual connections. Through educational experiences like the MLC School City Experience project, students could add their own discoveries and reviews to the augmented travel community; providing students an opportunity to learn 21st century skills and connect learning to their real life.

I will have to personally try one of these apps out, but must remember to not get lost within the technology. While walking through a new place, the balance between using technology to gain more/better information about my surroundings and actually stopping to take in and enjoy my surroundings will have to be reached. And just in case my handy new technology fails, I'm sure my dad will have a back up version.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mobile Advocacy Project

(Scan the above QR code to access a Prezi, or go here for online version, corresponding to information below)

Mobile Technology, Mobile Classroom:
Creating a Technology Driven Hearing Itinerant Program

Advocacy Context: I am a hearing itinerant teacher, working for a special education coop. I work with a variety of age/levels of students, who have hearing loss, on a one-to-one/small group basis within various districts and various schools. I travel to multiple schools per day, carrying all of my materials with me. Currently, the available technologies are limited to older laptops, which are bulky, heavy, and limited in interactive educational programs available. Since I travel to multiple schools, I do not have consistent space available to work with students in each school, and do not have consistent access to technology.

What is the mobile hearing classroom?

Advancements in mobile technology have created opportunities to integrate technology easily in the classroom; providing a motivational avenue for students to learn 21st century skills. The Mobile Hearing Classroom (MHC) will be used within the hearing itinerant teaching position to provide individualized learning programs for students with hearing loss within the school district. Mobile technology will greatly enhance the hearing itinerant program by allowing materials and technology to be easily transported from school to school. Utilizing an iPad2, the MHC will integrate technology and 21st century skills within the educational goals of each student; focusing on auditory development, reading and language development, and advocacy skills alongside 21st century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration (Partnership for 21st Century Skills).

Why include mobile technology?

A decade into the new millennium, life, work, and play has rapidly transformed. The industrial age has morphed into the digital age. Life, in all its aspects, is more fluid, more diverse, and more multidimensional. Mobility of peoples, physically and through communication technologies, has created an atmosphere of instant contact, instant connection. This mobility of people, information, and ideas creates a new system of knowledge; thus impacting the way we learn, what we learn, and where we learn (Lambert, M., 2001). Technology has created an avenue for ubiquitous learning. All students must be prepared to utilize technology to expand and build upon their knowledge, developing skills to live and work in the 21st century. Technology in education becomes a motivational force among students in the 21st century. As mobile device ownership and use increase, the connection between the classroom and real life becomes even more important.

Educational Outcomes Using Mobile Technology in Hearing Itinerant Program:

-teaching and learning of and through multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996; Angelo, J., Conners, K., & Helkowski, T., 2009)

-individualized instruction specific to student’s educational goals (Christensen, 2008)

-provide access to technology to bridge the digital divide (Warschauer, M., 2002)

-digital citizenship development (

-create a knowledge network through collaboration of hearing students across various schools/districts

-provide avenue to demonstrate competence of personal advocacy skills

-mobile learning=learning anytime, anywhere

What will it look like?

“Immensely portable, tablets serve as e-readers, video repositories, and web-browsing devices with instant access to thousands of apps—all in one package that easily fits in a book bag, and even replaces the need for the physical books therein (NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition, 2011, p. 14).”

As an itinerant teacher, mobility is important. Advantages of an iPad are beyond simply educational, they are professional too. The variety and number of apps available allow greater amount of opportunities for students to access and create knowledge and knowledge networks. Multiple books and apps, along with internet access (pictures, educational sites, access to collaboration programs) all within one single device expands my repertoire of materials that I can carry for multiple students of multiple levels, as I go from school to school. Along with capacity, the iPad provides students with activities that are interactive and motivational. Since my position is mobile, I have limited access to space within each school building, limiting my access to technology. Students and I, will be able to access learning materials, as well as create a learning environment in an instant wherever we may be. Not only will students be able to use the technology to enhance learning, I will also be able to use the mobile device to collect data, access work email (one of the best ways for me to communicate with all the staff I work with), and plan lessons and create materials on the go. By integrating mobile technology within the goals of hearing services, I will be able to meet my students’ individual goals along with providing them opportunities to develop and strengthen 21st century skills.

Educational Apps & Learning Objectives:

The following are a few examples of apps that would be beneficial for hearing impaired students and the hearing itinerant position. These apps, along with direct instruction on specific skills will create a learning environment that reflects individual needs and the skills needed to live and work in today’s global economy.

EverNote (

-App used to capture moments of learning. Jot down notes, take pictures, collect resources, create folders, and access anywhere. Students will collect information on advocacy skills that can be easily accessed to prepare presentations for their teachers, peers, and families. EverNote Peek ( is also available to use as a studying device for class subjects.

Language Builder

- Improves sentence ideation, formation, and receptive and expressive language. Extensive use of audio clips promotes improved auditory processing for special needs. This app is related to materials that are of physical nature available within the hearing itinerant program, replacing the need to carry multiple supplies.

International Children’s Digital Library (

-A collection of free children's books from around the world, spanning different countries and different cultures. This app can ease transportation issues, as well as allowing for students to highlight/make observational notes within the story as they go along, without “marking up” an actual text.

Collaboration programs (Google docs, diigo, blogs, wikis, podcasts, vodcasts)

-These can be created and accessed via Wifi. These programs are valuable within the creation of knowledge networks that can span classrooms, schools, and districts. For students with hearing loss that are in the mainstream setting, isolation is a challenge. They often do not realize that there are other students with hearing loss; often experiencing a delay in self-identification and social skills. Students will use these programs to develop relationships with other students with hearing loss, sharing experiences, knowledge, and advice. This will strengthen their identity as a person with hearing loss, as well as provide them access to a community of peers.

What supports are needed?

In order to create a hearing itinerant program that is technology driven, certain materials and supports are needed.

-Materials- iPad, appropriate apps, wifi available within all districts: Considering the cost of individual materials, and the time/energy spent in moving materials between schools, the cost of an iPad (used with multiple students) is low

-Professional Development: Training may be needed for classroom teachers to enable students to present advocacy information to class.

-Acceptable use/security policies: Policies will need to be developed that are able to span multiple districts, or each district must create acceptable use/security policy to reflect use of mobile technology in school-allowing access to wifi and appropriate programs.


Angelo, J., Conners, K., & Helkowski, T. (2009). Anywhere learning. Educational Leadership, 66, 6.Retrieved from

iPad Apps:

1. EverNote=

2. EverNote Peek-

3. Language Builder-

4. International Children’s Digital Library-

Christensen, C.M., Horn M.B., & Johnson C.W. (2008). Distrupting Class: How Distruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns, McGraw Hill: New York.


International Children’s Digital Library-

Lambert, M. (2001). 21st century learners and their approaches to learning. Paper presented at the Eighth International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning, Spetses, Greece. Retrieved from

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 1.


Vision of K-12 students-

21st Century Pedagogy-

Warschauer, M. (2002). Reconceptualizing the digital divide. First Monday, Volume 7, Number 7. Retrieved from

QR Codes, Museums, and Equality

Reading chapter 12 of Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training (2009) for class, my thoughts kept coming back to QR codes. If anything, you can call me smitten with the little block of black and white. The chapter, called Using Mobile Technologies for Multimedia Tours in a Traditional Museum Setting (Laura Naismith & M. Paul Smith, 2009), explores the possibility of using mobile devices to enhance the learning experience within a museum. Museum goers were given the option between "two Flash-based multimedia tours," (p. 247) which included the use of handheld devices, promoting a "nonlinear exploration of the museum" with objects built into an overarching narrative (Naismith, L. & Smith, M.P., 2009, p. 253).

Since older museums are limited in their ability to alter the layout or structure of the displays, these multimedia tours were to supplement the already existing structure of the museum, easily transforming a static display into an interactive one. The authors describe how museums are meant to create "free-choice learning," (p. 249), allowing participants to investigate, explore, and develop new knowledge at their own pace, in their own style. "A common problem faced by museums is that visitors often do not make good use of the range of learning opportunities that they offer...Mobile technology can support visitors by providing both location-based information and guidance through this information based on the learner's interests and needs," (Naismith, L. & Smith, M.P., 2009, p.250 ).

Through low/no power positioning technologies within the handheld device (barcodes, RFID, infrared), the study was able to assess the benefit of such tours and the negative/positive aspects of each technology. Barcodes and RFID were deemed unacceptable due to cost of software programs to use them, as well as the display of the codes were deemed aesthetically displeasing and harder to use. The infrared technologies were deemed the most appropriate.

Most recently, QR codes have begun to spring up within museums, allowing persons with smartphones to access further information on a specific museum piece or display, and possibly creating a learning community where participants can add their own thoughts and memories (see QR Codes in National Museum of Scotland).

QR codes are cheap, easy to create and display, and are a great way to access information and communities in an instant. But if they are going be used more and more within education and public life, including within a museum setting, equality of access must be continually considered.

1. Ownership of smartphone-Not everyone owns a cell phone, let alone a smartphone. Though QR readers are free, the phone is not. If a museum includes QR codes, they should consider providing loan devices to be able for everyone to access the same information.

2. Ability to scan-Even if one has a smartphone, the ability to hold a phone steady enough to scan a QR code may vary from person to person. The museum staff (or educational staff) must be willing accommodate those students who may not be able to successfully scan the QR codes themselves.

3. Access to linked information-It is often custom for museums to provide audio to supplement the displays (including the study), and QR codes can be linked to videos as well. This information would not be accessible for the Deaf community. QR codes then could be made that are linked to a visual representation of information, American Sign Language, that would be beneficial for people who are Deaf. Also, for print information that is linked to the QR codes, audio versions would be beneficial for the blind.

It is exciting to think about the possibilities of these technologies and the opportunities to connect "just in time" learning in the real world, to learning within the classroom. Even with my excitement, I must always consider the implications of the technology and equal access.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dewey & the Mobile Classroom

Currently, I am taking two courses through the University of Illinois Educational Policy program, both (Mobile Learning EPSY 590, Technology & Ethics EPS 415) focused on technology in education. I found that ideas, reflections, and questions span both classes. Throughout these courses, I have begun to really delve into the implications of integrating technology within my teaching, not only philosophically but also practically. Though this blog is intended to reflect thoughts on the Mobile Learning course, I am also creating a group blog for a specific project in Technology & Ethics. In doing so, my thoughts often overlap, and I thought that instead of writing a completely new blog post, I will share one I posted for my group blog; ultimately linking one knowledge network or community with another one.

Please note that the entire blog is still under construction, still awaiting final posts and polishing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Technology for All

In reading Professor Pianfetti's recent blog post, I thought about the value of technology for groups with special needs, especially for students who are Deaf or hearing impaired. Before smartphones became popular, T-mobile had the sidekick. With the ability to text, instant message, and email, the Sidekick revolutionized the way the Deaf community communicated.

Historically, the Deaf community has had to deal with limited avenues for communication across time and distances. Before the teletype machine became popular, Deaf people would need to have a hearing person relay a message for them or travel to the person's house they wanted to talk to, with the possibility that their friend would not be home or would be busy. Routine social gatherings became popular, allowing Deaf individuals to be surrounded by friends who spoke the same language, sharing experiences, stories, and jokes. The Deaf community was limited to the area of which the group members could travel.

As the teletype, or the telecommunication device became more readily available, Deaf
persons were able to communicate more easily; being able to call their doctor, or a
business, or a friend when they needed to, as long as the person they were calling had a TTY as well. Soon though, the telecommunication relay service was developed to provide people who are Deaf the ability to call people who are hearing directly, even if they did not have a TTY. As technology advanced, the TRS became the VRS or video relay service. Using a webcam and the internet, Deaf people could use a live interpreter to transmit their message through their first language. With the introduction of the Sorenson Videophone, Deaf people could easily connect and communicate to other Deaf/hearing impaired persons comfortably in their own home.

Currently, the possibilities for Deaf people to communicate freely is expanding rapidly. The Sprint Video Relay Service App and now the iPhone 4 Face Time option allow quicker communication anytime, anywhere.

Telecommunication systems have improved, creating better access and greater capabilities for communicating across time and space. Along with the introduction of vlogs, Web 2.0 and mobile technology have allowed the Deaf community to expand outside the smaller neighborhood communities, as well as given exposure to a unique language and culture. Even with such improvements, what more can be done? Netflix recently has increased their list of streaming movies available with subtitles, but not all have them ( And with the thousands of educational videos on Youtube or TeacherTube that would be beneficial for the classroom, very few have subtitles. With the burgeoning repertoire of videos, clips, and presentations available for educational use, the issue of access must be thrown to the forefront of technology and education discussions. We have come a long way, but not far enough.

Monday, July 11, 2011

QR Codes in the Real World

It always seems that once you learn about something, it ends up popping up everywhere. This has become true for me with QR codes. Before this summer, I really had no idea what they were and I had maybe seen them once or twice but did not know the specifics. With my research and posting last week, I became much more interested and intrigued at the capabilities of these QR codes and the possibilities for use in the classroom. Since my last post, I have encountered QR codes several times (more times than I have in the past year) in the past few days.

1. Traveling to a family reunion in Wisconsin, I rode along with my sister. Talking with her about the current classes I was taking, our talk eventually turned to QR codes (I had sent my sister a link about them, saying we should use them for our next family scavenger hunt). As we were talking, my sister was flipping through a magazine. Lo and behold, a QR code popped up on one of the pages. Having not downloaded a QR code on my iPhone yet, we quickly downloaded one, filled with excitement to see what happened when we scanned the little box of black lines. Attached to a story about a band, the QR code once scanned, led us to a video of a live performance by the band, streaming from youtube. As we listened and watched the song, we were amazed at how easily physical text could be integrated with mobile phone technology. The QR code gave us something that was not possible with text alone: it gave us an opportunity to bring to life the description of the band, listening to a
song in an instant. Our reading experience became multidimensional. (See example page below from Relevant magazine.)

2. The other instance I encountered QR codes this past weekend was later that night at a local musical festival. When entering the festival, there was a sign promoting the event with a large QR code in the center. It promoted a prize drawing for those who scanned the QR code with multiple opportunities to scan multiple codes. Once I scanned the sign, I was directed to a site where I could enter my name and phone number in order to enter the drawing. I was given another QR code card when I bought food, and found a complete list of where I could scan various QR codes; festival workers tshirts, at different stores around town, and at different community sites throughout town. It ultimately was a large advertising campaign for the town.

Example of QR codes in advertising

As I have thought more about QR codes, I began to think about the possibilities for students whose first language is not English, most relevant for me, students whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL). One of the greatest challenges for students who are Deaf is developing English language skills. High school students who are deaf typically graduate with a 4th grade reading level. The nuances of English, especially within textbooks, are difficult to understand when reading is one dimensional. Often times, teachers of Deaf students will have students read a text, then have it signed in their own language, either by the teacher or by the students. This allows greater comprehension of a written language through a visual language. QR codes could create an avenue to bring difficult texts to the level of the reader. It seems possible, that a QR code connected to a specific text could be a link to a visual representation of the reading, presenting the text visually through sign language. This allows the student to read independently, with a greater possibility of genuine comprehension. The students could ultimately be asked to create their own videos corresponding to readings, allowing the student to show competence in reading English and translating it to ASL.

Though I must move on from my QR inquiry to explore other tech devices, apps, and programs, I will still be brainstorming ideas on how to incorporate QR codes into special education. And I hope to create my own QR code soon.