mobile first, a musing

a recent buzz word related to development at work — mobile first, or more specifically mobile first design — is today a key consideration for content providers and technological solution builders as mobile devices are everywhere, and these devices serve as one key source through which we consume contents around us. but, is mobile first the sole consideration, where learning is concerned? well, how about this — if there’s a first, there’s a second? mobile first certainly does not mean mobile #only; so what’s next?

(acknowledgement: (c)联合早报 副刊 Lianhe Zaobao 5th Jun 2019)

any discussion of technology and learning (or ‘digital learning’ some would prefer), it is always #ThinkAffordances — what is your design/objectives of learning, and how can technology (e.g. feature/function/tool/app/platform) enable your desired learning design? those of us who have experienced it would agree with me that chat (aka instant msging; e.g. WhatsApp), and even fb wall post+comments do not quite afford deep discussions that lead to rise-above of ideas. expressing individual’s ideas is easy; but to build on each other’s ideas, extend the ideas, improve on the ideas, counter-propose arguments, provide different perspectives, many of these acts of co-creating a common meaning is lost within the scrolling messages. in short, fb wall post+comments set up do not afford deep (digital) learning, currently.

so, what does? discussion forums (DF) do afford deep learning as described above (of cos, i will propose that knowledge forum (KF) is specially designed for this and is thus good-er). however, DF as we know it traditionally (oh btw, it’s a 20+ yr old technology), does not go well with the idea of mobile first design. the way discussions’ organised on screen traditionally, including threading, quoting, branching off, referencing back to other posts, is difficult to automatically fit on screens while displaying the discussions in way visually good for participants or readers of discussions. DF, in order to become mobile-first needs a rethink of its good old interface.

the term DF still invokes a tool-centric perspective. taking the affordance perspective, we can, and should examine what are the affordances of DF (and even KF) in enabling deep learning, and create them within existing mobile-first friendly solutions. in the process, DF as we have experienced it, may become a past, and it’s perfectly fine from a technological advancement perspective. the affordances of DF lives on.

going back to the fb wall post+comments idea, how can we improve it to afford deep learning per DF? first, we will need to invoke the concept of sub-walls (cf. discussion threads; sub-forums), where there can be more than one walls (cf. fb). and here’s probably a list of ‘requirements’ i would like to see:

  • there can be any number of sub-walls as a learner chooses to maintain.
  • to create a new sub-wall, one can select any existing post from the main wall or any sub-wall (together with existing likes, sharing info and comments), and pipe it into the new sub-wall.
  • each sub-wall has an unique identifier (e.g. a URL) that enables one to link back or to point to it in any post, comment in any (sub-)wall.
  • sub-walls will be arranged in reverse chronological order by default; and so are the posts and comments within.
  • one are allowed to pin any sub-wall, or any post within it, so that it is always on-top.
  • one can create and add a title/topic for each sub-wall to indicate the discourse topic to other participant/viewer.
  • one can define and add tag(s) to a sub-wall to facilitate personal classification, search and retrieval
  • everyone can add comments to any contents within a sub-wall
  • when adding a comment in sub-wall, one can upload images, documents, media, hyperlinks as part of the comment
  • visually, one should be able to easily identify any sub-wall that contains a new activity or reply/ to him/her; the ‘new’-ness visual cue is individualised and user-specific.
  • visually, within a sub-wall, one should see up to 3 levels of hierarchical nesting for comments to a post. this hierarchical view allows one to easily identify the relationship among comments and to focus their attention over selected comment(s) as desired.
  • participants will receive notification of new comment added to a sub-wall to enable them to return to continue the discourse (viewer can choose to follow and be notified too)

to end off, #mobilefirst (design) is not #mobileOnly (design); learning sciences folks can do wonders with computing folks when the two groups pool their brains together (:

to end off x2, finally, may i wish my Muslim friends:

(acknowledgement: creator unknown; as seen shared by darren)

[afternote] a note for self, it took 5 hours for this post to be first mooted in the morning while flipping newspaper, to connecting it with an idea@work, to typing and organising the ideas, to finally publishing it to the www & fb. now, who says learning (online) is fast? not for the slow-learner-me definitely (:

Reflection on 5 K-12 Technology Trends for 2010

found this THE Journal article via TuckSoon’s blog, and thought perhaps i can write some thoughts as well. haven been able to post much meaningful things to this space for a long while … the five (5) trends:

1. eBooks Will Continue to Proliferate
i’m not sure how popular eBooks are with our youth or in our classrooms. personally i dont own one, nor like to own one at this point in time. staring at a monitor/screen whole day long a work is enough for me, no more screen per se; plus an eBook is still not built for quick browsing; reliant on power source is always an issue for any electronic device. if u’re like me who likes to use a pen/pencil/highlighters to draw/scribble in a (text)book, or even to fold pages of a book as bookmarks, an eBook doesnt seem to be able to meet my needs. last but not least, i’m worried for our world-class myopia rate among youth.

improving presentation aside, as mentioned in the article, i think an eBook will really be of value and not just electronic paper, if any content in the book will seamlessly link me to the larger community, as large as the internet, as close as my study mates. ideas can be exchanged, explored and clarified while one reads from an eBook. perhaps the eBook techonology has reached this stage and i’m totally unaware of it? utterly possible. if so, i would like to play with one and explore its capabilities for learning and teaching in the classroom.

2. Netbook Functionality Will Grow
we juz gotten ourselves an acer aspireone recently, as the price was too attractive to be missed on a purchase-with-purchase deal. after using so many different laptops all these years, i only like three things abt a netbook (1) lightweight (2) long battery life (3) relatively cheap full-capability computing device (not suitable for CPU or graphics intensive application though). i’m not quite sure what other functionality the author hopes to see, but personally if a netbook can be turned into a TabletPC with stylus input (not touchscreen type, e.g. kohjinsha, asus t91; but TC1100 for e.g.). if the true tabletPC stylus input capability is extended to the netbook, it would allow for an additional way for students to interact with the device.

3. More Teachers Will Use Interactive Whiteboards
anyone who’s been into a classroom can testify the importance of a black/whiteboard. however, the ‘light speed’ development of ICT doesnt seem to quite catch up with this one single piece of ‘educational technology’ in our classroom. personally, i would be most happy if more teachers have the chance to access and use an IWB in his/her classroom. though some may argue that an IWB promotes mostly frontal teaching, well, i would say frontal teaching wont go away even if there isnt the IWB. it’s a change in the pedagogy of the teacher that should be looked into, and i believe an IWB will be able to find it’s place for any methodology/pedagogy a teacher chooses to adopt. here’s a lesson i had cooked while imagining i had an IWB in the classroom. yes, the sad fact is i have never had the chance to teach in a classroom with IWB.

4. Personal Devices Will Infiltrate the Classroom
this would be true if it’s not already been so. once again, the key question here is how a school and/or a teacher would harness the positive impact of such a trend. if i recall, most, if not all telcos, are allowing unlimited smses for their student plans. if only i can cheaply and easily acquire a device attached to my laptop that can receive sms responses from students, assessment for learning would be made an instantaneous reality. how nice (:

5. Technology Will Enable Tailored Curricula
reading from the article, i do not doubt the capability of our LMS vendors to further enhance their capabilities to track students’ performances. i think the difficulty for a teacher would be how can i manage these wealth of data (that’s a nice way to say data OVERLOADING). our teacher to student ratio is still far from the day (if this day will ever come) when a teacher can comfortably tailor his/her instructions to recognise the diverse capabilities and learning needs of individual students. it’s not a technological issue here, but a human plus a larger systemic and reality issue that we’re looking at over here.

…. it’s getting late … time to sleep … (:

Tools for the classroom

Saw this post by Christopher D. Sessums on the tools he had experimented with his students in one semester. I counted tools, just to name a few:

  • the Google suite: docs, spreadsheets, reader, scholar, ….
  • journaling: Blogger, WordPress
  • concept maps: Gliffy, Bubblous, Wisdomap, and MindMeister
  • media/presentation: Audacity, Jing, Prezi, VoiceThread, Wordle

and many more …. you should read the posting and be AWED 😛

how i wish i can experiment some, if not all, of these tools with students back in school 🙁