Mobile Education Opps and Apps from UM’s Soloway

I’ve been on a real mobile kick lately. Dusting off Rheingold’s book, reading up on mobile tech for library reference, and much more. I’m not the only one! UM Prof. Soloway has come up with software to help facilitate using cell phones as education technology devices in the classroom. Check it out – he’s a bit of a character.

One response to “Mobile Education Opps and Apps from UM’s Soloway

  1. WAPEDUC : Mobile learning

    Developing a platform leading to school success through mobile phones.

    Philippe STEGER
    Lycée Jules Guesde
    34080 Montpellier


    Since more and more pupils have their own mobile/cell phones and are attracted by sophisticated low cost – 1 €-mobile/cell phones, new ways of getting learning and teaching resources can be offered to both pupils and teachers.
    Mobile/cell phones tend to become Personal Assistants.

    The chance for pupils to get complementary lessons, short documents about health and orientation, recorded messages and question papers anywhere and at anytime (on the bus, at home or in study rooms) lead to extended fields of research programs. Besides WAPEDUC allows pupils to learn or revise during their spare time (

    The number of families connected to the Internet is still low if compared to that of families possessing one or more mobile/cell phones.

    The main interest of this system lies in the fact that it is opened to everyone and it is quite cheap.

    The aim of this innovative teaching strategy is to allow any pupil to get information about the contents of his/her future lessons and to self-assess himself/herself at the end of each lesson by means of an interactive question paper. Furthermore a search engine and a “training” program and a page devoted to teenagers’ problems are available on the “mobile learning” platform.

    Other projects such as short texts which pupils could read before attending class, the presentation of sketches and diagrams, mathematical reminders, recorded messages and videos used in language lessons, can be considered as efficient and well targeted tools which prove to be complementary to school lessons.

    Pupils choose themselves the moment when they want to consult the platform. This autonomous behaviour is resourceful and can lead every pupil to use the platform at the end of each school week.

    For the time being, the learning platform offers 4 main themes:

    – Lessons and self-assessment question papers
    – Advices concerning orientation for studies
    – A page devoted to domestic phone numbers for Health and advices.
    – A culture program
    The teacher and its pupils can communicate: the teacher upload resources from a computer and the child consults them on his cellular.

    Concept and developing

    I/ Backing pupils in their learnings : learning through mobile phones.

    The Lycée Jules Guesde Montpellier (34) in France are experimenting pilot projects in information and communication technologies in the teaching area (TICE). Both are supported by the region teaching organisations/authorities -“Académie”- and the “Rectorat” in Montpellier. The two projects aim at developing pupils’ “virtual desks”.

    As more and more pupils do resort to mobile/cell phones, the “cult-object” (sacred object) is likely to become a privileged means of communication between pupils and teachers.
    Within the framework of new teaching ergonomics, this new way of linking pupils and teachers together is worth being underlined.

    A/ An internet terminal for everyone:
    Since more and more pupils have their own mobile/cell phones and are attracted by sophisticated mobile/cell phones resembling PDA, new ways of getting school materials can be offered to pupils and teachers. Nearly 100% French pupils own mobile/cell phones, whether they are in “college” or “lycée”.

    One can easily foresee that every French teenager will possess his own mobile/cell phone and will have one within his family by 2009. Time has come to think about the resources they can be presented with.

    B/ Type of resources and school contents :
    Only a few consulting spaces are offered through the use of mobile/cell phones – weather forecast, the Stock Exchange, phone books, entertainment booking. So far no school space is available.

    A synthetic lesson and a question paper can be efficient in a “self-validating” process to check if new words, concepts, notions and formulas as seen in class have been understood.

    Lessons available on mobile/cell phones should be viewed as complementary to that delivered by teachers in classes.

    The newest aspect of such a program is the way teachers and pupils will be able to communicate together. Indeed what is essential is the “validation” aspect of question papers. And this is what pupils ask for.

    Interactivity and fighting against school failures are at the heart of the project.

    Lessons and questions are progressively lined for every class level and main school subjects – eg pupils from 10 to 20. By now 830 lessons and question papers are available.

    Many teachers have joined the project. Spanish, German and computing lessons will be presented in September 2005. The same process could easily be widened to every class, from infant schools to 3-5-8 levels, bearing in mind precise teaching goals in every school subject.

    Thus, a primary school teacher gave his CM1 and CM2 pupils (10-11 years old) a question paper by the means of/with their parents’ mobile/cell phones about the notions he had taught them in class the month before.

    C/ The teachers’ task:
    You only have to connect yourself to and send the .doc lesson to the same mail address.

    After being authorized by a reading committee, the resources you worked on will be available on the Internet and on your mobile/cell phone.

    To put it in a nutshell, there are 3 ways for us to get lesson materials:

    – Resources sent by teachers willing to integrate “Mobile Learning” within their teaching practises
    – Resources already available on the Internet and whose publishing is allowed by their authors
    – Lessons and exercises written by the authors members of the Wapeduc network.

    The experiment is being conducted among 120 pupils in Primary School, 1400 pupils in Colleges and 4000 students (20 forms) in colleges in Montpellier Académy. Only in the Hérault Département the number of daily connections can vary from 1200 to 1700.

    After the Baccalauréat 2008, we had 92.000 pages viewed on 6 days.

    D/ Benefits for pupils:
    Perfectly mastering the numerous menus on their mobile/cell phones, pupils and students are nonetheless surprised to discover a wider range of their mobile phones’ facilities. Unlike the PCs they use in their colleges, they can use their own machine and they are the only ones to choose the moment they can consult lessons. They are attached to this autonomous attitude and no doubt they will end the school week by resorting to the habit. A committee is in charge of assessing scholar benefits for the pupils: its conclusions will be published around smmer 2009.

    The game-like aspect of the connection should not go without teacher’s ability to write a well targeted question paper about any lesson authorized by National Education certifications.

    E/ How much does it cost?:

    The GPRS and UMTS technologies allow “Kilo-octet” bills/invoicing.
    Since each lesson is about 1 to 5 Kilo-bytes, the real cost of each consulting should not reach a few Euro cents, the average consulting lasting 4 seconds, hence 4/3600 of a traditional one-hour subscription/contract.

    WapEduc is free access

    The lowering down of costs for the users will affect the mobile/cell phoning field. Contracts need to be established so as to consider “mobile-learning” as a particular area and as such with particular prices conditions.

    PDA and transferring files between pupils through infrared links, Bluetooth and Wifi are also resorted to.

    II/ What is at stake with “Mobile Learning”?

    A/ What already exists on the Internet.
    You can find a wide range of services on the Internet, which one could call “Tele-Teaching”or “Remote Training/Learning”.

    The most widely spread system offers resources – under the form of notes or lessons- together with tests such as MCQP. The most complete services offer many Hypertext links, animated documents, diagrams and assessment parts.

    You need to pay to have an access to such sites either it be by paying some set price for a whole program or by having subscribed to private lessons. These platforms show good-quality resources and satisfactory ergonomics. One shall praise this type of work.

    B/ The pupils’ so-called needs.
    Mostly pupils having scholar difficulties are likely to resort to remote learning process.
    The whole Learning on the Internet has been induced as follows :
    – “I’ve got bad marks or I didn’t understand the maths or French lesson for instance”
    – “I’m going home. I’m switching the PC on. I’m surfing on the site my parents paid for so as to revise a lesson I haven’t understood. I’m doing a few exercises: after not understanding the lesson, I can calmly master it.”
    It never happens this way !
    – “I will be able to understand next lesson and the other pupils won’t overtake me.”

    In this sequence lies a serious contradiction: pupils who meet difficulties in class will not seek the information themselves because they can’t picture themselves as learning individuals bending over a sheet of paper or sitting in front of a computer, being faced with a language they fail to understand and which ends they don’t get.
    Besides their parents paid for the connection, which doubles the young’s weariness with guilt.

    C/ Traditional remote learning :
    One becomes aware of the fact that traditional remote learning is based upon highly questionable stock ideas
    – Pupils meeting with difficulties are willing to work on computers, this machine being able to attract their attention and making learning easier, an opinion shared by people working in traditional remote learning.
    – Costs don’t need to be taken into account.
    – Lining up resources is enough to make them efficient in a learning process
    – Everyone is connected to the unlimited high-speed Internet.

    D/ “Mobile learning”:
    E-learning is far from the process as formerly described.
    In order to avoid the paradoxical aspect of such a process and avoid its secondary effects, here is what is needed:

    – The system should be accessible without delay and to everyone
    – The access should be almost free – a few euro cents per lesson
    – The means of getting in touch with the learning information -ie computers- for pupils with school difficulties should be widely spread – which is not the case
    – Dialogue with teachers should be possible at any time
    – Assessment and following the pupils’ progress should be available
    – The communication between pupils and machines should be formally easy
    – Pupils should revise their lessons and improve their knowledge whenever and wherever they like, – freely choosing the frequency and the length of their connections so as to be the most efficient.

    Mobiless are perfect means of offering pupils some school contents.

    Mobiles phones rightly answer pupils’needs to be backed while they learn as well as their wish to be mobile while they learn.


    In january 2009, 1100 lessons and question papers can be found on line (from 10 years old classes to specific classes such as 2 years post-A-Level) and they are therefore available through mobile phones and the Internet.

    First of all, by trying to develop an innovative teaching strategy, by trying to elaborate well targeted question papers, by trying to offer only one simple teaching subject and all its interactive developments, there’s no doubt that the program will allow teachers to elaborate more adapted lessons for pupils.

    Secondly, other projects can be viewed as individualized learning lessons. They can be short texts which can be read on mobile/cell phones before classes, presentations of schemas or video extracts (.3GP), reminders of mathematical formulas before tests or on line recorded messages in order to learn a language (GPRS and UMTS Technologies).

    The other 4 menus are essential since they offer a true “Mobile-learning” platform which can give pupils information and advice about themes like health and jobs. These datas are directly available by a search engine and a “Training course” program.

    A web site devoted to mobile teaching
    – Projects under scrutiny : SMS and/or MMS sent monthly to follow pupils’works results-related lessons sent to pupils
    – Maps to be used in Geography classes, diagram to be used in “SVT” (Biology) classes, videos used in History classes (UMTS, EDGE).

    How to get access to the system ?

    1/ Connecting yourself to your PC on, you will be able to use virtual telephones and thus realize what the program looks like on your mobile/cell phone.

    2/ Getting to the WAP menu on your mobile/cell phone and write , you will be connected to a “mobile learning” platform.

    Philippe Steger
    Februry 2009

    Wapeduc ©


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