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Innovative, unusual and "last mile" models for integrating technology and learning

Colleagues,

A Digital Promise article about innovative uses of technology -- including taking mobile digital devices to the orchards and dairy farms where migrant laborers work, English language learning by cell phone for public school janitors, and a library family literacy program that includes library loans to students of hubs and tablets -- makes me wonder what other innovative, unusual or "last mile" (i.e. bringing technology to the learner) strategies are out there. If you are aware of one, or your program has one, tell us about it.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning, and Program Management CoPs

djrosen123@gmail.com

Comments

rwessel51's picture
One hundred

In the past, I’ve made recordings of things we read in class or materials I created myself to supplement class work, burned them to CDs, and given them to learners to listen in their cars as homework. More recently, I’ve used cheap MP3 setups my program purchased to do the same thing. The latter is based on something I do myself: I copy language courses onto a cheap MP3 player, put the MP3 player under my hat, and listen to the course while I’m doing yard work. As long as it doesn’t create a safety hazard, the learners can do the same thing at their jobs. If the MP3 player gets damaged or lost, it’s not a big deal because the entire setup of MP3 player, headphones, micro SD card, and wall charger is less than $15.

I showed another tutor how to do this and she now records supplemtary materials and the learners’ own writings and assigns listening to them as homework. She has also started lending laptops, which might be the reason for a sudden spike in new enrollments. Word gets out.

We’re considering getting inexpensive tablets to loan out when the program has a little extra money to spend. My program qualified for a free site licence from SoftMaker, whose presentation tool allows you to embed audio in instructional presentations the same way PowerPoint does. When saved in .pptx format, these presentations can be played on any device that runs either the free PowerPoint Viewer or the free version of SoftMaker Presentations. Almost every device runs either one or the other. MovieMaker and other videos can also be run. Amazon has a good quality Kindle for less than $50, so, again, if it gets lost or damaged, it’s not as bad as losing a laptop.

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hello Robert,

Thanks for these great examples of inexpensive strategies for incorporating technology in adult basic skills learning. I think other programs could easily adopt your MP3 player strategy. I got a little lost on the SoftMaker strategy and wish I could see what it looks and feels like. This made me wonder if you have thought of making, or have already made, simple short videos in which you demonstrate these engaging, low-cost teaching and learning strategies. If you do have videos of what they look like and how they work -- or if the idea of making videos about them interests you enough to make them now -- please post the links here. I would love to see them and think others might be interested too.

In any case, thanks for posting about these.

David Rosen

djrosen123@gmail.com

Moderator, Technology and Learning, and Program Management CoPs

 

 

rwessel51's picture
One hundred

David,

You’ve already seen a bit of what the SoftMaker strategy looks like. The presentation I gave in Charleston (http://www.shoreliteracy.org/temporary/ProLiteracy_Conference_Presentation_ESLC.pptx) was developed with SoftMaker Presentations and run under Microsoft PowerPoint. Except for the static from my hands wreaking havoc with the laptop touchpad, it worked fine.

Creating a better example is on my mile-long list of things to do, but in the meantime, the Charleston presentation does give some idea of what can be done. There is no audio, but I did embed a video in the presentation. The video was created with SoftMaker Presentations. I exported the slides to a series of JPEG images which I then imported into Windows MovieMaker and merrged with the audio to create the movie. I could just as well have embedded the audio clips into the corresponding SoftMaker slides and played it as a presentation.

As a double check, I just ran the presentation under PowerPoint Viewer on a desktop, Microsoft Office Suite Free on a Kindle Fire HD tablet, and the free Microsoft Office on a Nexus 7 tablet. The video played perfectly on all three. (I had some problems on my Dell laptop, but I think that was because PowerPoint Viewer and some other software I have on the computer were getting in the way of one another.)

About a year ago, as a companion to an in-house training session I did, I created detailed instructions on how to use Audacity to make recordings that could be included in presentations or copied to MP3 players, learners’ smart phones, and so on. Here is the link: http://www.shoreliteracy.org/tutorBlog/?p=17  If you left-click on the screen shots, a full-sized image will appear, which will be easier to see.

Bob

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Thanks Bob. Yes, of course, I remember your great presentation in the technology panel at the ProLiteracy Conference in Charleston, SC, and I am delighted that you made the connection to that for me here. As I just again watched the embedded video of the directions to the Onley Community Center in your slides I chuckled that I had named this thread "last mile" strategies because in the video, Carlos, who thinks he is lost, is nearby to the Health Clinic, perhaps even within the last mile, when he calls for directions.

Everyone: Bob has provided web links in the slide show he linked to that should be useful if you want to try out his strategy, some how-to steps using (all or mostly all) free tools. This is very interesting to me because those who want to learn how to integrate technology often cannot attend technology training workshops or courses, often need to learn things on their own, or prefer to learn that way. Bob has provided step-by-step, user-friendly resources that will help to do that. Given how generously Bob has contributed his ideas and knowledge here, perhaps he might be willing to offer help if you get stuck, but you'll have to check with him on that.

If you would like to learn how to use a new tool such as Windows , Softmaker , Audacity, or Windows Moviemaker, try out the links Bob provided and let us know if you were able to learn how to use  and integrate these tools on your own or, if not, where you got stuck.  I love the idea of members of this community of practice learning how to make things, learning new digital tools -- from each other! That's an important dimension of a community of practice that I would love to see our community of practice become. (Or maybe it already has?)

David J. Rosen

Technology and Learning CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

rwessel51's picture
One hundred

David,

This morning I found my source materials and threw together a couple of modules that better demonstrate how SoftMaker Presentations can be used to create instructional, multimedia "PowerPoints" that can be played on any device that can run free versions of either SoftMaker Presentations of Microsoft PowerPoint. This is virtually any fairly-recent device, so it's scalable.

You can find a little more info and download links for the modules at this link: http://www.shoreliteracy.org/tutorBlog/?p=555

I used the free PowerPoint viewer to test the modules on a desktop and a laptop, and the free Microsoft Office app on a Nexus 7 (Android). They worked flawlessly. There is no Microsoft Office app in the Kindle store, so I used Softmaker's free Presentations HD Full. For some reason, the audio played automatically in the version where it wasn't supposed to, but otherwise it ran perfectly on a Fire HD tablet too.

Bob

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