The idea of students interacting with an automated teaching system is central to the Bob project. Many other people are promoting an idea called mLearning or Mobile Learning:
"Given its definition m-learning could very well be a new form of personal learning that never ends, allowing more and more people to realize how much of our lifetimes on this planet are truly extended adventures in personal learning.
"The advocates of lifelong learning have been advocating this very change in how we conceive, design and deliver education. Individuals are constantly learning, searching, questioning and acknowledging new information from the environment they operate in, no matter what their interest or specialization is. Unless your work assignment is something that a computer or other automated machine could take over from you, an increasing number of work activities depend on your ability to learn and familiarize yourself with a continuosly growing array of new concepts and ideas." [Photo: mLearning at a museum]
Some researchers are testing the use of SMS messaging in the classroom. That would be interesting. Instead of teachers telling the students to put their phones away they'll be saying, "Turn to page 35, take out your mobile phone and send me a message on question #6."
From Using short message service to encourage interactivity in the classroom:
"Interactivity in the classroom is reported to promote a more active learning environment, facilitate the building of learning communities, provide greater feedback for lecturers, and help student motivation. Various definitions of interactivity exist in the literature, alternately focusing on the participants, structure and technology. The PLS TXT UR Thoughts research project builds on existing definitions to define interactivity as a message loop originating from and concluding with the student. The authors chose to introduce mobile phones and short message service (SMS) within the classroom due to the ubiquity of mobile phones among students and the interactive potential of SMS. SMS is a low-threshold application used widely by students to quickly send concise, text-based messages at any time. The research presented involved students sending SMS in real-time, in class, via their personal mobile phones. Using a modem interfacing with customised software to produce SMS files, the lecturer can view the messages and verbally develop the interactive loop with students during class. The SMS are available online after class, allowing interactive loops to further develop via threaded comments."
This is an idea rather close to mine about creating an audio tour for students at a popular student location like a shopping mall. It could even be interactive through SMS or MMS.
From Supporting Mobile Language Learning outside Classrooms:
"The continuous development of wireless and mobile technologies has allowed the creation of an additional platform for supporting learning, one that can be embedded in the same physical space in which the learning is taking place. This paper describes a computer supported ubiquitous learning environment for language learning, called LOCH (Languagelearning Outside the Classroom with Handhelds). In the environment, the teacher assigns field activities to the students, who go around the town to fulfill them and share their individual experiences. The main aim of this project, called One Day Trip with PDA, was to integrate the knowledge acquired in the classroom and the real needs of the students in their daily life."
mLearning can be used by students outside the classroom to make an instant blog of what they see, feel and experience.
From Moblogging for ESOL
"M-learning is a powerful tool for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages). In a recent example, ten adult ESOL learners became ‘photo journalists’ for the college open day. They created a photo diary of events using camera phones and sent their pictures, along with captions, to an e-mail address that automatically published them to a publicly-available web site. To prepare for the event, learners looked at published photo stories on the Internet and analysed the language and content to learn about styles and structures that would be useful in writing their own photo diary. The project proved so successful in engaging learners that even the most hesitant members of the class (e.g. a lady in her 60s, who had never used a mobile phone before, and a visually impaired learner) not only took part, but also found the experience very rewarding."
And of course, mLearning is being used to teach languages.
Are these the actual tools that we will use in The Bob Project? No. These are actual wild and crazy ideas that will help us think out of the box and find the most effective way to build Bob. If we don't get out of the box we won't go anywhere.