Archive for January, 2009


Brain Training “does no such thing”

January 29, 2009

Brain Training does no such thing

Research from the University of Rennes has concluded that using the Nintendo DS Brain Training game “does no such thing”.

As reported in The Telegraph

Scrabble is just as good at improving mental sharpness as a Nintendo DS video games console and a copy of Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training, say researchers from the University of Rennes, Brittany.

However how many of our learners play Scrabble?

Graham Brown Martin on the new Game Based Learning forum says:

Although personally I think this is missing the point somewhat given that Brain Training has achieved something most Math teachers haven’t – namely making mental arithmetic cool.The fact is whilst a teenager might achieve the same benefit playing sudoko or Scrabble, even in Paris they don’t play these games anymore (although I’m sure that when the researchers played the games they found the sudoku). Assuming we accept that activities that use the mind are worth it then surely approach’s that at least engage with learners are better than those that don’t even if the net effect is neutral?

The use of Brain Training on the Nintendo DS in Scotland had better results.

What do you think? Is the use of games such as Brain Training just a waste of time and money, or are they tools that allow us to engage with disaffected and younger learners (or even adults) for whom traditional assessment methods do not work.


Talking about Activexpression

January 26, 2009

Quite a few staff are now using the Activexpression units (we purchased a fair few before Christmas with the rest of them coming in January).

This is a quote from a member of staff who used them for the first time with a group who were learing about assessment.

We had THE most fantastic time!!!!!!!!!!!!!  A few techno phobes but generally a hoot with loads of chatter and discussion – and actually seeing the point of teaching assessment through an assessment!

She will certainly be using them again.


m-Champions Event

January 21, 2009

I am currently at the MoLeNET m-Champions event in Exeter with colleagues from across the South-West (and Ludlow and Manchester). The aim of the session is to enthuse the MoLeNET’s projects’ m-Champions to go back and enthuse their colleagues back in their colleges about mobile learning.

m-Champions Event

I have spoken about the Shiny project and our experiences from the Glossy project.

We are discussing a whole range of things, from GPS, veotag, mobile learning, mobile devices, mobile technologies and so much more.

Hoping to pick up a fair few ideas about mobile learning which we can use back in Gloucestershire College.


So no phone for the PSP then?

January 20, 2009

After the success of the iPhone as a gaming platform, to me it made perfect sense that the PSP be given a phone capability. Sony’s PSP has been reasonably successful as a gaming platform, but add a phone into the mix, add the Sony PlayStation branding and we might have seen an interesting phone.

Mobile Magazine reports that due to internal disagreements, it is looking like that there will now not be a Sony PSP phone.

Sony Ericsson was planning a PSP phone but has been refused the brand

Sony is understood to have refused to allow Sony Ericsson the use of its PlayStation brand, after the handset manufacturer presented a pitch to the board late last year.

Sony Ericsson was planning to develop a PSP phone to capitalise on the growing success of the gaming sector, and after the success of Cyber-shot and Walkman handsets.

Sources said the refusal to sanction the brand on the handsets in December has prompted a fallout between Sony and the mobile phone joint venture.

A PSP with phone capabilities would have been a device I think many of our younger learners would have purchased and used.

The PSP has certainly been working for us as a mobile device for learning especially when using the camera. We are thinking of getting the GPS module for them and hopefully we can find a roughened case for the device so we can use it in the field (literally in a field up a mountain).

So no PSP Phone then?

As a footnote, nice to see Wired reporting on the Mobile Magazine story using my photograph of the PSP.

Story originally appeared on e-Learning Stuff.



January 16, 2009

Spent a good 45 minutes talking to a member of our ESOL staff on using mobile devices for assessment. Very keen on using the Activexpression units for assessment.

Did express concerns about accessibility, but we’re hoping to get some accessible Activexpression units for those students who need them.

Going away to think about the possibilities.


Improving Formative Assessment

January 9, 2009

The NIACE Conferences and Courses team is taking bookings for the courses listed below. For more information about each course and to book your place, please visit the NIACE Website at:

Improving Formative Assessment – a one- day course on developing strategies for building learner autonomy

Thursday 26 February 2009, London

Friday 27 February 2009, Birmingham

Monday 2nd March 2009, Manchester

Thursday 12th March 2009, Bristol


A new term

January 8, 2009

It’s the start of a new term and I was certainly thrown into the deep end, so from my personal perspective the Shiny project is not quite at the front of my priorities.

On Monday, the first day back, I had to travel through the snow and ice to Ludlow, where I supported them in their Professional Development Day which was focusing on their MoLeNET project. I introduced the day, talked about the potential of mobile learning followed by a question and answer session.

Over the rest of the day I demonstrated (in the main) the PSP with camera and how it could be used for different mobile learning scenarios.

Tuesday I was back in the office and catching up with all the stuff that needed to be caught up on.

Wednesday I was out again, this time down to Taunton to deliver a workshop on mobile learning for the RSC SW Learning Technologies Forum.

Back in the office today, I need to do the final planning for the Becta Technology Exemplar network event which we are hosting next week.

Of course Shiny is not just me, and staff across the college are doing stuff for the project. Alan is planning the research and we have Rebecca from LSN coming to visit us in February. Rob has been thinking about his role as m-Champion. Other staff have been planning m-assessment opportunities in their teaching.

Before the festive break at the College Christmas Dinner, we used Activexpression units for the annual Christmas quiz, with hundreds of staff taking part. This enabled us to demonstrate how the units could be used for something as simple as a quiz and there was quite a buzz.

More soon.