This week one of my ex-colleagues from the OU, Martin Weller, started a MOOC about openness in education. I think it officially starts at the end of this week and runs for 7 weeks, but all the content is already available. The course (H817) forms part of an OU masters course.
I thought it may be a good test to create an offline mobile version of the course (it’s been released under a creative commons license) using the mobile learning application I’ve been working on – so for anyone who is interested in having a mobile version of the course running on their Android phone which can be accessed even when you have no mobile internet connection – you can get the app here. Once you’ve installed the app and logged in, go to “manage modules” and “Open education” is one of the courses available to download.
A few notes/comments:
- you will need to register/login to the app – this is for me to help track usage of the app and the different modules/activities used – I won’t share your details or email addresses with anyone else
- you’ll need an active internet connection to install the app, login and download the module, but once it’s on your phone you no longer need a connection.
- so far, I’ve just uploaded the first couple of weeks of the course, if people start to use it I’ll upload the rest of the course, the app should automatically notify you when a new version of the course is available (e.g. when I add extra weeks content). I’ve also not yet added the video content again I’ll see how much interest there is before I embed the videos into the mobile version
- almost all the activities in the course require you to have an internet connection (e.g. for reading articles, posing to blogs etc), also for the forums – for all these activities, you’ll still need to go to the relevant site – this offline version is just so you can reference the content easily from your mobile.
I hope that me creating this offline version is an example of the “openness” that the course is all about. I’d really welcome any feedback etc, especially on the app itself and how it works for you.
Update (7pm 12/03/2013): Have just added weeks 3 and 4 , plus rearranged the first 2 weeks slightly to split the activities into separate pages. Hope to add the videos and some images too.
Update (5pm 15/03/2013): Have just added the remaining weeks and added the videos
This weekend we had a self rescue (autosocorro) course, to know what to do if someone injured whilst on a rope and needs to be brought up or taken down quickly. On Wednesday we had a theory session and then at the weekend we went out to Patones (where I did my initial SRT course back in February) to practice outside. There are different techniques depending on whether the ‘victim’ is currently ascending or descending and the rescuer is trying to reach them from above or below, and finally whether you want to take the victim up or down. This weekend, we were mainly just practising accessing the victim from below and bringing them down, so the only variation was if they were currently ascending or descending.
For me, bringing the victim down when they were already on their descender was relatively straightforward, but when they were ascending, it was really tough. I tried 3 times and managed to get something wrong every time – so the supposedly unconscious victim had to help me out and ended up being more injured/bruised then when I started. From the photos below, and the mass of equipment/ropes between the rescuer and victim, you can see why it could be easy to get something wrong – although given your weight is hanging on the ropes it would be very hard to detach yourself completely. Think I will need more practice, but hopefully I never have to ever use anything we learned!
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently been rewriting the mobile HEAT application and I now have a first version ready for people to test out. You can get the app here for installing on you Android phone. As it’s just a first version, I’d really appreciate any feedback (either email me directly or post a comment below), which is also why I’ve just posted it up here, rather than making it available on the Google Play store – which I’ll do once it’s been tested a little more.
Few notes comments on how to use the app and what it does:
- As with the previous version, you’ll need a MQuiz login account (though you can register for this directly in the app). So you do need an active internet connection on your phone for this step.
- Unlike the previous version, this app comes with no course content. This was one of the main reasons for rewriting this app: to decouple the content from the app. So after you’ve first logged in, click on the ‘manage modules’ button and you can get a list of the available modules you can install, so you can select which content you’d like to download. You’ll also need an active internet connection for doing this, though I have built in a way in which you can just put the course package directly on the phone SD card and it will auto install.
- Once you’re logged in and have downloaded some content, an active internet connection is no longer needed.
- For testing out the video content (in the “video demo” course), the videos are not included in the course download package (as it makes the download packages too large). If you’d like to test the video content, please download the .m4v files and place them all in the /mtrain/media/ directory on the phone sd card.
There are 3 main areas I’d really appreciate feedback on:
- Tracking: as you navigate through the content (play videos and take assessment exercises) the app records your activity to submit back to the server (for example, so your course tutor/supervisor can see how you’re doing). The app tries to do this whenever you complete an activity (so connects to the internet at this point), but it may be that you’re offline at the time. Note that a text page is only considered as being completed if you have spent at least 3 seconds on the page before moving to the next one (to at least give some pretence that you may actually have read the content ;-)). To cover the possibility that you may be offline when using the app, but you still want your activity logged, the app also installs a service to try to connect once an hour to submit your activity, even if you’re not using the app. I’m a little unsure that this is the best approach, since I’m not too keen on applications connecting to the internet in the background, but I haven’t yet thought of a better way to handle this. I may just add a preference to allow you to decide if this service is allowed to connect or not. But any comments/thoughts on this appreciated.
- Navigation: once inside a course module, I’d like some feedback on the navigation between the activities for each section in the course. Currently you can’t see a full list of all the activities for a given section, without clicking on the previous/next arrow buttons, as I wanted to avoid the user needing to go through another list selection page to get to the activity, but I’m not sure that what I’ve done so far is quite right.
- App name: I’m not too keen on the app name ‘mTrain’, so any suggestions for alternative names welcome!
In the next days, for those of you who don’t have an Android phone to test this on, I’ll post up a video of the app in action.
Video from last weekend’s SRT course:
Untitled from michael fernandez on Vimeo.