Welcome Wednesday 24 Oct 2012

Wireless EdTech Conference Oct 10-12, 2012

Very sketchy notes: please correct and add!

Attendees: Jeff Meade, Vicki Portway, Kate Fox, Susan Ades, Michele Atwater, Dixie Clough, Marc Bretzfelder, Mark Christal, Reema Ghazi, Adam Reisig, Nancy Proctor

Jeff Meade

  • Nice format with plenary sessions interspersed with break-out sessions
  • Fairfax Co has a mobile initiative
  • Internet access is a problem in many school districts; some are providing iPads with cellular data services to overcome this
  • Seeing iPad as a toolkit, not a platform or simple word processing tool/alternative to laptop
  • Tension between mobile propensity for personalised learning and standardized curricula?
  • Tend to have few staff in schools who use social media and new technologies, so hard to get them into daily educational use – “Silos of excellence”
  • Teaching

Mark Christal

  • How to make students more active in learning? Use mobile device as a pencil rather than a microscope. People can no longer identify the front of the class (a move in the right direction, and mobile helps)
  • Using AR for learning, e.g. Zombies game
  • See EcoMobile project from Harvard
  • Mobile devices are not a content delivery platform but active learning tools
  • Very impressed by Shirley Malcolm and implications of her work for Smithsonian: technology is ubiquitous in our society, but schools are a “dead zone” for tech. We will be more successful for digital equity outside the schools because there are so many challenges and limitations there. Museums don’t have many of these limitations, but need to be more collaborative with schools (which is what the Smithsonian’s EdLab is doing). But you really need administrator buy-in at the school to have an impact.


  • What was the view of Kahn Academy and similar online learning initiatives at the conference? Not really addressed…
  • Recent SEEC/Smithsonian Affiliates conference emphasized value of rich content environments, and multimodal input for cognitive development, especially in pre-school age children. A real opportunity for museums here to make a big difference for young kids and their families. (Nancy Proctor) Q: Would a rich Montessori environment do just as good a job as a museum? (Marc Bretzfelder) Kids still need to know how to use these tools and environments to learn with/in.
  • Would the Smithsonian envisage having an app that includes a week-long lesson plan, e.g., populated with Smithsonian content and activities? Or a collecting tool, that structures the museum visit? (Marc) NB Laurie Stepp proposed a use of Vstory or similar AR platforms to “collect” objects you see on your visit, using visual recognition (computer vision) to match them against the Smithsonian’s cross-collections search function, for example, and collect relevant records for a mobile learning experience for other activities and uses.
  • The “increase knowledge” part of our mission is not nearly as hard as the “diffusion” part! (Jeff)

mLearning project idea (Marc Bretzfelder): Mobile collecting tool: gather information around an object, exhibit or theme you want to do a presentation on; interview (shoot video, e.g.) experts (many visitors love meeting the people behind the museum and collection!) and peers about it, afterwards complete a presentation about it. This concept has been proved at the American Art Museum through their student podcasting project. App is tool and framework for putting it all together. Can the tool also record users’ questions about the collections, exhibitions, themes etc. for future users (as well as SI staff) to try to answer? This works well on NASM Facebook page, e.g.: the Museum does not have to “force feed” answers; the community contributes. (Vicki Portway) Maybe questions about the objects could be presented from a crowdsourced database, like Tate’s Magic Tateball app! (Susan Ades) A Youth Access Grant candidate? A Smithsonian Skunkworks project?? Output to a presentation authoring platform, e.g. PoliCultura from the Politecnico of Milan.

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