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Collecting visual information mobilely

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Posted on 23rd July 2009 by Judy Breck in Biology and Mobile Learning

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Making microscopy portable is the vision of CellScope developer Associate Professor Daniel Fletcher and his colleagues at UC Berkeley. He explains in the video posted here that the ability to take images wherever you happen to be and transmit them to a clinician has major potential for improving health care in developing countries where to a large extent microscopes are not available. The medical uses of the CellScope are described this week in a SEED Magazine report that is based on a PLoS One article titled Mobile Phone Based Clinical Microscopy for Global Health Applications.

cellScopeCellScope also swings doors open to a new virtual science hall for learning! The student with a CellScope on her mobile can explore and learn the microscopic world in the same manner as a medical worker can, for example as the PLoS article describes: image “P. falciparum-infected and sickle red blood cells in brightfield and M. tuberculosis-infected sputum samples in fluorescence with LED excitation.” There are educational applications in biology, geology, ecology, forensic science, health, and many other subjects.

For learning, there is profound parallel potential to the distance-microscopy described by Professor Fletcher in the video. The CellScope can take student science into rich real world venues. A student with a CellScope can do remote fieldwork, sending images to teachers and laboratories for instruction about what she has captured from the microscopic real world.

Don’t you think it will not be long before the mobile manufacturers will include magnifying lenses in their cams?

Digital learning sources from American Chemistry Society


Posted on 18th July 2009 by Judy Breck in Chemistry


The American Chemistry Society is making significant moves toward replacing its printed journals with digital versions, as described yesterday in The Wired Campus. This policy is enlightened. It is the future.

The Society’s excellent website includes a page for National Chemistry Week: “Chemistry — It’s Elemental!” October 18-24, 2009. Regretfully, most of the resources there that students could use to learn chemistry are bundled inside of print designed PDFs. There is a wonderful exception: a Dynamic Periodic Table available in 34 languages. A portion of the Chinese (I think) version of the table is grabbed in the above image.

My guess and hope is that by Chemistry Week 2010, all of the Society’s learning resources will be online, dynamic, and, importantly, browsable on the mobile devices that students will all soon carry.

That golden stuff doesn’t get out of your hair


Posted on 13th July 2009 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists


So says Carnival of the Mobilists #182 host Antoine RJ Wright, as he points to GoldenSwamp’s invitation to take a dip to learn about mobile browsing. I think you would enjoy a dip into Antoine’s imaginative carnival tale to enjoy the highlights of this week’s best mobile blogging.

Mobile-browsing the internet and the new learning

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Posted on 9th July 2009 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Emerging Online Knowledge, Findability, Golden Age of Learning, Mobile Learning and Networks

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Last week I wrote about A fourth orb (world) for Roger Penrose’s diagram, and included an illustration with his 3 orbs and a fourth circle that I added representing the internet. Today I have added the little boy using his wireless device to browse the internet.

I have been working in recent weeks toward refining the focus of my blog. The illustration with the orbs and the boy mobile-browsing the internet pretty well captures where I am going. What the boy is doing changes education in ways that are almost too beautiful to be true.

Two big things are bringing the new global golden age of learning into view:

ONE: The amassing of the contents of Penrose’s 3 orbs within a single open venue where networking laws can refine the knowledge gold within the grand swamp of information. The process presents what humankind knows in a totally new, integrated way.

TWO: The individual mobile (untethered) device will soon connect everyone on the planet with the will and wits to use it into this knowledge.

The fabulous adventures ahead for educators are to understand and make findable what Stuart Kauffman calls “ceaselessly, co-constructing creativity” that describes the emergence. No longer separated by print and ivy walls, learning resources within the internet are for the first time experiencing the honing and enrichment of emergence.

Experts discuss mobile learning challenges and possibilities


Posted on 5th July 2009 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous, Schools We Have Now and games

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Using mobile devices to deliver educational content was discussed in a gathering of experts on the topic at the 2009 Games, Learning, and Society conference on June 10th. The meeting is reviewed in this week’s SPOTLIGHT: Digital Media and Learning from the MacArthur Foundation.

There are hurdles described, like this one – go figure:

Hurdle 1: Cells phones—a key device for delivering mobile media–are often barred from classrooms. Before they were allowed to bring mobile devices into a Milwaukee school, researchers had to turn off the web connectivity and disable the mics on the phones, Ironically, this occurred at the same time the City of Milwaukee was investing in free WiFi in part to support education.

Several steps that are moving forward are described. My opinion is that the two driving factors for mobile learning are 1) the arriving widespread broadband, and 2) the featuring of increasingly sophisticated mobile devices. It is pretty clear that within 4-5 years every student on the planet will have internet access through his or her own mobile device — and that device will be delivering most of the educational resources and knowledge consumed by its owner.

I will be speaking at DesignForMobile 2009


Posted on 27th March 2009 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning


The second annual DesignForMobile conference, will be held in Lawrence, Kansas (near Kansas City), April 20-22. The event extends this welcome: “Speakers come from academia, industry, design, and research. We’re all interested in the user experience, but we come from many different disciplines to share.” I am proud to be among the speakers, and expect to learn a lot. My topic is “The Long Tail of Mobile Learning.”

In the dozen years I have been participating in the emergence of the online world, I have found edgy conferences in early development are gold mines of insights and contacts. DesignForMobile is that kind of conference, as mobile crosses tech/design/content thresholds in 2009.

As a speaker, I have a few discount tickets to attend for friends of GoldenSwamp. Email me at judybreck AT if you are interested in using one of the tickets.

The Cryosphere at a Glance


Posted on 11th March 2009 by Judy Breck in Geography, Mobile Learning and Open Content

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A near real time map of sea ice concentrations and snow extent in both hemispheres is available any time you need it from the NSIDC. The webpage is called The Cryosphere at a Glance, useful for such folks as weather experts, cold zone businesses, and transportation industries. It is also a resource for learning that was simply not possible before the digital era, and it essentially makes glancing at a the cryosphere in a printed textbook seem as old as the age of the mammoths.

A Wall Street Journal article today explores the iskoot now being tried out as a device that is mostly a basic cellphone to carry around without the alleged bother of the internet dependent BlackBerry and iPhone features. You for sure cannot glance at the cryosphere on an iskoot.

Does the iskoot reach mainly folks who don’t want to be without a phone, but have not yet found something in their own lives from the internet that they cannot bear to do without? My guess is yes. As another couple of billion people acquire mobile devices in the next 4-5 years, they are going to want to be able glance at will at weather, markets, news — and in cold seasons, the cryosphere.

mLearnopedia community launched today


Posted on 16th February 2009 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression, Mobile Learning and Subject Sampler

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GoldenSwamp is proud to be a featured founding participant in the new mobile content community described in this press release:

New Mobile Learning Content Community Resource Available partners with TechEmpower to provide information source for mobile learning

Greenville, WI February 16, 2009: With an increasingly mobile society and the need for instant information for employees and students everywhere all the time, mobile learning and mobile performance support are growing at a rapid pace. Ambient Insight recently reported that the US market for Mobile Learning product and services is growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.7%.

To provide access to the latest news and best practices a new content community has been created at Content is aggregated from sites such as Cell Phones in Learning, GoldenSwamp, mLearning is Good, mLearning World, mLearnopedia, moblearn, Mobile Commons, and MobileDot. “The mlearnopedia project is a terrific idea at the right time! I look forward to being part of it,” states Judy Breck from Golden Swamp. Ben Bonnet from mLearning is Good commented “The community has already benefited me by providing exposure to content I normally would have missed.” The aggregation technology, called BrowseMyStuff, comes from Tony Karrer of TechEmpower with the support of Judy Brown from

Profitability post wraps Carnival of the Mobilists


Posted on 9th February 2009 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists

At allaboutiPhone this week, #160 is a winter Carnival of the Mobilists. Hosted by Matt Radford from snow-bound Britain, the best of the season’s mobile blogging emerges along the midway. The final post on the review is’s recent post on diminishing ignorance profitably.

Grandma’s post featured on Carnival of the Mobilists


Posted on 2nd February 2009 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists and Schools We Have Now

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This week’s Carnival host Ram Krishnan of Mobile Broadband Blog invites his midway visitors: A fascinating post by Judy Breck that discusses how eighth-graders in 1900 learned much more in schools than kids today – she includes an eighth-grade test from 1895 (Saline County, Kansas). Come on, take the test and see how you score. You may be surprised!

One Laptop Per Child in action in Nepal


Posted on 1st February 2009 by Judy Breck in Golden Age of Learning and Mobile Learning

This picture of kids learning in Nepal is from It is a glimpse of the cascading connectivity of the world’s newest generation with the internet now underway. From the SEED article:

Rabi Karmacharya is young, handsome and charismatic — and he is a man on a mission. The MIT-educated IT engineer from Silicon Valley has returned to his native Kathmandu with an ambitious goal: to give the poorest kids in one of the poorest nations a chance at a good education. . . .

Less than half of Nepalis are literate — 45% according to government figures. And this figure doesn’t reflect “functional literacy rates,” which measure whether a person can read and write well enough to function in literate society. Of the country’s eight million school-age children, 84% attend primary school; by age 11 half have dropped out.

Twelve years of insurgency and conflict have left Nepal’s new Maoist government with more than a crippled education system to deal with — when we meet, Rabi and I are forced to huddle around candles, as the government has imposed daily 14-hour power outages.

“We simply cannot wait for the government to deliver high-quality education. We’re losing another generation,” Rabi says. “But we’re working hard with the education department and government ministries to ensure that they take ownership of the project. In three to four years, we want to hand this over to them.”

What to do when the schools overflow?


Posted on 30th January 2009 by Judy Breck in Golden Age of Learning, Mobile Learning, Schools We Have Now and Uncategorized

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A new sort of digital divide is arriving: hoards of school age kids with no room for many of them in a school, yet they have mobile internet access. For that reason, India will provide $10 – $20 low power laptops for practically every student across the country. India Express and The Wired Campus have articles today about the India initiative. Mobile phones are increasingly giving internet access to youngsters in more and more countries – places where there are school shortages and where portions of the population have never gone to school.

There is a choice you may never even have thought about that 21st century people must make very soon.

  • Do we spend billions on brick and mortar schools and classrooms to accommodate the swelling global youth population? OR
  • Do we organize what is known online and provide tutorials there that deliver much of the knowledge to the new generations?

Perhaps we can do some of both, but doing only the first choice is no longer an option. There is not the wealth available to do the physical building, nor the time

Carnival of the Mobilists features ‘A’ list bloggers


Posted on 19th January 2009 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists and Mobile Learning

Midway Master mjelly’s James Cooper at this week’s Carnival barks that: Great stuff in this week from the mobile ‘A’ list bloggers, industry thought leaders and people out in the trenches building the next generation of mobile. Included is GoldenSwamp’s recent post about mobile learning.

These kids have a high tuition offset in their pockets


Posted on 17th January 2009 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning and Schools We Have Now

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The AP picture here shows students protesting tuition hikes who, you can be confident, all have mobile phones in their pockets. The photo is from a Yahoo! News article called The Secret Reasons for Tuition Hikes.

Students pay hundreds of dollars every year for printed textbooks. The technology is well established to provide textbooks on their mobile devices. Doing so would give kids a significant offset from tuition hikes. Colleges can make administrative savings by providing access to services through the devices. If instruction continues to decline in quality while analog services are funded, it is likely students will be going to their mobiles for instruction too.

This bleak outlet described by Yahoo! will be replaced by cost savings and richer instruction in the mobile future for learning:

Why has college tuition been rising so high and fast? Will college costs ever drop back to more affordable levels?

Those questions have been frustrating parents and students for years. A new report provides some surprising answers that will, unfortunately, probably only frustrate and anger them even more. At public colleges, tuition has generally been driven up by rising spending on administrators, student support services, and the need to make up for reductions in government subsidies, according to a report issued by the Delta Cost Project, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

In some cases, such as at community colleges (which educate about half of the nation’s college students), tuition has risen while spending on classroom instruction has actually fallen. At public colleges especially, the current economic troubles will likely only accelerate the trend of rising prices and classroom cutbacks, says Jane Wellman, the author of the report. After analyzing income and spending statistics that nearly 2,000 colleges reported to the federal government, Wellman concludes: “Students are paying more and, arguably, getting less in the classroom.”

The outlier creating power of mobiles


Posted on 30th December 2008 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression and Mobile Learning

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Today on NRO, Thomas Sowell reviews Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. As the subtitle states, the book is “The story of success.” Sowell writes that: “The theme running through this book is that spectacular individual achievements — outliers — are not simply a matter of personal merit but come out of a background of special circumstances that enable outstanding individual ability to lead to performances far beyond the norm.”

Sowell also makes this comment:

One of the most inspiring chapters in Outliers is about a KIPP charter school serving minority students, whose academic performances far exceed those of other minority students, even though these students were selected by lottery, rather than on the basis of ability.

A lot could be done to support and expand such schools. . . .

But there is more happening — something very hopeful, and likely to already be nudging new outliers This time minority kids are not at a disadvantage.

My guess (passion) is that having the internet in a pocket is a brain power boost that is creating the the next decade’s smartest twenty-somethings. By the decade after that, hand-held knowledge input will have made significant knowledge acquisition no longer outlierish.

Usually still, schools discourage the independence that knowledge-in-my-pocket gives kids. A lot could be done to get schools to recognize and encourage the new knowledge tool. The serendipity for minority students in using the internet on their individual mobile devices is that the machines are incapable of prejudice. When you use the internet on your mobile, the little machine has no idea what color you are or who is your daddy.