Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Flashmobs : SMS Applications To Mobilise Youth Learning

Flash mobbing is emerging as a new trend in mobile
technology applications.

In this post from the EdNA discussion forums,
Alex Hayes describes an application of this
approach to mobile learning:

"A couple of years ago I was working with a bunch of
young people in an off campus location youth center
in Western Australia delivering three certificates
in General Education ( CGVE ). The pace and diversity
of learning experience which these students brought
to this environment was nothing short of inspirational
for me, who, after years of working within the Justice
sector had seen a great deal of the negative effects
of incarceration on young people.

Having read some of Howard Rheingold's musings on
the potential for SMS messaging to mobilise people
(flashmobs )to attend / participate in public events
I decided to give it a go myself. Part of the semesters
budget was assigned to a trial Telstra SMS portal which
distributed ( and received ) messaging and had an
inbuilt calendarised function which allowed for preset

You can now do such things through a number of other
platforms such as RedOxygen, Optus Redcoal and any
number of telco personal login environments. Some
have a capped daily limit to avoid spamming and so on.

What struck me at the time and still inspires me, is
the ability to network people easily and with
immediacy. I setup a range of scenarios which brought
my students together at various locations at
differing times all of course with a pre-empted
permissions granted type arrangement. We 'visited'
an art gallery, attended a political function,
mapped graffiti in a localised area to mention
just a few.

The students all had phones ( half of them hardly
had confirmation of where they were living at any
time yet had a phone) and the concept went from an
idea to immediate and sustainable success. The
results of these networked activities lead on to
a number of fantastic student generated activities
which included a networked art event, creative
workshops and any number of great occasions such
as planned BBQ's, birthday celebrations and the

What really got me going was the fact that,
despite the students hectic and often tragic
lifestyle or life based experiences, the use
of simple text messaging brought them into a
networked occasion and after a number of events
the students started to get the idea that they
could generate these activities themselves,
as they already were in 'reality' for minimum cost.

I've heard from Robyn Jay at NSW Learnscope that
we are due to meet at Byron Bay youth facility
this coming Friday to explore this flashmob
concept further working with students and course
facilitators . I can see great potential for
mapping the m-learning journey using such means
to realise learning outcomes which are heavily
imbedded with numeracy, literacy and other
related foundational competencies.

I'll be posting some feedback and links to
some occasions through the
NSW Learnscope wiki, blog and podcasting
, and invite you to
interact with the discussion. If you have any
similar experiences then I'd be keen to hear
from you."


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