Mobile devices in my classroom – Nuts & Bolts (Part 1)

I’ve been looking for a way to authentically use mobile devices in class.

This post is about the nuts and bolts – what devices will do the job in my classroom.

To actually use videos and images created by kids on mobile devices initially seemed simple – shoot the images, dump them somewhere to look at, all done.

But then running my teacher eye over the plan ended up in some questions that needed answering:

  • What devices are available? (ie. do the kids have them, can they get them or do I supply them)
  • What sort of product do the various types of devices produce?
  • How do I (and the kids) get the content off the device and share it
  • What platform best handles the content when it’s finished?
  • Who gets to look and play with the content?

1. Devices & Product

I set out to conduct a little test using the sort of devices that most kids might have already, or that I can already supply easily.

My tools were a Nokia 6300, my iPhone 3Gs, a Mino Flip SD video cam, a Kodak Zx1 video cam and a Samsung ES55 digital cam.

After shooting some video and stills, I built this table of comparisons. I tried to keep the subject, lighting and other variables constant when shooting (although this did establish some device differences, as I’ll talk about later)

Nokia 6300 iPhone 3Gs Flip Mino SD Kodak Zx1 Samsung ES55
Nokia_6300 iphone flip-mino-hd kodak_zx1 samsung_es55
Video Video Video Video Video
Inside still Inside still Inside still Inside still Inside still
Outside still Outside still Outside still Outside still Outside still

Focus and framing was an issue for most. The Nokia was hope for the best, the iPhone better but not perfect. The two video cameras needed careful framing for any auto focus to work, as well as getting the subject in for the still photos. The Samsung, being a dedicated (basic) camera handing framing and focusing best of all.

2. Uploading and Sharing

Each device has its own quirks with moving the content from device to final site. Heres another table on how I moved the video and images to their final destination:

Nokia 6300 iPhone 3Gs Flip Mino Kodak Zx1 Samsung
Vid* Bluetooth> upload email to PC>upload USB>
SDcard>PC> upload SDcard>PC> upload
Still Bluetooth email USB>Flip software**>
Snipper tool Win7> upload

* Each device recorded video in different formats. However, when uploaded to Photobucket, all were converted to MP4

** Flip cameras come with software that allow you to capture frames from video

***Windows Media Player

My quest for a platform to save and share the images and videos was harder than I thought. I wanted somewhere central that the kids could upload to, moderated by me and share and comment on what they see. The DET blocks student access to all cloud storage sites (Dropbox,, etc). Moodle, Edmodo, Wikispaces and BlogED (the DET sponsored blogging platform for NSW students) all offer potential, and I’ll explore them more thoroughly in the future.

What I ended up using for this test was Photobucket. I can create group folders there, control permissions and access, with no limit on uploads in the free account. As I play with it more and get the kids to contribute, I’ll update the progress of the test. Now to get outside and enjoy the holidays!

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