English Language Space Station
For English learners and teachers across the galaxy
PSP and other mobile devices
Using the PSP to teach English - or any mobile device - as long as it can show flash
Can't be bothered to read the post, get the lesson here (it's an .swf file that will only work on a mobie device like a PSP etc.)
Sony, of course, are not famous for education but their whole business is based on usability and entertainment and I'd argue that in the modern classroom these are central to successful learning and teaching. The PSP looks great, feels great and is simple to use. It's got a powerful memory (provided you get a big enough memory card) and can pick up wi-fi to surf the net. For some extra cash there's also a camera available that can record video and images to the card. The old versions have a UMD (Universal Media Disc) drive that takes tiny CDs for games and movies.
How can this be exploited for education? In my case, how could I use it to teach English?
As part of a Molenet Project I had ten PSP units to use with my students and I was keen to squeeze the best out of them.
At first I wanted to exploit the wi-fi and use a link to the fabuluos Google Map technology. I was hoping to pair students up with a PSP between them and send them off to follow the trail I'd made for them online. By using Google Maps online and the PSP connected to wi-fi, students would have to follow a real trail around our city, answering questions about what they discovered at each spot and more crucially for language students - discuss and make decisions with each other in the target language - in this case English. Sadly, in my town we're probably ten years too early for free blanket wi-fi coverage, and without the link to the net, the Google Map trail would never work.
What about the camera?
I've blogged about using cameras several times on this blog and the PSP could easily be used for that as well as the MP3 lessons I've also discussed. I wanted the PSP to do something they couldn't.
Saved by Flash.
PSP devices also run flash files which can be uploaded from your PC or MAC as .swf files. To get them to show on the psp you have to use the internet brower to point to the place where you saved them. Cleverer people explained this to me in real life and on the net (http://www.lancelhoff.com/how-to-download-embedded-swf-files-using-firefox/) . I'm not into flash although I've tried and so I really happy to find out that it's pretty easy to convert .ppt files into .swf files - which the psp can show. There are many program
Powerpoint files are easy to make, you can embed video and audio into them and they are also very easy to use. Although I did have a city trail I got students to follow in pairs, I also made a more generic quiz which could be used in any part of the world.
My first PSP Lesson
I used this lesson with intermediate students and it lasted about half an hour. I created the flash file (.swf) by importing a PowerPoint show into Captivate and messing around with it. Although I used psp devices you could use any portable machine that would show .swf files (flash) these could be laptops or mobile phones, it could even be shown on an interactive whiteboard or a projector hooked up to a laptop, but students would lose the feeling of being in control of the quiz and the materials.
1. Generate a bit of interest in m - learning by asking students if they have ever used their mobile phone or MP3 player to learn English. Did they ever visit a website on the internet using their mobile device or did they ever download a podcast to listen to ?
2. Explain that in pairs, students are going use the devices to follow and complete a series of tasks. They will need to communicate with each other as well follow the on screen tasks, some of these tasks will require them to write some answers on a piece of paper.
3. Have students watch the show on their device and work through the questions together. Monitor them and help them use the technology - the tasks are straight forward but they might have some trouble using the machine. The real task is slide 1 where students ask and answer questions about m-learning with each other.
4. In plenary, run through the answers. See below
Slide 1 - students ask and answer the questions together
slide 2 - Here are the words in the word search - mobile phone / internet / battery / headphones /
slide 3 - The word that uses all the letters is 'Democracy'
slide 4 - 1 - all the months have 28 days. 2 - the bear is white, the only place where all your walls face north could be the south pole. 3. It's daytime
Why do this on a PSP? You could easily do on paper - after the lesson feedback
I know - this could all have been done in paper. But this is the first step, what mighty trees from acorns come.
One of the problems with this lesson was that my students were ready to play something really fantastic and ended up doing a word search. This put them off straight away, indeed, what's the point of using technology if it's not going to do something new. In my defence - this lesson didn't need any paper apart from the pages students wrote on and could be easily used again.
Using the PSP was difficult for lots of students even though they fitted neatly in Prensky's 'Digital Native' model. They didn't know how to access the file which I'd bookmarked and ended up playing a copy of Bowman 2 which I had also downloaded.
I need to add more to the flash to make it more exciting!
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