User Generated Education

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Posts Tagged ‘mobile learning

Mobile Learning Presentation for the 4T Virtual Conference

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I presented Experiential Mobile Learning at the 4T (Teachers Teaching Teachers About Technology) Virtual Conference.  I am all about sharing, so here is a version, an agenda, of what I presented.

Introduction: Epic Learning Activities

With a background in experiential education and as an advocate of John Dewey, I believe that learning experiences should be, borrowing from the game world, epic.

The following video is viewed with participants asked to describe the characteristics of the learning activities shown in the video.  Participant reactions are posted in the webinar backchannel.

Questions to assess the “epicness” of learning activities:

  • Was there an experiential component?
  • Was it engaging?
  • Was it an authentic, relevant learning experience?
  • Did it facilitate critical, reflective thinking?
  • Did the learning activity change behavior or thinking?

Participants join and access to discuss their own Epic Learning activities.

Overview of Session

The session is divided into three components:

  1. Research of the importance of building community and social interactive into the learning process.
  2. Mobile device use patterns by young people.
  3. Sample experiential mobile learning activities – active participation.

The Research and Its Implications for Mobile Learning

Information about the importance of building community in the classroom is shared from the following resources.

Research about mobile use patterns is shared from the following resources.

Participants share implications of the research on own teaching strategies via

Sample Mobile Learning Activities

I Am Poems

Participants are encouraged to respond on each other’s photos/poems . . .

QR Video Sorting Activities

Additional References are provided:

Presentation Slides

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

May 20, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Cell Sharing: An Ice Breaker Using Mobile-Devices (BYOD)

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The following ice breaker is quick and easy to do (especially part 1) in all types of settings.  I have used it for the first meeting of my face-to-face college courses, conference presentations, and orientations for teen-age summer camp counselors.

Part 1:  Cell Sharing

  • If a large group or class (over 20-25 members), separate members into smaller groups.
  • Ask participants to locate a photo, song, or video from their mobile device that best represents them.
  • Each person then shares with the group his or her media and the reason it was selected.
  • For photo or video sharing, ask students to pass the device around so all students can view the image or use a webcam to project the image onto a larger computer screen or whiteboard.
  • For sharing of music, attach portable speakers to assist with the sharing of songs so others can hear them.
  • Also inform them that they will be asked to report via a group texting service what they liked, what they discovered about their group members.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Part 2: Sharing of Favorite Cell Shares

During Part 2, members share what they learned about their team members via Celly, a group texting service.  The rationale behind Part 2 is twofold: (1) It reinforces learning about one another through sharing one another’s names and interests, and (2) It gets members registered for and accustomed to using a group texting service so that it can be used for future activities.

  • Provide instructions to the members about how to join and use CellyCelly is very easy for participants to join and use.  Messages can be posted via all cell phone or directly through through a computer URL.  The biggest learning curve is for the facilitator who needs to set up his or her cell for the activity. step-by-step guides can be found at Learn It in 5 provides the following tutorial about how to set up and use Celly.

  • Once members have joined and the facilitator cell, ask them to text in interesting things they learned about their group members through the cell sharing activity.  Ask them to text the first name of the person who they selected along with what he/she shared.
  • Project these text messages via an LCD projector or interactive whiteboard so everyone can view them or if none is available, provide them with the URL to the cell so those with laptops or smartphones can view them with some of their classmates.  For example, here is the URL to the cell I use for my team building activities

More experiential mobile learning activities like this can be found at Mobile and Technology Enhanced Experiential Activities.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 19, 2012 at 2:13 am

The Equity Game: A Mobile Device-QR Code Driven Activity

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I have been blogging about how I am integrating mobile technology into my undergraduate course on interpersonal relations.  Since I have always been an experiential educator, I seek ways to integrate the learners’ mobile devices into my experiential activities.  The questions I seek to address when designing experiential mobile learning activities include:

  • What effective instructional activities did I use in the past that can include mobile device integration to make them even more effective?
  • Will it be interesting and engaging for the learners?
  • Will it be an authentic and relevant learning experience?
  • Can it facilitate critical and reflective thinking?
  • Does it have the potential for to cause a change in thinking and/or behavior?  (Grant Wiggins recently wrote about this in Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really where he discussed the point of learning is not just to know things but to be a different person – more mature, more wise, more self-disciplined, more effective, and more productive in the broadest sense.)
  • Does it have the potential to be epic?

The Equity Game


  • To explore issues related to unequal distribution of resources.
  • To explore principles related to communication, non-verbal behavior, emotions, listening, and conflict.


  • High School, College, and Adult Learners in Face-to-Face Settings


  • The intent of the activity is for three groups to build a city within the boundaries and materials provided.
  • Prior to the activity, the facilitator set ups the room by tapping off three areas – a large, roomy area for the upper class, a medium sized area for the middle class, and a small, cramped area for the lower class.

  • The community resources are provided to each group via QR Codes on Index cards.  The QR codes lead to Creative Commons Flickr photos of city structures, These include houses, schools, recreational buildings, etc.  The reasons QR codes are used is twofold: (1) It increases the realism by linking into real images, and (2) Because groups can trade with each other, it adds an element of trust.
  • Popsicle sticks are also distributed to represent roads.  The upper class is given a huge pile, the middle class about a dozen, and the lower class a few broken ones.
  • The resources represent those typically (and stereotypically) found in the neighbor of that social class.  The upper class gets nice homes, several schools, high class recreation center and golf course, and high end shopping.  Here are some examples (you’ll have to scan it).


  • The middle class receives housing, some strip mall shopping centers, basic schools and recreational areas.


  • The lower class receives low income housing, a liquor store, a waste disposal center.



  • The group is split into three sub-groups of equal numbers. There needs to be one or two mobile devices per group to serve two functions: scanning the QR codes and communicating via text with the other groups.
  • The facilitator takes the groups one by one into the set up room and are told to build a city with the materials provided.  The upper class is taken first and given directions that they are to build a city, that they can request additional resources.  The middle class goes next with most of the same directions omitting that they can request additional resources.  The lower class is taken in last and given short directions, “Build a city with materials provided.  The QR Codes lead to pictures of resources.”

  • They are told that they can text the other groups with questions and requests.  This is intentionally left vague with the hopes that some trading and deals with occur.

  • The unspoken rules that the facilitator follows during the activity: (1) Upper Class can go outside of their boundaries, lower class cannot.  If the lower class member goes out of their boundary, they are warned.  If they get more than two warnings, the member causing the infraction is taken to “jail” – a corner of the room. (2) The facilitator continues to check in with the Upper Class group if they need anything.  If another group has an item requested, then the facilitator takes it and gives it to the Upper Class. (3) The Upper Class can communicate with the other groups in any manner they choose.  The Middle and Lower Class can only communicate via texting.
  • Post-activity reflections occur via a group discussion and a VoiceThread using photos from the activity.  The Voicethread allows for opinions to be shared that might not be shared face-to-face.

The Equity Game: In Action

The following is an edited video of this activity in-process.  It provides a good overview of how this activity operates.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Mobile Learning: End of Course Student Survey Part II

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This is the second of two posts on student perceptions of mobile learning integration within an undergraduate course on Interpersonal Relations.  It combines two semesters’ worth of student surveys.


As is true for many of us using educational technology in the classroom, we are experimenting with how technology can enhance the learning experiences of our students.  Sometimes we have failures, often times we have successes.  Yet, in this age of evidenced-based education, educators, administrators, and other decision-makers are depending on and using the data gleamed from large studies often completed by companies with vested interests, e.g. Gates Foundation, book publishers, and testing companies.

Educators can easily conduct action research about the practices they are using in their own classrooms especially given the ease of creating online surveys and data collection methods.  Yet, it seems that it is rarely done.

For example, I introduced Quest Atlantis into my gifted classes a few years ago and asked these 3rd through 5th graders to complete a survey to assess its efficacy from the student perspective.  The results I received were rich and informative.  The kids offered great feedback, ideas, and suggestions.  See Beyond the Game: Quest Atlantis as an Online Learning Experience for Gifted Elementary Students.

So if educators want to influence what occurs in not only their own classrooms, but in the classrooms of their co-teachers, then they need to invest the time and energy to demonstrate best practices.  In a related blog, I discuss Every Educator Has a Story . . . Just Tell It.

End-of-Course Survey

The two sections of Interpersonal Relations course were offered during Fall, 2011 and early Winter, 2012.  There were 20 students in the sections – eight were male, 12 female; 16 of the students were 17 to 20 years old, one was 25 year old male, another a 40 year old female, and two of the  students were females in their fifties.  All of them had/owned some type of mobile device.  No two of the owned devices were of the same make or model.

The first section of the survey listed all of the class activities that used the students’ cell phones.  I blogged about the individual activities.  The archive of these blog posts can be found at User-Generated Education tagged with mobile learning.

As can be seen by these results, most students rated most of the mobile-driven activities to be of some value in helping them understand the concepts being discussed/covered.  Students were them asked to identify their least and most favorite activities.  The most favorable activity was Building Communications.  The least favorite did not identify any consistent activity.  A few mentioned that there were none, “They were all pretty good.”

Do you feel that using students’ mobile phones during class time was a good idea? Why or why not?

  • Yes, it was great learning new technology and interacting with each other via phones.
  • Yes I do because it brings our generations technology and learning.
  • Yes I do feel it is a good idea. I believe technology is growing so much that mobile phones are vital in today’s communication.
  • There were some things about people calling with different providers which would be annoying.
  • Yes, I liked it because I know how to use it so well.
  • I do, but with my phone, it didn’t work well.
  • I thought it made the time go by faster because we were learning a different way. But some other students took advantage of this and used it as personal time.
  • Yes I do because it gets more involved in our lives.
  • Yes, it gave us the ability to open up and be ourselves.
  • Yes, I did. We are in a technological age, it is time to accept that.
  • Yes, it made things more entertaining.
  • Yes and no. we could have done the same on the computer.
  • I think it was in the middle because I would get distracted.
  • Yes because it helped us use our cell phones for good use in activities.
  • Yes. I think it was because you go to learn more things about people
  • Yea. Cell phones are a big past of society these days.

As can be seen in these results, there was an overwhelming positive response to mobile device use in the class.  A few problems were noted but no students reported a purely negative response to their use.  The reasons stated for positive feelings about mobile device use seemed to revolve around three themes:

  1. Technology is part of today’s world.
  2. It made the activities more engaging and interesting.
  3. It provided the means for learning to be more personal.

What was the greatest advantage of using students’ mobile phones to get to know one another and build a sense of community in the class?

  • It was nice to use them and not have to hide them and it connected the class because one way or another we all got each others numbers.
  • I think people are a lot more open on their phones so I believe it helped us get to know each other more. Also we were able to show pictures of important people in our life so that I feel personalized it.
  • The greatest advantage was how we could text and get to know each other.
  • Ease of communication.
  • You got to know the students better.
  • It made us open up to one another because we had to connect at a more social level.
  • It was something that we use everyday so it related back to us
  • To get a better experience from the class and enjoy coming to class.
  • It was something they were familiar with.
  • It provided us with a common ground on which to get to know each other.
  • We got to talk to each other outside of class, not just when we were in class.
  • The students use their phones on a regular basis.
  • That we didn’t waste paper.
  • Getting the other students numbers and exchanging phone numbers to get to know one another.
  • You got to know the people better though them
  • We were able to communicate outside of class and create friendships.

The student responses centered around the social nature of mobile devices adding to their feelings getting to know one another.  Several students mentioned that it provided them with a forum to open up with other students.

What was the biggest problem in using students’ mobile devices during class time?

  • People who did not have unlimited texting, or did not have a phone..
  • Sometimes your phone wouldn’t be charged and you wouldn’t be able to participate in the activity.
  • I think some of the students were confused on some of the activities.
  • It distracted me because I kept texting and not focusing
  • Lack of technological compatibility.
  • People text other people other than the class mates.
  • I didn’t always remember to charge my cellular device so I thought it was going to die.
  • People would abuse it and text friends and do other things that the activity wasn’t for.
  • Caused outside social distractions
  • The students were tempted to use the phones for personal use.
  • Not everyone brought their mobile device.
  • Students had more of a chance to get distracted.
  • Some didn’t work.
  • The service was bad because i would send a text and it would show up ten minuets later.
  • Some people texted when they should have been participating.
  • I didn’t see any problems.

Not surprisingly, the responses centered around two themes: distraction and not having a device/device that worked for the activities.

In addition, students wrote a final course reflection.  What follows are some comments regarding their significant overall course learning.

I think I learned more about myself in the building structure unit then I did in the whole quarter.  I always thought of myself as having the potential to be a leader but this activity helped me believe it.  When I was trying to help the others build this structure without actually being able to help was very difficult, I had to make my teammates feel confident enough to where they could achieve the end project.

The most significant learning would be the, “building the bridge” because that was fun to be able to know who would take charge and everything you said over the phone about what your team was building with the blocks would affect how there bridge would look. I had to be very precise and accurate, nearly perfect in order to get them to build it the same. Something I am going to improve on is the clarity of how I talk.

My favorite activity would have to be going around taking pictures of our emotions with the emoticons.  We really got to see everybody’s different personalities and see them open up on a different level.

I learned several ways to communicate effectively with others, especially during our build a bridge activity.

I appreciate that there were so many hands on activities to do and that we got to learn in a different style other than lecture or reading.

I enjoyed them all because I like doing hands on learning and I learn the best that way versus book work and paperwork. Being able to learn about something then put it to use during a couple activities actually helped me a lot to understand everything I was learning.

I personally enjoyed the activities quite a lot. They helped me learn the concepts effectively while also being enjoyable to participate in.

I really liked having the participation on Facebook as part of our assignments. It was nice to have discussions throughout the week with classmates about what we had done in class


This part is easy.  Based on student testimonials both through the survey and their end of course reflection paper, the following two themes emerged:

  • Students appreciated the use of mobile devices and believed they helped to increase their engagement.
  • Students appreciated and learned best through the use of experiential and hands-on activities.

This is in line with recent research.  An EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative report, Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview, states that “students say they are motivated by solving real-world problems. They often express a preference for doing rather than listening.  At the same time, most educators consider learning-by-doing the most effective way to learn.” and that the focus should be “on real-world, complex problems and their solutions, using role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies, and participation in virtual communities of practice” (

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Experiential Mobile Learning Activities Presentation

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I am presenting workshops on Experiential Mobile Learning Activities at the Digital Media Literacy Conference 2012 and the Mobile Learning Experience 2012.  What follows is the slide deck from and a description of my presentation.

This interactive, experiential BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workshop has its foundation in two guiding principles: (1) Building a sense of community in the classroom helps address the whole learner including achievement and academic success, and (2) Mobile devices are extensions of young people. As such, they should be leveraged in the classroom.

Young people are connecting with one another through technology in unprecedented ways. Computers, wi-fi networks, and smart phones allow young people 24/7 access to technology and to one another. Using smart devices in educational settings as learning and community building tools can promote interpersonal communication and encourage young people to positively express their individuality and build their student-to-student, student-to-educator relationships. The activities that will be presented and experienced during this workshop use the technology that young people use – cell phones, social networking sites, laptops, blogs, and digital cameras. These activities focus upon and build diversity and cultural sensitivity, teamwork and problem solving, self-reflection and self-exploration, and communication and self-expression (adapted from Wolfe & Sparkman, 2009).

Through participation in this workshop, you can expect to:

  • Understand the importance of building community in the class.
  • Explore the research about the use of mobile devices by young people.
  • Learn through experience at least six community-building activities that you can use with your students.
  • Develop ideas and strategies for integrating mobile-driven team building activities into your classroom environment.

This workshop is divided into three parts:

  1. Exploring research on the importance of building a classroom community and how young people are using their mobile devices.
  2. Learning, playing, and experiencing team-building games using mobile devices – see for a list and descriptions of these activities.
  3. Large group brainstorming through Wallwisher and discussion – how these ideas and activities can be integrated into one’s own work environment.

Supporting Research


One of the DMIL2012 workshop participants, Billy Meinke, wrote about his experiences in my workshop in his blog, Digital Media and Learning (DML) 2012 Conference – Experience Notes:

The session, as she explained before we began, was much less of a talking-head lecture and more of an interactive experience. After describing recent research supporting the use of mobile devices in K-12 and Higher Education, she broke up the attendees into groups to take part in the same exercises she uses in her classroom. Using such tools as and Flickr’s mobile image uploading, she took us through simple activities that can be used to improve student engagement and build a sense of community in the classroom. Sure enough, no ice was left unbroken during that session and many participants continued conversations into the main room when she was done. I’ll be showing some of those activities to my mentors back at UH, hopefully seeing them put to use by instructors in the College of Education.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

The Magic of the Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

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I have written about the power of Comic and Animation Technologies in the Classroom.  Because of the Academy Awards, I was introduced to the beautiful, animated The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore that has so much potential for classroom uses.  What follows is the 15 animation and a description of the iPad storytelling app that tells the interactive story.

As is my tendency, I tweeted and Facebooked my excitement for this animation and others responded.

Extension Activity with an Interactive Storytelling iPad App

Through the creators’ ingenuity, they developed an amazing iPad app to go along with the video.

There are lovely filmic perspectives on each page, hand drawn illustrations that fade to 3D digital animation and the interactivity makes you feel like you are part director of your own animated short (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a Game-Changing eBook App).

The app includes pages of the story with text and 3D animated illustrations with an option to have audio narration of text.

The text can be translated into various languages.

Each page also has a “secret” embedded interactive that the user needs to discover.  This one is a keyboard where the user can follow along and play Pop Goes the Weasel.

Further Reading

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

QR Coded Student Videos: Classifying Activity

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This is part of my continuing series of blogs about how I am integrating mobile learning into my undergraduate course on interpersonal relations.  There are a dozen students in the class.  Ten of them are in the 17 to 21 year old age range.  The other two are over 35 years old.  All of them own mobile devices – four of them being Smart Devices (iPhone, Android).  Three of them bring their personal laptops to class.

The following activity was part of a three-hour class on nonverbal behaviors.  Even though the example describes how this activity was used with the different types of nonverbal behaviors, it can be used with any topic that has categories or classifications.  For example, it could be used for writing genres, biomes, art types, historical eras, etc.

Goals of the Activity:

  • To use videos and QR codes to explore and learn about a class topic.
  • To build community by working on a common project.

Needed Materials/Functions:

  • One mobile device per group to create videos that can be uploaded directly to YouTube
  • One mobile device per group with a QR reader.  I recommend i-nigma.  The same device can be used for recording video, scanning QR codes, and viewing videos on the mobile device.
  • One computer per group that has internet access.
  • A printer that computers are connected to.
  • A YouTube Account


  • Form students/members into smaller groups – 3 to 5 members per group.
  • Ask students to create short videos using their mobile devices that demonstrate smaller concepts within a larger topic.   Have students videotape 4 to 6 separate short videos (a minute or less) from the list of categories or classifications provided to them about the topic selected.   In this example, for my interpersonal relations class, students were asked to create videos to demonstrate different nonverbal behaviors from the following list: glance, eye contact (gaze), volume, vocal nuance, proximity, gestures, facial expression, pause (silence), intonation, dress, posture, word choice and syntax, sounds (paralanguage)
  • Encourage them to provide enough information to showcase the topic but not too much that the answer/category is too obvious.

  • Ask students to upload each of their videos to YouTube.  If they don’t have their own accounts, you can provide them with an email address to send their videos directly to your YouTube account.  This information can be found under account settings.

Thanks, Hall Davidson for this tip.

  • Print the QR codes and distribute them to each of the groups.  So if there are 5 groups, print four sets for the four other groups.  Develop a coding system or have groups develop a coding system that identifies their group, a unique symbol for each of the sets, and the number of the video.  This permits an easy identification code of which group and which video for the next part.  A coding system can include giving each group a set of numbers to identify which groups have their QR codes.  Going back to the example of five groups, group one can be given 1-4, group two 5-9, group three 10-13 and so on.  Groups can then be instructed to label their videos A through E (given they made five videos).

  • Groups receive the QR codes for videos completed by the other groups. Ask group members view the videos via the QR codes and identify which of the concepts the video is depicting.


  • For this example, the different types of nonverbal behaviors were printed and taped on the classroom wall. When a group identified which behavior, they taped their QR code under that category.  Once completed, groups “graded” one another’s correct categories referring to the codes they developed and by writing a “yes” or “no” on the QR code.


  • Alternative One:  to posting the QR codes on the wall is to have students identify which concept by writing it directly on the printed QR codes they received.  The need for groups coding their QR codes would be eliminated.  Correctness of their responses would be determined during the next step when the videos are shown to the entire class.
  • Alternative Two:  If there is access to a computer lab/1:1 mobile lab, the QR Codes could be displayed on the monitors.  There would need to be enough computers to show on the videos/QR Codes created.  Videos could be accessed via these monitor displays through their mobile devices using their QR readers.  Then students could write their guess down for each of the videos.  The need for groups coding their QR codes would be eliminated.  Correctness of their responses would be determined during the next step when the videos are shown to the entire class.
  • Show the videos using a projector, interactive whiteboard.  Facilitate a discussion about the concepts and how well they were depicted in the student videos.

Give it a try.  Use your QR reader to access and view the following videos created by students about nonverbal behaviors.  See if you can guess which behavior they depicted using the nonverbal behavior list provide above.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 18, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Communication Activities Using Mobile Devices

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Mobile devices are major sources of communication for almost everybody these days.  As such, these devices lend themselves for exploring effective and ineffective communication.  The goals of this unit of study are to:

  • gain a greater understanding of the keys to effective communication.
  • build team and cooperative learning skills.

Ice Breaker:  Texting Messages

  • Prior to the activity, choose a phrase (with fewer than 300 characters) that has meaning to your group and translate it for text messaging (for help, visit Make sure that all participants have one another’s cell phone numbers stored in their own phone’s memory.
  • After arranging the group in a circle, text your message to the first person (it helps to have the message already loaded into your phone). The person who receives the text then whispers the message to the next person in the circle. That person must then text the message to the next person, who whispers it to the next person, who then, in turn, whispers it. Continue in this fashion (i.e., alternating texts and whispers) until the last person receives the message. The last person then verbally shares the message with the entire group.
  • Messages can also be sent from the computer via
  • Discuss problems with messages that texted.


As you can see by this example, the original post was wen ppl talk, listN completely. Most ppl nevr lisN. (When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.) The final person received the message, When people talk, most people listen unless there is nobody to hear you.

Ice Breaker: Text a Story

One person starts a story – either a word, phrase, or sentence (can be negotiated with the group or predetermined by the leader), and texts this to the next group member who adds a word, phrase, or sentence.  When it gets to the last person, s/he reads the story aloud.

Same But Different

  • Distribute via email or securely face-to-face the Same but Different pictures to  students/members.
  • Three pairs of similar pictures will be distribute to each group of six students/members.
  • Via telephone or texting communications, members must find the one and only partner who has the exact same picture.

Source:  Abrams, Michael; Scannell, Mary; Mulvihill, Mike (2011-11-22). Big Book of Virtual Teambuilding Games: Quick, Effective Activities to Build Communication, Trust and Collaboration from Anywhere! (Kindle Locations 1840-1841). McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.

Building Communications

  • Split group into two to four subgroups and give each group the same exact building supplies.  Tinker Toys work well for this.  Take the groups to separate locations so they have no visual or direct verbal access to one another.
  • Ask the group to assign a communicator, someone who communicates with the other groups using his or her mobile device.
  • Give them the instruction that they are to create three structures that look exactly alike and to do so, they need to communicate to the other groups via their mobile devices.  This can be done either through voice or texting but no images can be sent.  The communicator can only convey instructions received from the other teams, but cannot be involved in the actual hands-on building of the structure
  • Once the groups believe that they have completed the task, tell them that they can send pictures of their structure to the other groups for a final confirmation.
  • Bring the groups back together to have them compare their structures.


Student Reflection

We broke up into groups, with each group having one telephone communicator and three builders. Each group had a bag with the same tinker toy parts. We then had to build a symmetrical structure identical to the other two groups. We had to ask questions and give directions to each other until we were able to come up with identical structures. It took awhile, but we were able to communicate effectively enough to create identical structures. Yeah for us!

I thought this activity was really difficult and confusing because everybody was talking at once and kind of difficult to hear. That is why communication is very important. Communication has a big role in our everyday life non-verbally or verbally.

We received the bag of tinker toys we then had to go to different rooms. Somebody from each group then had to decide who was going to be the communicators. The communicators had to then had to call the other communicators and the rest were the listeners, and the listeners were the only ones who could touch the tinker toys. The Communicators had then had to tell us what to construct. I thought this activity was really difficult and confusing because everybody was talking at once and kind of difficult to hear. That is why communication is very important, Communication is also a big role in our everyday life nonverbally or verbally.

Reflections Via Voicethread

  • Create an Account on Voicethread.
  • Start a Voicethread with photos from the communications activities.
  • Show students/members how to register.
  • Ask students to verbally record their reactions to the activities via a webcam or by calling in via their cell phones.
  • Have students/members listen to all of the responses and then discuss ways these messages were effective and ineffective.

Post Class Student Reflections

After class, as part of their out-of-class assignments, students post their reflections about the class activities via a Facebook Page set up for this purpoose.

What a great way to learn communication techniques! Thank you Jackie for all your creative ways to make this class fun and exciting as well as informational.

These as well as other mobile-driven team building activities can be found at

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Mobile-Driven Identity Activities

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Leveraging the students’ mobile devices has become an ongoing and integrated practice of my face-to-face undergraduate course on Interpersonal Relations.  What follows are the mobile and technology driven activities completed during the class on personal-identity.

I Am Poems

Students are given the following template and asked to fill in the blanks to create their own I Am Poems.

Once the poems are written, students are provided with a link to a shared Google Doc Presentation and instructions to use one of the presentation slides to compose their poem and include a photo from their Facebook accounts or one taken with their mobile that symbolizes the essence of their identify.  After all students complete this task, the presentation is projected via an interactive board.  Students, one at a time, read their poems to their classmates.

We made an “I AM” poem, which I thought was very fun. It was interesting to see the imaginations on some classmates. These activities are what makes the class fun.

We wrote ” I am” poems which was really cool too. I liked seeing what everyone had to say about themselves. I got to see a side of them that I probably never would have.

Values Identification

Students are asked to choose their three top values from a list of values. They are then given the task to locate objects in their environment that symbolize these values and take photos using their mobile devices. Directions are given to email their photos to a Flickr account set up for this purpose.  Students do not need to have an account on Flickr to do so.  The steps to set this up are as follows:

  • Set up an account on Flickr –
  • Photos can then be emailed directly to this Flickr account.  “You can upload photos to Flickr from your camera using your unique email upload address. When you upload photos via email, the subject line is used as the title of your photo, and the body of the email is used as the description” (

Students are given the email address to send their photos to Flickr along with the instructions to put the name of their value in the subject line and why they selected that value in the description. Since all the group’s images will are sent to this single Flickr account, students are able to view each other’s photographs through the Flickr website projected on a screen if in a face-to-face setting.

Going over our values was an important part of the activity (I personally can say) because our values play a critical role in our self-esteem, they dictate what is important to us.

Peer Feedback

The Johari Window is introduced to the students.  The focus of this activity is on the window known to others but not known to self.  Since the students have been working together for several weeks, they have some knowledge of their classroom peers.  As such, they are instructed to provide feedback to those three or four students with whom they have had most contact during the initial weeks of the course.  Feedback is provided in the form of three descriptive adjectives texted to the person receiving the feedback.

We sent messages to other people describing how we saw them when we first met in class. This was surprising to me because I received different feedback then I would expect..

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm

First Class Ice Breakers Using Mobile Devices

with 19 comments

I previously wrote about the importance of beginning a class focusing on the learners in the room as opposed to the content to be covered in Beginning the School Year: It’s About Connections Not Content.

Most classes, starting with about middle school, begin the school year with reviewing the content to be covered, expectations regarding grades, and other academic information provided by the teacher or instructor.  The human or social element is often disregarded.

What is interesting is that most learners enter the classroom wondering who is in the course.  They want to know about the teacher and the people in the class not what material is to be covered. What this says to me as an educator is that it all begins with a social connection – between the educator and the learners, and between the learners themselves.

All of my classes, regardless of student age or demographics – elementary gifted students or graduate students, begin with ice-breakers and team-building activities.  I recently developed a passion for using students’ mobile devices to do so as this devices have become natural and personalized extensions of students’ “selves.”

What follows are several of the mobile-driven ice-breakers I recently used in an undergraduate course on Interpersonal Relations.  I also include some student reactions to these activities.

Cell Sharing

  • Ask participants to locate a photo, song, or video from their mobile device that best represents them.
  • Each person then shares his or her media and the reason it was selected.
  • For photo or video sharing:  Pass the device around so all students can view the image or use a webcam to project the image onto a larger computer screen or whiteboard.
  • For sharing of music: Attach portable speakers to assist with the sharing of songs so others can hear them.

Student Reflections about Cell Sharing

Several students stated that this was their favorite activity of the class.

I thought it was awesome that you wanted everyone to show the class a picture or type of music that had meaning to us. By doing this we got to see and learn a little bit more of our peers.

We did a photo/audio thing which was my favorite activity because we got to learn a little bit of everyone’s lives

Question Selector

Texting Interviews

  • Randomly pair students (can be either face-to-face or virtually).
  • Ask them to develop questions that they would ask to help them get to know someone better.
  • The pairs text their questions and answers back and forth.
  • Interviewers summarize what they found out about their partners and posts their partners’ names and this information on a Sticky Note Board such as Wallwisher.

Student Reflection About the Texting Interviews

I enjoyed the texting exercise. It’s pretty cool when your teacher lets you use your phone for the activities especially since I got to learn more about my partner.

Student Reflections About the Ice Breaker Activities

I think that those games helped us get to know each other and were a very good ice breaker to help us know who our class mates are.

We played many activities and I believe that they all helped in breaking the ice between us all. We were able to get to know each other easier and faster than in a typical classroom environment.

I learned to communicate better instead of hanging back in a corner.

Although we all come from different backgrounds and cultures we all related quite well and by learning about each other we can start to establish friendships

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

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