Archive for the ‘Portable Learning’ Category

Here are more portable flashcards. This time they are for working on prepositions of time. We are using these in my writing class in the context of working on paragraphs that use time order. They are available in two formats. One is for students who would like to view them on their mobile devices and the other is for students who would like to view them on computer monitors.

Cards for iPods or Mobile Devices with Photo Browsing Capability

I put this message on my Blackboard site: If you have an iPod or a mobile phone that allows you to browse photos, you can put these flashcards on your mobile device. Simply save this zipped folder. Then put the cards on your iPod or mobile phone the same way that you put photos on these devices. Then, you can review these prepositions anywhere that you go!

Flashcards for Mobile Devices

Cards on Slideshare

I put this message on my Blackboard site: If you don’t have an iPod or a mobile phone that allows you to browse photos, you can view the same flashcards as above at this internet site. Just click on this link to see the cards.




Today during the break in my writing class, one of my students asked me to remind her how to put the flashcards  on her iPod. That made me very happy!

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sunshinigSome words in English have a larger meaning than others. The easiest words to learn are the words with the smallest meanings. As meanings get larger, the process of grasping that meaning sometimes becomes more difficult. That is one reason that articles (a, an and the) in English and prepositions are a bit challenging for some English language learners. One way to help students acquire the meanings of prepositions is to break them down into smaller categories like prepositions of location or prepositions of time. These two types of prepositions are good starting points and lots of exposure to them should help students begin to understand their large meanings.

Flashcards are one way to increase the exposure students have to prepositions. I’ve made some flashcards that cover prepositions of location that students can either put on their mobile devices or review using Slideshare. If students have  iPods or cell phones that have photo browsing capability, they can save the cards through the zip file and then put them on their mobile devices in the same way that they put photos on their devices. Alternatively, students can view the flashcards on Slideshare by linking to the address below.

I’d just like to add one more thing about making flashcards for mobile devices. I made these using PowerPoint. I like using PowerPoint because the font is clear and I can easily add some photos to the cards. PowerPoint also allows me to put the “presentation” on Slideshare. To make the cards for mobile devices, I simply save the PowerPoint presentation as jppgs. They end up in a folder. I then zipped that folder, put it on my website and now I have a link that I can give my students and you!  The links are below.

Cards for mobile devices:


 Link to the presentation on Slideshare:


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copy-of-mombradquiltPreviously, I wrote a post on how to make flash cards for iPods and mobile phones that have photo browsing capability. Since then I have continued experimenting with this and have added another set of cards to my and my students’ stash. (I took the term “stash” from my mother. She and other quilters use it to refer to the myriad of different types of fabrics that they keep in drawers and cupboards. From my perspective, a quilter’s stash is a treasure and the bigger the stash, the better. I think this might apply to mobile flash cards as well!)

I made the latest set using PowerPoint. These cards involve a simple review of the irregular past tense. The first card is the base form of the verb and the second card is the irregular past tense form. I think I prefer this way of making portable flashcards to using MS Paint (the method I used my first time around) because with PowerPoint, I can also put the cards on Slideshare where students who do not have  iPods or mobile phones with photo browsing capability can  access them. The cards are simple, but if you would like to use them with your students, please feel free. You can down load the cards for mobile devices that review irregular past tense verbs or view them at Slideshare (Flash Cards for Irregular Past Tense Verbs at Slideshare).

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In an earlier post I mentioned that I would like to work on ways to make learning activities portable. I’ve been experimenting with how to do this and I’ve learned a few things. Most of the examples of portable activities that I have seen are simply jpeg images loaded onto a handheld device. These images can be created in a variety of ways (MS Paint, software, PowerPoint, photos), but in the end are saved as jpegs. In the case of a portable quiz, the first image will be the instructions (01);  the second image will be the first question (02); the third image will be the first answer (03). The second question (04) will follow and the second answer (05) and so on. In the case of both a quiz and a PowerPoint presentation, the images must be numbered with at least two digits so that the mobile device can put them in the correct order. Understanding this, opens up all kinds of creative possibilities.

The images are then made available to the students through the web, in a course management system, or sent to the students through email. If they have iPods or iPhones, they will sync the images the same way they sync photos. This means saving the images in the folder (usually a picture folder) that syncs to the iPod. Getting the images to cell phones is something that is more challenging. Both Joe Dale  and Dave Foord have given me some helpful advice and encouragement. Dave Foord feels that the reason getting the images to phones is a bit “tricky” is that it’s “not something that can be achieved with a ‘1 size fits all’ solution especially as all phones are different and all institution systems allow people to do different things in different ways.” His advice is to rely “on the learners being able to upload files…, so all we need to do is get the files into a folder, and make this available somewhere” and he wisely advises that it is a good idea “to talk to the learners and find out what they would find easiest.”

As you make these types of portable activities, just keep in mind that because the images are jpeg, the quiz questions can only be multiple choice or have one answer (correct or incorrect, true or false, a one word answer such as a vocabulary response to a photo, or a fill in the blank answer.) Critical reasoning and analytical skills could be accessed by asking the students to provide reasons along with their answers.  Also, PowerPoint presentations can only be presented in a linear fashion, and as a result animations and non-linear aspects are, unfortunately, lost.

In my opinion, activities that are somewhat large are better as portable activities than smaller ones since a larger activity makes the time taken to download it and then transfer it to a portable device more worthwhile.  

Using MS Paint to make cards is easy. I learned how to use MSPaint to do this from a video made by Lilian Soon. I read about it on Joe Dale’s Blog and he learned about if from David Foord. Here it is! Thank you to all of you.

After talking to my students, I made 92 cards on Prepositions of Location  and made them available. (They need to be removed from the zipped folder.) One very enthusiastic student downloaded them and synced them to his iPod immediately.  When he appeared in class the next day showing off his portable flash cards, there was a beautiful buzz in the classroom and since then (just last week) another student has accessed the cards.  At the request of the students, I have also turned some PowerPoint presentations on grammar into jpegs and made those available. It’s been kind of exciting! To turn a PowerPoint presentation into jpeg slides, simply choose “Save As” and save it as a jepg. You will end up with a folder containing one jpeg for each slide in the presentation.

For me, the easiest way to create quizzes for portable devices is to use a software program called StudyMate. You have to purchase the software, but it allows you to make an activity available to students in a variety of ways. They can either work with it as a link from their computer, or they can download a version of the activity and snyc it to their iPods or put it on their phones. One of the books that the students in our program use for reading and vocabulary development is Contact USA. In the teacher’s book there are a lot of multiple choice questions that cover the vocabulary. Using StudyMate, I turned these questions (with a few revisions) into 100 cards for review. There are three versions of the review: flash cards for use on a computer, a game that requires two participants, and cards that can be used on a Portable Device. If you’d like to see these, the first two can be found at Cards and Game for the Computer  and the portable cards are at Cards for a Portable Device. Since almost all of these questions were taken from the teacher’s book, I was concerned about copyright and contacted  the publisher. I was told that it would be fine for me to make this activity available.

One more way to create quizzes is iQuiz Maker. It is very easy to create quizzes on iQuizmaker; it’s free; and there are some nice flashy templates available for Mac users. To get it, go to iQuizMaker with iPod. Create the quiz and make it available to your students in the way that is easiest for all of you. Students will need to download the file and then put it in their iPod Games folder which is in their iTunes folder. The quiz will automatically sync to their iPods just like it does for any new music download. I have made a very small (ten questions) experimental quiz pack with iQuiz maker that you are welcome to take a look at. To view it, you will first need to download iQuizMaker.

Of course, you can use your camera to take pictures and use those as images. For beginning vocabulary building, you could make the first image a picture and then use MS Paint for the second image, which would be the word. 

There are other ways to make portable learning activities and I am sure that as handheld devices become more sophisticated, teachers will have increasingly more options available. At this point, I’m happy to know that at least some of my students are carrying a little bit of their writing class with them when they ride the bus.


Dale, Joe. Create mobile phone quizzes in MS Paint. Accessed January 19, 2009, from                          http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/2009/01/create-mobile-phone-quizzes-in-ms-paint.html.

dgrice. PowerPoint to iPod. Accessed January 19, 2009, from http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=fe1efe93b16e8d353499.

Foord, David.  Using ‘Paint” to create simple quizes for a phone. Accessed February 11, 2009, from http://davefoord.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/using-paint-to-create-simple-quizes-for-a-phone/.

Martin, Kelly. CTA-articulated-bus. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CTA-articulated-bus.jpg.

Soon, Lilian. Creating quizzes for the phone. Retrieved January 19, 2009, from http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2479360146328027324&hl=en.

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 Happy New Year!

I thought I’d start out the new year by linking to this wonderful video. The context is K-12 in the U.S., but I think that it speaks to most teachers. As this video reminds us, our students are digital learners. They are accustomed to learning, accessing information, and communicating on the web.


Bjnesbitt. A Vision of K-12 Students Today. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-ZVCjfWf8


One of the things in the video that jumped out at me was the reference to w.w.w. as “whatever,” “whenever,” “wherever.” Very catchy! It’s the “wherever” part that I’d really like to stretch into this year. One of my goals is to make some learning activities accessible to my students through Ipods, mobile phones, email, or texting. I have visions of my students, portable devices in hand, bouncing along on the bus happily working on something fun for class. If you have ideas on how to do this, please share them through the comment section of this blog.

Also, see David Gagnon’s blog  for more interesting numbers on students and technology.

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