Last week we visited the Nursing and Midwifery School at Staffordshire University to road-test our mobile e-learning ideas and technologies. We introduced Destiny MOOC e-learning courses designed specifically for mobile to students to expand their learning opportunities and encourage interaction with online courses via mobile.
As introduced in a previous blog post, the European Union-funded Erasmus+ Destiny project is an EU-wide MOOC platform, of which Bitjam is a partner. MOOCs – or Massive Open Online Courses – offer a novel way to provide everyone and anyone access to online education. The Destiny MOOC learning management system is based on the popular Moodle with a key focus on mobile accessibility. In case you missed it, Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments.
The students who took part in the user testing were very positive about the idea around compact mobile learning experiences. One student reflected “This means I can learn while I’m on the train, neat!!”
Bitjam partnered with Erasmus+ on the Destiny Project as it provided an opportunity to integrate healthcare and education resources to expand the use of technology in the public sector. E-learning courses made purely for mobile are shaping the future of education as they’re easy to use, accessible to all and provide tools for learning that can be carried around in pockets and used on the go. Destiny is particularly useful for health and social care learning as it’s also a noticeboard for news and updates, such as details about local relevant study clubs.
Bitjam’s role has ranged from gathering and analysing MOOC data, developing the web platform and recently developing the Mobile friendly learning management system. Creating a platform that is easy to navigate and creates a strong UX has been crucial to the success of this project.
Bitjam have an ambitious new project on the horizon, working in partnership with a well respected UK Telehealth company. In collaboration with Simple Shared Healthcare and SEMPH, under an NHS license bitjam will be developing a new software product based on the same NHS owned “Simple Telehealth” methodology that powers Florence and the the US VHA’s Annie.
Simple Telehealth uses technology to deliver health-related interactive services and information. This gives people access to better care in their own homes.
The 12 month project aims to develop and test a new product ready for full release in late 2017/early 2018. The system will utilise and improve upon the existing NHS’s Simple Telehealth Intellectual Property to support health and educational protocols. The aim is to provide an automatic, bi-directional app and SMS message-based service. The app will be a behavioural, educational and monitoring service which automatically interacts with end users. This communication will involve a series of personalised, planned and timed reminders. Educational information, compliance and monitoring messages will either assist with and aid patient self care or promote learning for students.
The project is supported by UKTI, BIC, Staffordshire University and Keele University and will provide a welcome boost for the local economy. It will raise the technology profile for Staffordshire based businesses, and place the area firmly on the map as a key player for applying technological knowledge to social improvement projects.
Bitjam will be setting up a team of developers to work on the project including designing the cloud server environment, software development, testing and deployment. This will lead to the creation of a number of new positions within the business and local economy.
Director Carl Plant states “It’s an incredibly positive time to live in the Staffordshire area, with opportunities like this lending themselves perfectly to the spirit of Bitjam – using technology for social good both locally and across the globe.”
STEAM. That’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. Fundamental subjects that influence vitally important areas of study and career choice in later life. Subjects that have inspired some of the greatest technological advances and scientific advances in history (think smartphones! And on a more serious note, medicine such as antibiotics). So why is it so difficult to get kids interested in schools?
Aside from there being many distractions for children – again, think of those gadgets that sit in the pockets of most school children these days, buzzing and bleeping, just waiting to deter their attention – it’s never really been considered “cool” to be nerdy or really in to studying.
However, the last few years have seen the rise of the “geek”, as children are learning that knowledge is a powerful tool for success and that knuckling down will bring greater long term benefits – better jobs, nicer holidays, bigger cars etc. Games such as Minecraft even give them chance to compete with their mates! But they’re essentially solving problems and puzzles to achieve greatness.
Applying this logic to teaching methods in schools will help the education sector to encourage children to immerse themselves in STEAM, by teaching them in a way children enjoy and can relate to. The old Victorian school days that suppressed children’s creative sides are finally beginning to be replaced with a new system that actively encourages imagination and relates it back to STEAM subjects. Even creating an acronym gives these subjects a new, cooler connotation.
A brilliant example is the Trentham High School Year 8 Fractals competition that Carl Plant of Bitjam will be judging in December. The school contacted Carl to ask him to take part due to his vast experience creating technology for the public sector. Fractals are basically patterns that repeat infinitely, like a snowflake or galaxy formation. Fractals can be found almost everywhere and the desired effect is that the children might open their eyes to what’s around them, and realise what they take for granted every day. The competition requires the children to design their own fractals using digital assistance, with the most creative outcome being the winner.
It’s fantastic to see such competitions being held within an educational environment where the children can be nurtured and encouraged to take an interest in extra-curricular study (the competition is additional to the curriculum and therefore the students will only enter voluntarily). Competitions such as this could spark a revolution to the current education system, becoming part of the regular curriculum and allowing children the opportunity to become interested in STEAM, not just in school but outside of their school hours. Applying STEAM across the curriculum – like Trentham High School have done with Maths – is a key way to both focus on the progress measures, espcially in English and Maths, as well as the tech, art and engineering subjects.
Bitjam have a specific interest in STEAM, and want to promote 3 similar topics for future STEAM challenges. Amateur satellite communication, data visualisation and telehealth are all subjects that have the potential to become creative projects for schools, and Bitjam already have some ideas of how to bring these to life. If you would like to discuss these potential projects for your own learning environment, please contact Carl Plant for a chat.
We will be creating blog posts with more detail on these subjects in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for more information and to understand how these topics can relate well to school projects. We want to absorb children – the next generation! – in these fascinating subjects and help them create a legacy that they can take in to adult life and pass on to the next generation.