Monday, 19 May 2014


Over Easter MELSIG (Multimedia-enhanced Learning Special Interest Group) ran a conference hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University, based in their new business school – a very shiny, impressive building. It was Smart Devices for Learning #3 using smartphones, tablets and apps to enhance learning. The quality of the building was matched by the presentations on the day – lots of shiny, impressive ideas. I would like to share a few of those with you in this blog post.

App for Dentistry: Peter Gough from MMU explained how many of the labs in dentistry could be difficult for everyone to see, especially when dealing with work no bigger than a fingernail. The idea for the app came about from looking at airline seats and how they all had screens integrated in the headrests, so that everyone had a good view of the film. Mobile devices provide the perfect personal space for the detailed videos needed in dentistry. The app was created with a selection of short videos which students could use to clarify and reinforce any teaching points. You can get the app here:

Spritz for text: Have you ever thought about how much time your eyes waste moving across the paper as you are reading? Spritz have. And they have come up with the Spritz Reader. Why not have a go? Once you are on the page, you will find that you have to try all the different speed settings. I have some doubts, in that I am not sure we do read every word on a page and often we need to see words in a group to ascertain context, but I’m prepared to watch the development as it is an interesting concept. I’m also not convinced by the colours in the trial version – the white background would become very wearing to stare at. Try it for yourself at:

iPhone charger case: One of the most interesting things that happens at conferences is that you talk to people about a variety of topics, not always related to the conference! I was chatting to someone and mentioned my current frustrations with my iPhone battery, which only lasts a few hours. He had the same problem and bought a charger case for his iPhone. This is a case with a small, extra battery fitted in the base. I have since looked into this and there seem to be various ones available. Having searched a variety of online sources, there are many types available at a range of prices from £15 to £65. This may seem to be a consumer problem, but actually I think it is a problem that will affect many students. I use my phone all day every day for work – and often learning or researching is a part of that. It has become a constant companion in my productivity. However, currently, I have to keep a spare charger at work or manage without a device after 3pm when the battery runs out. Of course, the best solution in the long term would be if we had batteries that lasted longer or a means of easily replacing them once they start to fail.

Enhance, Empower, Enrich, Enable: 

Simon Thomson from Leeds Metropolitan University took an unconventionally traditional approach to help staff engage with new technologies. He used a ‘chatterbox’ to get people talking and asking questions about technology. There were smiles all round as we nostalgically remembered how these paper devices had told us who we would marry and how many children we would have in our schooldays, but this was overtaken with discussion about how we need to have constructive conversations about technology and it does not matter what facilitates this. You can find a link to the Chatterbox template here: with instructions on how to fold it here:

BYOD4L: (Bring your own device for Learning) This was a session in which the aim was to share 100 ideas, which will be collated and published by MELSIG at a later stage. We had to examine the benefits that a smart device could offer and write up into a poster the best ideas from each group. I look forward to seeing to final results!

iTunesU at The University of Sheffield: Graham McElearney gave a presentation of the work that is taking place at The University of Sheffield to showcase excellent learning content through the iTunesU portal, which is accessed through mobile devices. Previously, iTunesU was only available to users of Apple Devices, but now it can be used via an app called TuneSpace on Android devices as well.

Other sessions that took place were as follows:

One final thing to note is that MELSIG will be running a virtual conference on ‘BYOD (Bring your own Device) for learning’ using the hashtag #byod4l later in the year.

If you would like to know more about MELSIG, there is a JISC mail group at: or you can follow on Twitter @melsiguk

The next MELSIG event is on Social Media for Learning and will take place in Liverpool on Tuesday 3rd June.

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