|aNTUna Go Binder – Mobile Learning redefined in NTU!
Since the decommissioning of aNTUna Blackboard ToGo! in Jun 2004, the team from NTU-CED has been looking out for a suitable Mobile Learning technology that fully address the needs of facilitating effective mobile learning any time, any where and at any pace.
After much detailed market survey, the team chanced on a Blackboard building block called Agilix Go Binder in Nov 2004 and went on to do thorough hands-on evaluation on this mobile learning application.
This software -Agilix Go Binder (http://www.gobinder.com) - extends the use of NTU’s edveNTUre Learning Management and Delivery system into offline-use scenarios.
It works just like a traditional 3-ring document binder when students organise their notes with separators into sections, Agilix GoBinder enables our students and professors to access and use course content in settings even where an Internet connection is not available. In addition, this software integrates with Microsoft Outlook Calendar and Task functions. It collates calendar events and announcements found within edveNTUre. Please refer to Figure 3 below for the binder-like user interface.
Figure 3: aNTUna Go Binder – 3 ring binder like user interface
The download process is similar to the synchronization process of PDAs when they are connected to the PC. PDA users can access their portable organizational information. With the click of a button, students and professors can download course notes for viewing. The downloaded course sites are structured into tabs with user-friendly folder-like interface and the documents are converted to image files for ease of annotation. The students and professors can use the Tablet PC pen input to annotate notes on slide images. The original documents will also be downloaded progressively, in the background with Go Binder program running,to the user’s Tablet PC. In other words, the students just need to launch Go Binder program when they have gained access to the campus wireless network and the course sites will be downloaded automatically. The downloaded course sites will be available for off-line browsing when they disconnect their Tablet PCs from the network connection. This would mean that the course materials are always available to them, once they have downloaded them, regardless of the status of the eLearning servers and the campus network. When the students use Go Binder again, only the new materials will be downloaded.
Figure 4 below shows a sample annotation on the power point slides and Figure 5 shows an annotation over a PDF file.
Figure 4: Annotations over Power Point slides
Figure 5: Annotations over PDF document
The students can also capture an image of a website and have it available for off-line annotation. This is feasible simply by accessing the website and then select the option to print to the Go Binder printer. Figure 6 shows how a web page looks like after this printing process.
Figure 6: Capture a website’s image just by printing
If you wish to view an online demo on the Go Binder’s features, please visit this website: http://www.gobinder.com/demo/main.html
To bring awareness of Tablet PC and this new mobile learning tool to the academic community, the team from NTU-CED organized a seminar to officially launch this service, aNTUna Go Binder, in Feb 2005 and invited staff and students from NTU and the other Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) to attend. Microsoft presented a technology update on Tablet PC and Agilix introduced the solution to the community. Technology partners were invited to share and exhibit their available Tablet PC models. To view the recorded seminar, please visit this website http://cedmedia.ntu.edu.sg/media/aNTUna_2005.wmv
To facilitate the ease of software distribution, NTU-CED made the download page available as a portal tab on their edveNTUre eLearning system. Students are required to fill in an on-line registration form and thereafter the official license key will be sent to them via email. Please refer to Figure 7 for the Go Binder download page.
Since the official launch of this new Mobile Learning service on 25 Feb 2005, there have been a total of 410 copies of Go Binder software downloaded and the feedback received from the students and professors has been positive and encouraging.
Figure 7: Go Binder Download Page
This paper outlined the processes NTU adopted in setting up their Mobile Learning initiatives for the mission critical edveNTUre E-Learning services for a large community of 22,818 students and 1,300 professors. The lessons learned will be a good case study for institutions that are thinking of or going to embark upon large scale implementation of Mobile Learning initiatives.