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H818 Project - Two Ideas: Mobile Study Toolkit OR Botanical Gardens specimen QR Codes

The Projects are near the end inspired by frustration - the link is to my first experiment with Sway

Cloud created by:

Denise McDonough
19 November 2017


Warning: this starts with a bit of a rant. Upon registering to study a masters degree online with the Open University, I had intended to go "paperless". However, I found it impossible to study using the OU mobile app on my daily commute. Sadly it is inadequate for anything outside reading forum posts. I discovered weeks into the course that all the content wasn't there or any links to where it could be found!  When I asked mentioned it in the module FB group the comments were withering and does not promote a 21st Century learning experience at the OU. Users expect a Facebook/Amazon experience today and to compete with the myriad of other options online it is critical to provide high quality tools for mobiles to access the content we pay for! 

Like many OU students, I work full time and wedge my studies in where I can. Commuting is a big one so it is fundamental that I am able access my learning materials from anywhere, anytime with mobile technology. We need to be able to organise our study materials digitally in a methodical way so when it comes time to write an assignment one can locate that "perfect gem" for citation when one can only remember a few key words.

Annotating articles is hit and miss depending on the PDFs provided. One was actually a photocopy jpg of an old document from 1990's and impossible to do anything with unless printed and painstakingly retyped or OCR and scrubbed for errors. 

Saving citations is also critical information to capture on the go, as the bread crumb trail of the internet can lead to many interesting unplanned destinations that bare useful fruit. Unfortunately as a life long learner, I felt the need to reject the OU tools the student website offers because when we finish studying and loose access to the portal we will lose all our materials, blogs and references, etc. This is an extremely important thing to warn students about at the beginning of any module because you cannot export references easily from a cloud server - even if you think of it. All of this frustration lead to inspiration.


In experimenting with several mobile apps (which also work on tablets) it occurred to me that many students new to smartphones might benefit from an animated presentation of the top 4 types of apps mentioned above for studying on a mobile device. Students that work full time and have busy family lives need resources to utilise small gaps of 30 minutes or an hour where possible.  There was a great article in H800 that mentioned Taxi drivers practicing their English language acquisition between fares - tools for this type of learning must be seen as a priority if institutions like the Open University. (Language Learning Defined by Time and Place: A framework for Next Generation Designs, Kukulska-Hulme, A. 2012). All distance learners can benefit from this type of time management.


I plan to use Sway which is part of the Office 365 platform.*

The Openness aspect will be achieved in blogging, using Twitter to poll, and in providing the final object as OER material under Creative Commons licence.


I work at the Univesity of Oxford and often visit the Botanical Gardens. The signage many plants was incomplete or missing. My second idea is to create QR codes for each specimen that linked to a wikipedia articles.

This would serve a two-fold education experiece:

1. Learning the plants name in an interactive way and teaching the critical aspect of using wikipedia

2. Find gaps in the wiki and encourage users to update missing information and use crowd sourcing in a small way to improve the information available to all users of this wonderful resource.


*(A subscription to O365 is not necessary to have access and use Sway. From one can create and account and use and share Sway presentations provided by teachers in your childrens school or with other educators). This is my first experiment with Sway


Extra content

Embedded Content

Adobe Spark Draft Project slide show

Adobe Spark Draft Project slide show

Accessible Alternative
added by Denise McDonough


Denise McDonough
2:00pm 25 December 2017

Survey: Mobile Apps for Study - closes 7 Jan. 2018

Denise McDonough
3:49pm 25 December 2017

The following alternative to this embedded content has been provided by the person who put the content on the site for accessibility reasons. I am working on an alternative. Shockingly Adobe does not provide one and there is no PDF export to post it. Sad because the animation and other features are stunning visually. One would have to recreate each slide somehow in another program - who has the time? Looks like I will go with SWAY - I am not a big Microsoft fan but this may win me over.

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