Interview with Kurt Klynen: a mobile learning experience

This is an interview with Kurt Klynen about Mobile Learning and a Mobile Learning experience. It comes from a series of interviews with experienced teachers and educators from around the world sharing their passion and experiences with mobile learning. These interviews are also published in 'Learning Materials for Mobile Devices', an essential guide to help as you begin to explore, choose, and integrate learning materials for mobile devices into your classroom. It's free to download from our website.

About Kurt

Kurt started his career 15 years ago as a teacher. Until this day he still teaches in a primary and secondary school working with children and teachers on integrating technology in teaching and learning. After school hours he works a lot with teachers on curriculum development leading to the foundation of ICT Atelier in 2009. Always with one mission: hands-on, inspiring workshops on the integration of technology in education. You can reach him on Twitter at @meesterkurt.


Question: Has the rise of apps helped the use of mobile devices for learning and teaching?

Answer: For schools who are just discovering the possibilities of mobile devices that will definitely be the case, but I think we should focus on the learning experience for the students. There are so many apps out here that it can become quite overwhelming. Focusing a lesson on an app isn’t the way to go for me.


Question: What should be the next step then?

Answer: As teachers we should always focus on the learning process of the student. The tools are there to help them achieve their personal goals. You can see it happening already. Tablets have been around for more then five years and blogposts about integration are highlighting the workflow of using multiple materials instead of lists and lists of apps.

It’s time to be mobile with a mobile device and take it outside in a different learning environment.


Question: How would you do that then?

Anwser: I’ve just worked with 1:1 schools who want to see the benefits of their devices on field trips and museum visits. They want to link to the real world and use the device on the spot when it’s needed. A museum or a school tour are ideal entry points to go to that next level.

For this specific example I’ve visited an exhibition called “Changing Earth" at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. When I was walking around I noticed two things: great content and a very static user experience. Most of the activities in a museum are focused on reading. This is where the gears in my mind start turning and my teacher glasses go on. I ask myself: “How can I make this into an interactive learning experience for my students?”.


Question: How do you start on such a project?

Answer: When you want to take devices outside your classroom I think you need to consider three steps. First the experience before the trip, then you should think about activities during the actual visit and last but not least the reflection part once you are back. So looking at the museum visit I wanted them to be curious and excited about this visit and about this topic. I created a poster that they had to scan with an app called Aurasma. When the students scan this, a video trailer appears inviting them on a journey to the museum. This is my first step: student excitement. I want them to learn from within. Next I had to think about the activities in the exhibition and how to interact with content that is present. I asked myself questions like: Is there WiFi at the location? Which materials should be downloaded before arriving at the museum? These and other questions were transformed into a teacher manual that goes with the course. I wanted to create an experience that they could have not gotten with a paper student workbook. This led me to create a recording a weather report with the actual data on that day, calculating their carbon footprint, designing eco-friendly houses,… 

"It’s time to be mobile with a mobile device and take it outside in a different learning environment.”

Question: What is important in designing these learning experiences then?

Answer: Reaching all learners is at the forefront of design. From my own experience I know that delivering only text assignments will get boring really quickly. I look at all the possibilities and make sure that I put those into a project like this. I use a checklist to make sure I don’t force a material in just because it’s possible. For example video isn’t always the best solution. I know flipped classrooms are a hot item at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that every single task has to start with a video.

In this case audio was a difficult one for me. How can I integrate a sound file to help students understand a topic better. I reached out to my professional learning network and pretty soon got all kinds of ideas from recording the assignments for the dyslectic learners to creating a full audio guide. Eventually it became a mix of both because all leaners benefit from this way of working.


Question: How do students deliver their end results in a scenario like this?

Answer: A video assignment was one of the activities, so handing in a paper sheet wasn’t an option anymore. I looked at alternatives and that search resulted in a passport student workbook created in Book Creator. This app is a perfect example of how to use the full capability of a mobile device. Students inserted pictures of their drawings, recorded conversations directly in the book, and reflected in a video booth at the end of the book. Afterwards they all delivered their results back to me in a finished book. Before they got on the bus all the work was already handed in.  

“I know flipped classrooms are a hot item at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that every single task has to start with a video.”

Question: How would someone new to this way of working start?

Anwser: Start small. Go to your local museum or build a tour of the school for when parents visit. Then look at what you normally do on these trips. What are the learning goals for the students? What do you want them to have mastered after an event like this? Look at all the options you have now on your device. Audio, video, photos are already three things you didn’t have before. With a basic set of apps you can work on transferable skills like presenting, communicating, etc. Don’t try to do it all at once and ask for feedback. Be open to suggestions from colleagues and students.


1. Focus on the learning experience for the students. 

2. Start small.


  • Changing Earth: Explore how our response to Earth's changes will impact our future on Earth and discover how your choices impact our future Earth. Combine the power of your iPad with the experience of the Franklin Institute.

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