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Utterli…brilliant!

Last weekend I was following Twitter and @lucybarrow asked for volunteers to comment on some student blog posts.  I’m a helpful type, one of the things I’ve quickly come to love about Twitter is the ease and willingness of tweeps to help someone out, so I clicked the link and found myself at the Year 10 agriculture class blog.  But this was no ordinary blog, here the posts were in the form of MP3 audio files and they had been posted by mobile phone using Utterli.

I was mightily impressed.  I listened to all the posts which revealed that the students had been on an excursion to the Geelong Show.  Their short posts discussed the finer points of sheep judging and the like, not my area of expertise (!!) but it wasn’t the content that was important to me.  How fabulous for these students to be able to instantly record their observations to a public environment.  How fabulous that they are using ICT while miles from their PCs, instead using technology that 99% of students have personal access to.  I had to investigate further.

On visiting the Utterli site I discovered that it is basically another social networking site for sharing news, pictures, video and audio but with the added feature of being able to use your mobile phone.  Here’s their front page:

From the site: Utterli: Talk amongst yourself, sign up now to start a discussion from your computer or phone. Utterli lets you share text, pics, video and audio with your friends, even from your mobile phone.

However, it is the cross-posting feature that makes this such an exciting tool.

I registered with an email, username, password, my mobile number (without the first 0) and indicated which country I’m in (most importantly, Utterli has local phone numbers for cities all over the world, including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in Australia).  Then under APPS & WIDGETS selected cross-posting.  A range of blogs and other services to select from appeared:

So far so good.  I figured that as Globalteacher is based on Edublogs which is based on WordPress then selecting WordPress would do.  Unfortunately when I put in this blog’s address, username and password the site was not found.  Lucy Barrow told me she had selected WordPress for her Edublog and it had all worked fine.  I’ve had contact with @globalteachers who assure me that a globalteacher blog should do everything an edublog does, but clearly not!

Not one to give up easily I figured I’d just set up an edublog which I did.  This time selecting the WordPress option in Utterli worked first time.  So next step was to try it out.

Using my mobile I called the local Melbourne number available on the site and was instantly connected to a perky American digitised voice.  The instructions were easy to follow and it turned out not to matter when I hung up at the end instead of pressing 3(?) and waiting for further options.  Sure enough, within the advertised 10 minutes our first two audio posts appeared on my new Test blog.  When they appeared they were headed “Audiopost” but you can use the blogs editing features to change the title and to categorise and tag the post if you want.

When registering I was also given the option to include a 4 digit pin so I could post using any other phone.  This gets better and better I thought, so I tried it out – the third post recorded on the test blog came from our school phone – at the cost of a local call.

So this really can be a very cheap application to use.  It’s nice to know that using your mobile will not cost any more than calling any other local landline number and I think part of the value of using this with students would be to encourage succinctness – no one wants to listen to a ramble.  There is about 20 seconds of instruction when you call – it should be easy to record a worthwhile post within a minute of mobile time.

I’m still figuring out the ins and outs of using this with students.  Whether they have their own Utterli account and if so can more than one Utterli account cross-post to the same blog, or whether the teacher creates one account which all can use (the students would need to know and enter the mobile number and PIN for the account which would make the calls longer).  I imagine the solutions will depend on the situations but there is still much to explore.

I think there are all kinds of applications for schools to use Utterli to cross-post to blogs.  At my school our year 9’s spend a week at City School – this would be ideal for them to record their impressions of what they have seen and capture the immediacy of the situation.  In fact, any excursion, outdoor activity or event removed from computers could be enhanced with blog posting from Utterli.

How could your students benefit from using Utterli to post to their blogs?

Heather

7 Comments

  1. What a great blog. I loved Lucy’s Year 10 Agriculture-Utterli blog site too and was quite interested in how it would work but I think you have answered all the questions I might have had. Thanks!
    I work with Primary students and can see hwo I might use it on an excursion or camp. I think you would want to be on a good plan on your mobile phone with cheap local calls though.
    Thanks again
    Lois

  2. Thanks for the comment Lois. I plan to report on how much the calls actually cost me when I know but as I’m not a mobile phone junkie I rarely reach my $10 of included calls anyway. I think the key thing to note is that it is possible to use a landline to make the calls, my local calls at home are only 12.5c, even from a public phone it would only cost 40c.

  3. I had heard a little about Utterli however I didn’t realise until I read your post that it was available in Melbourne at the cost of a local call!

    Suddenly I see so many ways in which I could use this tool personally and professionally.

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

  4. Thanks Matt, it’s fab isn’t it! Got to say I’m loving Twitter for alerting me to so many things.

  5. Yep those podcasts are awesome. Great to hear from teachers and how they are using the technology in Education. I’m always trying to think of creative lesson plans that include authentic audiences and engaging activities.

    Thanks for the post.

  6. Hi Heather!
    I now think of you as my “Utterli Buddy”! What a great post! We’ve had great success with a few Edublog sites now. You are one step ahead of me as I was unable to post from another phone 🙁 It would not accept my mobile phone number, no matter how I tried to enter it. I will try again though. In regard to costs – after checking my bill, it appears to cost around $1 per minute with my provider. In regard to how we set it up – I have set up a “class set” of generic Utterli accounts and, at the moment, have entered the phone numbers and first names of the students who are currently using the accounts. Therefore, when students submit their post, it automatically appears on the blog with a head that is their first name. I have a spreadsheet to keep track of it. Then, the plan will be to edit the accounts and replace with new mobile numbers and first names with the next class. We’ll see how it goes! I first saw Utterli being used by @Steve_Collis who gave a fabulous presentation at the Expanding Learning Horizons Conference. His English students created this blog: http://wordsworthreflections.wordpress.com/
    In my opinion, I think this method of blogging is one that will continue to grow.
    Lucy 🙂

  7. Thanks for the comments, Concetta and Lucy.
    Lucy, thanks for the info. on how you administer, I hadn’t thought of that way of doing it. We have some school mobile phones that go out on excursions, I may use those numbers or I might try your way. It will depend on the teacher and the students involved I guess.
    The only trick I discovered for using a different phone was leaving the first 0 off the registered mobile number, and you have to have chosen a PIN as well.
    Cheers from your “Utterli buddy”!!!

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