Archive for September, 2011

Comic books and mobile phone novels

September 30, 2011

In this era of video and sound, are young people reading? Some are, but possibly not what you might expect. According to cartoonist and comics historian, Fawad Siddiqui, on the September 29th WBUR On Point radio program, in the Muslim world an increasing number of people are reading comics and “some rich comics cultures [are] developing.”

In Japan, since at least 2003, (some claim as early as the mid 1990’s) the keitai short stories delivered by mobile phone have been very popular, and in 2007 five out of ten of the most popular novels in Japan (not necessarily the best) were written and delivered by mobile phone. There is a fast-growing youth novel industry in South Africa that delivers novels by mobile phone. In the U.K. there is now a “micro-novel” written and delivered on a mobile phone whose purpose is to encourage teenagers to read. Launched by a prominent UK Rapper, Chipmunk, and a well-known writer, Terry Deary (author of Horrible Histories), the micro-novel is called ‘The Perfect Poison Pills Plot’

Some cell phone novels are interactive. “What makes the cell phone novel interactive is the instant communication between author and reader. Readers can leave comments which the author can respond to. If the author notices less people reading as the story progresses, he can immediately take action to change the plot. Only time will tell if this publishing phenomenon is just a fad or a 21st century obsession that’s here to stay.”

In the U.S., which has taken several years to catch up to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and European countries that have relied on text messaging, cell phone novels arrived late, in 2009.

If you want to try your hand at writing and self-publishing a cell phone novel, go to

One way you (or your students) can develop a comic short story is by using the free software available from

If you want to learn more about the cell phone novel phenomenon, go to,-What-They-Are-and-more/5579/

The flipped Classroom/Khan Academy experiment with 5th and 7th graders in California

September 23, 2011

Standardized tests on the flipped classroom/Khan Academy experiment with 5th and 7th graders in Los Altos, California apparently show more students “proficient,” and a few “advanced,” compared with traditional numeracy/math instruction at the same levels. According to an article by Gareth Cook in the Boston Globe, students and teachers loved it. This year they will use Khan Academy (and presumably the “flipped classroom” model) in all fifth and sixth grade classes in Los Altos.

It doesn’t mean that this is a math panacea. So far, it’s just an experiment that apparently has some promising results with children. Will it have promising results with adults? Not unless there are adult education classes that try it, and where the results can be reasonably compared with other, comparable, adult math classrooms. Do you know of any adult literacy education teachers who are trying the “flipped classroom” model? Are you thinking about it? What are the considerations in doing so for the use of technology, and for teaching numeracy? Can it be done in adult basic education?

Although in Los Altos they use Khan Academy videos, I see no reason why the flipped classroom should be limited to Khan videos. If there are better instructional videos for adults, teachers could use those. Some of these video resources are listed under “Instructional Videos Useful for Adult Learners” on the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) Wiki at .
If you know of other numeracy/math videos that you think would be useful for adult learners, please add them to that page. (There are simple instructions for how to do this at the bottom of the wiki page.)

To read the Boston Globe article, go to .