Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE)

The Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE) enables students to quickly pose multimedia-rich multiple-choice questions and share them with peers using mobile phones during class. After the questions have been created, students can respond to and rate the questions that they and their peers created moments before. Finally, when all students have responded to each other’s questions, they can view detailed personal and question-related data (including which student answered the most questions accurately and which student created the highest-rated question). To facilitate this learning environment, SMILE includes an activity management application for the instructor that allows him or her to control the progress of the activity in real time and to view all student data that helps them identify gaps, encourage discussion and dialogue, thereby improving the quality of education.

According to this news on engadget :

Marvell and Stanford create SMILE Plug cloud computer, the SMILE Plug is a tool that helps implement the SMILE system in places without access to the internet. It creates an ad-hoc network that students can connect to using their phones, tablets and PCs. Then, students generate, share and rate multiple-choice questions on those gadgets using a free, custom app. Marvell is also in the process of developing firewalls and monitoring tools to ensure that students stay on task. While Stanford and Marvell are, naturally, fully behind the SMILE pedagogy, Dr. Kim informed us that the SMILE Consortium is really just about improving education — members are encouraged to use what Stanford and Marvell have created and develop their own hardware and software solutions.

mobile learning

In this presentation below it’s explained that how SMILE turns a traditional classroom into a highly interactive learning environment by engaging students in critical reasoning and problem solving while enabling them to generate, share, and evaluate multimedia-rich inquiries.

Stanford University had published a paper reporting about the pilot findings.

The affordances of mobile phones present a unique opportunity to reintegrate student-created questions into the classroom. More pecifically, students are already actively trying to communicate with each other during class on their mobile phones, so there is an opportunity to redirect this communication toward class material through student-created questions. Indeed, it is slowly being recognized and demonstrated that mobile phones are highly engaging tools to be taken advantage of, not prohibited. For example, data collected from four elementary and two middle school classes indicated that the use of mobile phones in the classroom increased student motivation, improving their quality of work.

There are several important features of SMILE that were deliberately designed to maximize its effectiveness. First, allowing students to include photographs in their questions garners the learning benefits associated with presenting materials in multimedia. Second, having students create multiple choice questions requires them to think critically in order to create three distracters for each question. Third, permitting students to rate each other’s questions provides feedback and incorporates an element of peer-assessment, which has been demonstrated to be valuable to a majority of students. Fourth, allowing students to view who scored the highest may foster a “non-pressured” competitive learning environment , which has been demonstrated to increase intrinsic motivation. Finally, supplying the teacher with all of the students’ questions and responses through the activity management application provides invaluable formative assessment information, which has been demonstrated to greatly improve student learning. For all of these reasons, SMILE may provide a particularly effective means of promoting student-created questions in an engaging way…

In this post, Kim, who has also helped launch SMILE in IndiaArgentina, and suburban Northern California, shares some of his tactics and lessons learned about how best to launch this project even in communities that are unlikely to have Internet access — or sometimes even electricity.

Now student-created questions have remained consistently absent from the majority of teachers’ repertoires, from this study, shouldn’t we encourage more mobile technologies that effectively engages every student ? (not only several in a class)

Related article:

Researchers bring mobile learning to students around the globe (Stanford Daily)


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5 Responses »


  1. Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE) | Med Ed Innovations |
  2. Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE) | Teaching with web 2.0 tools |
  3. Instruction Design Mobile MOOC | Pearltrees
  4. Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environm...
  5. SMILE – A new m-Learning Application | eLearning Concepts

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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