Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting My Head Around Mobile Learning

I like using technology, but when it comes to mobile learning I feel like a luddite.

Mobile Learning the Future?

Photo by AdamLogan
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

This morning I read a post by David Truss where he talks about the future of technology in education:

I predict that in about 5 short years almost every Middle School student will own an iPhone or its’ equivalent, and they will be connecting to our wireless network via bluetooth for absolutely free. Students will be ready, willing and able to use these tools in our classroom… will teachers be ready enough to maximize the opportunities and learning experiences these tools (coming to our classrooms for free) will provide?

Really?! I feel that I am terribly out of touch with what mobile technology middle and high school students use today. I have a cell phone, but it is basic. I have a pay-as-you-go plan which runs me about $11 a month. I don't text. I don't have a data plan. For a period of time when I was homeless this summer I looked in to getting a beefed up plan, maybe even upgrading my phone (I do covet an iPhone). Basic iPhone rate here in Canada is $60 a month.

Surely the majority of middle and high school students don't have a $60 a month plan?! I know I'm missing something though, because David is talking about students connecting to the school wireless internet for free.

I would love a hand-held "internet machine" (who coined that term? I know I just read it a few days ago...) that could pick up free wireless. Where I live there are a reasonable number of places that have free wifi (Starbucks, Safeway, schools).

What Do You Think/Set Me Straight

Do you agree with David Truss' prediction? I like the vision that he paints. Do you have the piece of the puzzle that I'm missing?


  1. When his prediction is a better approach than schools spending lots on laptops and computers. Students already have these devices. The mostly likely ones they will have are PSPs, iTouches, and Nintendo DS all of which can connect to the Internet. While each works differently they each have potential -- all the schools need to do is supply the wireless Internet access which they need to do anyway if they are using laptops.

    iPhone in Australia is similar costs and I haven't meet an adult student with one yet either but they have the other devices I mention. The key is for us to provide them the access and leave the choice of how they access to them.

    I'm not into mobile phone but totally love mobile computing. I've used a PDA previously for this and the iphone makes it considerably easier. The iphone has challenged the other phones and you will start seeing more companies making these types of devices. Hopefully this will bring down the prices of these devices.

  2. Sue, thanks for commenting. I guess I have a lot to learn about the devices that are out there that could connect to the internet (WTH is a PSP?) I really like the idea of most students having an "internet machine" in their pockets that would allow them to glean information from and participate on the internet. I think your line The key is for us to provide them the access and leave the choice of how they access to them. really gets to the heart of the matter.

  3. PSP is a play station portable. Giving them the option, setting up guidelines for acceptable use means they can choose what type of device they want to use -- a mobile device or a laptop. Plus they deal with all hardware costs.

  4. @Sue, ok, now I'm getting a better feel for how possible David Truss' vision is. I'm going to have to poll my students and see what devices they have that connect to the internet; start to see how this might work/look in my classes.

  5. Hi Claire,
    It was in a presentation that I did at BLC08, that I first made that prediction, and I also quoted our district's Director of IT, Brian Kuhn, who said something like, 'Wireless should be like oxygen, we don't think about where to look for our next breath'. (Sorry, but I don't have the exact quote on my laptop).

    I'm Canadian too, and yes the cost of the iPhone is high, but when I get mine I will be disciplined about using the bluethooth/wireless rather than transferring data through the phone and paying for it. What we need to realize though is that Canadians pay more than almost every other developed country for wireless & phone services and so we may lag a little behind.

    That said, I still think that by the time my daughter goes to Middle School in 2 years (too far to walk & with two working parents), we will be giving her a phone. By grade 8, four years from now, her phone will probably have all the capabilities of the iPhone today.

    I'd like to add that your last comment excites me! When you said, "I’m going to have to poll my students and see what devices they have that connect to the internet; start to see how this might work/look in my classes," it showed the exact kind of thinking all our teachers should have! Students are bringing powerful 'tools' to class... how can we use them to our advantage? :-)

  6. David, your post has definitely got me thinking and now I'm getting quite excited! For quite a while now I've been reading about classes where teachers have gotten students to use their cell phones to search the web, text, etc and I've always wondered about the cost to students. If they already have the portable devices to connect to the internet though and the schools can provide them free access then let's get going!


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