The age of mobile is now

July 21, 2010

I have been talking about using mobile devices for a long time now, well before I started working at Gloucestershire College (and all that MoLeNET stuff), well before my time at the Western Colleges Consortium (and that Mobile on a VLE presentation).

Despite protestations about screen sizes, lack of power, inferior operating systems, we are now seeing the rise of the mobile device as the next big step in computing.

The first computers were BIG and clunky and you didn’t just use them, you booked time slots to use them.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers!”
Attributed to Thomas Watson of IBM, but in fact no evidence to say he ever said it.

Computers then became the mainstay of business, something to do business on.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president/founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

With the rise of the personal computer and importantly the explosion of the internet in the late 1990s, not only did we see computers in the home, we also saw a lot more personal computers in education.

Laptops at this time were expensive, but small portable ones were available, I really liked the Toshiba Libretto that I bought at that time.

In 2000 I was working at @Bristol in the centre of the Bristol Harbourside, one project we worked on was using the HP Jornada  and using JetSend technology to “squirt” URLs to the device that would then access the webpage over (what was then) a spiffy wireless network.

It was at this point that I could really see some real benefits of using mobile devices for learning, and using devices that weren’t laptops.

Over that decade we did see the emergence of the laptop over the desktop, more and more people would buy a laptop rather than a desktop for their main computer.

During that time I did a lot more work on using mobile devices for learning, focusing on multimedia content on devices such as PDAs, Media Players and mobile phones.

I remember in about 2001 driving up the M5 and getting stuck in one of those traffic jams in the early evening. My wife was watching the Matrix on my iPAQ PDA. I had converted a ripped DVD (uh oh I know) that I had converted into a MPEG1 video file, placed on an IBM Compact Flash Microdrive and played it back on the iPAQ using PocketTV. As she watched the film people in the cars looked into ours in awe and curiosity about what was that glowing light in our car. Of course today everyone can do this, but at the time it was both clever and geeky!

“I’m not convinced people want to watch movies on a tiny little screen.”
Steve Jobs of Apple in 2003.

The seminal presentation of mine, Mobile Learning on a VLE, at the JISC 2006 Online Conference really got a lot of people thinking about using mobile devices and put my name out there as a leader in mobile learning.

There were many others at that time who were also following the same journey as myself, people like Mick Mullane, Lilian Soon, David Sugden and others. We were all very passionate about using mobile devices for learning.

Despite our passion, we still heard the resistance from practitioners (and sometimes from learners, but usually practitioners) that the screens were too small, they weren’t powerful enough, battery life was too short.

We, with others, were very much involved in the MoLeNET programme and that has had a huge impact in FE in kick starting the use of mobile devices for learning.

Mobile devices in the last few years have also dramatically changed too. Mobile phones have moved on from phones that just made calls and SMS, to mobile computers. Apple have also changed the landscape, first with the iPhone, then the iPod touch and now the iPad.

“There are no plans to make a tablet, it turns out people want keyboards…. We look at the tablet, and we think it is going to fail.”
Steve Jobs of Apple in 2003.

Innovation now is in the mobile sector of the market, these are the devices that our learners are buying and using.

The age of mobile is now.

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e-Learning Stuff Podcast #051: Engaging with the VLE

June 20, 2010

How can you more effectively use the VLE to enhance and enrich learning? How do you engage staff to ensure that they use the full functionality of the VLE? What models can you use to demonstrate to staff how they can progress their use of the VLE? James, David, Mick and Ron discuss how the VLE can be used, how to use it more effectively and provide tips and guidance on engaging staff to use it.

With James Clay, Mick Mullane, David Sugden and Ron Mitchell.

This is the fifty first e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Engaging with the VLE

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Engaging with the VLE

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Shownotes


#036 e-Learning Stuff Podcast: Cultural Change

February 28, 2010

With James Clay, Mick Mullane and David Sugden.

It’s not just about the technology, it’s also about the culture of the organisation when it comes to embedding learning technologies and e-learning. Cultural change often needs to happen if there is to be transformation within an educational institutiuon.

This is the thirty sixth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Cultural Change

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Cultural Change

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Shownotes


Geocaching with the iPhone

October 23, 2008

This is the first guest post I have had on this blog. Mick Mullane from Yorkshire Coast College is a mobile learning innovator whom I only actually met for the first time at the original MoLeNET Launch Conference at the Oval back in September 2007. Since then in our roles as MoLeNET Mentors we have worked together on supporting MoLeNET projects and have delivered a fair few workshops for MoLeNET as well. At the mLearn 2008 conference I found out that Mick does Geocaching, here is his post.

Geocaching is a worldwide fun activity that combines navigation with clue solving and treasrue hunting skills (google it!)

Since the introduction of the iPhone 3g and it’s GPS capabilities geocachers have been crying out for some practical applications on the iPhone, rather than just being able to find a skinny latte around canary wharf…

Given that the web browser is so good it makes it a breeze to log on to a geocaching website like www.geocaching.com and find some caches.  Ok the website doesn’t know where you are so you have to enter your postcode, or if you are a full time geocacher, your coordinates.  Once you have done that you can search for caches nearby, or ones that take your fancy.

That’s one of the joys of geocaching – takes you to places you would never think of going and gives you lots of local knowledge and history – it’s like a real world wikipedia…

Anyhow once you have selcted the cache you want to hunt then click on the google maps link at the bottom of the page.  The integration on the iPhone is such that it will drop a pin at the location of the cache on google maps, you then either work out your own way to the cache or ask google maps for directions – which could be interesting in the middle of a field somewhere…

It works very well…

Download the movie from here.

Drawbacks are that you need a signal – there’s no permanent maps stored on the phone, they have to be downloaded.  Indeed it’s a shame that we can’t get OS maps on the device yet like you can on a windows mobile device…  but hey it’s an iPhone, apprantly they can do other fun things too like games and music…

Mick Mullane