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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Microsoft’s Android App

March 4, 2010

The BBC News reports on Microsoft’s Android App.

Microsoft has made an application that works with Google’s Android phone.

Called Tag, the free software uses a handset’s camera to turn it into a mobile barcode reader.

You can read more about this on the Microsoft Tag Blog.

Last year in January I wrote a blog post about Microsoft Tag.

Back then I said…

Yes Microsoft have developed their own version of mobile phone barcodes, which require their reader and require you to register in order to create them.

It’s all very typical Microsoft.

I concluded back then

Overall I am not sure about this, not sure if it will catch on or whether we should stick with QR Codes.

Nah, stick with QR Codes.

Since then I think I have seen one instance of a Microsoft Tag.

However having said that I haven’t seen many QR Codes in the wild either…

Question is, do mobile phone barcodes have a future, or is augmented reality the real future of mobile phones?

It is interesting that Microsoft have made an App for Android, though they also have readers for Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry and Symbian S60 phones, so maybe it isn’t too much of a surprise.


Windows Phone 7 Series

February 15, 2010

Lots of news coming out of the Mobile World Congress.

Big news from Microsoft is the Windows Phone 7 Series announcement.

Throwing everything that has gone before, everything is brand new, and from first impressions this appears to be a good move from Microsoft and a response to the iPhone (and possibly Google’s Android too).

No more Start button, no more replicating the Windows desktop on a mobile device. I never thought that replicating the desktop on a mobile device was ever a sustainable idea. Yes those familiar with the desktop interface *may* find it comforting, but as I did with previous versions of Windows Mobile, once you get going with the mobile device the limitations of a desktop interface start to annoy you.

Apple decided with their iPhone (and with the new iPad) to specifically not replicate the OS X desktop interface, but use a new interface, one that works well and for most people is pretty intuitive.

So what else does Windows Phone 7 Series offer. It’s interface has many similarities with the Zune (the Microsoft music player that isn’t available in the UK). It’s been kept very simple, no gloss here, no shine, though transitions are smooth and elegant.

The world hasn’t passed Microsoft by, they have realised that the Xbox is popular with gamers and that social networking is quite a big thing. As a result both these features are embedded into the phone.

So how will this fare in the competitive marketplace for modern smartphones? We’ll have to wait and see…


At last…

October 24, 2009

One day this may all change…

chargers

Photo source.

According to a report on the BBC News, there will be on day a standard charger for mobile phones.

A new mobile phone charger that will work with any handset has been approved by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations body.

What this will mean is that if you do run out of charge you should be able to borrow someone’s charger without worrying if it will fit your phone.

Of course one of the advantages of this is that if educational institutions want to provide charging points they don’t need to worry about trying to provide the multitude of chargers currently available.

So when is this going to happen… not for some time. It will be 2010 when the standard will appear on new phones, and after that it could take a few years as people replace their phones.

In the meantime educational institutions may want to consider secure charging points such as this.

multiphonecharger

Why?

Well with the way in which the phones of today can be used for learning from over the web to video and audio, the batteries just don’t last long enough.

I am now looking forward to the day when I can carry one charger for everything, not just my phones!


T-Mobile Pulse – a new Android device

September 3, 2009

T-Mobile have announced their third Android device, the T-Mobile Pulse.

tmobilepulse

It’s the first device from Huawei, with a 3.5″ touch-screen, polished black finish & 6 home screens for personalisation.

Available in October, it will be the first Android device available on pay-as-you-go – costing £179.99.


Mobile Learning Thoughts

September 1, 2009

Often when people mention mobile learning they automatically think about mobile technology, notably mobile computers, specifically Windows Mobile PDAs and iPhones.

For me it is a different philosophy, much more about learning when mobile.

It was walking around different colleges which made me realise that when it came to mobile learning, it wasn’t about getting PDAs running learning content (though I am sure there are scenarios which they would enhance and support learning), but was much more about using the devices our students already have.

These could include

One end result of this was a presentation I gave at the 2006 JISC Online Conference, available here, which looked at how to use a range of consumer mobile devices for learning. I also made a video of the presentation which was made available to delegates at the conference for their mobile devices.

Since then, three years later, the market has moved forward quite dramatically, it is now even easier for learners to access audio, video and web content on their mobile devices. Devices such as the PSP, the iPhone, the Nintendo DSi are more widespread and are also much more connected and can play a lot more content.

One of the key factors has to be how easy is it for the learner to access that content?

Another barrier to overcome is to realise that the mobile device is only one tool that a learner may use for learning. So though a learner may listen to audio, or view video on a mobile device, assessing their learning may take place using a traditional computer or a pen and paper. For me mobile learning is not about learning on a mobile, but learning when mobile.

A (paper) notepad can be used when mobile, though mobile devices do allow for a more interactive, collaborative, engaging learning experience.

Certainly this model is how my institution is moving forward in terms of mobile learning.


33 things I do on my mobile phone

August 29, 2009

1.    Broadcast live video using Qik.
2.    Upload video to YouTube, TwitVid.
3.    Upload photographs to TwitPic, Twitter and Flickr.
4.    Use Twitterfon to engage with my community of practice on Twitter.
5.    Use my phone as a wireless hotspot using Joikuspot.
6.    Listen to music, podcasts and radio.
7.    Watch videos, films, YouTube and TV shows.
8.    Use it to access my calendar.
9.    Show off photographs that I have taken.
10.    Take photographs.
11.    Shoot video.
12.    Access Maps, find out where I am and where I am suppose to be.
13.    Check the weather.
14.    Play games now and again.
15.    Do maths with a calculator.
16.    Buy songs and Apps from iTunes.
17.    Manipulate photographs and create graphics.
18.    Access the web.
19.    Access Facebook (well not doing much of that to be honest).
20.    Read books and comics.
21.    Create notes and post to web.
22.    Stream video from my iMac to my TV.
23.    Learn other languages.
24.    Scan QR Codes.
25.    Make music.
26.    Control Presentations.
27.    Make lists of things to do…
28.    Record audio and upload to web.
29.    Satnav
30.    Access main computers remotely.
31.    Send SMS and MMS.
32.    Send e-mail
33.    Make phone calls….