Category Archives: Mobile Computing

A Downside of Going Mobile?

Mobile devices and cloud computing are great, as long as you have power. A new Greenpeace report , “Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change“, is calling for renewable energy in cloud computing:

As the internet grows as a platform — a place where more things are done, not only stored away — the IT industry’s hunger for energy will increase. Efficiency is a hot topic in IT, but improving energy efficiency is only part of the solution, the industry also needs to take responsibility for where it gets its energy from in the first place. Simply put: Will the cloud run on coal or renewable energy?

Via the ReadWriteWeb

Future Vision of Mobile Media


Ran across this video via Andy Black’s blog. It was made by MOCOM 2020, a non-profit open think tank for mobile media and communication worldwide. It provides an interesting, provocative, and somewhat scary (a la Big Brother) look at what the future of mobile media might look like:

And, like Andy, this makes me really wonder what the future of mobile will bring for learning, and even more so for education…

Image Credit:

Another Mobile Round Up of Sorts


News about mobile tools in education abound lately. Here is an overview of some of the most recent articles on the web:

Mobile Tools in K-16

The University of Missouri’s School of Journalism has made an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch a requirement for incoming freshman, but school officials said the rule won’t be enforced. Read the article to find out why.

The University of Virginia is wondering “When every student has a laptop, why run computer labs?” In 2007, only 4 of 3,117 freshmen showed up without one. So are the savings of not running labs worth it?

In Japan, Tokyo-based university Aoyama Gakuin gives a free iPhone to students in the School of Social Informatics. However, they use it as a tracking device. Find out here how (via CrunchGear).

As school leaders ponder the implications of new technologies for their classrooms, one dedicated New Jersey educator has turned theory into practice, using the iPod to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

This new paper describes how Australian teachers are using the iPhone and iPod Touch to A. assist them as Educators, and B. to enhance learning. As such, it presents a vital survey of apps and ideas to be shared with other teachers also beginning to use this platform. (via mlearning world).

QR Codes

We’ve been preparing for our mobile learning Forum at NECC, where we’ll make use of QR codes for learning as part of our GeoHistorian Project. Here is an interesting post about QR codes in Japan, that shows how popular they have become there.

Some examples of QR code use in education and then some more come from Mr. Robbo from Australia, with a link to Andy Ramsden’s paper about QR code use in education as well.

Another useful application of QR codes could be in libraries

Want to know more about the various uses of QR codes? Check out CodeZQR’s blog!

Despite their potential, Trendplanner asks if QR codes will ever take off outside of Japan. According to the post, the UK isn’t quite ready yet, I wonder if the same is the case for the USA.

Mobile Learning Events

In Heerlen, the Netherlands, my home country, the Surf Academy recently hosted a spring school on mobile learning. Wilfred Rubens posted some notes from one of the keynotes. The post is in Dutch, but in a nutshell, the keynote speaker, Matthijs Leendertse of TNO argues that mobile learning can aid educators in reaching four goals of education: interactivity, collaboration, anywhere anytime access, and creating opportunities for informal learning.

North Rowan High School is sponsoring an Open House on Thursday, May 21, 2009 to showcase the new iPod touch Digital Learning Environment program that began this current school year at North Rowan High for all ninth-graders.  

eLearning Africa, the 4th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training will be held on May 27 – 29, 2009 in  . The conference always has a focus on mobile learning, given the number of mobile devices available and the lack of reliable terrestrial Internet access in Africa.


And finally, here is a way to modify your standard WIFI antenna into one just like the $30 range extender antennas for about 5 cents, using a screw, a piece of wire, and a straw. Not sure how well it works, but it seems easy enough to try.

Image Credit: “Fluid Forms QR Buckle Close” from Fluid Forms’ photostream:

To Touch or Not to Touch….


Personally, I think the iPod Touch has great potential for teaching and learning, both inside of school and out, and I really like the interface quite a bit. There is something about the tactile manipulating content on the screen with your fingers as opposed to having to use a mouse, stylus, or other input device (Think manipulating the world in Google Earth on a Smartboard with your hands. If you haven’t tried that, you should, it’s pretty cool).

I started by looking up some information about pilot projects at other education sites, and came up with (among the 174,000 hits I got off of Google):

Shepparton High School in central Victoria in Australia : where students used the devices for a variety of things. The most interesting quote from the short article is this one by the project’s lead teacher: “We assume that 14-year-olds are really technologically savvy, but they’re often not.” I think we tend to forget that. Here is also a discusson about a small iPod Touch project at another school in Australia.

Abilene Christian’s ACU Connected Project:  I blogged about this one extensively last week, when I saw their stuff at the Mobile Learning 09 Conference in Washington DC. They’ve done quite a bit in a short period of time, and I’m waiting to see what material they will be posting online from their own conference. I like what they are doing with the iPhone and iPod Touch with regards to communication with students, but I think that what they are doing is much more difficult to achieve in a K-12 environment, especially given the current hesitancy in K-12 for using any technology that allows students to communicate with each other and others outside of school.

In, “An iPod Touch for each student?”, there is discussion of Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill, NC getting iPod Touches. The story is accompanied by  some cautionary commentary by E.D. Hirsch (“”Technique and how-to ideas have taken the place of deciding what it is, exactly, we want these children to learn”) and a few other schools where the device are being used already. This project did get off the ground. Interesting quote from the Business Week article was made by AVID coordinator Chuck Hennessee who said

one of the only negatives he has seen so far with the program is that students sometimes would rather use the iPods than work with each other. But he said that can be a plus, too, because it cultivates independence.”

Other than that, the project seems to be going well.

Some additional interesting sources include:

Tony Vincent has a section devoted to the iPod Touch on his Learning in Hand site.

Kathy Schrock wrote  a short series of posts on her experiments with an iPod Touch (lots of good info here, exactly the type of stuff I was looking for)

Chris Webb’s post,  “Why an iPod Touch in Education?”  with a list of apps and some additional pertinent information.

An iPod Touch in Every Classroom by Kelly Croy, from Wes Fryer’s blog. Lots of odds and ends here.

And of course Apple’s Mobile Learning page,  and iTouch pages.

And that’s just the beginning. It remains to be seen (just like with any other “new” and “disruptive” technology) how quickly the iPod Touches will be adopted in K-12 and on what kind of scale. As I’ve said many times before, schools really need to start a serious discussion about how to integrate the use of student owned devices in the classroom, as it provides opportunities for learning that we currently do not really have (e.g. students in most mobile projects only have access to a device for a limited period of time, e.g. one year, and often only in school). Of course this type of implementation brings about a host of other issues, but that’s for another post …

Image Credit: “Touched” from littledan77’s photostream:

Pockets of Potential…


… is the title of a report that was just released by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. The report “draws on interviews with a cross-section of research, policy, and industry experts to illustrate how mobile technologies such as cell phones, iPod devices, and portable gaming platforms might be more widely used for learning.” While the contents don’t feature anything really new, it’s nice to have a compilation of opportunities, challenges, and trends. In this respect, I would think this report will be especially useful to mobile hardware and software providers, if they are looking to get into the education market to have a lasting impact on teaching and learning, not to just make money.

In a nutshell, the report outlines:

  • Opportunities:
    • Encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning
    • Reach under-served children
    • Improve 21st century social interactions
    • Fit in with learning environments
    • Enable a personalized learning experience
  • Challenges:
    • Negative aspects of mobile learning
    • Cultural norms and attitudes
    • No mobile theory of learning
    • Differentiated access and technology
    • Limiting physical attributes (of mobile technology)
  • Market trends:
    • Extreme convergence
    • Location, location, location
    • Consolidation
    • 21st century button

To see the details for each of these bullet points  and how they tie in with the reports five goals of learning, developing, promoting, preparing, and stimulating, download the report :). Note that the report is written from a U.S. point of view.

It’s also interesting to compare this report with some of the predictions for the mobile industry that have already been made by people like m-trend’s Rudy de Waele (esp. read #s 3, 5, 7, and 9), Frederic Guarino,  mjelly (see #1, e.g.), and MobHappy’s Russell Buckley (see #3). In addition, make sure to take a look at this post by Helen Keegan, who warns us that there is no future of mobile if we keep making mistakes such as focusing on technology rather than people, creating applications and services for advanced users rather than average users, etc. This last post is definitely worth a read, and a lot of what Helen writes is almost directly applicable to education settings.

Speakign of education, there are many who have made predictions for mobile learning in 2009. For a sampling, see Handheld Learning’s Is the 21st Century Here Yet?, or predictions by Ignatiaweb’s Inge de Waard and Learnlets’ Clark Quinn. Interesting stuff….. As for myself, I think that we’ll see an increased use of the web on mobile devices (and not a separate mobile web) to access content and tools for learning in a variety of situations, and less dependency on specialized mobile apps to do the same.

Image Credit: “magic8ball” from lisawilliams’ photostream:

3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium: Mobile Learning Cultures across Education, Work and Leisure

WLE logo

Via Norbert Pachler. I contributed to this workshop last year even though I wasn’t able to attend. Should be well worth it again.

The Centre for Work-based Learning and Education (WLE), at the Institute of Education, London, in conjunction with the London Mobile Learning Group (LMLG), will hold the
3rd WLE Mobile Learning Symposium: Mobile Learning Cultures across Education, Work and Leisure
on 27 March 2009 at the WLE Centre, IOE London, UK.
The symposium aims to address different audiences, with a focus on education professionals and practitioners from school, further, higher and adult education as well as clinical settings, work and leisure. It will focus on mobile learning theory and practice in education, work and leisure and will address the following themes: „Learning across contexts“, „Cultural approaches to mobile learning“ and „Status quo, visions and conjectures“. Interdisciplinary approaches and thematic crossovers, both in theory and practice, are particularly welcome. Work in progress and international contributions are encouraged.
Registration for the symposium is free but numbers are limited. Priority will be given to authors of accepted abstracts.
Important dates:
–      1 October 2008: First call for expressions of interest and extended abstracts.
–      3 November 2008: Second call for expressions of interest and extended abstracts.
–      30 January 2009 – 27 February 2009: Registration.
Further dates and detailed information about the Symposium is available in the attached flyer as well as on the symposium website at
Dr. Norbert Pachler (WLE Centre, IOE London, UK)
Judith Seipold M.A. (University of Kassel, Germany / Associate at the WLE Centre, IOE London, UK)
Dr. Giasemi Vavoula (Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK)
Prof. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme (Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, UK)

Image Credit: London Mobile Learning Group:

Regulating Content on/in Student Owned Tools: Where Do We Draw the Line?


Librarian completely disregarding his own "no mobiles" sign by hugovk.

Regulation of content on student-owned digital tools (whether hardware or online) by school authorities has been an ongoing debate for a while now (see for example this post  or this article I wrote about a year and a half ago). Where do we draw the line? The issue has become even stickier when it comes to student-created content outside of school that has nothing to do with learning, but could be considered immoral, illegal, or unethical. Often, this content will make its way to students, teachers, and/or administrators and have substantial consequences, such as in the case of a student in North Carolina who was suspended for 10 days for posting an altered picture of his school’s assistant principal on MySpace (Student Press Law Center); or a 2005 incident in which school officials of the Northside School District in San Antonio, TX considered holding MySpace responsible for unrest caused at a high school after several students posted threatening messages on the Web site.

Now this discussion has become even more heated with regards to the use of student-owned mobile phones for learning. According to a post by Tony Twiss on the Upwardly Mobile Blog:

Something that a number of students involved in focus groups I have conducted has been students questioning whether or not their phones would become regulated if they were to be used for school.  They are talking about the personal content on their phones – and while none have specifically mentioned pornography, an example of offensive content such as racist images was given.

So – debates about what is and isn’t acceptable on a person’s private property that is being used for school will really start to heat up as the walls come down and cellphones creep in to schools. However, I think this is healthy.

Obviously this debate will not be limited to mobile phones as more digital tools make their way into schools, especially web-based ones.

Image Credit: “Librarian completely disregarding his own “no mobiles” sign”, from hugovk’s photostream: