What are Mobiles?

Mobiles as a category have proven more interesting and more capable with each passing year. The mobile market today has more than 4 billion subscribers, more than two-thirds of whom live in developing countries. Well over a billion new phones are produced each year, a flow of continuous enhancement and innovation that is unprecedented in modern times. The fastest-growing sales segment belongs to smart phones — which means that a massive and increasing number of people all over the world now own and use a computer that fits in their hand and is able to connect to the network wirelessly from virtually anywhere. Tens of thousands of applications designed to support a wide range of tasks on virtually any smart-phone operating system are readily available, with more entering the market all the time. These mobile computing tools have become accepted aids in daily life, giving us on-the-go access to a wide range of tools for business, video/audio capture and basic editing, sensing and measurement, geolocation, social networking, personal productivity, references, just-in-time learning — indeed, virtually anything that can be done on a desktop — and arguably more.

In developed countries, it is quite common for young people to carry their own mobile devices. In the upper grades, it is not at all unusual, indeed commonplace, to find schools in which every student carries a mobile, even if they are not allowed to use them during class. The unprecedented evolution of these devices continues to generate great interest, and their increasing capabilities make them more useful with each new generation of devices. The ability to run third-party applications represents a fundamental change in the way we regard mobiles and opens the door to a myriad of uses for education, entertainment, productivity, and social interaction.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Mobiles have matured to the point that they are both an effective and practical content creation tool - definitely not just for content consumption. My own label for this functionality is the "Lively Sketchbook", which I think is well-complemented by John Seely Brown's view of these devices as "Curiosity Amplifiers". Their characteristics make them better suited to accompanying students and faculty throughout the day than laptops, and to integrating more transparently into their workflow. Fairly complete toolsets can already be assembled for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, and Android is catching up quickly. More on this at http://www.nmc.org/connect/2010/april/16 and http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/000043.html - rubenrp rubenrp Oct 3, 2010
  • Mobiles provide a great deal of flexibility, enabling learners to answer questions and investigate ideas wherever they are. As a friend said, now that he has a smart phone, if he's in the middle of a conversation and wants to verify a fact, he can just pull his device out of his pocket, run a Google search, and have the answer in seconds. Further, mobile devices offer a wide range of functionality, from helping people navigate and learn about a neighborhood using dynamic maps, GPS and augmented reality to enabling them to document that journey through photos, video, audio, tweets, and data. - lisaspiro lisaspiro (Aside: had someone at a conference recently complain about this characteristic, saying mobiles are killing conversation by simply looking up facts and ending the enjoyment of uncertainty. . . "The iPhone makes people answer rhetorical questions.") - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 15, 2010
  • As curiosity amplifiers (a nice definition, on my opinion), mobiles are tools for research in the vast knowledge platform of the web. Learning is nowadays increasingly undestood in an active, experimental, researching way and mobile phones are the perfect tools to do this. By the way, the newest smartphones and tablets are good interfaces to participate. The great divide nowadays is about participation. The internet is growing but participation (content creation) is stabilizing. We have to, as educators, educate participation on every stage. - dolors.reig dolors.reig Oct 5, 2010
  • Mobile tools just further enable the learning anywhere, anytime model of student participation. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Oct 17, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Acknowledge the challenges facing educational institutions in supporting mobiles: the multiplicity of platforms, the expense of data plans, the need for more applications and mobile sites that meet pedagogical goals, the issues concerning privacy and security. - lisaspiro lisaspiro
  • Education still seems content to receive or retask popular consumer features of mobility. The truly transformative work has yet to be done. I think Hotseat at Purdue (mentioned last year) was one such transformative step that imagined new ways mobiles allows students/faculty to interact or connect. ACU is piloting a simple mobile app for supporting small group discussion this fall, but still preliminary stage (called HeadsUp). The mobile implications for podcasting, clickers, web search, location awareness are very important as long as they don't overshadow the outliers. - dicksonk dicksonk Oct 15, 2010
  • We need to address how new software like "Blackboard Mobile Central" http://www.blackboard.com/Mobile/Mobile-Central.aspx and http://crowdcameo.com/ are impacting campuses and their decisions on supporting mobiles. - crista.copp crista.copp Oct 17, 2010
  • Digital mobile divide is not trivial, but the simple feature phone may have more uses than most think. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Oct 17, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • there certainly is no stopping the impact of mobiles - they are ubiquitous and have entered the range of most important personal assets next to keys, ID and money; it is amazing to see that despite the cost of hardware as well as monthly contracts so many students/young people seem to have smart phones, so the fact that they are that way equipped will inevitably lead to more and more use of mobiles for learning/studying - helga helga Sep 30, 2010
  • Mobile technologies extend the reach of learning, making it possible to connect to people and information almost anywhere. - lisaspiro lisaspiro They are adding new senses to Informal learning aproaches. - dolors.reig dolors.reig Oct 5, 2010
  • We´re moving from a world full of questions with a few answers to a world full of answers where we have to make us the correct questions. Location enabled smartphones and its research capabilities could help us to do this. - dolors.reig dolors.reig Oct 5, 2010
  • Mobiles have an effect on multiliteracies too, not only in a multimedia sense but also if we think about microlearning. Small screen displays facilitate the administration (ideally auto-administration) of "micro-pills" or "bites" of learning - knowledge. - dolors.reig dolors.reig Oct 5, 2010
  • Smartphones can be good places to consult our PLE-PLNs (Personal learning environments - Networks), probably constructed on a PC or another more handy device but more valuable if they are in the cloud and could be accessed anytime - anywhere. - dolors.reig dolors.reig Oct 5, 2010
  • Mobiles encompass a large sector of technology now. Their impact is felt at all levels from general use for students to specific uses for disciplines or information gathering. Aside from things like complex rendering, sophisticated video editing and high powered number crunching/modeling, mobiles can do much of what desktop systems can do. The mobility just adds a new dimension of being with you almost all the time allowing for information gathering, sharing and content creation (photos and videos) to be done on the go. This creates new and valuable opportunities for students to learn, gather information and for teachers to become better guides who can train students about what is good to collect out there. Mobiles provide perhaps the ultimate show and tell tools for when students and teachers convene to further discuss course content. - KeeneH KeeneH Oct 17, 2010
  • Mobile learning really started with "convenient" applications, and has been criticized for that. However, recently we're seeing more teaching and learning applications with greater thought and support being given to "mobile pedagogies." Once these teaching and learning applications get off the ground, I think many will find that students already have an established comfort level and will therefore require less support and instruction from faculty members. - drvdiaz drvdiaz Oct 17, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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