Internet Capable, Mobile Technologies for Learning

There are now more hand-helds sold world-side every year than desktops, and in New Zealand there are now more mobile phones sold than the size of our population! The relative ubiquity of the hand-held over the locked-in-location limitations of the desktop, combined with the proliferation of feature sets on mobiles mean that an increasing number of people are choosing these smaller, portable devices for communicating, searching the web, storing information, and recording events, as an integral part of their lives.

One only has to note the number of applications now linked to mobiles – incl. Flickr ability to send photos direct etc, plus other apps that ‘push’ information to mobiles as evidence of how things are changing. Think, for instance, of the 'early notification of absences'.

The comparative size, weight, and cost of these devices, combined with the ubiquity of wireless access, and availability of web applications means that mobile technologies are likely to play a more significant role within our schools and universities.

Where physical access to computers in schools for students has always posed a problem, students will increasingly be able to use the mobile in their pocket to quickly search the web, communicate with others, or view sophisticated 3D resources to help their learning.

The increasing availability and affordability of these devices means that an increasing number of students are likely to be carrying one (or more) with them to school. In addition, they provide an attractive option for schools to make available for students to use as an alternative to the traditional desktops and laptop machines.

An interesting claim being made about the use digital devices in general, and mobile devices in particular, is the way these expand options for personalising learning. As the number of internet capable, mobile devices coming to school in the pockets of students increases, so too will the opportunities to explore the ways in which these can be used to effectively enable the sorts of personalised approaches to learning that we've been reading about in recent policy documents.

Take aways

  • Do you know what the ownership of mobile technologies is by students at your school?
  • What policies do you have in place regarding the use of mobile technologies in your school?
  • Is your school network prepared to accommodate student-owned mobile devices being connected?