Ten Trends 2010


4

Ubiquitous Computing

Ubiquitous computing provides the ability to connect "anywhere, at any time, with any device".

Some refer to this as the third wave in computing, just now beginning. First were mainframes, each shared by lots of people. Now we are in the personal computing era, person and machine staring uneasily at each other across the desktop. Next comes ubiquitous computing, or the age of calm technology, when technology recedes into the background of our lives. Alan Kay of Apple calls this "Third Paradigm" computing.

At a technical level, ubiquitous computing makes us think of the convergence of desktop and mobile environments with cloud-based storage and application use. It includes the installation of 'industry strength' wireless environments within schools - as opposed to the widespread use of consumer-level wireless base stations that we have at present. And it includes ensuring that access to similar networks is available at home and in other community areas, such as libraries. Some cities are even going as far as to provide a wireless 'mesh' across the whole city.

From a teaching and learning perspective, ubiquitous computing enables us to think about availability of virtual mentors or teachers, and/or opportunities for peer to peer and self-paced, deeper learning. With the emergence of increasingly robust connectivity infrastructure and cheaper computers, school systems around the world are now developing the ability to provide learning opportunities to students “anytime, anywhere”. This trend requires a rethinking of the traditional ways in which schools and classes operate.

From the user perspective, it simply means being able to connect to the internet «anywhere, at any time and with any device». Whether they are at home, at school, or in the local café – freely available access to the internet is increasingly expected as the norm.

Take-aways

  • How do your programmes of learning enable students to continue learning outside of the classroom and school hours?
  • To what extent are staff and students able to go online anywhere in your school environment?
  • What expectation do you, your staff, your students have of being able to connect to the internet at any time, from anywhere, with any device?