Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Apple lays out the future of mobile learning

Wow! Look at how beautiful that is! The price drops by $200 on the iPhone and the iPod Touch is a thing of beauty. So you don't want to switch to AT&T but still want the killer mobile web and beautiful touch screen? Well, your in luck. The Touch is just the device for you.

Can I here anyone say "Ultimate mobile learning device"? I had heard of schools testing iPhones with wi-fi only (they disable the phone service but utilize the wi-fi with the on-campus wireless network). Maybe we don't give every kid a laptop. Maybe we give them each a Touch...without the impending molestation charges of course.
Early reports of iPhone distribution in bulk were stifled by cost for many organizations, but maybe the new Touch and lower costs are just the thing to blow this whole mobile learning thing wide open.

I think other device makers must be simply ashamed and embarassed at this point. Palm killed its Foleo device yesterday. According to engadget
"Palm needs to focus on one thing right now, and that's coming out with a category-killing smartphone".

Gee...ya think!? But who the heck even WANTS a smartphone anymore when you can have an iPhone or a Touch? I mean really, people! Aren't you just a little embarassed when you have too pull out that dinosaur Treo or Blackberry in front of your iphone toting colleagues? Your geek cred is on the line.

If you read The eLearning Guild's 360 report on Mobile Learning then you know my thoughts on the iPhone as a Mobile Learning Device. It rocks! But it's not the first gen that will make mobile learning happen. It's THIS gen! More on why later.

Put the Touch on your Christmas wish list! This is good stuff!


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to have to disagree with you, Brent, but the iPod Touch is nowhere near being an "ultimate" m-learning tool.

For one, it has no e-mail client. Yeees, so you could use a web-based email site like Google Mail... but as soon as you're out of range of a Wi-Fi hotspot, you won't be able to read any of your messages.

Also, the Touch lacks a camera and a microphone... so there won't be any mobile creation of media at all on that platform.

Without any connectivity options besides Wi-Fi, there's no possibility of wireless Bluetooth exchange of learning materials and resources, and no way of having always-on connectivity to the web for such m-learning activities as moblogging.

Finally, it's a closed platform. You can't add any applications to it, other than the ones it comes with. That doesn't make it very useful for anything like adding pH sensors or even a simple QR Code reader (um, if it had a camera to *read* QR Codes). It certainly doesn't make it very useful for developing a learning platform on.

I agree, it's pretty. But that doesn't make it an ultimate tool, only an ultimate gadget (which is quite a different thing, I think).

So in reply to your question, "Who wants a smartphone?" I humbly submit, that someone who's serious enough about their mobile platform that they'd like to be able to customise it to achieve the tasks they need to do for work and for learning will still find an open, multifunctional smartphone invaluable.

Even the iPhone isn't as smart as a smartphone. It can't for example, even send an MMS (technology which has been in other phones for at least 5 years). Because it (and the Touch too) doesn't support external memory cards, it can be really difficult to put a file onto it from another mobile device without connecting both to a computer. And because it has a sealed internal battery, if your student's iPhone loses charge out in the field, there are few options for getting them up and learning again.

So I'm still waiting for my "ultimate" m-learning device... :)

Brian Dusablon said...

The iPhone is definitely not the ultimate m-learning device. We're getting closer, with the touch screen ability and all, but it's nowhere near ultimate.

Still, these are exciting times.

Anonymous said...


You certainly make some good points; however, I do appreciate Brent’s enthusiastic take on the situation. And you’re right, the new iPods are not as fully capable as some devices, but you have to admit that they are moving in the right direction. Adding WiFi, Safari, and a touchscreen…I think that’s a good start. Plus, they’re cheaper than many smartphones. Besides, with a little creativity, you can have a good learning experience with nearly any type of mobile device.

Gabe Anderson said...

Even with the iPhone, you don't necessarily need to have AT&T. Or any provider, at that.

bschlenker said...

Absolutely, Gabe! And even better the price drop makes a huge difference. I'm looking forward to my $100 store credit ;-)
So, the Touch and the iPhone can be wi-fi only which to me is very cool.

I keep hearing that there are other devices out there that are better, (actually not better, just have more technologies and features smashed inside) but I can't get anyone to point me in the right direction...if it rocks I'll buy it!

Anyone? Anyone? Beuhler? Anyone?

Anonymous said...


Does anyone have experience with the Apple-managed iTunes U?

It seems that the iPod Touch *could* have potential in schools and campuses which have (high-bandwidth) WiFi, for audio and video materials (podcasts, etc, etc) to be made available to students?


eestes said...

@ Leonard. Not sure that mobile creation of media is a valid use. I think you can build a good paltform for training delivered to the user of the touch. Most of my corporate clients aren't interested in students making training yet. Just taking what is developed. They need to get the flash player on it in safari and then we can drive interactive training to users. That's the real *key* next step, especially with the next "movie star" FP9 update.

Several of your other points are valid-camera,microphone,sealed battery. But overall i think it has more potential than the phones offered by verizon or something like the PSP.