Review of the iPhone 3GS from a uLearning perspective at

The iPhone 3GS is the most advanced converged mobile device and as such, is one that teachers and educators need to be familiar with. Its really a signpost on the road to ubiquitous computing, where mobile, miniaturised, wirless and cloud-based devices proliferate. 

This review looks at how the 3GS is an update to the 3G – its faster speed, video recording, better camera, universal access tools, compass, Nike+ and improved battery all make a compelling case for this new model to find a home with educators. The review details what each of these improvements means for educators looking to advance 21st century learning.

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Report says classroom walls and industrial-age schooling can go

As reported at eSchool News recently, a new white paper from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) says that while changing the curriculum, using digital pedagogies and training teachers are all important, it is the physical environment in which learning takes place that also needs urgent adjustment if the full advantages of the digital age are to be harnessed by schools. How far along the path to this kind of physically changing learning spaces is your school/ classroom/ campus? If its a new idea for you, don’t fret – all it takes is to read up on some universal design for learning (UDL) principles  (which while coming originally from a disabilities/ learning styles perspective, does now give relevant underlying strategies for transforming learning spaces), and then start experimenting.
From the article:

“Educators can’t truly deliver 21st-century instruction in schools that reflect Industrial-Age designs, with rigid schedules, inflexible facilities, and fixed boundaries between grades, disciplines, and classrooms, according to a new white paper from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21).

Sponsored by Cisco Systems, the paper–titled “21st Century Learning Environments”–describes the kinds of school structures that have been shown to facilitate successful 21st-century teaching and learning: from flexible learning spaces that can be rearranged to fit different class sizes and subjects, to more malleable units of time than the typical 50-minute class period.”


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Can your Smartphone do this?

Not to start any disputes as to which Smartphone is better because several modern platforms are now capable of the feat I’m about to report, but can your phone do this?
Can it: “Look for files on your remote home or office computer and download those files to your device or e-mail them to a friend or colleague.
ReachMyFile‘ provides easy, secure, instant access to remote files over cellular (3G, EDGE) and Wi-Fi networks”. In other words, can you browse you home computer and access, download, email etc its files? THIS is what the mobile, wireless, cloud computing, everywhere or ubiquitous computing is all about. Local storage capacity becomes a non-issue with this kind of capability. 
For Education, there a few implications. Firstly, in the coming years it may mean closed, safe school networks can be easily bypassed by students ‘beaming’ in their own files. But secondly, and on a positive note, it means that no assignment or homework can be left at home!

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Google & the Future of Books

In this technological equivalent of a time between times, when the digital world is growing, but still exists side by side with the analogue, this article from the New York Review of Books asks “How can we navigate through the information landscape that is only beginning to come into view?”

This is in light of Google’s recent digitzing of millions of books and the challenge this has posed for publishers and copyright holders. A legal settlement has just been reached, and this link will take you to a long but fascinating overview of the current situation and what it means for what we’ve always thought of as ‘books’ …

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Best IT Solution For a School?

Walk into any school probably across the western world and you’re likely to find a mix of technologies. Some Desktops, some laptops, some wireless equipment, some handhelds perhaps. The best combination/solution will probably always be dependent on local conditions and needs – but if ever there was an internet discussion that could provide you an answer, it may be this recent one where one teacher at a new school wrote:

“I’m a teacher at a British ‘City Academy’ (ages 11-19) that is going to move into a new building next year. Management is deciding now on the IT that the students will use in the new building, as everything will be built from scratch. Currently, the school has one ICT suite per department, each containing about 25-30 PCs. My issue with this model is that it means these suites are only rarely used for a bit of googling or typing up assignments, not as interactive teaching tools. The head likes the idea of moving to a thin client solution, with the same one room per department plan, as he see the cost benefits. However, I have seen tablet PCs used to great effect, with every single classroom having 20-30 units which the students use as ‘electronic workbooks,’ for want of a better phrase. This allows every lesson to fully utilize IT (multimedia resources, Internet access, instant handout and retrieval of learning resources, etc.) and all work to be stored centrally. My question is: In your opinion, what is the best way for a school to use IT (traditional computer lab, OLPCs, etc.) and what hardware is out there to best serve that purpose? Fat clients for IT/Media lessons and thin client for the rest? Thin client tablets? Giving each student a laptop to take home? Although, obviously, cost is an issue, we have a significant budget, so it should not be the only consideration.”

The full discussion can be found at Slashdot here:

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Fixed-line internet Population Passes One Billion

Well, thats a big number – TechCruch is reporting a ComScore report into fixed-line internet use and if you’re reading this it means you’re one in a billion. Or one in 1.5 billion as the article points to another report that gives that number. Either way, its a long way short of everyone – perhaps price and availability of quality broadband has something to do with this. Even my school in a built-up, new, modern suburb can still only get 512kbps although we pay some thousands per year… 
Read More here:

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Education and the Twitterverse

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Twitter, twitter, twitter. Like the chattering that its name implies, micro-blogging turned mass communication tool Twitter now seems to be heard everywhere. So overwhelming has it been that while I joined some time ago, I’ve got serious in the last month and now consider it the fourth leg of my personal learning network after Google Reader, Facebook, and Email discussion lists. In one day I came across a three great articles blogged by others, a wiki, and even a story in my Brisbane paper (a sure sign that its now going mainstream if they know about it). So For all my friends and fellow Educators who are still asking what is Twitter and why does it matter, have a look at these:

Overview and introduction from the NY Times: Twittering Tips for Beginners
Wiki just for teachers using twitter: twitter4teachers
And ‘follow’ me at Read you there.

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Horizon scanning, or “In 4 years, will my teaching be ready for this?”

The year may only be 24 days old, but the folks at Educause have been busy and just released the 2009 Horizon report. Horizon reports have been a key resource for a number of years for Educators wanting to prepare for the impacts of future technology, and the 2009 version provides the same kind of ‘horizon scanning’ (a Stephen Heppell phrase). Covering topics from mobile devices to cloud computing, semantic web services and geotagging, its well worth downloading and asking the question – “In 4 years, will my school/institution be ready for this?”, and “What opportunities will these technologies bring for learning?”
There’s also a great overview of the report available via eCampus News – (you’ll need to sign up to read it all).

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Microsoft to move further into cloud computing

Sorry to all the Microsoft fans out there, but if MS is getting into cloud computing (as they have by announcing MS Office and Windows 7 will feature cloud-connectivity), then you know that its probably already a happening thing. This article picked up by the automated tech news blog techmeme indicates that MS will shortly unveil a further cloud computing initiative for Windows Mobile devices that will compete with Apple’s MobileMe and the Google cloud-services built into the Android mobile OS. So How many Educators are tapping into such services? How many students are being taught about them? Read more about MS plans here:

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200,000 netbooks for NSW Education

If anything besides the rise of mobile phones illustrates the ubiquitous, everywhere direction that digital technology is taking, its the recent development of netbooks – small but generally-capable laptops that sell for between $300-600. The NSW department of Education obviously has detected this trend, and has announced a tender process for the purchase of 200,000 such devices. Even better, rather than just buy consumer hardware off the shelf, they have specified education-focused conditions – a wonderful but sadly rare example of this happening. You can go here to read more:

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