Friday, July 24, 2009

Mobile Technology: Bigger than the Internet and the PC combined

Mobile technology is going to change your life and the change has not really begun yet. That's the take home message from Elliot Soloway (Professor, Univ. of Michigan) and Cathie Norris (Professor, North Texas Univ.). In their fantastic and thought provoking video, called A 21st Century Education: Educating the Mobile generation, that documents a road trip through Texas and Louisiana to see firsthand how mobile technologies are being used in school, Elliot and Cathie argue that mobile technologies in use today are initiating a fundamental shift in education. People enjoying iPhones - Image credit:'s the beginning of a deep kind of change in our life where mobility adds the ability for people to walk around and have all the knowledge with them regardless of where they are: office, classroom, car, park, mall, sidewalk, etc. This amazing new resource is available 24/7 in the palm of your hand. Once in place in the culture of our society, so many constraints will be removed from our daily lives. The immediacy of information provided by mobile devices may accelerate learning because the notion that formal learning can only be done in schools will erode fully. Learning will happen everywhere and in every context with this new resource that was not there before.
"It's an evolution - not a revolution." - Elliot Soloway, 2009
Watch the video and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.


Anonymous said...

l agreed with with you that formal education should not necessary be held in a "confined place" called a classroom. Mobil tech should be able to break that mental set. Am An African who is interested in such project.
Get intouch (

Richard Goutal said...

Reactions to video- Scene 1: Visit to social studies classroom in Texas. The teacher is doing what in 1968ff we called the "New Social Studies." It's inductive. It drills down. Unfortunately the testing movement really killed widespread adaptation. She is really teaching. But it has little to do with the technology. Put technology in front of the average teacher and it will be used to replicate narrative teaching in history, or what the film maker ridicules as "who was buried in Grants tomb."

Filmmaker's Narrative about change: Have to say it wearies me. Of course mobile will change things "more." The entire world has been on speed up since Gutenburg! TV changed our world, but did it change education? Not too much. I am frustrated to see my kids then grandkids get "a movie" for what appears to be primarily in class babysitting. Yes it may have some benefit but it isn't the "revolution" that it is hyped up to be.

Last Scene: They can get the answer right away! Given the context, it doesn't impress me. Waiting 10 minutes more to use the index to a book, or 24 hours to go to the library... Speed does not equate to better learning. It was a bad example to promote the value of ready access.

I think the real advances will be what they always have been ... in the quality of the media, in this case mobile apps.
It isn't the book, but what's in the book and how it is organized.
It isn't a TV/VCR, its what's on the video tape and how it is used in the classroom.
It isn't whether every kid has a laptop, it's whether the teacher has access to really good software that promotes the educational needs and objectives.
Etc into the mobile age and beyond to the next age.

Wait until the hyped up revolution is chip implants! Think how fast it will be... how convenient! ... how cheap! Come on! The issue is what's on the chip and how it will be used.

Eric said...

Fantastic commentary Frank. Thank you very much for taking the time to give us your feedback. I hope others chime in with their ideas as well.

Take care