Visualizing Touch Devices in Education

Took me a while before I watched this concept video about iPhone use on campus.

Connected: The Movie – Abilene Christian University

Sure, it’s a bit campy. Sure, some features aren’t available on the iPhone yet. But the basic concepts are pretty much what I had in mind.

Among things I like in the video:

  • The very notion of student empowerment runs at the centre of it.
  • Many of the class-related applications presented show an interest in the constructivist dimensions of learning.
  • Material is made available before class. Face-to-face time is for engaging in the material, not rehashing it.
  • The technology is presented as a way to ease the bureaucratic aspects of university life, relieving a burden on students (and, presumably, on everyone else involved).
  • The “iPhone as ID” concept is simple yet powerful, in context.
  • Social networks (namely Facebook and MySpace, in the video) are embedded in the campus experience.
  • Blended learning (called “hybrid” in the video) is conceived as an option, not as an obligation.
  • Use of the technology is specifically perceived as going beyond geek culture.
  • The scenarios (use cases) are quite realistic in terms of typical campus life in the United States.
  • While “getting an iPhone” is mentioned as a perk, it’s perfectly possible to imagine technology as a levelling factor with educational institutions, lowering some costs while raising the bar for pedagogical standards.
  • The shift from “eLearning” to “mLearning” is rather obvious.
  • ACU already does iTunes U.
  • The video is released under a Creative Commons license.

Of course, there are many directions things can go, from here. Not all of them are in line with the ACU dream scenario. But I’m quite hope judging from some apparently random facts: that Apple may sell iPhones through universities, that Apple has plans for iPhone use on campuses,  that many of the “enterprise features” of iPhone 2.0 could work in institutions of higher education, that the Steve Jobs keynote made several mentions of education, that Apple bundles iPod touch with Macs, that the OLPC XOXO is now conceived more as a touch handheld than as a laptop, that (although delayed) Google’s Android platform can participate in the same usage scenarios, and that browser-based computing apparently has a bright future.

6 thoughts on “Visualizing Touch Devices in Education”

  1. Hey and if its like the Myconcordia portal, we can even take our mandatory plagiarism tests on the iPhone. I can’t wait! Maybe we can get the administration to use twitter too.

  2. @Wiltshire You know, that portal isn’t ideal but ConU could certainly move in the direction indicated in that video. The SMS warnings set on the portal are a bit clunky, but the principle is neat. Especially if everyone has some kind of handheld device. One idea would be to have a “classroom” setting, similar to an “airplane” mode. Plus, teachers would also get warnings.
    I’m not sure academic integrity can’t be properly taught using digital tools for reading and writing. If the system you use allows for easy quoting (copy and paste a passage, the reference data would be attached to that passage), the lazy forms of plagiarism might diminish. If everything submitted by a student goes through a TurnItIn-like system, it’s easier to catch some other forms of plagiarism. At any rate, I’d say that plagiarism is mainly associated with teaching methods which revolve around high-stakes evaluation. When learning brings its own rewards, plagiarism is a lot less likely to occur. And when it does occur, it’s easy to recuperate from it.
    Notice that, while I’m enthusiastic about “possibilitie” from technology in learning contexts, I’m no determinist. I don’t think tech will “solve” education the way engineering solves technical problems. But I do see some tools as entering in interesting trends in terms of education.
    Sure, tech can facilitate some forms of plagiarism. But it can also facilitate plagiarism-prevention. More importantly, tech can be quite compatible with teaching methods which make plagiarism uninteresting. There needs to be an “adequatio” between teaching and learning, between objectives and methods.

  3. Actually I didn’t mean to be knocking it – I had just logged in to Myconcordia and had a 10 question exam popped on me – I imagine a number of people wrote it on ipods and iphones already.

  4. @Owen Fair enough. Nice if ConU can make touch devices more useful in educational contexts. Forward-thinking can be especially beneficial to Concordia.

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