This week I will be doing a series of posts on the use of mobile technology in education. Yesterday I asked the question are UMPCs Going to Convert Courses from Paper Based to Digital?
What is the Mobile Web?
The Mobile Web refers to accessing the Internet from mobile devices such as mobile phones, smartphones (full featured mobile phone with personal computer functionality – no touch screen), Blackberry and PDAs (handheld computer – many have phone functionality – has touch screen e.g. Pocket PC, Palm Pilot).
Companies are now creating mobile specific web sites (i.e. mobile version of their web sites that works better on mobile devices) so that their site loads quickly and are usable for small screen with limited navigation.
The Mobile Web usage will increase in importance because:
- 30+ countries have achieved exceeded 100 % mobile phone penetration – at least every third person in the world has a mobile phone
- Smartphones are seen as the PC of developing countries – potential to be become the computing platform
- In Australia a laptop is sold for every four mobile devices with Internet capability
- The iPhone is a step forward in mobile phone development – it will increase the demand and use of the mobile web
“Mobility right now is like the Internet was in 1996; then everyone discounted the Internet, or worried that it would just encourage employees to play games”. Smartphone and PC Magazine
How Educators are Using the Mobile Web
Monash University gives their students in Australia, Malaysia and South Africa who are studying Web Systems the option to access their course material on PCs or PDAs (running Windows Mobile 5 or Windows CE).
This is what it looks like on PC
This is the same page on a PDA
If you have a PDA check it out for yourself at Walkabout u-Learning
How I use the Mobile Web with Students
- Currently I access the Mobile Web in classes on my PDA – if I can not answer a question – I can instantly google the topic
- The college is currently setting a wireless network – eventually I hope that students will be able to access the Internet on the class set of PDAs
Challenges of the Mobile Web
If accessed on a mobile phone there are only 12 button keypad – with no mouse for navigation
- If you access the mobile web through your phone it is not cheap – good news costs decreasing. So in the short term I would not expect my students to pay to use it on their phones. Also good to know Australia is ahead of America with the Mobile Web!
- We also need to realise people use the Mobile Web differently from the Internet on a computer. So if we plan to take advantage of it we need to take this into account!
- Screen size on typical mobile is 160 and 240 wide and 200 to 360 pixels
Check out this great SlideShare by Nick Cowie where he shows how much you would see on a mobile device if the web site does not have a mobile version on their site. Also check out my podcast of Nick Cowie talking about the Mobile Web.
What are your thoughts on the using the Mobile Web with students?
- Are you currently using the Mobile Web with your students? If so, how?
- If you are not using it with students – how do you think you could?
- What impact do you think Mobile Web will have in education?