STOP, LOOK, THINK – What Is Material Really Going To Look Like on A Mobile Device

Opinions differ on text based material on mobile devices from those who believe the zoom feature of phones like the iPhone means that material developed for the web will need little or no change for use to people that believe the exact opposite (e.g. limited amount of text per screen, essential text only).

This video might HELP you form your own opinion on designing text based material for mobile devices used for mlearning (mobile learning). In it Nick Cowie demonstrates why you need to design mobile specific websites for mobile phones in his humorous WebSledge for Perth WebJam. While Nick’s video is based on mobile phones the same principles apply to all mobile devices. Thanks to Nick Cowie for giving me permission to use his Slides and letting me create this video, and Stewart Greenhill for letting me use his audio to create this video.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

Read these articles for more information on using the Mobile Web in Education:

  1. Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?
  2. What can we do about policies that are stifling innovation in educational uses of technology?
  3. Please Wait a Sec, Just Need to Check Training Info on My Mobile Phone?
  4. Will Mobiles Be THE Tool of The Future?
  5. Mobile learning
  6. iPhone vs Mobile web

Will Mobiles Be THE Tool of The Future?

306544780_4dc16c0405_m.jpgWe debate which mobile devices (e.g. PDA, ipod, mobile phone) to use for mlearning? And it is good to hear differing opinions from people like Stuart Smith and Nick Cowie on the use of mobile phones. But more importantly, we have others reflecting on whether they should be letting their students take their mobile phones out of their bags. Unfortunately, in most circumstances, if teachers want to use their student’s mobile phones for learning they will not be allowed to because it is against school policy! [image by bb_matt]

So tonight it was nice to come across a video podcast interview by Robert Scoble with Elliot Soloway, faculty member of the University of Michigan and founder of GoKnow Learning (Educational computing for mobile handheld computers) that discusses both policies and the future of mobile phones in education.

Elliot points out while many schools think laptops are the solution he believes that mobile phones will be the tool of the future in education.

His reason include:

  • Mobile computing is what kids are doing any way and soon 100 % of students will have mobile phones
  • Most schools have poor IT support which is why their computers do not work.
  • Internet works 50 % of the time in schools which means teachers have to plan two lessons (Internet and no Internet).
  • Price of mobile phones is decreasing.

Elliot also explains that:

  • Education is about meeting the requirement of their curriculum; there will need to be blending of the curriculum with the mobile phones.
  • It will not be a painless process; there will be a tear between the old and the new ways.
  • Schools will eventually need to change their attitudes towards mobile phones.

Check out the video podcast interview by Robert Scoble with Elliot Soloway here!

My thoughts – will be interesting to see in 4 years time whether the mobile phone has become the tool.

Mobile Web Usage is Increasing – How Will You Use It With Students?

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?

So today – I want to know how do you plan to use the Mobile Web with students?… and I will show examples of how educators are currently using it with studmtwitterents.

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:

“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

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 89238359_e959ece3c7_m

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.

[slideshare id=72591&doc=problems-with-the-mobile-web-barcamp-perth-20072055&w=425]

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?