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  • kstooshnov 12:05 am on November 20, 2011
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    Tags: Brave New World, dumb nodes, smartphones   

    It has been a very revealing week of discussion on mobile phones, and while I understand the reasons not to limit to the discussion to the latest technology, the smartphone (or if numerous wireless providers are taken seriously,the superphone), there is still one distinction I would like to explore in this post.  A smartphone is a […]

    Continue reading Smartphones or dumb nodes Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
    • murray12 2:56 am on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hello kstooshnov,

      I certainly feel that I can relate to your post. I have the world in my pocket, but I rarely visit it.

      I have been a Smart(Super)phone owner for a few years now. Over that time people have asked me whether it is worth it to upgrade their ‘regular’ phone. I usually say that I could definitely live without all the bells and whistles, but there’s just something comforting about knowing that at anytime you access the info you need or communicate with anyone in many different ways. But, I’ll admit that I rarely do any of these things. There will be times when I download the latest useful apps which I never end up using. Or, I could sit while I commute to write that email I have been meaning to send, but I usually just wait until I can sit at my laptop.

      I feel I have the tools and potential, but not the incentive. I wonder what you think it would take for people like myself to get a more complete knowledge of everything out of their Smartphones?

    • David William Price 10:45 am on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Excellent comments.

      The issue I’ve been raising this week is our use of tech reflects the underlying habits we have. To the extent we are sedentary or spend time in locations with more convenient access types (laptops), we don’t bother with our mobiles.

      To truly explore the potential, we have to work from the affordances of mobile outward and ask ourselves how those affordances match needs in our daily lives.

      For many, phones are simple conveniences. For some, they represent the only viable option to conduct an activity: in developing nations, a dumb phone is their link to English lessons; in rich nations, a basic smartphone is their link to just-in-time refreshers and performance supports while in a taxi or before they walk into a client meeting. Christian Abilene University provided students in one class with a meeting facilitation performance support for their mobiles… and then sent the students out into the community to facilitate community meetings and capture data to bring back to share with the class.

      We live in wealthy nations with an embarrassing array of choice. That choice means many of us buy tools we don’t really need. A way to turn this on its head, however, is to ask us how our choice can change the entire way we live and learn. If we can spend a majority of our time out in the real world collecting data and interacting with people face to face and finding out way through new places… that is a real choice for us.

    • David Vogt 11:05 am on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      A provocative thought, Kyle –

      From my perspective, the ‘dumb node syndrome’ has increasingly impacted most technologies for more than a generation. There used to be rampant jokes about the tiny percentage of the full functionality of the home VCR (now PVR, etc) that the average person ever understood or used. Now that everything from cars to toasters are essentially networked computing devices, we’re rapidly loosing the (once comfortable) perspective that the conceptual models we build for the objects in our lives have any bearing on how they actually work, or what they can do. I’m reminded of the line in Ghostbusters where Bill Murray dryly states, “Generally you don’t see that kind of behavior in a major appliance” – we’re now living in a world where our major appliances are routinely possessed of paranormal behaviors.

      Part of the reason why desktop computers (as an example) don’t seem so overwhelmingly ‘smart’ to us compared to our smart phones is that their cornucopia of affordances are better hidden. The range of needs I might have while sitting at a desk are also infinitesimally small compared to my complex existence in the real world. Interface design and user experience design for mobiles is still in its infancy, and therefore most devices are incredibly frustrating to use to anywhere near their full potential, even for the functions that really matter to us. People inevitably derive simpler usage patterns.

      I’m also reminded of Sir Arthur Clarke’s third law that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. One of the reasons I’m so committed to innovation in this space is that I see mobiles in the context of magic wands in a society that doesn’t yet have a Hogwarts to teach us how to use them…

    • khenry 9:07 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Needs do influence functionality and I agree with David V and David W-P that needs are lessened/increased based on where we are and what we are doing? Unlike Kyle I have become very intuned with my smartphone in many ways because I am constantly on the go and need smartphone activities to help fill the gap between sit down time in front of a PC. It was actually the reason I got a smartphone. However, in trying to navigate and manage LMS and CMS I have found that my increased needs have left me demanding more from my mobile particularly easier user interface, presentation of sites et al., typing and responding capabilities. I even downloaded a new browser for improved navigation and presentation of LMS and CMS, suggested by my blackberry help line.

      Increased needs will significantly affect device design. I wonder if this thought went into the accompaniment of the Blackberry Playbook to its mobile phones. I believe also that Kyle is right in that content organisation and presentation into smaller bite size chunks will also be significant considerations


  • Doug Smith 12:00 pm on November 18, 2011
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    Tags: , meaningful, smartphones   

    I find Koole’s framework to almost be a bit naive in its scope.  I would argue that the framework applies equally to all computers, mobile or not.  I understand that mobile is always there, but the pervasiveness of computers is ever-present.  For example, I don’t need my own mobile device to have the immediacy: I […]

    Continue reading Day 2 – my m-learning devices Posted in: Uncategorized, Week 11: Mobiles
    • David William Price 12:23 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Great comment.

      1. The Koole framework can be applied to other computing devices, but I don’t see how that negates its value for mobiles. Have you ever read “The Design of Everyday Things” by Norman? As simple as frameworks may be, it seems that designers don’t use them when they design. It’s fun to read reviews of mobiles and tablets coming out and see how they have amazing features, but they aren’t that usable.

      2. Authenticity and collaboration are potentials for m-learning that don’t seem to be leveraged right now. It seems that imagination is required to break out of expectations that learning requires drill and kill, masses of reading, or classroom use. It seems the affordances of mobile really get lost for some reason, perhaps because it’s far easier to try to do what we’ve done before, even if the context has changed.

      3. This is interesting: “However, the issue that grabs me is that I think the smartphone is not necessarily contextual, and I think it can lead to very shallow (ie not meaningful) outcomes.” Please elaborate. I;’m thinking of augmented reality being highly contextual… and GPS… and even the motion sensors in mobiles… can you explain?

      4. “I could say a lot about this, but suffice it to say that the wrong analysis is easily made when we rely on people that have conflicting interests, or simply a lack of knowledge in learning theories.”

      This is painfully true. Even in my domain, you can call yourself an instructional designer without having any formal training whatsoever. Designers I’ve interviewed range from former English teachers with no training, to people with certifications from a week-long course, no Masters and Ph.ds specialized in instructional design. Even within our own department, people who have gadget fetishes tend not to discuss the con-side of technology use. In the Clark (methods) vs Kozma (media) debate, I am firmly with Clark.

      The issue is really how do the affordances of mobile enable more interesting methods! Not how does the new media improve engagement with the same old tired and often ineffective methods. The problem is developing good apps is extremely costly. I would like to see mobiles leveraged as a way of using the real world to teach and exemplify concepts. If you want to teach science, don’t rely on the tiny screen of a mobile to replace a textbook, a lecture, or an experiment. Instead, use the mobile to guide a learner through conducting experiments and observations and collecting data to put their learning into practice.

      What do you think?

      • Doug Smith 3:39 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        re: 3
        I think your examples are contextual, but I’m not sure that his how m-learning often makes use of device functions, if barely at all. Most mobiles are predominately media/web utilized, this is clear. Now, that certainly doesn’t negate the framework or the potential, but at some point we do have acknowledge the reality (I’m not suggesting that you are not!). I’m certainly no expert on this, but the vast majority of m-learning uses I hear about through my PLN (anecdotal) come down to very menial tasks. There may be context, but the meaningful learning seems forgotten, or perhaps never thought of in the first place. I’m talking about tasks that probably would never be considered if it was pen and paper, all of a sudden gain traction because it can be done on a device.

        In addition to the above, I do believe there are separate contextual problems. This comes down to byte-sized information given out and consumed in small chunks at a time. It’s a type of reductionism where context can easily be lost. I’m sort of thinking that context is often created through synthesis, and synthesis is lost in bit-by-bit consumption of knowledge. I’m sort of thinking of these ideas while typing, so I maybe off-base. I imagine there is some truth to what I’m saying though.

        As both you and I allude to, the real issue is how to leverage the m-device for m-learning. Clearly this is through communication capabilities, as this is where our current m-devices excel. I also like your idea as a scientific data collector – I can see this taking off as wireless technologies expand and the usb port fades away into obscurity.


        • David William Price 9:11 pm on November 18, 2011 | Log in to Reply

          I have to agree that the affordances of mobile are not used in m-learning people are talking about… but it was the same in early e-learning and there are still many people doing “page turners” instead of more interesting things like this simple but effective concept:


          The byte-sized learning proposed for mobiles is about refreshing and coaching within authentic contexts for stuff already learned more thoroughly elsewhere. A mobile might guide you through heuristics to push your learning through application and evaluation and creation.

          I don’t really see mobiles as a replacement for laptops and classrooms. I don’t share the excitement of gadget freaks about having every new gadget replace everything (I suspect that kind of logic is used to justify the expense for early adopters!). Instead I see mobiles as part of a set of tools, a particular tool that allows for leveraging different learning theories. As you mentioned before, you have to know the learning theories in order to understand which tools are best for which approaches!

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