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Posts Tagged ‘mobile


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Never mind that this is an Apple ad for the iPhone 5S. The examples could apply to any modern and current smartphone.

These (and more) are the possibilities and affordances that smartphones bring us. And yet some of us still try to limit it by banning it from classrooms or reluctantly using it like a small desktop computer.


I brought two cameras with me on my Scandinavian vacation, but I only had to use one, my iPhone.

I did not plan on this. My laptop suffered some water damage and I thought it had healed itself somehow. The display stopped working altogether on the first day so I did not have a place to transfer photos via SD card and edit them.

But I dare say that the photos I took with the phone were not half bad. I will still be adding to the galleries, but here is what I have online.

That said, I missed the laptop with its larger screen and more powerful editing tools. I also missed having simple features like captions in photos in the Google+ app. I actually had to use Teamviewer to access my home computer to add captions to the photos. Why not just wait till I got back? Simply because I would never get round to doing it.

I also had to approve transactions and sign work docs online. Our leave system is not mobile friendly and I normally have to log in twice to approve my staff members’ leave applications. Once in, I had to scroll about and zoom in/out unnecessarily so my staff could get the breaks they deserved.

I also used Teamviewer to access my work computer for intranet-only applications and to control my home computer to prepare documents for signing. I had previously used the Hello Sign app, but it accepted only PDFs and not docs. If you are mobile-only, there are not many apps that handle the file importing, converting, signing, and sending. So I did what had to be done.

But on to more positive mobile experiences.

Several hours before checking out of the hotel in Sweden, I received SMS and email notification that I could do so online. I did this and my key cards remained active for one hour after the automated checkout and I could leave the keys in the room or deposit them in a box. Convenient!

Most places in Denmark offer free wifi. There was access in cafes, hotels, buses, trains, museums, libraries, etc. I listed the places in order of ease of access (easiest to most difficult).

The cafes, hotels, and transport agencies seem to realize how many people need mobile-optimized access. Most hotels seem to realize people have more than one device. I found museums and libraries to be hit or miss because of the sheer number of people trying to access the shared resource.

I noticed more QR codes. There was one near the base of the Han Christian Andersen statue (to hear an audio story) and several at the Danish National Museum.

Before flying home, I received email from KLM to check-in. The problem at this stage of travel is not having convenient access to a printer. KLM solved that problem. The email led to a slick, pre-authenticated mobile website
which sent QR code boarding passes to my phone via email.

I eventually did not use the QR codes because there were many self-check in kiosks at Copenhagen airport. Unlike the airline-specific kiosks in airports like Changi, these were generic in that you could check in to any airline. There were several forms of authentication and I printed our boarding passes there.

I used a QR code boarding pass a few years ago in the USA and noted how the readers were not quite optimized for glass screens then. This time I noticed most people passing through the gates without delay, but there were one or two who had to pause and rescan.

Wanting to go mobile is one thing. Going mobile by circumstance and having a system ready for it is another. We just have to keep pushing for it and even demanding it. When people see how much better life can be with it, things will change.

 
I would expect a headline like Are Touchscreens Melting Your Kid’s Brain? to originate from the local press. But I found this on Wired.

The quote that disturbed me the most was:

the ever-present touchscreens make me incredibly uneasy—probably because they make parenting so easy. There is always one at hand to make restaurants and long drives and air travel much more pleasant. The tablet is the new pacifier.

I think the author and I have different views on what it means to parent.

Leaving a child to play with or watch a video with a mobile device is not parenting. It is not even passive parenting. At best it is nannying.

Parenting is helping the child manage the use of mobile technologies. It is setting and maintaining rules. It is about knowing when to say yes and no as well as articulating why.

The harm is not in the mobile or touchscreen device. It is in parents or adults who do not manage its use.


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This week I share why I like the Asus Pocket Router.

The device is deceptively small and looks like a thumb drive. This USB dongle is an ethernet adaptor, wifi adaptor, and an Internet signal sharing device all rolled into one.

Asus has not sponsored the device or prompted this blog entry. It has proven its utility when I have to travel or give talks at institutes other than my own, so I thought I should share the joy.

 
My reaction to this TechCrunch article, Twitter Rolls Out New Web Design That Aligns With Mobile Interfaces, was “Meh!”

This was news I would care about if I used the Twitter web interface to tweet.

I do not. I use mobile apps. I use the TweetDeck Chrome app.

I have no real need to visit Twitter.com except to try to set up two-factor authentication or tweak some setting that only exists there. The mobile apps are more convenient and TweetDeck provides a superior experience, e.g., multiple and customized tweet streams.

This is probably one of the few examples where the mobile or other non-direct web experience is better than the original web experience.

I hope that we will see more examples like this, particularly in education. I imagine being able to offer a MOOC-like course that is entirely mobile-enabled, not just mobile-friendly. I would like to see entire administrative systems go paper-free with mobile applications that are not dumbed down versions of web tools.

Then I would not go “Meh!”

I would not even go “Ooh!” because the technology would be so simple and transparent instead of being so in-your-face.

 
The thing that irritates me the most about “mobile learning” is not questions about how m-learning is different from e-learning.

I would rather focus on what both words have in common: learning. The focus should be on how learners learn.

We should not focus on how we want to teach regardless of how learners learn. That is what irritates me the most about how some m-learning is designed.

It is not enough to make content even more bite-sized for consumption on mobile devices. The mobile devices have cameras, microphones, on-screen keyboards, and screens for drawing, marking, and annotating.

What are we designing so that learners create? How do we get them to learn by doing something more than passive consumption?

Don’t get me wrong. Wonderfully designed and skillfully chunked content will go a long way in keeping eyeballs on the screen. But how are we getting the learner to learn by doing, acting, recording, sharing, creating, critiquing, etc.? These are examples of actual mobile learning because you can see evidence of learning.

The other kind is passive consumption. How do we know they are actually learning? And if we do not know, let us not call it m-learning!

Screen time by erase, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  erase 

 
The American Academy of Pediatrics probably had the interests of kids in mind when they recommended that parents limit the amount of mobile screen time.

The policy is aimed at all kids, including those who use smartphones, computers and other Internet-connected devices. It expands the academy’s longstanding recommendations on banning televisions from children’s and teens’ bedrooms and limiting entertainment screen time to no more than two hours daily.

Under the new policy, those two hours include using the Internet for entertainment, including Facebook, Twitter, TV and movies; online homework is an exception.

But I wonder if they also have recommendations on limitations on TV watching and homework (both the necessary and unnecessary kind).

Did similar associations, if they existed the era of landline phones, Walkmans, and wireless radios, recommend kids not talk so much, rock out too often, or listen too much?

If I am to get snarky about the recommendation, I might add that I am relieved that the two hour limit does not include online homework. After all, some of the homework might actually be flipped and kids need to process content for class.

But heaven forbid that the homework be fun, entertaining, or leverage on collaboration via social media. Those things might just fall under the harmful and time-wasting category of activities.

I am not worried that there actually is a recommended two-hour “dose”. Reasonable parents will realize they need to parent and set limits that they determine with their kids. I am worried that other parents will take the two-hour limit as gospel truth.


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