As ‘personalised/personalising’ learning initiatives come onstream along with VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) solutions, the focus will be increasingly upon mobile devices and what they have to offer. Companies will offer what they consider to be quality solutions. It’s the belief of edte.ch that you can do the same (or better) for free with what Google currently offer…
Most mobile phones these days can access the Internet. Many students have so-called ‘smartphones’, and these will become more and more commons as birthdays and Christmases pass! Before long, there will be a good number of students who have mobile phones that have the ability to connect to wireless networks. Once this happens, then real changes can take place. So long as the school and its immediate environment is one big wireless hotspot, then students can (securely) connect to the Internet as well as, potentially, the school network. As a result there would be no data charges for students.
How Google mobile apps fit in
Head over to http://www.google.co.uk/m/products. The picture below is what it looks like on your mobile device when you’re logged into your Google account.
As you can see, there are a fair few (free!) options which could prove very useful for educators. Whilst you can customise the page for the UK, edte.ch’s advice would be not to do this. Why? You not only lose US-only services (like GOOG-411) but, bizarrely, things like integration with Blogger and the ‘Notebook’ feature.
Test it out for yourself, but here’s a quick run-down of what can be done. Imagine all this tied into a school-wide Google Apps for Education account!
Search – fairly obvious: students could have much of the world’s information and knowledge at their fingertips. Time could therefore be spent on skills rather than learning content.
Maps – better used via GPRS, etc. due to faux-GPS position feature, but could be used for field work etc. close to the school.
Mail – a quick and easy way for students, parents and teachers to communicate.
Calendar – allows students to organize themselves or for calendar to be shared from various subject lessons with them. Also allows for collaboration and links with Google Mail.
Docs – read-only at the moment, unfortunately, but will potentially allow content to be created collaboratively no matter where students are!
Photos – again, unfortunately read-only at present, but allows comments to be made on shared photo albums, etc. In the future, photos taken from phones could be shared immediately.
Reader – a flexible and powerful tool to read RSS feeds. Could be used to keep up-to-date with each other’s work on blogs, etc.
Blogger – allows students to ‘moblog’ – i.e. blog directly from their mobile phone. They can then publish from wherever they are to the whole world!
Notebook – perhaps the most powerful of all as it allows students to keep track of ideas, thoughts and information from multiple sources. This can be accessed (as with everything else) via desktop or mobile.
Would you like to see something like this in your school? Then get in touch with edte.ch!