A new year and an old rumour once again rears its head, no not that 2013 is the year of Linux on the desktop, that Apple will finally release a low cost iPhone. Its a risky move for Apple, as they rarely (if ever) attack the low end markets with their products.
But I wonder, what if?
From my point of view, if they release a iPhone mini/nano in the $150-300 price point in all iPhone regions, then its game over for most manufacturers as we know them. LG, HTC, Sony, et al all have mobile products that haven’t found traction with the consumer and have no real answer to a low cost iPhone.
The question is, would they cede the mobile market to Apple and go elsewhere? If the main market is no longer accessible would we see them return with targeted niche products?
Continuing on from my previous post about the iPad (and its shortfalls), I’ve been thinking about it from another perspective i.e. an educational one (suprising eh?).
The latest buzz in education for the last couple of years has been netbooks moreso than mobile phones , which in the majority of cases are still too clunky and lack sufficient screen estate to make them useful for lessons. However if we look to institutions like ACU (who’s connected program was the first to give students iPhones and iPod touches for educational benefit both in and out of class), we can see that that a device such as an iPhone lends itself well to aiding teaching and learning.
Why does the iPhone succeed where other mobile learning projects have failed? Because its intuitive This is so often overlooked when it comes to e-learning tools, first impressions count, if users (and I’m containing teachers and students within this term) can’t make something work, they’ll drop it and move on.
I’ve tested this myself, give the iPhone to someone who hasn’t used it before and they will know how to use it, as the majority of the controls make sense.
So why has education been so interested in netbooks? They’re certainly attractive:
- Small form factor
- sufficient performance for web and document writing tasks
I am a netbook owner ( for just under two years now), its far better than the Toshiba Satellite A50 it replaced. That is not to say its not without flaws. It’s battery doesn’t last long enough and the screen resolution is annoying, seriously who thought 1024 x 600 would be a good idea? I wouldn’t even classify myself as a power user, all I do on mine is surf the net and download stuff and yet it’s grunt is rarely sufficient for even that, if you are surfing a website/forum with many images or embedded videos you soon start to experience slow down.
But you can see the benefits, a £200 netbook that can act as an resource locator for lessons is far better than investing £400 in a laptop to do the same thing.
So if we agree that netbooks are great in concept, but flawed in execution why are we giving them to our students? Surely we want to give our students the devices that will enable them to excel?
Because there wasn’t anything better at the time
But I don’t think that this is the case, I now spend probably equal amounts of time at home surfing the net on my iPhone as I do my netbook (that in itself is a major milestone that a mobile device can even compete) and for pure passive information gathering, something like an iPhone is hard to beat.
The main reason I feel the netbooks suffer is that the os (be it Linux or Windows) offers too much functionality. For a device sold and marketed on the principle of giving you quick and easy access to the internet on the go, netbooks don’t really achieve that with any great level of success. A Windows XP install will probably take 1-2gb at a minimum and I would happily say that you could probably do without a lot of it. All that functionality bogs the machine down and makes it harder to achieve its core goal surfing the internet. So it stands to reason that the iPad will probably overtake my netbook as my surfing device of choice because it will do exactly what I need of it, with no bloat, no fuss and no mess.
That’s not to say its perfect (far from it), for students the lack of flash (and thus removing access to the range of e-learning tools & services based on it) and the ability to easily create and store documents (unless file structures etc.. are revealed later on) are thorny issues but I can see that young students will be able to interface better with an interface with a touch screen than a mouse (point and click vs touch).
Regardless of your thoughts on the iPad I think it’s perfect for education as its cheap (relatively), secure, quick to boot and has a decent battery life. It’s ease of use (going on the iPhone interface) means that teachers will spend less time training students on how to use the device and more time using it to support and enhance learning and that’s got to be a good thing right?
I, Tom Curtis have finally (and I mean finally), joined the mobile internet revolution.
I’ve purchased (after alot of g1 vs iphone deliberation) an iPhone.
The irony is not lost on me, (for those that didn’t read cart before the horse where I discussed the cost of smartphone and how it may hinder development of mlearning solutions) I singled out the iPhone as the worst of these due to its high purchase and running costs.
So why did I not go with the cheaper google phone?
1. The G1 doesn’t natively support Microsoft Exchange, it is possible via an external app but even then its not perfect. Prior to my purchase I used a 1g iPod Touch and have grown used to how simply and easily it integrates with the Colleges email.
2. Android looks promising, but I think there will be issues regarding compatibility; especially as newer handsets come out
3. Chess with friends
Ok Ok, its not a work or critical need, but I love this app and theres no version of it for Android (yet) and it’s a lot of fun 😛
SO lets move onto the thorny issue of cost:
Everyone + dog is buying a shiny new 3GS, which means alot of 1 year old 3g’s on the market for (releative) buttons. I managed to snag a 3G iPhone on a forum for the princly sum of £210 inc next day shipping (and it came with all the 3gs bits: small charger etc).
I’m currently on a £15 a month plan with o2, (it should be £15 but being the silver tongued lothario that I am, I got it reduced), I’ve whacked a 7.50 unlimited web bolt on that brings my total monthly phone expenditure to £22.50
I visited Hastings College last Friday to meet with Apple Distinguished Educator Steven Molyneux to view his latest e-learning project.
Hastings is in the middle of a sea change, a paradim shift if you will, a transition between two implacciable foes.
I’m talking of course about Apple and Microsoft.
With Steves guidence, Hastings are replacing all teaching and learning PC’s with Mac Mini’s, whilst keeping the administrative staff running on Windows.
So far so average, but this is where it gets interesting:
They are removing their VLE.
A FE/HE institution with no virtual learning enviroment, how will people work?! Perhaps its not as insane as it seems, a poorly implemented VLE is nothing more than a content repository, almost a digital library of sorts that people dip into when they need to find something.
They’re replacing it with OS X Server which comes bundled with: Podcast creator, wiki server and combined with the ilife suite makes quite a compelling learning solution….
After a reasonably speedy journey driving in the beast with my collegue Jim accompanied by playing Mettalicas Death Magnetic at ear bleeding volume, we arrived at Hastings College.
I should preface this next comment with the statement that Hastings is in the process of building a new Campus with upto date facilities and on looking at the current one, I can safely say that the new build can’t be finished quickly enough (old school doesn’t even come close, think of the worst ‘building of the future’ 60’/70’s constuction and you would be getting close).
We met Steve and headed straight to a hair & beauty class that had been using iPod Touch’s as a learning aid to support activities both in and out of contact ours. Students would access course content by viewing the wiki and streaming video/audio/text where appropriate.
Except some students couldn’t get the videos to work, others didn’t bother to use the devices except in class and others either didn’t have internet at home, or if they did failed to have WiFi.
And even if they did overcome the access issue, it still left a bad taste in my mouth as we’re just replicating the same solutions over and over again.
The iPod being utilised as nothing more than a passive viewing medium, almost as if it were a laptop rather than a mobile device, the iPod is a device born of web 2.0 it is an amazing collaboration and communication tool like no other before (in terms of accessibility, speed and ease of set up).
Why do we in education always seek to reinvent the wheel? Got a homework diary? Have a digital diary! Got a portfolio? How about an ePortfolio! In class poll? Have an online poll!!
The list goes on, but its always the same things, when will we stop replicating and start to really innovate.