Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Thinking about Phones

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Thinking about Phones

Article excerpt

I am sure there will be lots of new opportunities when we start to integrate these tools into our lives instead of keeping the older behavioral models in our heads. And as the network gets faster and better over the coming few years, we are only bounded by our imaginations.

WE used to place the phone in the front hall of our homes because the extra length of telephone wire cost more. Now we have mobile handsets that allow us to have the phone where we are. We used to wire the first "mobile" phones to our cars, now we wear them on our hips or carry them in our pockets or purses. Things change. They evolve. But sometimes our mind-sets stay mired in the past. For instance, at one time we dialed phones. Few of us do that anymore, but we still maintain the word in our language. Every once in a while we need to look at the everyday devices we use and think about them again. (Lordy, my father still calls the refrigerator the icebox!)

SmartPhones-just how smart are they? I am told that these are our future devices of choice-possibly dominating communication with the decade. Take a look at the photo of my phone, a Palm Treo 650.

It is a pretty feature-rich phone. I can make phone calls. Duh! I can also teleconference and go hands free and pick up voicemail and see who's calling. That's pretty plain by today's standards. It does e-mail and SMS (short messaging services). It stores and plays music. It's a camera and small video recorder. It can act like a Dictaphone too. It has those personal management features such as calendars with notification and calculator, etc. I can use MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and I could add PDF capability, too.

I can attach a hard or laser keyboard or I can use the thumb-based keyboard to enter data and it will predict what I want to type. With a few extra programs, I can track my golf game (if I played), or add any of hundreds of other programs, including financial, gaming, entertainment, sports, travel, etc. I am encouraged to download new ring tones ... to learn how to seamlessIy download anything, actually.

There are already quite a few educational software packages for my phone. I can get radio, download MP3 files for music or talking books, or download e-books and read them. In some markets, I can get television on this little phone, or I can record TV programs and play them on it later. I can set it up for voice-based calling and word processing. I can easily surf the Web and use most Web sites. I can search Google by calling it or sending an SMS. In some markets, I can summon a cab by merely pointing the phone and having it know where I am through GPS. I can share data or my business card through the beaming function.



So, what does it mean when I see a short video of a kid keyboarding more than 40 words per minute with his thumbs on his phone? What does it mean with I call 411 and get Silicon Sally, who is just a computer but asks me questions and (mostly) understands and answers?

And what's this got to do with learners?

Well I guess I am riffing on what it all means for learners and their future. What will the future look like for them and how will these devices play out in the coming 5 to 10 years? Everywhere else in the world, we're already seeing more advanced phones than are available in North America. What's happening beyond North America is a bellwether of what we're going to see occur very rapidly here. …

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