Advancements in mobile phone technology

Some recent developments improving the capabilities of mobile phones may expand the feasibility of using mobiles for educational purposes. Currently, mobile phones are being used by some schools, and trial projects in higher and further education but generally only providing text updates.

The Rok Corporation based in Wolverhampton have now developed a method of compressing full-length feature films to fit on a memory card (a 64-meg Multimedia Memory Card or MMC). This allows users to watch a film on any colour-screen mobile phone which has the capability to read MMC’s. It may therefore be possible in future to use a similar technology to condense educational content (for example expert seminars or educational films) and enable students to watch it from the location of their choice. See http://www.newscientist.com/channel/info-tech/mg18624985.900 for details of this development.

Nokia meanwhile have begun to adapt peer-2-peer file sharing for use with mobile phones (see http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6394). Although still in the development stage, they hope to encourage users to exchange photos, video clips and eventually MP3’s via this type of system.

Although not yet widely available, these types of innovations show that mobile phones are becoming ever more powerful and adaptable at handling different forms of information. The prevalence of mobile phone ownership also means that it is potentially a viable way of enhancing learners’ experiences without requiring large equipment investment.

Integration, Personalization, and ePortfolios - the future?

Published in 'Innovate', Susan LACour discusses the Future of Integration, Personalization, and ePortfolio Technologies. In this article, "personalization" is seen as "smart" technology reviewing what is known about a user and tailoring information, content, and layout to suit. While "integration" is the bringing together of "disparate systems and services to better accommodate student needs". Although mainly refering to products from Sungard SCT (with whom LaCour is a VP) there are some interesting examples, eg targetted messaging. LaCour describes ePortfolios in the widest sense, with the potential to incorporate graphics, video, and audio, as well as text. She notes their potential use "as a repository for collecting and evaluating learning outcomes", but also highlights that their portability means learners can take them with them on leaving an institution. In the US, LaCour foresees high school students' eportfolios being used as part of "strategic enrollment management" by institutions to identify prospective students who could be anticipated to fit well at their institutions. A similar approach could be used by business when seeking employees with particular skills. In other domains, LaCour suggests that eportfolios might be used to "enable governments to distribute financial aid more wisely". Interesting thought!

While in Europe, actions are underway to ensure that by 2010 every citizen will have an ePortfolio: ePortfolio 2010. Supported by EIfEL (European Institute for E-Learning), among others.

There will be a ULiveandLearn webcast with LaCour at 3:00 PM EST or 8pm BST on Thursday, May 5, 2005.