What has changed? – Part 2 – iOS5 and ATV

Following on from my last post – What has changed? I thought this would be a good time to talk about iOS5 and Apple TV.
The last blog post highlighted how the technologies in our current classroom have failed to inspire the change much needed in education today. The limitation of the early blackboard to a whiteboard and projector have always had or come with a hierarchical structure, again mainly to do with the affordance of these technologies. The biggest problem being having to be ‘at the front’ and by default the teachers have primarily assumed this role.

iOS5 and ATV – A game changer?

If you are not an Apple fan then, with the iOS 5 update and if you have an Apple TV with the latest iOS update for it installed, you can mirror the iPad 2 screen wirelessly on the projector. There are a few things you need to sort out before you are able to do this since most projector in the classroom are not HDMI compatible.

How does this change the game?

Firstly, it tackles the issue which has been at the heart of education for decades, breaking down the hierarchical structure. Now, there is no need for anyone to be at the front of the classroom. Students and teachers alike can share and learn together! Sharples (2002) speculates ‘the tensions between personal technology and institutional education will increase as students breach the sealed world of the classroom by bringing in computers that are capable of communicating with the internet’ (p. 6). What Sharples (2002) here is talking about is the change brought about by students and their interaction with and use if different technologies and tools, which blurs the formal and informal learning context. While this change is driven by students and their use of the tools, can a similar change in the classroom be driven by replacing the primitive technologies that exist and are conducive to traditional learning and teaching paradigms? I argue, it is capable of ‘flipping the classroom’ given the right technological and pedagogical support is provided to the staff and students involved. The affordance of new technologies like ATV, iOS screen mirroring and AirPlay offer more opportunities than the whiteboard or the projector combined.

I am not arguing that technology itself is capable of driving change in the learning process rather the need to be creative and imaginative with these tools accompanied by the right pedagogy. The need to peak outside the ‘box’ and explore what else is possible, to try something different, to be able to think and conceptualise something that does not resemble the practice which is decades old. Something we all know is in a desperate need for change for the betterment of our learners and their/our future.

Future of Computing and Learning …iPad,iPhone – iDock


The problem

Okay so in brief this is the story …… I have an iPhone, iPad, a Netbook (Dell mini 9), MacBook Pro and and Mac Mini ….you would ask where do I use all this technology and what for:

  1. iPhone – almost everytime, probably the best investment of all the technology
  2. iPad – in meetings and as an entertainment unit
  3. Netbook – sometimes use it, haven’t used it for a while now …. but are handy in conferences due ti its portability
  4. MacBook Pro – @ work and home when I need something decent to work on
  5. Mac mini – well again use it only when I feel I don’t need to use the MacBook pro ……have to start it up, connect to power …….. Mac mini is always convenient, just jump on and get started….

So where does the iDock concept fit in the already long list of things at home and work?

Well the iDock is to solve the problem. The new iPhone 4 comes with a A4 processor (1GHz speed), 512MB RAM …… well if this is the way than future phones will be much faster with bigger RAM meaning almost as powerful as a normal desktop or a laptop or even faster …… let’s put it this way, there is more potential …. the number of apps on Apple store for iPhone is growing at an exponential rate … not just growing but growing with more features enabling the ability to do more on a cellphone. For example things possible on an iPhone: editing Videos, Audio, Pictures, Edit/Create Documents (excel, ppt, word an more), eMails, web browsing, entertainment (high end graphics better than same desktop and laptop games, geo-tagging, and more)

The iPhone (or other smartphones) will have the capability to perform complex and big tasks almost the same as a computer …… the iDock concept does what a docking station for a laptop does …. provides more power and ability such as USB ports, monitor out, printer port etc. The iDock will do the same and in doing so convert the iPhone into a desktop computer …. better, it allows the user to carry important documents and data on the phone and still have to power to do anything at anytime…… the iDock will provide a DVD drive, USB, Firewire and monitor out this of-course depends on Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to open the platform and upgrade the hardware in future handsets to allow these capabilities …… it’s not that we don’t have the technology or ability it’s more that we need time and perhaps vision from leading phone manufacturers to take this further.

How it will work?

Dock your iPhone on the iDock and away you go. Plug in the peripheral devices you use for example, USB keyboard, an external monitor and perhaps an external harddrive. The iDock is a dumb unit (meaning it has no operating system), the iPhone and the apps on the iPhone is the main unit. Although the iDock may have RAM and a processor to ease the load on the iPhone processor, it is to ‘enhance’ the ability on the iPhone. The apps on the iPhone are like apps you have on a desktop or laptop.

The way things are moving at the moment, you wouldn’t really need a huge processor to perform your tasks. Cloud computing is growing at the same rate as the smartphones are growing in power and ability perhaps leveraging off each others success and complementing each others strengths and weaknesses.

What is the future than?

The future is cloud computing and in mobile technology like smartphones. Ubiquitous computing – being everywhere and having the power of a computer and more in your hand.

>Curatr Review

>Curatr – Review

I have had sometime (maybe 1 hour) to play with much talked about Curatr ….. first impressions:

1. The so called Gaming Aspect of Curatr. 

It works by collating scores whenever you view a resource and either you like or dislike it (Yes, it’s mandatory, you can’t move to the next lesson unless you have done this!). I was quite disappointed to find out how scoring worked (I could be wrong).

2. No place for feed on an activity

I have been through a few resources on the account I was given and I couldn’t see any place to leave a feedback or to comment on existing content.

3. Content driven – driven both by the teacher and students

Curatr is unfortunately content driven and is limited to Websites, Youtube, Text box (it didn’t work for me), Pictures and Audio. This of course assumes that you have created the content before hand and uploaded it to appropriate platform for use. Curatr however allows peers to create or lets say collate contents to help others in class.

4. Difficult user interface

I initially found the user interface difficult to use. I couldn’t make out where I was going and what I was meant to be doing or looking at first.

Where’s the Pedagogy?

The burning question, what was the pedagogical underpinning for Curatr? You couldn’t really say social constructivist …. maybe a beginnings of something bigger to come? The only bit I would say that would very least be called social was creating or collating resources that you found useful for others in class to use. Curatr allows you to create a profile but again it is very basic and you can’t see the profiles of others in class. There is very little opportunity to network with other learners in class to discuss collectively and create new meaning and knowledge.

I was left asking …. it is a portal? Is it a basic social bookmarking tool …. I am still a bit confused. It seems the only thing you can do is create a portable (works on iPhone) collection of different digital artifacts that may help you in your learning or peers in some way.

Mobile Front – Comparing to Evernote

Yes Curatr has an iPhone app, so does Evernote. If I was to compare these two applications and it’s suitability in learning and teaching, I’d say Evernote would be my choice. The difference I am talking about is huge.

  1. Teacher vs Student content (Curatr allows students to collect content not necessarily their own)
  2. Networking opportunities between the two apps is again a problem. Curatr – hardly any evidence. Evernote – and online profile viewable by others.
  3. mLearning – even though Curatr has an iPhone app, it hardly uses the powerful features the iPhone is equipped with. Evernote on the other hand allows – on spot – audio capture, picture, video and text. Evernote empowers the students, enables them to create content and hence their own meaning from it. It enables students to share with each other what they have done and build collective understanding at the same time supporting each other.
I was expecting more from Curatr. The promotion video and hype that surrounded Curatr before launch of beta painted a totally different picture in my head to what was delivered. The claims around game based learning and the inclusion of what makes games so appealing didn’t really work for me. It is not still about scores when playing a game but the challenge that comes your way, constant feedback and helpful hints that pop-up every now and then, creating that safe competitive environment where you can do a single player or a team play, having the ability to choose the level of difficulty to begin playing, the audio, visuals and constant connectedness with your team members (audio and chat if playing multiplayer online game), strategising, immersive environment and finally clever scoring.