2009 Horizon Report: Mobile tech is key for education
January 24th, 2009

It’s no secret that today’s wired learners have better technology in their back pockets than they’re offered at school. It’s also clear that students are much more inclined to engage these devices than take in the sage-on-the-stage teaching models of yesteryear.

So why aren’t we making use of the technologies our students actually enjoy and use?

The answers to this and other future ed tech questions are found in the 2009 Horizon Report, which identifies personal web technologies from mobile and GPS to cloud computing as the defining trends in emergent educational technology. The findings of the Horizon Report are not only good news for educational early adopters but also serve to help institutions better identify meaningful priorities and better negotiate the sometimes dizzying information prospects available online. From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Though the Internet has proved to be a helpful resource for many students and professors, the sheer volume of its content can make finding relevant information a tedious chore at times. According to the report, the personal Web—i.e., widgets and services that help connect individual users to the Web-based information relevant to them—will allow students, professors, and administrators to use the Web more efficiently.”

Further reading: 2009 Horizon Report

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1 - AJ

My concern about using devices in the classroom is that I see that not all students have cell phones and some have phones or accounts that just make phone calls. If your phone doesn’t text, what is the work-around?

I worry about how the digital world is now leaving even further behind those students living below the poverty level.

I’m pleased that we are finding new ways to engage the digital learner but not all learners are digital. The time to figure out how to get the later-adopters up to speed is before they get left behind.

AJ – Thank you for your wonderful remarks. I cannot agree more and wish I had added some comments about the digital divide. I, too, worry about the issue of access and privilege around mobility. And while I am a great supporter of wired classrooms I’m also equally outspoken on the issue of digital equity. In Africa, there are more citizens of all socioeconomic contexts with access to mobile communications. This is partially because of government intiatives (something we need more of in North America) for equity and partially because of different rate structures. If things are going to be more equitable for us here, we must also demand that telcos not exploit consumers and governments and institutions ensure access for all – particularly for education. No institution should embrace and enforce “personal tech” initiatives without first ensuring that ALL students have access. To assume that all learners own laptops and cell phones assumes a context of privilege and access is both classist and inequitable. All schools and institutions of “learning” must have relevant responses to the challenges of the digital divide.

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