"Mobility has become the key characteristic of our period. Social and physical mobility, the feeling of a certain sort of freedom, is one of the things that keeps our society together, and the symbol of this freedom is the individually-owned motor-car. Mobility is the key both socially and organizationally to town planning, for mobility is not only concerned with roads but with the whole concept of a mobile, fragmented, community."
[Alison and Peter Smithson, Team 10 Primer, 1962?]
Today we have virtual highways in which mobile phones are the vehicles, which for many symbolise freedom of expression. But how can such freedom be used in education for our well-being?
I've been interested in mobile/handheld/portable computing on and off over a period of about 30 years - since playing as a child with pocket calculators (Texet 880 and the 'Little Professor'). Until about 2004 this was mainly a personal interest, where I wiled away many an hour in experimentation, until the LTG gave some more formal support to explore this area by allowing me to bid for and subsequently manage an externally-funded project, RAMBLE. More recently, seeing its growing importance, I developed (mostly in my personal time) a mobile and ubiquitous strategy that should prompt due consideration at Oxford.
This gave me the impetus to set up at the beginning of 2008 a Mobile Special Interest Group at OUCS, which has started to focus attention on a number of initiatives in the department.
- OxMobile: Towards a Mobile and Ubiquitous Strategy for the University of Oxford - a report detailing context, present status and various project proposals to really start embracing handheld and mobile technology at Oxford.
- ErewhonThis strangely named project concerns the development of location-based servicese building on a number of initiatives at OUCS. It can be seen as a step to fulfilling some of the vision in OxMobile.
- RAMBLE - Remote Authoring of Mobile Blogs for Learning Environments, JISC-funded project concerning mobile blogs and their integration in institutional learning environments.
- Mobile Blogs, Personal Reflections and Learning Environments A broad overview from Issue 44 of the Ariadne online journal
- From Portability to Ubiquity - What do we mean by 'Mobile'?
- Using X applications on an HP Jornada 720 - (from 2004) just an intimation of what is possible. The underlying issue concerns thick vs thin computing, especially relevant concerning the delivery of Web content to handheld devices (compare e.g. Opera 9.5 with server-side solutions from the likes of Skyfire).
- PDA Usability - using the Jornada to administer the VLE (you see, I can combine my interests :-)
- Handheld Musings - a personal blog, with various thoughts, especially on OxPDA, an educational assistant to replace the Oxford University pocket diary.
HP 320LX, HP Jornada 568, HP Jornada 720, HP iPAQ 1940, HTC P3600, Asus Eee PC.
Pause for Thought
So what of the quote above? It reminds me of the phrase "car owning democracy," much cherished in the 1980s. However, it can be argued that the motor car was a symbol of an acquisitive approach has not led to greater well being - Avner Offer's The Challenge of Affluence gives plenty of food for thought. So will mobile devices with all their options for personalisation merely encourage a form of consumerism that fails to enrich us as human beings? What about personalisation as a general principle...?