What I Use My iPad For

I use my iPad to check e-mail, view websites and general surf. Yes I could use a laptop (except my laptop, a Lenovo ThinkPad’s power supply died a year after purchase, repaired once, lasted another month, then died again), but a laptop is much less elegant than the iPad, plus there’s a bunch of apps (Instagram, FaceTime) that live in the iOS device world that don’t exist elsewhere. I have looked at some music making apps (the Korg DS-10 and Garage Band) and they look good, but I have concerns about cloud based storage (not sold on the idea) and if the device dies, I have to pay heftily to get another device and then re-sync the app. Not elegant in management. In software, it’s the same on my PC, but it feels normal and I have a workflow for it.

I use it as a consumption device primarily, which is the intended design. I’d like to get a HDMI out so I could shoot my window to the large TV – maybe that’ll come in time.

Questions for 2012

1. Does the Pearson LMS gain traction with anyone seeing as Desire2Learn and Blackboard have both integrated with Google Apps for Education? It’s interesting for me because the University I work at now is looking at replacing their internal e-mail system with Gmail for students to start off with, but will later expand that to everyone. They’ve also made an announcement that Google Apps for Education are coming, which I think is a huge deal, but everyone else seems to not be talking about too much.

2. Will web mining for information be a growth concept in 2012? I’ve seen Pattern, a python based toolset to access information, as well as sites developed like Ifttt which makes programming logic available to the masses in an easy to understand format (almost like Yahoo Pipes). There’s a lot of hope for Ifttt, at least from my perspective, it does take a bit to manipulate to get it to work.

3. Does MITx make an impact? I suspect it will, it could change the whole model of distance education and if it’s MIT that’s assessing and stamping approval, that’s a huge thing. However, does it mean that the credibility of MIT as a credential granting source takes a hit (ie. does more people with MIT education mean that it is worth less in the long term?) or are we looking at a real paradigm shift, where the credential means less and the knowledge exemplified means more?

4. Android tablets are cheap, but are they any match for the quality (and sheer amount of apps available for media creation) of an iPad in education? I know there’s no evidence to suggest that iPads help learning (starts halfway down that page), however it does allow a form factor that beats a laptop as a mobile learning device – as we could consider any Internet enabled device a learning device – it’s up to that pesky user to actually do something with it rather than play Angry Birds or Super Stickman Golf. By the way, Android tablets also have Angry Birds. And Super Stickman Golf – so consider your productivity screwed on either device.

5. Will Learning Technologists become even more important a bridge for faculty and technology? I provide support for the LMS at the institution but I also can help design learning, use different strategies and suggest ways to embed learning deeper by using different tools in and outside the LMS. I’m a big fan of wikis providing they are used in a way that support and demonstrate the learning. I think there’s two ways institutions can go – one tell faculty to just worry about teaching and research, and let the technical side be developed by a techie. The other is to demand the faculty learn the technology, and use it to be supported by a techie. Either way, the technologist is there to support. I think the successful institutions will have technologists that can be given room to explore where the technology is going without being too far ahead of the faculty needs. That sweet spot is hard to find, and lots of institutions will fail at it.

Mobile Technology Friendly Programs

So, Mobile Technology is a marketing scheme to attract students, eh? I find the original article, and the subsequent corresponding article (sorry about the paywall, but you get the drift) a little suspect. Sure, the programs mentioned are using Mobile Technology, maybe they are even using it well (and there’s no way to tell at this juncture). But what’s their relation to IvyWise? Is this a thinly veiled attempt to drive enrollment to those courses?

Abilene Christian University has increased it’s bandwidth capacity to allow for more mobile devices to connect. Not a sexy statement, but certainly aimed at letting students use the networks for their own research and purposes. They also have a whole initiative about mobile devices. Again, the University as a whole entity has a good holistic approach to technology and mobile technology in particular.

EDIT: And here’s a blog post with links to 45 Higher Ed Mobile pages.

Mobile Operating Systems and Mobile Browsers

Over at O’Reilly Radar, they published an overview of the mobile operating systems, and I pulled a couple of interesting things from it. Last year, the iPhone had only 15% of the mobile market, primarily on one device. To me that’s huge numbers for one device… which speaks to the cult-like fervor of the iPhone and apps themselves. Certainly Android based phones will give the iPhone a run for their money, but I suspect that it will be #2, unless Apple pulls a Facebook and does a stupid privacy policy change. The bolded statement that “there will be more fragmentation within the operating system scene” is not surprising. With a myriad of devices, all from different manufacturers, we’re going to see that for a while. Not until we start seeing some convergence from manufacturers, will we see some convergence with things like operating systems or browsers.

Speaking of which, the second half of the article talks about the implementation of mobile browsers, and how ready they are for HTML 5. The quick answer is, they are ready for it, except Internet Explorer. With that said, most of the mobile web (upwards of 85%) use a browser based on WebKit. Of course, there’s a lot of different flavors of WebKit, which is almost more problematic than having many different browser bases.

What I Learned This Week (Part 9)

MagicJack sued Boing Boing to get them to shut up about MagicJack’s TOS. Of course, they want to analyse your calls…. much like how Google analyses your searches (and matches it to demographics). The fact that so many people are attracted to “free”, and are willing to give away privacy at the cost of nothing is a little disturbing. Of course, if MagicJack said it like that, chances are they wouldn’t be in business.

Much like the ideas about making sense from an abundance of information, that grew from the Connectivism theory, I’ve been looking for ways to delve through the 100,000 plus apps available in the AppStore. App Store Overpopulation points to a couple websites who do a good job with reviews of apps. iPhone Tiny is another website who review mostly new apps and rank them on a 5 star scale. The real great website would combine the 5 star ratings available in the AppStore, review sites and users experience. Certainly anywhere ranking is involved (especially with ranking where money is involved), there is a certain amount of gaming the system, so there would need to be some authority and reliability with this site.

A brief touch from Zeldman (via Craigmod) on media and how the iPad can change how we view “books”. I think digital books have always been seen as either inferior, or second class as compared to physical books. Certainly displaying information on screen presents a set of challenges with regards to fidelity and precision that can’t be functionally overcome… so I think we need a different understanding of what a “book” will consist of in the future. The linked Craigmod article posits that barriers to publishing are falling – we’ve seen this idea before, with bands, fanzines, oh yeah punk rock. Well, fanzines and DIY culture extends back to the 60’s, so really this is an old idea with a new platform. The problem is that we haven’t seen too many breakthrough incidents – not too many fanzines have grown big enough to break through to mainstream culture (perhaps some skateboarding mags started as fanzine endeavors – I’m thinking Big Brother as an example) and even then, nothing on the scale of People or Time. Any of the huge punk bands (Sex Pistols, Ramones, Clash) were already accepted by mainstream record labels. I don’t think the iPad will change access points for independent publishers, just add more books available to people. The mainstream will still only see the 99% pushed by mainstream publishers.

iPhone Development

I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading before I begin developing an iPhone app – but it’s been good to read and think in Object Oriented programming languages again. Hopefully this will be a fairly simple process, and I’ll maybe split off a page to document the development. Needless to say, I don’t want to say too much about it, but it’s a good idea and I’ll use my blog to document my learning and the process of creating the app.

I will say this, Apple is a genius at wringing every last little dollar out of developers… $99 to get access to the SDK (software developer kit) is usually something given away in exchange for some demographic information. It’s a small price I suppose, I don’t particularly mind paying it either considering the extra support it gives.