Friday, March 12

Digital Giant – Martha Lane Fox on mobile web

Martha Lane Fox drawing the links between mobile + web + social networks + mobile-entrepreneurship



It is a 3:40 minute micro-interview from the current BBC series “Digital Giants”. She isn’t saying anything new, but makes the same point that keeps popping up everywhere at the moment …

- mobile is everywhere!

- it is about inclusion, as much as about trendy gadgets

- ignore it at your peril


These points apply to teachers, and teaching too!

I am surprised how often I still get into conversations that start “but do you think mobile learning might work?”.

Of course it works!

In Africa. In Europe. In America. In India. In Australia. For young. For old. For rich. For poor. It may take different shapes, but mobile learning is working well, and is coming whether you like it or not.

Surely it is far better to learn how to make it work well, now, than be a victim and be overtaken by it in 3 years time!

Wednesday, March 10

mLearning in the House of Lords

I am just back from a very enjoyable hour spent in the House of Lords with Lord Lucas, discussing new technologies for learning and looking at some of our mobile learning works.

A very interesting man. Like other IT-savvy Lords, he uses his blog and to be open and honest with his views – and has a special interest in home-access and support for parents.

He was very enthusiastic about many of our learning technology initiatives, especially any that encourage providers to have less dependence on short term funding initiatives, and more on successful learning.

In particular, he liked:

  • m-learning (of course), both in the UK and the 3rd World. We was particularly interested in some of the big UK successes, like Wolverhampton’s Learning2Go, which for some reason hadn’t yet crossed the House Of Lords radar. 
  • NCETM – the National Centre of Excellence in Teaching Maths that we run to support CPD in all maths teachers across the UK
  • The online learning portals we run for Sainsbury’s, McDonalds, Wetherspoons, KFC and other employers (using our AdvanceLearningZone platform and an army of amazing home-based tutors & mentors)
  • The learning Score – A lesson planning tool that is still in Beta, and just creeping out of our labs which we are lucky enough to have endorsed by many of the great and good in UK learning technology

Wow – heady stuff!

I learned a new term - “target chasing” – both providers, and suppliers focussing on current government targets and losing sight of the real goals of education that underpin that (and was secretly relieved that he felt our initiatives / tools / approaches didn’t fit that category!) 

I hope that he left the meeting as enthused as we did … I assumed so (but maybe that is just British politeness!)

Friday, March 5

Even the US Military wants mobile APPs!

There has been a flurry of news over the past few days including the words “US Military” and “mobile Apps”

part one:

DARPA, home of the pentagon’s technology research gurus, has announced it wants to buy an “AppStore” to use for distributing mobile apps to soldiers.

This is newsworthy on several fronts:

1: DoD (department of defence) are thinking of using normal, everyday-type connectivity (3G), on normal, every-day type devices! (Android)

2: They plan on taking their own 3G coverage with them, to save relying on the possibly unfriendly locals when in far away lands

3: they have dropped both WindowsMobile and iPhone in favour of Android

4: they plan on asking the open market to bid for funding to make apps


Read those again. Bog standard kit. Mainstream networks. Open standards. Open market for apps. Wow.


part two:

A couple of days later, DoD announces the A4A (Apps for the Army) initiative to encourage software-savvy soldiers to propose and make apps (mobile and other).

There is only enough funding for 100 lucky soldiers, but this is clearly just the beginning because …


part three:

DARPA are expected to announce that they are looking to buy apps. If you have a good idea for an app, and the technology skills to make it, they might well be in the market to buy it.


“Flurry of news” is definitely the phrase, here. Until a few weeks ago I had seen hardly any publicity from the US military around mobile learning. Here in the UK, there has been a bit more, with people like Major Roy Evans who has been doing some innovative trials in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You can here him talking about it here (though you will need to ffw the first few minutes, which have no sound!)

Publicity. Nice projects. But quite small trials.


Now, all of a sudden the US has significantly upped the game and leapt for a very mainstream, and imminently achievable solution. Wow!


Bring on those Android Apps, and as Google says, “don’t be evil” :-)

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