The Web Literally Comes to Your Phone: Websignals

Posted: October 30, 2008 in cell_phone, mobilebrowsing, mobilelearning, RSS, websignals
Tags: , ,

I recently subscribed to the CBC Websignal service on my Blackberry Pearl and have been so impressed that wanted to write about it.

What is a Websignal?

A Websignal is a free service for Blackberry smartphones that brings push email technology to the web.  The idea is that the Blackberry user subscribes to a provider’s Websignal and current news, information or other data is push directly to the user’s phone when it is published; it works like RSS feeds except that the data is pushed directly to the cell phone instead of to an RSS reader.  This is a service that RIM has made available in Oct. 2008 and as of this writing, there are 8 Websignal providers: Accuweather,  CBC,  Dada Entertainment,  FOX,  NY Times,  Reuters,  Thumbplay,  Washington Post.

Why talk about Websignals when they are only available on the Blackberry?

Let me begin by stating that I am an advocate for cross-platform services.  The most effective tools are those that are available to as many people as possible as cheaply as possible using any mobile device.  While the concept of a Websignal is currently a Blackberry thing,  this appears to me to be a new direction in mobile computing that will catch on with others and quickly.  Just as every smartphone worth their weight now has push e-mail, push web appears to be the next step in push data technology.

What are some classroom applications of websignals?

Classroom applications can very.  Websignals can be used to stay connected with current events as I am currently doing with my CBC Websignal.  However, as this technology becomes more prevalent and end-users are provided with tools to create Websignals, teachers can utilize a Websignal to keep students and/or parents up-to-date with class information including assignment reminders.  Students may at some point be able to setup their own Websignal as a way to submit work to teachers.  Obviously, this form of data transfer is very new so immediate classroom applications beyond simply subscribing to a broadcasting company for consumption content is limited.  However, here is an early look a where mobile technology is going – immediate, on-demand feedback where the content really does come directly to you whereever you happen to be.  If you are a Blackberry user, I recommend subscribing to a websignal and experience the benefits of web data that literally comes directly to you as it becomes available.

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Comments
  1. dougpete says:

    Interesting post, Rob. Thanks for doing so. Portable devices are bringing increased functionality to the palms of your hands and it just needs an open mind to make it happen. Once you embrace it, you have much the functionality of a laptop with more battery life and portability.

    Recently, I indulged myself and purchased an iPod Touch. This past week, I put it through its paces at the NACOL Conference. Rather than carrying around a laptop, I left it in the hotel and went totally with this unit. My thoughts, tapped on the flight back appear here.

    http://dougpete.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/a-new-tool-2/

    I was a little hesitant but decided to try to use coveritlive on the second day of the event. I’m pleased with the results.

    http://dougpete.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/live-from-nacol/

    As your post with its cutting edge reference indicates, we haven’t reached the entire potential of these devices yet. However, the more that we explore the potential, the more we’re ready for new things to happen.

    I like the concept of the websignal and spent some time at the Blackberry site. They already have a procedure in place to broadcast your own. How long before the revolution begins?

    Thanks for sharing your learning.

  2. Thanks for your comment Doug. While I believe that technology has advanced to the point where we can move to the post-pencil classroom, changing mindsets is the real challenge. I often get comments from teachers whom I feel are pretty progressive and open minded in integrating new teaching strategies who state that they don’t feel digital tools in and of themselves can help kids learn. I sort of agree. The tools in and of themselves will not help kids learn. These tools will only help kids when they are combined with good teaching practice.

    I guess that’s where the challenge lies – convincing teachers that teaching resources and technology are not two separate entities and that sometimes, a handheld device is the best tool the job.

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