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.