Archive for the ‘mobilebrowsing’ Category

I have written on two separate occasions on the debate between Native Apps vs. Web Apps.  The first, written in January 2011 is titled “Apps: Web Apps vs Native Apps“. The second, written in October 2011 is titled “Revisiting the Native Apps vs. Web Apps Debate“.  Here, I share an infographic posted on the MDG Advertising blog that provides usage data for web apps and native apps.


It’s been almost 5 years since Twitter came into existence and it has become quite the versatile platform. I remember when I first joined Twitter 4 years ago, there were heckling comments abound about ‘tweeting’ and how people didn’t care to know someone’s ever movement. Since then, and resulting from a series of key improvements to the service, we have a tool that can be shaped and molded to whatever the need may be.

In the case of teacher PD, Twitter can be used as:
– a networking tool to link with other educators to discuss ideas and issues with like minded colleagues around the world
– an information gateway where teachers can stay current with the cutting edge as it happens and is discussed

In the case of instructional uses, Twitter can be used to:
– provide students with a way to connect with each other and other students around the globe to discuss their learning
– create complex learning activities (i.e. students take on the role of an historical figure or character they are learning about and tweet as if they were that person)
– search for current events or search for links to other websites offering information to topics that they are researching

In the case of school communication, Twitter can be used:
– as a communication gateway for teachers and school administrators looking to communicate with their parent community in a new and mobile way
– a place to provide parents with links to resources or supports for their children

The link to mobile learning stems from the very nature of Twitter – that tweets can be viewed on any mobile device using the web app or a native app.  Mobility also stems through the fact that tweets can be posted through an app or even through text messaging. In my humble opinion, Twitter is better suited for mobile devices than other social networks because of it’s messaging feel and because Tweets and Tweeters are searchable and can be grouped (i.e. hashtags, lists). Anyone who has used Twitter and Twitter hashtags to backchannel during a conference or online discussion will know the power of Twitter as a mobile communication tool.

Twitter –  not your average bird. What ideas can you share on the uses of Twitter as a mobile learning platform?

appsThis is my second look at the debate between native apps vs web apps. When I wrote on this topic before (that post can be found here), i focused on presenting both side of the debate. I’ve started to think about this debate again after recently listening to the Search Engine Podcast episode “Tim Berners Less: The Search Engine Interview“. While the browser is king on computers, when it comes to mobile devices, it’s still not clear which type of access to the internet will dominate.

When the topic came up in the interview, Tim Berners-Lee was clearly in favour of web apps. He argued that they are much more open, accessible and because of hyperlinks, much more connected than native apps which tend to be propriety and closed. I also got the impression from the interview that Lee believed that creating content and accessing that content anywhere from any device through a web browser was much more empowering as individuals can continue to be both content creators and content consumers while native apps, created by developers for sale, are really more geared toward content consumption.

I myself tend to use native apps more often on my mobile devices. I find that native apps continue to be better formatted for my screen and when I do want to consume content, it much simpler to access and view through a native app. With regards to content creation, native apps are beginning to feature better content creation tools as developers are catching up in creating native apps that are contain greater functionality. This post, for example, has been written using the WordPress iOS app and I notice that more and more creation tools are being added with every new update of this app.

That having been said, when it comes to the organic nature of the Internet experience through a web browser, native apps do feel clunky and closed. One just can’t flip from page to page, from one varied piece of content to another in the same fluid, serendipitous way on a native app that one can on a web app. Finding and adding the links on this post, for example, is too painful an experience on the native app that I preferred to flip back to the web browser on my computer to add them.

I guess the biggest challenge for web apps to to offer the same experience on a mobile device as they do trough a web browser on a computer. The biggest challenge for native apps could be to add more of an organic feel and make browsing through various forms of information more fluid and open.

Both native apps and web apps are improving all the time. Currently, my choice of apps is dependant on rhe device I use as I prefer using native apps on my mobile devices and web apps on my computer – I tend to go to the better experience on each device. What are your thoughts and preferences?

Recent numbers from Opera are showing massive growth of the mobile web.  Through statistics gathered from their popular mobile web browser Opera Mini, it appears that we are finally beginning to see mobile access to the Internet as a viable option for teachers and for students.

I currently use Opera Mini on my Blackberry and see it as a viable option for web browsing from a mobile device.  What make Opera a cost-effective option for educators and students is that the browser automatically compresses content before displaying the web page on a mobile device, thus reducing the amount of data (and money) required to browse the web from a mobile device while displaying true views of the Internet.

For more on the topic of the mobile web, see the articles below:

1) “Opera Reports Explosive Mobile Web Growth WorldWide” – ReadWriteWeb

2) “The Mobile Web is Not Helping the Third World and What We Can DO About it” –

3) “Top 10 Mobile Products of 2008” – ReadWriteWeb

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.

I’ve spent some time in this blog looking at practical applications of mobile technologies in today’s classrooms.  While looking at theoretical ideas helps to frame conversations and direct one’s focus, practical ideas help to bring theoretical ideas to life. In this spirit, I would like to share some ideas about establishing classroom rules for cell phone use.

While reading through my Twitter feed today, I came across a discussion between Liz Kolb and Darren Draper concerning classroom rules around the use of cell phones during class time. In that discussion, Liz stated 5 rules that she uses to govern cell phone use in her class.  With her permission, I reproduce those rules here for others who may be considering ways they could incorporate cell phones in teaching and learning.  The rules are:

Rule #1: Cell phone ringers must always be kept on vibrate mode (credit for this rule given to Dean Shareski and his school).

Rule #2: Cell phones must be kept at the front of the class, away from all students, when they are not being used as a class.

Rules #3: All media and messages must be course related.

Rule #4: All media published about others must first be approved by them.

Rule #5: No message/media is private – all messages can be accessed at any time.

In addition, Liz stated that both the students and their parents sign a contract promising to abide by these rules and that using services such as Flickr mobile, Utterz, Gcast and Jott helps teachers ensure that students are on task as these services keep histories of messages.

What are your thoughts?  Can you think of other rules that would work?

I came across two articles that question the openness of the mobile internet.  The first, titled, Is Mobile Internet Really a Good Thing?, discusses that the Internet has been a platform of innovation and cultural ferment because it is open and relatively unregulated.  Connectivity using mobiles is not as open and is very regulated.  Therefore, the shift from computer access to access on mobile devices may actually be a bad thing as telecom companies and government restrict access to information from those devices.  The second article, titled Japan Panel Urges Limit on Mobile Use by Children is an example of this in action.  Japan, the country that probably has the highest penetration of mobile phones, may be actively limiting access to information.

While theoretically, the push to mobile Internet is empowering as it provides continuous access, I’m beginning to wonder why certain circles are pushing access in this way.  Traditional Internet and mobile Internet access is generally provided by the same telecom companies.  Why is it that content filtering is resisted through traditional access but not through mobile access?  Why does the platform matter?  Just because Internet is accessed through a mobile browser instead of a computer browser, it doesn’t mean that content should be restricted.  Instruction and information is the best way to keep kids safe, not blocking.  Blocking just makes it more enticing for kids to want to access inappropriate content.

It has been difficult for telecoms and countries (except for China, of course) to restrict content through traditional access.  Are we shifting from computer access to mobile access to make information less accessible and open?