Saturday, January 13, 2007

Apple's iPhone in Education?

I visited MacWorld on Wednesday, and saw the iPhone. I also watched the podcast (downloaded to my iPod) of Steve Jobs' keynote address at MacWorld. I am ready to order one of those phones today, despite the fact that I just started using a Palm Treo SmartPhone. It's a good thing that the iPhone won't be available until June. Still, as I look at the features of this phone, I see an incredible tool to support learning! It's a tablet PC in the palm of your hand, complete with OS X and wifi access. It has all of the features that I want in a cell phone/iPod/handheld Internet device (for email, web browsing, maps, and searching). How soon will it have voice recognition for voice dialing, like many cell phones do? Will it interface with a Bluetooth keyboard for those of us who find it faster communicating with all of our fingers, not just one? Jobs used a specially-built iPhone with a video board, that projected its image to the presentation screen. Will that adaptation be available?

As I look at this device through the lens of my current research interests, I wonder: Would Apple consider making a version that works without the phone service, but uses the device on a classroom network? I could imagine a lot of ways that this device could be used to enhance learning. Right now, schools are paranoid about cell phones, with many K12 schools banning their use. But these schools also filter the Internet, so that these devices could safely be put into the service of learning. Online simulations, games, learning objects, widgets, blogs, a built-in digital camera to collect images; the capabilities of this device could far exceed the way Palms are currently being used in education today. I could imagine many ways that this device could become the next 1-1 platform for learning. I also see a tool that will support the many stages of ePortfolio development, including collection and reflection.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I see a reluctant administration. I see a huge cost with very little research that will facilitate a return. It's a neat toy/tool but would require a school to create a wifi network in addition to purchasing the iphone lite.

I do not see many school systems (especially in the South) that are ready for something like this.

I want one. But that doesn't mean it will translate into great learning. I would love to see a few classrooms work with this and see how it improved student achievement.

Jeff Billings said...

We have successfully deactivated the phone service and are in effect using it as a WiFi, iPod, etc.. We have SMS working on our iChat server allowing synchronous chat, streaming quicktime videos through the browser (over WiFi), taking online assessments through our portal, etc.. All in all, we see a very powerful $500 multimedia, long battery life, instant on, handheld computer. We're a K12 in the southwest and are very encouraged. Not sure on the legality yet of deactivating the phone service, but in exploration mode right now.

eportfolios said...

I just tried one out at the local Apple store, and decided not to buy this version, at least not just yet. It took me forever to type a URL into Safari (mostly because of my long fingernails!), but it would also raise my phone bill $20 a month. I'm not convinced that it would be as functional for me as my current Treo 680, where I can make the small keys work fairly well. If it would connect with a bluetooth keyboard, then I might find it more useful for email on the road. My old Sony BlueTooth phone acted as a modem for my Mac laptop (at 9600 baud it was painfully slow, but I was able to download my email to my desktop computer, not to my phone). I was told that option was not available on the iPhone at this time. So, it's not worth it to me to replace my 8-month-old Treo with a $500 device that will cost me more each month. I think it needs a few more features before it will do what I want to do. I am also waiting for the AT&T speed to improve. I bought one of the first Macs in January 1984, and it cost me a lot to keep upgrading it before I finally replaced it. Right now, I think I'll wait for the next version.

Unknown said...

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Cindy said...

This is one way of getting more advanced in taking into consideration the best ways in enhancing the teachings inside the classroom. Students try to participate when it needs participative learning discussions using high end devices. I am using my Acer laptops as my way of saving all the important documents for the learning process.